If you are setting up your yard sale in your yard (rather
than driveway or garage), make sure grass has been cut recently
(but not too recently - you don't want big wet clumps of grass
sticking to people's shoes). Fill in any ruts in the ground.
You don't want people to trip. Also if you are having a yard
sale - as opposed to a garage sale - and have a dog that routinely
poops in your yard where you expect people to be walking around,
do some pooper scooping before the sale.
Although you may have the friendliest dog in the world, it's
best to keep them away from your yard sale. Some people are
afraid of dogs or are allergic. The day of your yard sale
may be the day that your friendly dog, unaccustomed to the
excitement of all the people, may decide to take a chunk out
of the toddler that pulls on his tail. (Or jump up on customer
and get mud on a customer's pants) It's also for the dog's
safety as well, since cars will be coming and going from your
At good yard sales people have put prices on everything. The
price should be on top of an item, not on the bottom. It’s
a lot of work, but worth it because you won’t have people
asking every two minutes, "How much do you want for this?"
As a general rule of thumb, price items about a quarter or
third of what they would cost new. There are exceptions (see
next item). Clothes are generally very poor sellers, unless
it’s baby/kids clothes. If you price adult-sized clothes
cheap enough, it will sell regardless. People are reluctant
to pay a lot of money for clothes they can't try on, but will
gamble if it's only $1 or so. Take some of your "nicer"
clothes to consignment stores, rather than trying to sell
them at a yard sale. A rule on price: you can always go down
on a price, but you can never go back up. If you don’t
have time to price everything individually, signs are helpful,
such as "all books .25 each" or "any piece
of clothes $1.00", or "anything on this table .50".
You also can offer the customers a deal, example: paperbacks
.25 each or 5 for $1.
When pricing items, keep in mind that "a third of what
it costs new" is only a guideline. No one cares that
you paid $75 for your advanced quantum physics book 10 years
ago. You'll be lucky to sell it at all. Try to look at your
stuff objectively. Do you really think people will be knocking
down your door to get at your old t-shirts with stains on
them? That's why they make good rags. If you have a bunch
of items that are missing pieces or broken, put it in your
FREE box with a note "broken - good for parts" or
Another thing about pricing - The bigger the item, the bigger
the price tag should be. Make it obvious. If you're selling
a sofa - you can't expect the buyer to be looking all over
for some tiny dot sticker. Take a full sheet of paper and
put the price and list any good selling points or flaws: "Sofa
- $200 Firm - only 3 years old - comes with 2 coordinating
your sale, look thru the boxes of everything you sell. You
may be surprised at what you might find that is of personal
value to you such as: credit card receipts etc.
commonsense and don't prop up a nice framed picture against
a rocking chair on a very windy day.
selling clothes (and coats) take a minute and go thru the
If you are displaying clothes on a clothes rack, always use
the cheaply metal hangers. That way if the buyer wants to
keep the hanger, they can.
selling books and CDs - arrange in a box so the titles can
be easily read by the customers. You don't want to give off
the impression that the sellers don't care about their stuff
and probably didn't take good care of it when they had it
in the first place.
some effort into your sale and really try to sell stuff by
making it the most attractive it can be. If the first thing
that someone picks up is nasty and dirty, it may turn them
off to looking at other things you have to sell. If you are
selling an old basketball, make sure it is full of air. If
you are selling a TV, have it turned on. If something needs
batteries to run, put batteries in it so it works - it will
help it sell. (But don't put in brand new batteries; use some
half-used batteries. However, don't go overboard in cleaning
and spend 3 hours working on an item that you only plan to
price at $1. If all people see from the road is a tarp with
a mountain of clothes heaped on it, they'll likely drive by.
Ask friends/neighbors to loan you portable tables if necessary.
Nothing worse than going to a yard sale and just seeing boxes
of dirty, unorganized cobwebbed junk on the ground expecting
people to fish through it. Meanwhile the seller is just sitting
there having their coffee chatting with neighbors and ignoring
the potential customers. These people probably wonder why
they never have successful yard sales.
sales are more relaxing if there is some background music
on. Have easy-listening middle-of-the-road type music on,
not Mega Death Slaughterhouse. That allows customers to discuss
potential purchases privately with their shopping partners,
without feeling like they have to whisper.
some of your more interesting items at the end of your driveway
to act as a magnet to lure people in (see next tip). Some
people will just drive by slowly and take a quick look to
determine if it looks worthwhile to stop. Some sellers prefer
to be stationed at the end of their merchandise, closest to
the street. It prevents people from "forgetting"
to pay for an item and they can also easily answer someone
who drives by and asks "do you have any LP's?"
noticed how hard a woman has to work to convince a man to
stop at a yard sale? To solve this, set out an old lawn mower
or power tools out front in plain view of the road, and you'll
get more business. It's also smart to set up a small table
with nothing but "man-things" (jars full of screws
and nails, electronic parts, tools and parts of tools, etc.).
This gives the men something to immerse themselves in while
the women find all the real treasures.
you are planning your yard sale on the hot day, consider selling
sodas or having the kids run a lemonade stand. (Generally
though, it’s just easier to ice-down a bunch of sodas
- bought on sale of course - in a big cooler. And just sell
the kind of soda you like, so you don't mind if you have leftovers.)
Selling lemonade can be tricky for a 5 year old who doesn't
understand a lot about hygiene - and will want to just grab
ice cubes with their hands. The longer people stay at your
yard sale the more likely they will buy something. And even
if they just stay and browse, that's good too since it may
lure others to the sale. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.
Some people like to set up a coffee pot and sell donuts -
but it's too much work and could be a potential safety problem
- especially with the hot coffee, electrical cord etc.
sellers color code their items with a little sticker and create
a chart, example: all items with blue stickers are .50, items
with red stickers $1 and so on. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED. Also,
a buyer could easily "swap" stickers and you'd probably
not even notice it.
When asking a seller how much they want for a particular item,
many times they respond, "I don’t know, how about
.50 or .25?" No buyer in their right mind will say, "Yeah,
I want to pay the higher price." The better way would
be for the seller to answer, "How about .50?" Then
if the customer puts the item back, or hesitates then you
could say "or how about .25?"
You may get a customer who wants to "help" you by
totaling up their purchases ahead of time and giving you the
total. It may be a ploy to sneak some high-dollar items into
the pile or not paying the true full amount. If this happen
just say that you need to go through it because some of the
things are your sister's and you need to check what they are
buying so you can divide the money fairly with them.
Here's a tip if you are trying to sell something that is fairly
high dollar and it’s a popular item that appears in
catalogs or sale ads. Cut out the ad with the item in it (with
the price showing of course) and tape it to your item. This
has been done mostly with gently used children's toys and
such. It shows the buyer that spending $10 for an item that
normally sells for $40 new is a good deal. Be selective if
you use this tactic, people will get turned off if you do
it for every item you're trying to sell.
you are trying to sell a bunch of old kitchen utensils, rubber-band
the knives up so people don't get cut.
sure any items you don’t want to sell are put away.
If you don’t, that will be the one item the buyer wants.
Sometimes you just can’t win though!
During your sale, keep your sale tables attractive by filling
in the empty spots on your tables as things get sold. It's
a good idea to keep your eyes on your customers, but don't
stare at them or hover inches away. Many people get annoyed
at yard sale sellers who are a little *too* overbearing and
has to tell a story about every item touched and what a good
deal it is.
YOUR MONEY! Have lots of coins and small bills available to
make change. If you don't, your first customer will be a little
old lady trying to buy .50 worth of stuff with a $20 bill.
Do not leave your money lying around in a box. A fanny pack
or carpenter's apron is recommended because you'll always
have your money with you. However, when making change, keep
the wad of bills in your fanny pack (rather than pulling a
big wad of bills out). That wouldn't be smart. If your fanny
packs have several zippered compartments, as the sale continues
you may want to divert some of the larger bills to either
a separate compartment or to a secret location in your home.
If you are running out of change, and someone is trying to
haggle a price down, be willing to negotiate if the buyer
has the exact change. Also for safety reasons, have a cell
phone or cordless phone also in my fanny pack or attached
to your hip.
accept checks unless you are willing to take the risk of getting
a bad check. A check that looks perfectly fine may be from
a closed bank account.
One question that people ask is "how much money should
I start off with?" Well that depends. If you have a lot
of small, low priced items, around $80 or $100 is a good number.
(two $10 bill, four $5 bills, 25 $1 bills, 1 roll of quarters
($10), and $5 in nickel and dimes (assuming you have stuff
priced at less than a quarter). BUT, if you have a lot of
furniture or higher priced stuff, definitely start with more
money. For instance, if you have a lot of $10 items, most
people will probably give you a $20 bill and expect change.
Of course, as the yard sale continues, some people will give
you the exact amount, so it's mostly in the beginning when
you need to be concerned about how much change to have.
Here's a tip about making change: if someone hands you a large
bill, leave the bill out in view until after you have given
them their change. Sometimes put the bill partly under something
like a paperweight until after giving the person their change.
Otherwise, a dishonest person could say afterwards "I
gave you a $20, not a $10". And it would be your word
against theirs. And make sure you really take a second and
look at the bill.
Have plastic grocery bags available to put sold items in.
If selling breakables, have newspaper available to wrap fragile
items. Having a calculator handy is helpful in totaling up
purchases. Make it easy for yourself to total items - price
things evenly: .25, .50 and $1, NOT .40, .75, $1.20. Even
doing that, it's easy to mess things up.
you have kids, involve them by having them set up their own
table selling their old toys. Explain to them if they get
rid of their old outgrown toys, they’ll make space to
put the new toys that they buy themselves with the money they
earn. If they agree to parting with their old toys, help them
with the prices. Plan with them afterwards to donate their
good, unsold toys to charity so that needy children will benefit.
If you are selling electrical appliances, have an electrical
outlet handy or a long extension cord. (Put the cord away
when not in use - you don't want to create a tripping hazard).
Don’t allow strangers in your house, either to try out
appliances or try on clothes, etc. If they need to use a restroom,
give them directions to the nearest fast-food restaurant.
To avoid any hassles later on, post a sign that says "All
If you have a ton of kid’s clothes or small toys you
are dying to get rid of, consider having a "fill a bag
for a set price" kind of deal. Yard sailors love getting
a good deal. If you do something like this, just make sure
you have enough bags available.
Another option is to sort the small toys and put them in sealed
clear plastic baggies according to type of toy or whether
it's for a boy or girl. Then STAPLE the bags closed so customers
can't open them. Then have a set price for the entire bag.
That way, hopefully you won't get stuck with leftover "less
desirable" toys when the sale is over.
that some buyers will expect you to bargain with them. If
it's early in the morning and you don't want to bargain, just
say "I think it's worth that price. I may lower the price
later in the day if it doesn't sell."
assume everyone going to yard sales is fun and happy people.
Just like in the real world, shop-lifters and shady characters
go to yard sales too.