How to have a great yard sale

OK, I am venturing into unfamiliar territory– gearing up to HAVE a yard sale this weekend instead of my usual yard sale shopping. Things I’m aiming to do:

  1. Make good signs and place them at key intersections within a mile or so.
  2. Label prices clearly.
  3. Keep prices affordable  (I’m pricing my clothes at 50 cents to $1.)
  4. Hang as many items as possible for easy visibility.
  5. Sort clothes by size so that people can find what they need.  (I’m borrowing several tables from church so I can really spread things out.)
  6. Place large items near to road to attract attention.

What else? If you’ve had a successful yard sale, what tips can you share with me?


  1. Do not forget to have plenty of change.
    Nothing worst than having to either close the sale or send someone to the store to get change.

    • I advise not even dealing with “change” (coins that is) If someone only want one item for .50 encourage them to find another for the same price so it’s a dollar even.

      If they still won’t budge & and it’s just for 50 cents…consider just letting them have it! 🙂 It might be worth to spare the very small price to get it out of your house and to a worth person.

      Anyway, in my experieces taking coins OUT of the equation has made thing easy on me.

      Best of luck!


  2. Our newspaper lets you place a free ad if you get it in by Wed. If yours doesn’t, then you might put an ad up on Craig’s list. We have used two ladders with a long 2X4 ( I think) between then to hang more items. Good luck! I love a good garage sale!

  3. I did a post about this last year I think…

    Lots of good tips there! My favorite is putting pajama’s in ziplocks, same with toy sets. This can keep things together and help be more organized.

    • I read your post, Kellyn and it was great. We will be moving in a year (to go to Africa) and we are gearing up for our first huge garage sale in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  4. I was too cheap to use ziplocs for certain items, so at Walmart I got a cheap box of gallon+ sized regular bags (close w/twist tie) & bagged up shoe pairs, sets that might easily get separated, delicate items, etc. I wore one of those bright home depot aprons they give out to kids which has great pockets for money…no cash box to worry about walking away from, easy to spot who is in charge, etc…otherwise if go with a cash box, have someone in charge of it who stays put, someone other than you so that you are available for questions/haggling/etc. If someone wants something for lower than you are willing to go (esp for larger items & esp early in the day) tell them to come back closer to your ending time & if its still available, its theirs for that price. Near your ending time if you have a lot of say clothes or toys left, consider making deals such as fill a grocery bag for $3 or whatever just so you don’t have to pack it back up. Finally, consider having the charity truck scheduled to pickup whatever doesn’t sell at the end of the day ON the day of the sale…you’ll be thankful you don’t have to hang onto/put away any of that stuff you didn’t need anymore…simply leave all that goes in a pile at the end of your driveway & you don’t even need to be around for when they arrive. Good luck!

  5. Susan B-A says:

    If you’re plannng to use the proceeds for something special, be sure to make a sign for that. Our brood made a mint when people realized that we were saving for the upcoming adoption of a sister. We did a little over $1600 in two days because people donated stuff to us to sell and others just paid more to buy it. It makes for quite a life story for our daughter when she realized that the whole community helped us find her!

    • Yes this is a terrific idea! Many times people will offer to give MORE if the money is going to charity or a worthy cause! 🙂

  6. Here are some items I had on my list from a recent, successful sale:

    Have change, bags, and newspaper to wrap breakables. Be social and talk to everyone. Bargain with people wanting to buy a bunch of items. Sort items by category… toys together, clothes together, books together, etc. Have small items up on tables and easy to see/reach. Most people do not want to sit on the ground or dig through things.

    Consider a newspaper ad and advertising for free on craigslist.

    Take your signs down as quickly as possible when the sale is over.

    Consider having refreshments. Our daughter had a great time selling muffins and a neighbor girl made quite a few dollars selling lemonade on a hot day.

    Good luck!

  7. I’m sure you are way past the baby clothes stage, but I used to bundle a season of clothes together in their particular sizes…three or four outfits, onesies, socks, etc. masking taped together. It’s so overwhelming looking at a stack of clothes after visiting a lot of sales at a time, and this really helped thing to move.

    Be ready to roll as soon as the signs go out. It frustrates me to no end to visit a sale that has been advertised and I get there and find out they are “bringing some more stuff in an hour or so.”

    Keep things looking full. I won’t stop at a sale that has too little stuff. It’s too much pressure.

    Keep your prices at quarter increments. Nickels and dimes are frustrating to fuss with and quarters help make adding up a long list of purchases really easy and fast.

    Have fun. I’ve been known to rake in as much as 500 dollars at a sale. Those little things really add up!

  8. We helped a friend do some non-profit garage sales in the past two years for an orphanage in Africa. It was so much fun! I know it’s almost time, so some of these might not apply.
    *We laminated our bright pink signs so that they’d hold better. We put them everywhere within a mile. From all directions!
    *Advertising! Craigslist, newspaper, pennysaver. See if your local news channels have an online calendar, or your city also. We were able once to have the entire first page of a search engine pop up about our garage sale from different sources!
    *We used a big coffee tank and gave coffee for donations! It sure made people happy!
    *I would definitely have the charity truck scheduled if these are things you want gone. Much easier than loading it all BACK inside! Or you could put an ad on freecycle or the free section of craigslist letting those freebie-lovers know it’ll be there at a certain time. Or even wait until it’s over to post those ads.
    *We made signs for the different tables, ‘housewares’, ‘tools’, etc and sorted the stuff as much as possible.
    *We’d have any of our “helpers” bring their spare grocery bags with them so that we could give people bags to fill up! Seemed too help them shop more! Have to keep track of who has paid though!
    Everyone else has given some great tips! Have fun!

  9. as mentioned, the ladder between posts is a nice way to display items

    Make sure to have plenty of cash/change, then remember to deduct that start-up money at the end of the day 🙂

    Have a FREE box, down low where little kids can sort thru.
    Although it’s my cat who loves her water to be in the saucer found in a box at a yard sale.

    I gave up on having a yard sale a long time ago. Yes, I made a little extra money, but all the preparation and rude customers wasn’t worth it for me.

  10. Have your kids operating a lemonade and homemade chocolate chip cookie stand. Everything’s $0.50. Even people who don’t end up buying any of your stuff are usually willing to drop $1 at the kids’ lemonade and cookie stand.


  11. Have a place cleared near the check out for people to pile their stuff while they are still looking. Also, laundry baskets are great for while people are still shopping.

  12. Advertise on Craigslist.

  13. thriftymomma says:

    It sounds obvious but price things, either individually or with signs. Nothing worse than seeing lots of great stuff and not knowing if I can afford it. Hopefully, you’ll have lots of people and don’t want the extra hassle of “how much is this?…” If you’re willing to bargain a little don’t forget to let people know. Don’t forget to decide if the kids are allowed to be in charge of offering deals. Unfortunately, I’ve seen people take advantage of this. The laundry basket idea is great, just remember not to sell them too…lol Good luck and have fun!

  14. We just had a garage sale last Friday as we’re moving back to Australia next week. Some things we did (most of which are repeats are)

    1. We had 12 signs up at intersections, pointing from every direction
    2. Advertised on Craigslist, Houston Chronicle online ad & Greensheet (paid)
    3. Only dealt in 25 cent increments – didn’t have any problems with change at all
    4. Doubled up with a friend who’s moving to Malaysia tomorrow – so we had tonnes of stuff
    5. Provided bags, etc
    6. About 2 hours before the end, we started to regroup things – had a “free” section at the top of the driveway (so they had to walk up through everything to get to it), then a 50c table a $1 table and a $2 table.
    7. And of course, my daughter had her first lemonade stand – a definite MUST!

  15. Put batteries in anything that needs them and run an extension cord to plug up anytthing that plugs in so that people can see that they work.
    Bring your kids out and let them help. People loving buying from kids!! It also give the kids a great lesson in math, economics, and customer service.
    Have the little one set up a lemonade stand. My little one sold bottled waters to raise money for her Disney account. I let her keep all profits. Another little lesson in economics.
    Also make sure that if you need a license, you get one. We have to have one in our city. It only costs $2, but the fine is much, much higher if you don’t have it.

    Good Luck!!

  16. 1. Agreed on the snacks/coffee/soda ideas. We only put together stuff we already like and that way if it didn’t sell we’d still use it, so we had canned soda and some cereal bars. For your family I doubt you use as much of that, so maybe lemonade, coffee, and some muffins or cookies that you can freeze down if they don’t sell. Or maybe sell some of your produce if you think a little farmer’s stand would work out.

    2. Tool belts make great aprons, as do regular aprons. Anything with at least 2 pockets. We’d keep the $$ in one pocket and in another a roll of masking tape, a marker, etc so you could quickly mark something that got missed or adjust a sign. If you have some matching shirts for all the kids and grownups that are helping, do that so everyone knows the blue tshirts with toolbelts are the go-to people.

    3. Consider a “1/2 price after 1PM” type sign. Also, a neighbor just had a sale where they did something a little different: No negotiations at all on day 1 just full price OR you could submit a bid on the item with a phone number and at the end of the day if that item had not sold at full price they’d call the highest offer and let them come get it at their offer. Or you could let them have it at the 2nd highest offer (a Vickrey auction, for those economist types familiar with auction theory!). It would mean a lot more headache though so you may only want to do that on big ticket items early in the day or something.

    4. If you can, something like “all t-shirts $2” type pricing is easier than tagging every single item. And then at any point you can change it to $1.50 or $1… Also consider the old “$2 each of 3/$5” type pricing to move more stuff.

    5. Bag and seal any games/puzzles or other sets and mark appropriately as “all pieces included” or “missing the dice” or whatever. Saves things from getting rummaged apart and lost.

    6. Definitely an extension cord to test appliances, a mirror, and if it does not already have batteries in it and you don’t want to restock everything with fresh batteries have a basket of them nearby to let them try it and if they buy the item consider adding the batteries for free or a small charge if they want, depending on if you price it as including batteries or not. It’s not really ideal to re-load everything with batteries b/c it may be going into a storage area of a thrift store if it doesn’t sell and having stuff sitting around with aging batteries in it is not good.

    NPR just had an article today on garage sales but from a customer perspective.

  17. One of the tips I have been given is try to have it as close to paydays as you can, i.e., right after the 1st of the month or right after the 15th, when people are more likely to have money to spend. Also, everytime I have had one, advertising tools was a HUGE HUGE draw! I think men are more likely to stop or let their wives stop if they think they might find a bargain on a tool that someone doesn’t know what it’s worth! LOL

  18. Most of my tips have already been posted!

    We price things in 25 cent increments
    Put signs up 1-2 days before the sale
    Put like items together
    Large price tags on large items
    Price everything (that is one of my pet peeves at sales)
    Bundle things together – silverware, McD’s toys, etc
    Encourage a neighbor to have a sale also
    Post on Craigs List

    Good luck! We are gearing up for a sale in mid September!

  19. Group similar items together (dishes, tools, etc.)

    Put furniture near the street. (I am a furniture junky and will only stop if they have good looking wood furniture.)

  20. – Sell bottled water for .50 or .25/ea if the weather is hot.

    – The second day of our recent garage sale, we REALLY wanted to just get rid of stuff – so we raided my mother’s stash of paper grocery bags (all the same size, all with handles) and told people that they could buy an item here/there, OR they could fill up the bag with whatever they wanted for $8. This tactic really gets rid of the small stuff – and people think they’re getting a deal! WORKS LIKE A CHARM.

    – Put teasers on the signage – phrases like “furniture” or “kids clothes.” Be specific.

    – Make your signs consistent in appearance, color, and phrasing – brand them, if you will. We recently did all of ours in neon green posterboard so they stood out amongst the other yard sale signs at key intersections, and instead of drawing an arrow, we added a neon arrow to the stake separate of the sign itself. A bunch of people commented on how easy it was to read, see, and follow.