7 Steps to Guarantee a Successful Yard Sale


Follow these 7 simple practices to optimize your sales, get rid of more stuff and have fun doing it.

Yard Sales

Illustrations by Sheila Britton
Looking to clean house this season? Why not make some extra cash while you’re at it and host a successful garage sale? I don’t mean just throwing some junk on some tables and putting up a cardboard sign. By following these seven simple practices (and don't miss our 6 merchandizing tips at the end!), you can optimize your sales, get rid of more stuff and have fun doing it!

1. Make it Big

There’s nothing worse than losing time driving to a sale with a measly two or three tables of junk. If you don’t have much to sell, team up with some neighbours or friends and combine your stuff to create a bigger, more attractive sale. 
Tip: Have each contributor use different coloured price tags, then pull off the tags each time someone buys something and stick it to a clipboard to track sales.

2. Advertise

Think of your yard sale as your one-time business. It’s a real opportunity to make some extra cash, so treat it like one. Regulars don’t just stop by the occasional sale while out driving, they look at ads and plan their morning around the biggest and best-sounding sales. 
  • Many communities have buy and sell groups on Facebook.
  • Resale websites like Kijiji and Craigslist offer free postings to your sale. 
  • Create your own Facebook event where you can post photos of the stuff you’ll be selling and remind people about your sale.
  • Don’t forget about the local newspapers and radio stations. 
  • Signage, signage, signage! Put signs at every intersection near your home and all major crossings nearby. Use BIG, BOLD lettering! It’s mind boggling how many people put up the big “Garage Sale” signs then write their address with a thin Sharpie or even a pen. People driving by have under two seconds to read your sign so make it big, make it clear and use arrows! Not everyone will know where 777 Smith St. is located.

3. Price Properly

Price everything! It may seem like a big pain, but lots of people can’t be bothered to ask the price of everything. Plus, you’ll be tempted to offer a lower price when asked in person. With that in mind, price fairly. People don’t go to yard sales expecting to pay the prices you’d find on Kijiji and Craigslist.
Be prepared to negotiate your prices. That’s half the fun of yard sales. Keep this in mind when pricing and if there are certain items you’re not willing to budge on, mark “firm” on the price tag.

4. Merchandise

Many people slowly drive by a sale to determine whether it’s stop-worthy or not, and sadly the verdict is often no. Do you like shopping in a messy, disorganized store? Probably not, so why should your sale be any different?

5. Be Organized

Don’t leave pricing and merchandising until the morning of your sale. You’ll have early birds, and you don’t want to miss out. Have everything ready to go a half hour before your advertised start time and, if possible, start a bit earlier than most other sales. Be sure to have a dedicated checkout table with a cashbox, float and someone to watch it at all times. It’s no fun trying to figure out who’s running the sale and trying to get their attention.

6. Biggie Size Your Sales 

Have some lemonade or bottled drinks, baked goods and snacks by the checkout table to increase your sales. Shoppers may browse longer if they have a treat to enjoy.

7. Have Fun

Make a day of it! Invite friends and family over to help, play some music, have a drink or two and enjoy some time outside. A fun atmosphere will draw browsers in and keep them shopping longer.

6 Yard Sale Merchandising Tips

1. Put big items like furniture pieces closer to the curb. This will attract attention, and you don’t have to worry much about people stealing these items.
2. Organize similar stuff together, like electronics on one table, kitchen gadgets on another, etc.
3. Make sure everything is visible and use dollar store tablecloths to give the whole sale a more uniform look.
4. Display books and movies on a bookcase, hang clothes on a portable clothes rack and use a big tarp to display items like children’s toys on the lawn.
5. Display smaller, valuable items like jewelry near the checkout table.
6. Demonstrate that items work. Buy some batteries and plug in some extension cords so people can feel confident that the item they’re buying works.