Are there right ways and wrong ways to hold a yard sale? As a veteran yard saler, I can unequivocally tell you yes! If you really want to unload all those boxes of outgrowns and unwanteds from your garage, attic, and basement, and if you want to attract crowds and make money, do yourself a favor and learn from these mistakes and secrets!
How to make money at your next yard sale.
- Advertise. Craigslist is free and easy to use so you can’t beat that! DO place one ad a few days before the sale and another one the night before. DON’T post several ads in a row on the same day for the same sale. It’ll confuse people as to which ad is the “correct” one. DO give a very detailed description of what you’re selling, including brands, condition, colors, prices, and history. DON’T simply write “too many items to list” or “something for everyone.” Let buyers know specifically what you are selling! DO provide photos if you can, especially for big ticket and rare items. DO answer emails about specific items leading up to the sale about.
- Signage. Signs are very important. DO use brightly colored cardboard. DO use the same color consistently so people know the signs are for the same sale. DON’T use cardboard so thin that the edges curl and no one can read your sign. DON’T write in a small “font” that a person driving by can’t read. Ask yourself, if you drove by your sign, would you be able to read it? DO provide all pertinent information: Date, Time, Address. DON’T provide a super-long list of what you’re selling (no one can read it anyway). DO provide arrows. DO put a sign on your street. DON’T assume people know where your street is.
- Clothing Piles. Gigantic mountains of clothing can be intimidating and a turn-off. Shoppers understand that it’s often impossible to keep everything neat and organized. Clothing does not need to be folded or hung, but please DO try to keep piles sorted as best you can. For instance, one pile of adult male clothes, a pile for kid girl clothes, etc. DO hang clothes on racks if you can, especially for high ticket clothing items.
- Batteries. If an item needs batteries to work, DO have them available for testing, or have an outlet handy for those items that need to be plugged in. Please DON’T just tell people, “It works.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten home and discovered that’s not the case. DON’T feel obligated to give them your batteries to take with them – batteries are expensive!
- Promptness. Making people wait behind a rope or closed door until your yard sale opens at “9 am sharp” is unnecessary. DON’T do it. DO feel free to state in your ad that “Early Birds are Not Allowed.” If your yard sale starts at 9am and they show up at 6, please DO turn them away and get more beauty sleep! But if someone’s there at 8:50, let them shop. But DO feel free to let them know that “The sale doesn’t officially start until 9, so not everything’s out yet.”
- Price Tags. As a buyer, I don’t need them. DO, however, know the price if I ask, or just tell me, “All kids’ shirts are a dollar” or “Hardbacks are a dollar, paperbacks are fifty cents.”
- Money. Please – DO have plenty of ones and quarters. DON’T leave the buyer to go find change as you risk losing a sale.
- Bags. Another pet peeve! DO have bags or boxes handy for buyers. DON’T go searching for them or forget them entirely.
- The Hard Sell. I see your stuff. I know what I’m looking for. Please DON’T try to push merchandise on me, or have your kids do it, either. It’s bad enough when they try to do that at stores.
- Haggling. Expect that many buyers will want to do this. DO consider “rounding things off” so that buyers can feel like they’ve gotten a deal.
- Deciding Something Isn’t For Sale After All. This is a definite DON’T. When my child picks up a squishy tentacle ball for fifty cents and decides she loves it, this is not the time for your child to step forward and decide she can’t bear to part with it. Clear all “for sale” items with your kids in advance, because I don’t need my child sobbing in the car after I leave your sale. (Yes, this has happened. More than once.)
- After the Sale. Make sure that you DO take your signs down! Believe it or not, in Los Angeles, if you leave your sign up after the fact, you can get fined!
What are Your Yard Sale Dos and Don’ts?