Tips for Holding a Yard or Garage Sale

Photo via Flickr

There are plenty of ways to turn your household clutter into cash; for example, there is Craigslist, eBay, online thrift shops, and community Facebook pages, etc. All it takes is some time and effort to post your items and respond to inquiries.

But now that spring is here you can dispense with the more laborious digital options and do things the old-fashioned way: by holding a yard sale!

Yard sales offer the chance to not only to find a new home for things you no longer want or need, but are a fun way to socialize and enjoy the excitement of meeting a range of different people who stop by to shop. Remember, some of those folks you meet plan their weekends around touring the local offerings and rummaging for new "treasures." They will be among the first to arrive at your sale, and often en masse.

It can be a bit daunting to handle a sudden rush of buyers. That's why it's important to be all ready to go before you roll out your stuff across your lawn.

To help prepare you, here are a few tips and suggestions to make your sale a success.

What Do You Really Want to Sell?

Before holding the yard sale It's good to think through what stuff you really want to sell, what to keep, and what to donate. This could seem overwhelming at first if you have lots of clutter to sort through. To make it less of a chore, do it in small chunks, room by room, making separate piles for stuff you want to sell and stuff that you would rather donate.

As you winnow down your possessions, it's a good time to take stock of your consumption habits. Ask yourself: Do I buy things I don't need? Do I really need so many clothes, shoes, and handbags? Do I tend to buy things that I don't end up using much or at all? Thinking about your purchasing history in this way can help you avoid building up clutter in the future.

Boxed Versus Individual Pricing

There are two schools of thought on yard sale pricing. Some believe it better to price each item individually and others prefer to toss similar items in a box and give it all one price. There are advantages and disadvantages to either option. Boxed pricing is faster and easier, but once the sale starts, things can get mixed up and disorganized.

If you have the time, individual pricing makes it easier to manage the haggling and keep track of things once the throngs arrive. Manila tape and a Sharpie are all you need to get the job done.

Spreading the Word

Marketing is everything. Plan ahead of time to make flyers and post them around your community a day or two ahead of the sale. Keep your signage consistent (both in terms of color -- preferably neon -- and text) in order to set your sale apart from others. Keep the text short and sweet so drivers can read it quickly; for example: YARD SALE, Saturday at 8-11 am, 6701 Smith Road.

Use strong packing tape or tacks to hang the signs so that they can withstand wind and rain. The most ideal places to hang the signs are at intersections that have stoplights/stop signs, shopping center exits, and busy streets within a mile from your home. And always remember to go back and remove the signs and the bits of tape after you are done.

Serious yard sale shoppers will check their local newspaper classifieds each week for yard sale ads, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to spend an extra couple of bucks to buy a small ad in your local newspaper, especially if you live in a small town.

There are also free digital advertising yard/garage sale options. Along with the ever-popular Craigslist, a few other are Gsair, and, and GarageSale Finder.

Some small towns and communities even have Facebook groups to specifically advertise yard sales, community events, etc. But of course, you will need a Facebook account to do this.

What About Items That Don't Sell?

As your sale comes to end, you can mark down prices on any items that haven't sold. For example, if you have 20 books that were $1 each, you can put them all in a box and price the entire box at $10. Someone may be more inclined to buy the entire box if they know they're getting a deal and don't have to dig through all of the titles.

Remember to think about what you are going to do with anything that is not sold. For some items, you could start a "free" table at the end of your driveway for a few days or use a site like Freecycle. Local charities are also happy to take unwanted items. For clothing, shoes and other textiles, you can drop them off at a Planet Aid bin. Use our bin finder to find the location nearest you.

Planet Aid accepts all textiles, regardless of their condition. If we don't have a conveniently accessible yellow bin in your community, consider donating items to a local women's shelter, church, or a less fortunate family within the community.

Remember, the reason for the yard sale in the first place is to get rid of unwanted items and junk. So after the sale is finished and the clutter gone, use the experience to think carefully about your purchasing habits.

For more interesting tips and info on spring cleaning, visit our Spring Cleaning Guide!