RW Learning Center – Yard Sale Tips

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Yard Sale Tips

When you decide to get rid of the excess items in your attic, or storage room, you have three choices: throw them out, give them away, or sell them at a yard sale. Throwing out some items may be the best option; others may return some of the money you have invested in them.

  • Pick a Saturday a few weeks away to give yourself a chance to sort through the items you will be selling. Check with friends, family and neighbors, as multifamily yard sales do better, and if your neighbors are having a yard sale soon, having them on the same day will generate more people looking. More people will mean more sales. Check your local regulations regarding yard sales before you start. Plan to have your sale on a weekend when there are no major activities scheduled.
  • Go ahead and spend the few dollars to run an advertisement in a local paper. Many people go yard sale shopping, and if they don’t know about yours they won’t be there. If you are teaming up with family or friends for a yard sale the cost can be split between participants.
  • When you are sorting out your items, label things that work, or don’t. Some people maybe looking for a part to repair something so don’t assume that just because that old blender doesn’t work, or the jar is cracked no one will want it. It is a good idea to have an extension cord available so that people can check out electrical items before purchase.


  • Sort things according to a plan: kitchen items, knickknacks, children’s clothing, adult clothing etc. If everything is jumbled together, many people won’t bother to look for bargains. Tables can be made from sawhorses and lumber. A few hooks and some string will let you hang clothing and looks much nicer.
  • Put some of the larger items out near the street, to catch the eyes of those who are driving by. You will be surprised at how many people will stop to look, even though they are not interested in the dining room furniture.
  • Clean items, but don’t worry if they are not perfect. A little dust won’t hurt, but spider webs hanging from a lamp could well destroy the sale. When deciding how clean an item needs to be considered the time you would spend cleaning it, as opposed to how much the item is worth.
  • Make sure any assistants and you are on the same wavelength. If your assistant just wants things gone, and you would prefer to keep something rather than settle for low price, designate one of you to do all the bargaining. Make sure that if you are having a multi family sale, that someone representing each household is present for the yard sale that way there are no unpleasant scenes about your accepting a bid they consider to low.
  • Pricing items is always a tricky part of the operation. Consider what the price of a new one is, how old it is, what kind of condition it is in, and what the going rate in your area is. If you are selling paperback books for $1.00 each, and your neighbor sells them for 4/1.00 then you won’t sell many. You might consider accepting offers from buyers. If someone offers you 10.00 for a table, and you were asking for 15, offer to sell them the matching lamp with the table for 20.00.
  • Make sure you have a reasonable supply of change, and keep the money on you at all times, a fanny pack is great for this, or a builder’s apron. While most yard sale shoppers are honest, their are those individuals who would not hesitate to steal.
  • Having a cooler with cold water, and a supply of paper cups is a good idea, you want people to stop and look, if they can get a drink of cold water while they look they will be more inclined to buy. You might also set aside an area with a few unbreakable toys for younger children to play with while parents shop. This will save a few headaches caused by bored children. The parents will also appreciate being able to look around without having to worry excessively about the children breaking something.

When you are done, you can donate any unsold items to a charity, and get a tax break. Some communities have yard sale buyers for secondhand stores that do nothing but purchase items from yard sales. You might check your local paper and offer the remaining items to them for a set price.

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