Too small for an estate sale - maybe or maybe not - helpful hints for the weekender

Authored by - Aug 24, 2012

Tag Sale Hints

Advertising Your Yard Sale

  • Join up with friends, neighbors and family members. Block yard sales, or multifamily sales, tend to bring a lot of foot traffic. Consider splitting the cost of advertising amongst all  and use a portion of your sales to pay for it.
  • Check out free advertising sources. Credit union bulletins and community websites are a great source to advertise your yard sale. Many people also list their yard sales on Craigslist.
  • Use traditional advertising (newspapers, flyers, etc.) for larger sales. If you are planning to try and sell some high-end items, such as electronics, furniture, or a used car, consider paying to advertise in your local newspaper.

Yard Sale Signs

  • Keep it simple. Nothing works better than poster board and Sharpie markers. If you have some old boxes lying around you can also gather up some pieces of cardboard to write “YARD SALE” on and include your address.
  • Piggyback on neighboring yard sales. This is a trick I picked up as a teenager when my mom would send me around the neighborhood to hang up our signs. I looked in the newspaper Saturday morning to see if there were any other yard sales around our house. I would go to the end of the street these sales were on and hang a sign for our yardsale with a big arrow pointing in the direction of our house. As people left the advertised yard sales they would inevitably see my sign and then look for our yard sale, too.

Pricing at Yard Sales

  • Leave sentimental value inside the house. People shop yard sales for one reason - to get a deal. Just because the change purse used to belong to your great, great Grandmother who brought it with her from Ireland, it doesn’t mean you should stick a $10 price sticker on it and call it antique. Remember, things are worth only as much as people are willing to pay for them.
  • Sell kids or baby clothing from a big box or plastic bin. Based on the type of clothing, set a fair price for the entire bin and hang a sign made from a half-sheet of paper indicating the price of all items. For example, “BABY CLOTHES-$0.25 each.”
  • If you don’t have enough folding tables, sawhorses and a sheet of plywood make a good table. If you have some old sheets, hang them over the plywood to protect against splinters. This also provides some space under the tables to hide your empty boxes, or additional inventory.

Scheduling a Yard Sale

  • Schedule yard sales around the first of the month. Most people who are paid monthly, or bi-monthly, receive a paycheck around the 1st of the month (or the end of the previous month). For this reason, we try to schedule yard sales on the first Saturday of the month.
  • Check the weather forecast. Nothing ruins a good yard sale faster than rain. Keep an eye on the 10-day forecast before submitting your advertisements and selecting a date. There are no guarantees, but significant weather patterns (fronts, tropical systems, etc.) are fairly predictable within a couple days.

The Day of the Yard Sale

  • Plan on starting early!  Most hard-core yard sale scavengers will start looking around 7:00am (some as early as 6:00am).
  • Consider a pre-sale the Friday night before and invite your friends and coworkers. If you don’t mind friends going through your belongings, ask them to come by the night before to look through things ahead of time. I’ve sold some larger items by doing this, including computer monitors, baby furniture, etc. A side benefit of a presale is the more you sale the night before, the less you have to put out on Saturday morning.
  • Use a staging area the night before the sale. If you have a garage, or another enclosed space you can safely store things overnight, it helps to set up tables the night before. Our family backs the car out of the garage, sets up tables and throws out everything from the boxes the night before. At 6:30 the next morning all you need is some help walking the loaded tables out into your driveway or yard.
  • Have plenty of change on hand. The day before the yard sale I usually make a run by the bank to get some smaller bills and rolled coins. $50 in quarters, ones and fives ought to do it.
  • Consider getting a cash box. Make change from the cash box and place larger bills underneath the cash tray. If your yard sale becomes wildly successful, consider making a cash drop by withdrawing the larger bills from your cash box and taking them inside the house. This minimizes the chances of someone making off with all your cash.
  • Be safe–remember to use the buddy system. The people I’ve encountered in my experience hosting yard sales have mostly been honest, hard-working folks and genuine collectors. However, the allure of electronics and cash sometimes brings unsavory guests. These types like to try to create a distraction so another one can make off with the cash box. Work in pairs and assign someone to always have an eye on the money.