The purpose of a yard sale is to make money selling your stuff. In my opinion, having a yard sale is a big pain in the ass, so do it one time and do it right, and only if you are in debt.
I generally recommend giving your stuff away as you unclutter your life. The only exception is if you carry any debt. This might be credit card debt, car debt, student loans, medical bills or even a mortgage. If you owe someone money, a yard sale is a great way to work on the debt. A yard sale will also speed up the process of simplifying because, believe me, you will only want to do this once.
Here are the three steps to ensure a successful yard sale.
- have a system
- commit to paying off debt with ALL profits
- immediately post high priced items that don’t sell, on craigslist.org, ebay or a local classified site and have a pick up service scheduled to come at the end of the yard sale to pick up the rest.
#2 and #3 is self explanatory, but you need a great system for the big day, and this is what I recommend.
Two weeks prior to your yard sale:
- Divide & Conquer: Start three piles in your garage or an area that won’t get in the way of your day to day living. Section One: Sell, Section Two: Save (you want to save this stuff but you don’t want it in your house) and Section Three: Toss (it’s no good for you, or anyone else.) Between today and two days before the yard sale, you are filling these sections with contents from your home, shed, garage, attic, car, yard…where ever you have stuff.
- Check out clearing the clutter for more tips.
One week prior to your yard sale:
- Shine it up – clean everything up that you plan to sell and group it according to category.
- Dump everything that you don’t plan to sell or save.
Three days before:
- Make your signs. These signs should be bright and well written. My parents just had a yard sale and a friend told them to use red and yellow signs with red and yellow balloons attached to the sign. The color scheme drove traffic to their sale!
- Buy water and refreshments to sell or give away as a “gift with purchase”. (we ended up giving away drinks at our yard sale, but in the proper setting, you could sell them.)
- Make change at the bank. Be prepared for customers to pay for $1.00 items with a $20.00 bill. I recommend at least $80 in singles and $40 in fives.
- Borrow tables.
- Make pricing signs for each category. For instance, if you are selling clothing, “$1.00 Each or 7 for $5.00”. Encourage people to buy multiple items by offering a discount.
- Post yard sale announcements on free local websites.
- Get a good night of sleep.
- Post signs in good locations.
- Make lemonade or fill cooler with refreshments (for sale!)
- Display your “stuff”. Take pride in merchandising items or style areas that look like rooms if you are selling furniture. Have sections to make it easier to shop, like children’s, kitchen, outdoor, exercise.
- Work it! Be friendly and let customers know you are there to help.
- Be more flexible with pricing after 12:00pm. Most of your business will be done by noon. People like to shop yard sales early!
- That evening, say good bye to everything that did not sell and do not bring it back in the house. Hopefully, you have a pick up service coming for the leftovers asap!
- Count your money and apply to debt.
We had our last yard sale in 2010 and it was our last yard sale ever. The feeling of seeing our stuff go, was far greater than the cash reward, but it did put a hefty dent in the car loan we had at the time.