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How to Have a Yard Sale

All it takes is some advance planning—and a little psychology—to unload all your junk in a yard sale.


  • Step 1: Have a co-sale Get as many friends, neighbors, and relatives to participate as you can. The bigger the sale, the better everyone will do.
  • Step 2: Advertise Advertise your yard sale a few days ahead of time by putting up clearly marked signs with the date of the sale on them in thick black lettering that can be read from a car. Place the signs every 50 feet or so, with arrows. If you’re selling a lot of stuff, place a classified ad in the local paper, or post an online ad on Craigslist.
  • TIP: If you take out an ad, be specific about some of the stuff you’re selling, like 'toddler-size boys’ clothes' or 'exercise equipment.'
  • Step 3: Find ways to display goods Assemble as many card tables as you can; items sell better if they’re neatly displayed, as opposed to strewn on the lawn. If you’re selling clothes, hang them from a clothing rack.
  • Step 4: Spruce up sale items Spruce up the items you’re selling as best you can. Shiny knickknacks and clean, pressed clothes will sell better than stuff people are afraid to touch. Use pretty ribbon to bundle loose items.
  • Step 5: Collect grocery bags and boxes Start accumulating grocery bags and boxes. People will buy more if you make it easier for them to carry off their purchases.
  • Step 6: Prepare a “free” box Take everything you want to get rid of that you can’t imagine anyone paying for and put it in a carton clearly marked 'FREE.' Stick it in a prominent place near the curb to attract passersby.
  • TIP: If you have a lot of toys, put them in a 'take one free' box for children.
  • Step 7: Be able to make change Keep at least $50 in coins and small bills in your cash box so you can make change.
  • Step 8: Price items Figure out what you want for an item and then mark it up a bit; people like to haggle. A good rule of thumb is to charge a quarter of the original cost for items in good condition.
  • TIP: Do a little sleuthing. You don’t want to sell a candy dish for 50 cents and then find out it was worth $500. Check your prices against online auctions sites, like eBay.
  • Step 9: Provide an electrical cord If you’re selling electric items, snake an extension cord from the house so people can test the goods.
  • Step 10: Have a mirror Have a mirror so people can see how hats, scarves, jewelry, and such look on them.
  • Step 11: Group like items Group like items—kitchen stuff on one table, tools on another.
  • Step 12: Put out refreshments Put out refreshments. Providing coffee, lemonade, and cookies will most likely pay for itself by encouraging people to linger longer.
  • Step 13: Be flexible Be flexible about prices, especially as the day winds down. Do you really want to lug all this stuff back inside your house?
  • FACT: The world’s longest yard sale takes place every summer along a 630-mile stretch from Ohio to Alabama.

You Will Need

  • Poster paper and markers
  • Card tables
  • Plastic grocery bags and cardboard boxes
  • A cash box and small bills and coins to make change
  • An extension cord
  • A mirror
  • A classified ad
  • A clothing rack
  • Refreshments

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