Whether you're moving, looking to reduce clutter, or simply want to make some extra cash, holding a yard sale (or garage sale) is a great idea. It's easy to pull off with some simple preparation. Follow the tips and tricks below for making your yard sale successful.
1. Choose an Early Morning Saturday or Sunday
It's important to choose a Saturday or Sunday to hold your yard sale. Even if you have it on a Friday, most people won't have the time to stop if they're on the way to work or to drop the kids off at school. Holding it on the weekend is the best time because passersby will be more likely to stop if their day is free. Also, check the community schedule before you decide on a date. This will reduce the chances of having your sale when there is another large event happening at the same time that could compete for your sale's attention.
Schedule the garage sale to begin in the morning, when most people have the time to come. The exact time in the morning is up to you, but consider beginning early, such as 8 a.m. While you may have to wake early to set everything up, people who frequent yard sales like to make the rounds early to find what they're looking for. Also, starting early means you won't be sitting out in the heat of the day. If you're advertising your sale on Craigslist or Yardsalesearch, include both the beginning and end time so you don't have people arriving at your door step when you've closed shop. A minimum amount of time you want to run your sale is 4 hours.
2. Advertise Online and in Your Neighborhood
Prepare advertising for your sale about a week before the scheduled date. Place an advertisement in your local newspaper to make the community aware. Since many people don't even read the newspaper anymore or use it as a source for finding yard sales, post ads online for free on Craigslist and Yardsalesearch. Include the address, the time, and some of the items you'll be selling. If you're able to include photos in your ads, take some quick pictures of your high-ticket or valuable items that will likely lure customers.
Advertise around the community with posters. Make some with the same information you have in your online and newspaper ads to place on bulletin boards in grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. But also place signs in your neighborhood that direct people to your garage sale location. They can be on brightly colored poster board or on cardboard you have sitting around the house, but make sure they have clear arrows and say the word "sale" on them. Tack these up on light poles or street signs the night before, or the morning of, the sale. Remember to take down all of the signs you've posted once the sale is over. Leaving them up will create an eyesore for the community.
If you want to be extra kind to your neighbors, let them know ahead of time about the sale so they're aware of the potential for extra traffic on your street.
3. Choose the Right Location in Your Yard
If possible, hold a large portion of your yard sale in the garage. This prevents the chances of having to reschedule if the weather calls for rain. If you don't have a garage, use a large tent to protect your sale items in case of poor weather. If the garage isn't an option, use your driveway or actual yard. (Remember to lock all the doors to your house while you're outside working, to keep safe the property you do want.)
4. Make Your Pricing Flexible
Gather a cash drawer with a lock, lots of change, price stickers, and markers. Place price stickers on the items that can hold them. Some things, like a stack of jeans, may simply require a sign that states the unit price. Just have a price in mind for everything so that when someone asks you, you're prepared with an answer. Keep your prices reasonable and be willing to haggle with your customers (unless you want to truck all that junk back into your house!). Start your day with your ideal pricing, and as time passes, lower it. To make things easy, keep the prices to the dollar or half dollar value. Also, consider donating a portion of your profits to charity and posting a sign that says so. People are typically more willing to shop and spend when it's for a good cause.
Since we're on the topic of money, place your cash drawer in a secure place and keep it locked unless you're adding money or making change. If you have multiple people working the sale, assign one person to be in charge of all the transactions to keep things streamlined.
5. Offer Good Customer Service
It's important to make the shopping experience easy for your customers, so allocate specific areas for various item groups such as clothing, furniture, small appliances, and knick-knacks.
Hang clothes on a clothing rack for easy access or lay them on a sheet on your lawn or driveway. Set up a number of tables in your garage where you can place small items. Have an extension cord available so that shoppers can test any items that require electricity. Keep a collection of boxes and bags ready for holding purchases made by your visitors. Also, ask family members or friends to be there to help you at the sale. With extra people to help you, you can provide better service to your buyers and be able to help the elderly lady who wants that piece of furniture, but can't lift it into her car.
6. The Aftermath
Total up your day's earnings, remembering to subtract the amount of change you started with and any money you spent on buying poster board, price stickers, etc.
Go through the items that didn't sell and decide if they can be given away or if they should simply be thrown into the garbage. You can also place unwanted items at your curbside with a "free" sign. If the items are still there the next day, place them into a box and take them to a local charity organization to donate.