Why You Should Have a Yard Sale
We’re all drowning in stuff. I grew up in a family of 5 people. When my brothers and I went to college we had accumulated a small mountain of old toys and games, books, clothing, and electronics.
I got started on eBay by selling this stuff around the house.
But my first introduction to making money with old possessions was by having a yard sale. This was way back in 2015. Since then, I’ve had 4 or 5 yard sales and have made over $1000 in total.
If you’re looking to get rid of old inventory, or if you don’t sell or online, having a yard sale is a great way to declutter and make some money in the process.
The Easiest Way to Price Things
For my first yard sale I was excited, so I diligently priced everything individually. I got little stickers and marked the prices. This took hours and hours and wasn’t worth the extra time.
The solution to this is to simply put your items out the morning of the yard sale, and then make up prices as you go along. It’s good to have a basic idea of how you want to price things ( CDs for $1, books for 50 cents each, complete puzzles for $3).
For more expensive items like bags, jewelry, antiques or collectibles, it is a good idea to have a more specific price in mind so that you don’t get ripped off. Then again, if you have very expensive items, selling them at a yard sale may not be the best idea.
A story that shows this: I was at a garage sale a couple of years ago and the host was asking $1 for all handbags. I was rummaging through the bin of bags and came across a heavy canvas and leather bag that felt high quality. I paid the $1, brought the bag home, and did some research. I listed the bag on my eBay account and it sold for more than $90 in less than 24 hours later!
How I have Yard Sales
Here is my exact process for having a yard sale. I’m not saying that my process and system is the most profitable, or that there isn’t a better way to do it. But my method is relatively straightforward and financially worth the time.
First, I make the decision to have the sale and pick a weekend in the upcoming weeks. I usually have the sale on a Friday and Saturday morning. Saturday and Sunday morning works well too. After I pick a weekend to have it, I then call up my local newspaper to place an ad in the paper.
Starting at 7 am and going until around noon seems to be the best times to have your sale. For some reason unbeknownst to me, yard sales seem to be dead after 11 am. You’ll get the majority of traffic before 9 am, so starting early is a good idea.
I then go through my stuff, whether it’s my old eBay inventory, or stuff in my parent’s basement, and decide on what to sell.
If your in doubt whether to keep an item or get rid of it, than you should probably get rid of it. A general rule of thumb to follow is that if you haven’t used it in 6 months than that item goes. Remember sentimental value doesn’t mean it’s worth actual money. That bulky bookshelf may hold sentimental value since all of your children had it in their rooms at one point, but you should get rid of it because now it’s cluttering your house.
And remember, the highest return on your yard sale won’t come from the money that you make, but instead comes from the peace of mind from getting rid of clutter. Living in a crowded environment raises our stress hormones and contributes to anxiety.
Getting rid of stuff, and making money in the process, is a great first step to inner peace and financial security.
Two days before the sale I make signs for the sale (see below for more information) and hang them up around my town. I usually make around 6 signs. I also create an ad on Craigslist about my sale. Craigslist is free to use and post to and has many users, so it’s the perfect platform to advertise your sale.
There is even a specific section where you can post an ad about a yard sale. You can also advertise on social media like Facebook. And remember to place an ad in your local paper!
The night before the sale I move all of my items into the first floor of my house. Then on the day of the sale I set up tables and tents in my driveway), and then place my items outside. That’s about all there is to it!
I’ve found following the points I listed below makes having a yard sale take the least time consuming and still be profitable ($200+ per yard sale).
- Pick a weekend to have the sale. Typically Friday and Saturday morning or Saturday and Sunday morning are the best days to maximize profits. If you can’t have a yard sale two days in a row then it’s best to have it on Saturday morning. The hours of 7 am to 12 noon are the best times to host the sale. Be aware! If you don’t say no early birds in your advertisement than you can expect people as early as 6 am!
- After you decide on a day, it’s time to advertise your sale. My town has a local newspaper that costs around $15 to post an ad. This investment is well worth the traffic that it brings to the my house. In your ad include the dates, your address, times, rain dates (I usually say rain or shine!), and some items that will be for sale (videogames, home goods, electronics, appliances, shoes, etc).
- Organize the items that you want to sell. Then get all of it near your door a day or two before the sale so you can just move the stuff out to your driveway on the day of the sale.
- I don’t individually price everything. I did that my first yard sale and it took hours and hours. I don’t think it’s worth it. I like to come up with a price on the spot. And I like to ask a couple dollars more so I can negotiate easily.
- Two days before your sale make four to six road signs that advertise the sale, including dates, times and address. I like to use a big piece of cardboard and then paint these details on.
- In previous years I’ve made the mistake of using construction paper and a Sharpie for the signs, but the paper isn’t sturdy enough to hold itself up for long, and the writing is too small to see from a car. Using paint and cardboard solves both of these problems. After you create the signs it’s time to go around and staple them or nail them (I use a staple gun) to telephone poles around your town. Put them on the most trafficked areas. I also like to have a few arrows that lead to my road because my house is off a main road.
- Two days before your sale, you should post a free ad on Craigslist. This ad can be identical to the one placed in the local newspaper. A lot of people use Craigslist (myself included) to plan a route for yard sales that they are going to check out. Between Craigslist, the local advertising, and signs, you’re getting your sale out to hundreds of people. Depending on your town, you could also print out small posters about your sale, and then hang them in local cafes and shops.
- The day before your sale make sure you have enough change to break people’s bills. It’s a very good idea to have a large stack of $1 bills (I like to have about 20-30 dollars in ones) so that you can make change for people. By this time, you should have a general idea of how much you’re going to charge for different items. Again, it’s not necessary to price each item individually, but a rough idea of price makes sure that you won’t get ripped off.
- My sales start at 7am, so I wake up around 5am the day of the sale to set up. I own a few big, long fold-out plastic tables. I use these tables to hold my stuff during the sale. If you don’t own any of these tables, then you could use old card tables, or simply ask friends/ neighbors to borrow some plastic tables. If I know that it’s supposed to rain the day of the sale, then I set up the tables under a big collapse tents. I also own these tents, but if you don’t have one, then your friends or family will probably have one Worst case scenario, you could rent tables or tents from an event company.
- Have the sale! Remember to drink a lot of coffee and water and have fun! I like to record how much each items sells for in a notebook.