Warmer weather is coming and you know what that means, right? Yard sale season! I adore yard sale shopping almost as much as I love thrift store shopping! The chance to get a deal is fantastic when you’re shopping at garage sales, but it isn’t just the deals that I love. I love having my own garage sale! Learning how to have a successful garage sale is something that took me years (and years) of practice, but because of that practice, I’ve gotten quite good at it. In fact, my last yard sale netted me over $1200 over a 4-day period and I have consistently made over $1,000 with each yard sale that I’ve had for the last five years. Crazy, right? No worries, because I’m going to teach you how to have a garage sale properly and how you can do the same thing too!
Yard sales are one of my favorite ways that I earn extra money. One of the biggest garage sale tips I can give you is that you need time to properly plan your sale. You can’t throw a garage sale together in two or three days and expect to actually earn money. Give yourself at least a month to go through the items you’ll be putting out for sale, to price those items and to finish with the other planning tasks that need to be done. If not, you could be significantly cutting into your yard sale profits by not being fully prepared.
Garage Sale Tips – How to Have a Successful Garage Sale
When it comes to learning how to have a successful garage sale, you’ll have to do some work. I can sit here all day and tell you how to do it, but unless you’re willing to actually put my garage sale tips into practice, you’re not going to get anywhere. These are the tips that most garage sale pro’s use to have a successful garage sale so by putting them into play when you have your next garage sale, you will quickly become a pro as well.
More is…well more – Single family yard sales can do well but multi-family yard sales typically do much better. Ask a friend or family member if they would like to declutter their home with you by sharing your yard sale with you. You’ll have more items and if there’s one thing that garage sale shoppers love, it’s more items.
Location is everything – If you live in a back corner that doesn’t get any traffic and doesn’t intersect a well traveled street, you will need to find a new location to hold your garage sale. You don’t need to be right off of the main drag but you do need to be close enough to draw attention. If your home doesn’t meet that criteria, ask a friend or family member if you can use their yard or garage.
Know your neighbors – This one goes along with location a bit, but knowing your neighbors can also help you have a successful garage sale. I don’t mean that you should buddy up to them in order to sell your stuff, but you should know the general things. Did you have a pregnant neighbor? If so, you stand a good chance of selling that high chair and stroller in your attic. Does one enjoy sports? Dig out your old sports gear. Knowing what is happening around you can help you make sure that you include items that your neighbors might be interested in.
Clean yard or garage before sale – Make sure that the area that you’re holding your sale in is clean and tidy. It doesn’t need to be spotless but any trash or debris needs to be picked up from the yard, the garage should have any items not being sold removed and the floor swept and so on. You wouldn’t shop at a store if it was filthy so why would others shop at your garage sale if it is?
Signs are your friend – One of the biggest ways to have a successful yard sale is to make sure you’re advertising very well with signs. Don’t put them up ahead of time since that will chance them being pulled down by other people who want to advertise their site or them getting wet if it rains before your sale. What I personally do is pick up a complete yard sale kit that includes both price tags, signs and stakes for the signs. I then print out arrows facing each way and put two of the signs back to back on one wooden steak with the arrows pointing the correct way. This way, no matter which way a car is driving, they’ll be pointed in the right direction. You’ll want to place signs at the corners of your street, the main traffic intersection and any other well traveled areas near your garage sale spot that you can find.
Another idea that I love to do is pick up a cardboard garage sale tent sign. I place this at the end of my driveway pointing toward my home. This catches the attention of any passing motorists who may have missed the other signs.
Advertise online – My next garage sale tip for you is that you’ll want to do is advertise online. The morning of your garage sale, after everything is set up, post on any local Facebook groups that you’re able to as well as Craigslist. Having the extra ads up can only help boost your sales.
Know which items sell (and which don’t) – Each area is different, but if you research ahead of time which items actually do well at yard sales and which don’t, which items you can make more money on by selling online and which items people usually snag quickly, you’ll make considerably more money and have less left over. Some items just don’t do well at garage sales but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money on them. Spend a weekend or two before your garage sale visiting others and researching online to make certain that you only put out your best items.
Get rid of junk – One of my biggest pet peeves as a yard sale shopper is pulling up to a sale that is nothing but junk. If it doesn’t work, if it’s stained, if it’s broken, ripped, torn or otherwise trash? Put it where it belongs, in the garbage bin, instead of trying to make a few bucks by taking advantage of a yard sale shopper. If you only sell quality items, you’ll soon have a reputation has having the best garage sales around, but if you sell junk, that is exactly what your yard sale rep will be.
Clean your sale items up – Before the sale, make sure that all clothing is freshly laundered and that other items have been wiped down and are free of any dirty or dust. Yes, you can still sell them if they’re not but you will sell more of them if they are. There is one exception to this. If you are trying to sell anything that is vintage or antique and it has a natural patina, don’t clean it. Cleaning those items actually drops their value rather than helping raise it.
Have a well thought out layout – Another tip I have for you to help you learn how to have a garage sale is to really think about your layout. Just like stores have a planned layout, you need to as well. Make sure that you set up your tables or racks in a way that your shoppers can easily make their way through without having to trip over anything or squeeze past something. If they have to squeeze past things, it lessens your chances of selling more but it also increases your chance of having broken items.
Just say no to the ground…or boxes…or bags – Yard sale shoppers don’t like to bend down for items. This means you should do your best to keep things off of the ground. Packing things in garbage bags or boxes is a no-no as well unless you’re bundling those items together. In that case, fill your box, then place a price on the box with a printed note making it perfectly clear that the price is for the entire box.
Place your larger items up front – Items like furniture and other pieces of eye candy that you may be selling should be placed up front where people passing by can see them. You’ll catch more “flies” with this particular piece of honey than you will if you bury them in the back.
Place toys at kid level – As a mom I hate this one most of all of the garage sale tips I’m giving you, but as someone who is learning how to have a successful garage sale, you’ll love it. Place any toys or kids books that you’re selling at kid eye level. They’ll see them and want to play with them and as a result, you’ll sell more of them.
Group like items with like items – Just like the bigger stores do, grouping like items with like items can help you have a successful garage sale. This will help showcase your items a bit so that they are easily visible. Plus, someone who visits your sale for books, can easily find the books section without having to hop around your entire sale. For clothing, a portable clothing rack can help you keep items together if you don’t have anywhere to string a clothes line.
Price stickers make a difference – If I could give you only one of my garage sale tips, this one is it. One single thing that you can do to increase your sales and have a successful yard sale is to make absolutely certain that you have brightly colored price stickers that are clearly marked on every single item (that isn’t grouped) you are selling. A lot of yard sale bargain hunters will not ask what an item is priced at so if yours aren’t, you could miss out on quite a few sales. Masking tape will work for prices, but it tends to blend in with a lot of different items. I prefer to use brightly colored, round yard sale price stickers for most items and hang tag price tags for larger things.
Have a “free” box – I’m positive you’ll have plenty of items that you don’t want to keep but feel strange about trying to sell. Small kids toys, kids books that may not be in the greatest condition but are still readable, single inexpensive tools and more. Place these items in a box near the front of your garage sale and add a big “FREE!” sign on the front. You’ll draw in buyers just on the promise of getting something free.
Have plenty of change on hand for sale day – People will come to your sale with everything from loose change to one-hundred dollar bills. Make sure you have plenty of change to break those large bills. Ideally, try to break $100 or so over several bills and coins. I try to do (2) $20, (4) $10, (4) $5 as well as a roll each of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Also, be sure you have a locking cash box to keep your cash in.
Be willing to negotiate – Yard sale shoppers are bargain hunters. Simply put, the majority will not accept your price. Don’t be afraid to negotiate but make sure that you don’t refuse to haggle. You won’t sell much if you do.
Be present at your sale – I find it amazing that I have to include this with the rest of these garage sale tips, but I’ve seen it happen too many times to ignore it. Make sure that once your sale starts that you stay with it. Your buyers will not hunt you down to buy an item. They will simply leave. You also risk having things stolen from you if you leave your sale. This also means that you should be walking around your garage sale, offering help or conversation with anyone who needs it. Don’t be pushy but don’t be invisible either.
Smile and greet your buyers – Every single time someone walks up your driveway or into your yard, make absolutely certain that you smile and tell them hello. There is nothing more awkward feeling than going through someone’s things while they’re frowning at you from across the yard.
Tidy up as the day goes on – If you went to a yard sale that had items thrown all over the place, would you buy much? Probably not. You’ll set your yard sale up really nice and neat, but unfortunately there are plenty of people who will not respect that. Before too long, clothes will be tossed everywhere, books messed up, games taken apart and more. Make sure you tidy up as needed to keep your items looking their best. I generally do this as I’m walking around my sales greeting people and seeing if they need help with anything.
Offer cool drinks – Most yard sales are held during hot summer months. Add a cooler of cold water, juice or soda and sell it for $0.50 each can. You won’t make money on it, but it will give people a reason to hang around your sale longer. The longer they are there, the higher the chance that they will buy something goes.
Have a helper – This is one where your older kids or spouse can help. Make sure that you don’t try to do a large yard sale without help. They can relieve you when you need a break, help you set up and tear down, deal with multiple buyers wanting to pay at the same time and more.
Bag day on last day of sale – The last thing anyone who is having a yard sale wants to do is pack up items and take them inside or to the thrift store. After all, the point of having a garage sale is to earn money from your items. On the last day of your garage sale, hold a bag day. Use paper grocery bags and let people fill them up with whatever they can fit in them for a flat rate. I have done as low $2.00 per bag or as high as $5.00 per bag depending on what is left. It’s an easy way to add some extra oomph to your garage sale earnings and to keep the clutter from worming its way back into your home.
Ready for even more yard sale tips? My new e-book, Yard Sale Pro: How to Have a Wildly Successful Yard Sale is packed full of them! Grab your copy today! Your yard sales will never be the same again!
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