Venus Trapped in Mars

08 April 2015

How to Have A Successful Yard Sale

Now that I'm in my late-twenties, it has been 15+ years since I've been involved in a successful yard sale. So when CB decided he wanted to have a yard sale, neither of us had any idea where to begin. Where do you list a yard sale? What is more effective, a yard sale or a garage sale? How do you have a successful yard sale? How do you price items at a yard sale? Do you announce your yard sale in the newspaper like the old days? What kind of wording is most effective to attract people to your yard sale?

So many questions! I did my best to research as much as possible for the several weeks leading up to our sale, so I could help CB make his the best it could possibly be. We made some good choices along the way, and we made some mistakes. Here is what we learned! 

Advertise on the Internet

You'll want to advertise your yard sale days in advance, but where do you do that these days? When I was a kid, my mom would put an ad in the newspaper, but not only doest that cost money, but who reads the paper anymore? Some people suggested Facebook, but I just didn't have enough local friends on Facebook for that to be effective. 
So here are some places suitable for advertising your yard sale in the modern era.

There is actually a section on Craigslist specifically for garage sales -- located in the "for sale" Section. We advertised on craigslist starting on Wednesday, for our Saturday yard sale. We then reposted the ad daily, so that it was constantly in the top search results. 

Other helpful sites to advertise:  
Garage Sales Tracker
Weekend Treasure
Yard Sale Search

Things to Include in Your Ad
1. Location
You might not feel comfortable putting your actual address on Craigslist. As I'm sure you guessed, CB didn't want to include his. Instead we listed that his house was between X highway and X highway. You could also say, "Located behind the Kroger on Main St". They can then rely on your signs to find the sale. 

2. Don't even bother posting a time
We posted that our sale would begin at 7am. There was a guy there at 6:15am with a flashlight. In other news, people are nuts. 

3. What you'll be selling
Specific items will get people emailing you before the sale even begins. CB's paintball gear and video games all received ridiculous amounts of emails prior to the sale. This was also helpful when it came time to price our items. Supply and demand, people. More on that later. 

4. Sample Wording 
Flowery wording is always acceptable and encouraged, IMO! Why say you have a red suitcase set, when you can say, "Stand out in the crowd at the baggage claim with a crimson colored 4-piece Luggage set, compete with identification tags. Trip to Oahu not included." That was of course a joke.... Here is our ad: 

Place 10-20 Directional Posters / Signs
We placed a variety of hand made, and pre-made directional signs around 6:15am that morning. 
TIP: when hand making your signs, wait to draw your arrow on the sign until you figure out where that sign will point. If you need to place a sign pointing to the right, and you already drew a left arrow, you're SOL! 

Plus, you get to see the sunrise...... something I'm not accustom to on Saturday mornings.

 Mmmmm Waffle House.... Mmmmmm All Star Breakfast.....


Put a Price On EVERY Item Prior to Your Sale

If people have to ask you questions, particularly an item's price, they'll give up quickly. Not to mention, if you are having a multi-family yard sale like we did, you won't know what someone wants to charge for their items. 

// Pricing Tips // 

CB's way of pricing....
"I never want to see this thing again, I want everything gone by noon."
Book Shelf- $1
Golf Club - $1 
Paint Ball Gun - $0.50
Hardback Best Selling Novel - $0.25
Lamp- Free (I'm not kidding, he had a free pile

Sarah's way of pricing...
"I don't really want to sell this. I can't believe I'm selling this. This is designer, do you know what I paid for this. I hope people see what it is they're purchasing right now. I'm putting an absurd price on this item, I don't care if it doesn't sell, I'll take it home with me."

JCrew Blouse- $4
Vintage Cubs Jersey - $14 scratch that....  $24 scratch that.... $39 this jersey is vintage, dang it.
Steve Madden Pumps - $9 I mean I wore these ONE TIME....

To be successful, your pricing should fall somewhere between our two extremes! 

Have a Notebook + Take Specific Notes on Each Sale

We had a total of 6 different people selling items. Our plan was to have one cash drawer, and to take notes on what was purchased. We decided to sort out who made what after the sale was over.

We were sure to write down the following items after each sale:

// Brief description of the item
// Whose item it was 
(i.e. Sarah, CB, CB's Mom, CB's brother... etc...)
// Final Sold Price

TIP: People are likely to buy more than one thing. For example, someone bought a few pairs of my shoes, one of CB's bookshelves and some of CB's brother's toys. Even though the person is paying for all of it together, list each of those separately, otherwise someone is going to lose out on money. 
Sarah: Shoes, 4 pairs, $15
CB: Bookshelf $2
CB's Bro: Monster truck toy $3

Hagglers // Making Deals
I was shocked at how few people haggled with us. If they don't haggle, consider it a gift from the good people at CarMax. 
It is a good idea to squash haggling by offering bulk discounts instead. I don't know about you, but haggling make me uncomfortable. I would suggest offering a 10% or 20% discount to people who buy 3 or more items. They get a deal, you stop the haggling... everyone is happy!

Another thing to consider is the time of day. When 11am hit, we started making deals with anyone who would even glance at an item. We knew we were running out of time and wanted everything gone... read: we didn't want to bring everything back inside. 

Our very last deal of the day was literally, "We will give you everything left on this table for just $10!" The table was a mix of computer parts and printers, all of it valued way more than that. We didn't have to bring any of it back inside, and they got to haul home ton of miscellaneous computer parts.  

Everyone is happy! 


This is the one tip that will make you GOBS of money. You WILL have valuable, high ticket items that you didn't even realize.

For example: CB had a pretty substantial amount of old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games and accessories. When he posted the ad on craigslist, he had about 12 emails, within hours, inquiring what games and what accessories he had. 

This immediately threw up a red flag for us to research and re-price these items. 
Turns out one of his Nintendo games was going for $50 at a local gaming store, and had a two year waiting list of people trying to buy the game. We had about 20 people before our sale even officially started, looking to buy up all of the gaming equipment. 

CB was originally going to price them at 2 bucks a piece, we had no idea those games were worth that kind of money. As it turns out, all of his Nintendo and Super Nintendo games and accessories ended up bringing him hundreds of dollars.  Pretty cool, huh?

If you think it might have value, google it. That is what the internet is there for, right?


Have you had a successful yard sale recently?
What kind of tips would you give that I might have missed?



  1. We held a two-day yard sale last year, the first day my stuff sold like wildfire, and the next day I barely sold anything. So if you can hold your yard sale over multiple days, you might have better luck. Also check to see if your neighborhood ever does community yard sale days, that tends to bring in more people and the HOA normally will do the advertising. Or at the very least check in with your neighbors and see if they are up for hosting a yard sale on the same day(s) you are. The more yard sales going on in a neighborhood, the more likely people are going to come by.

  2. Oh girl I could write a book on what NOT to do for a yard sale! Summers in Kentucky are full of yard sales on every street corner. I've seen clothes laid out on car hoods, strung from windows, the whole nine yards. I've been loving Thredup or local consignment stores to get rid of my junk :)

  3. i am DIGGING your how to posts! pinning fo sho!

  4. This is SOOOOOO helpful! Couldn't have come at a better time.

  5. I have always sucked at yard sales. I just don't want my good stuff to go so cheap. So I've been dropping anything decent off at my friends consignment store. That way I don't have to look at it go for low prices.

  6. I haven't had a yard sale in years, but these are all AMAZING and detailed tips. I will be pinning for future use, thanks Sarah!

  7. Thanks for this! I definitely will keep these tips in last yard sale was a bit of a fail LOL. :)

  8. Good tips! We're working on doing some purging after our move and having another sale this summer so I''ll definitely use some of these.

  9. These are great tips! I love being part of a community sale where people are hopping from house to house.

  10. I watched Kate Gosslin (from Kate Plus 8) do an episode on her yard sale and she said she doesn't price ANYTHING. It's her opinion that people will pay what they want to and it all balances out in the end, maybe even in the seller's favor. That probably wouldn't work as well for multiple sellers in one place, but I thought it was a pretty interesting way of doing things.


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