Organizing A Profitable Yard Sale In 9 Easy Steps

9 steps to organizing a profitable yard sale

’Tis the season for driving around looking for yard sale treasures.

And could this be the year you decide to throw your own sale?

Not only will it help you declutter and organize your home, but you can make a tidy profit.

Here are some tips for staying organized, pulling off a successful yard sale – and having a healthy wad of cash in your pocket at the end of the day.

Get ready!

1. Set the date

If at all possible, you want to avoid having your yard sale on a holiday weekend. Way too many people will be out of town, which means you’re limiting your customer base before you even get started.

Sunday yard sales typically have a lower attendance rate because people are in church. So a Saturday morning is your best bet if you want to make a decent profit.

Related: Clever Ways To Avoid Out Of Stock Sale Items

2. Join forces

Neighbourhood yard sales are far more popular than single-home efforts because people are more likely to come to a bigger sale – especially in the time crunch of trying to hit as many sales as possible before the best stuff has been snapped up.

Try to convince your neighbours to partner up so you can advertise it as a multi-family yard sale.

3. Build your bank

Nothing kills a sale faster than not being able to make proper change.

It’s better to have too much than not enough. And it’s not like you’re losing money. You’ll be able to put it all back in your account – plus more, hopefully – after the sale.

Go to the bank and take out plenty of small bills ($5 and $10) as well as some twenties in case someone pays with a $50 or $100 bill. You’ll want plenty of loonies and toonies and a couple of rolls of quarters for the less expensive items.

4. Set up your “store”

Organization is key. Whether you’re running the sale alone or with a small group of helpers.

Designate one person to be in charge of the money. And give them an apron with pockets if they’re going to be walking around. Cash boxes are only a good idea if the person will be positively glued to a table at all times so no one walks off with it.

Have a supply of plastic grocery bags for purchases, as well as a stack of old newspapers or fliers for wrapping up breakables. If you want to use price stickers, make sure they’re easy to read and everyone working the sale understands which prices – if any – are firm.

Related: Thift Shopping: From Small Finds To Hidden Treasures

Get set!

5. Spread the word

Be sure to list your sale on free sites like Kijiji, and take care to make the ad attractive and noticeable.

Your local newspaper may also have a free online section for advertising yard sales.

Use the description to sell shoppers on exactly the kinds of items they can expect to see for sale – whether it’s a vintage camera collection or a ton of baby gear and 0-12 month clothing.

Use photos of some of the best-looking items to make the ad stand out. And include a map to your house if it’s difficult to find.

6. Build your brand

Digital marketing is great…

But yard sales still need good old-fashioned paper signage to get people to the right house – on the right day. Two quick tips:

  • Consistent color. The trick is to stick to one consistent colour, like neon yellow or sky blue, rather than making signs in all different colours and styles. Whether your signs are printed on coloured paper or written with markers on sheets of bristol board, they need to all look the same.
  • Big letters, with just enough info. Common mistakes include making your lettering too small. Or adding too many details. Because no one driving by is going to be able to read them – although you’ll likely do fine with the walking crowd. “YARD SALE, 123 Slate St., Saturday 8-2” is plenty of info.

The purpose of these signs is not for people to remember your exact street address or the time of the sale – those details will come later…

Right now you’re just looking to plant the seed in their minds that you’ll be hosting a sale on a particular day.

Sell, sell, sell!

7. Stand out

First thing in the morning – or the night before, if you’re not an early riser – you’ll want to zoom around the neighbourhood with directional signs that point shoppers to your sale.

Using the same colour paper as your fliers, make them as simple as possible, for example:

“YARD SALE Saturday 8-2”.

Include a big arrow pointing in the direction they need to go.

The address isn’t necessary because of the arrows. Keep putting up the signs, spacing them close together, to create clear paths straight to your house.

8. Conquer those early birds

Shrewd yard-salers are the ones showing up at 8 a.m. if a sale is advertised as starting at 9 a.m.

They want the “pick of the litter” and they’re not abashed about strolling down your driveway as you’re rushing around setting up.

The trick is not to offend these early shoppers because they’re also the ones who will be hitting sales all over town. And if yours is good, they will likely mention it to the friends they meet along the way, potentially bringing you more customers.

If you’re firm about starting the sale at 8 a.m., add this to your signage:

“No early-birds, please”.

Better yet, stage the sale inside your garage so you don’t need to open the door until you’re ready to begin.

Related: How To Get The Best Deal (With This Little Secret)

9. Keep your eyes on the prize

Resist the urge to argue much if a shopper is haggling over the price. After all, you wouldn’t have put the item in your yard sale if it was especially important to you.

If the item doesn’t sell by the end of the sale, you’re likely going to donate it anyway, right?

Try to sell everything so you don’t have to lug anything back inside with you. Make it a rule to donate anything left over at the end of the sale. And you might find yourself hustling even harder to seal those deals.

Keep reminding yourself that every sale, no matter how small, is going to increase your final total. At the end of the day, isn’t the goal is to add up your profits?

Back To You

Have you done your own yard sale? Share your tips and tricks below.

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Lucy's picture

You may want to mention a rain date, if any.

June 08, 2017 @ 11:49 am
Cheryl's picture

Those are all good tips for anyone running a garage sale.

I've done this twice, generally before moving. The first time we lived on acreage and called it a barn sale. We made around $1700 and I believe we did this over 2 days, on a weekend. We did have some high priced items such as a horse cart and a saddle that were both several hundred dollars each.

The second time I was involved in a community garage sale put on by a local realtor in a specific section of town bordered by specific streets in a square, so perhaps a mile or so each direction, and it brings out a lot of people because the realtor does huge advertising. It's free for everyone to participate. I signed up, they added my address to a map, and dropped off yard signs - advertising for the realtor! I was divorced by now, house sold, and I was renting back still trying to find a new place to move to. There were tools and stuff that my ex had left behind that I either needed to sell or toss. I made about $80 over a few hours.

A friend of mine has done the occasional yard sale in conjunction with some friends and family that bring things over and hasn't had much success, maybe not even $20. She and some friends/family also rented a spot at a huge flea market near my house, cost about $30 or $40 and they had to be there around 1am to claim a space. I think total they only made around $80.

From my experience and evaluating hers, things that sell well: sports equipment, pet stuff, camping gear, tools, gardening items and seasonal such as Christmas decorations. Things that don't sell so well: books, music, clothes, plates, cups, mugs.

Big warning: by opening your garage or yard you also invite undesirables to come onto your property to "case it out". We were the victim of theft after the barn sale. We had a gate that was locked when we weren't home and overnight. That doesn't stop people from climbing over. Part of the barn, the workshop, was locked and doors kicked open and stuff was stolen. Some of the things leftover from the garage sale were stolen. Someone used our wheelbarrow, loaded up, and went through our back pasture to an adjacent, vacant property. I noticed a scuba fin outside the barn and eventually I noticed the missing wheelbarrow, followed the track through the field, and eventually found it plus a bunch of other stuff that had been tossed over the fence. Guess they were coming back later for it. You never know who is showing up preparing to "shop" at a later date.

June 08, 2017 @ 12:13 pm
Susan's picture

As one who drives around looking for a garage sale, my number one pet peeve, a sign right at the pole of the street to turn.

Not much use when it is too late to make the turn. Rather then turn around at the next street I just keep on going. Better to have that garage sale arrow a few posts earlier then the road to turn at.

June 08, 2017 @ 12:36 pm
Owen @ PlanEasy's picture

Good tips for a garage sale. We've never hosted one ourselves but prefer to sell items via Craigslist or Kijiji. Small items just get donated. Something about strangers picking through my stuff feels weird. Maybe it's just me.

June 12, 2017 @ 8:55 am
Deborah 's picture

We've done okay with 2 neighbourhood sidewalk sales (one hosted by a realtor, one by the neighbourhood association). For just 2 people it's a lot of work though. We prefer Craigslist, kijiji,, and some local Facebook groups for sale by owner listings.

June 19, 2017 @ 11:27 am

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