20 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Here is some advice from experts on how to get the most cash for your stuff by hosting the ultimate garage sale.

By Kathleen F. Miller

Now that it's spring, more yard sales should start popping up in your town. You can make some cash by combining your spring cleaning with a successful garage or tag sale with these tips from garage sale experts.

1) Sell on Saturday
Author and host of former PBS show Collect This! Aaron LaPedis is known as the "Garage Sale Millionaire." LaPedis says after more than two decades of success he has learned that Saturday is the day to host a successful garage sale. "Some cities require a permit for sales held during the week and Sundays are reserved by many people for church services and family activities.” 

2) Get a team together
Good planning starts with getting a team of family and friends together to help the day of the sale. "You’ll need someone to go out early in the morning and put up all your signage and a couple of people to be ready to open and work the sale."

3) Check restrictions
Check your HOA and city regulations for any restrictions before planning your garage sale, says LaPedis. 

4) Start early 
LaPedis says veteran garage sale buyers will be out early in the morning looking for signs so plan to start your sale "as soon as the sun is up."

5)  Sell with your neighbors
Connect with your neighbors and plan a date for a garage sale on your block. Multifamily and neighborhood sales will draw more buyers.    

6) Safety first
Make sure you take cash only and keep your money in a safe place during the sale. 

7) Save your big ticket items for eBay or Craigslist

8) Lots of good signage is key to a successful sale
LaPedis makes up to 20 signs using large pieces of white foam board or cardboard, which he puts out very early on the morning of the sale. He says to include your address and the cross street, and to specifiy if it is a multifamily sale and if you are offering popular sale items including children’s toys and clothes, furniture and collectibles. At the entrances to your neighborhood, add arrows for buyers to follow to the sale. 

9) Use Craigslist and social media to get out the word
List your sale for free on Craigslist, says LaPedis, and use your Facebook page to promote the sale and recruit friends to help you work the sale and sell their stuff as well. LaPedis says, "the more items you have to sell, the more people will stop to check out the sale."

You should also list your yard and garage sales in the free and easy-to-use Patch events calendar—just click the "Events" tab at the top of the page to share a free listing.

10)  Price everything in advance and be willing to negotiate on everything
Experts say the most successful garage sales are those that price everything in advance. But remember that people will expect to bargain for less than the posted price. LaPedis even says, "don’t bother pricing any item under $15. Ask the buyer what they are willing to pay and you’ll have more power and flexibility that way."

11) Don’t sell anything unsafe or recalled
Don’t sell anything that is potentially unsafe, including "drop-down" style cribs, says LaPedis. You can check the recalls.gov site that provides recall information from six government agencies. 

12) Get them to stop and park
Put "big ticket" and popular items such as TVs at the front of the sale near the street says LaPedis to get buyers to "stop, park and shop."

13) Keep off the grass
Use tarps and tables instead. You can purchase tarps at Home Depot or Lowe's.

14)  Limit "holds"
Don't offer to hold items for a buyer "for more than 45 minutes, or have the buyer put enough money down that he or she is sure to come back," LaPedis says.

15)  Offer free coffee or lemonade to get shoppers to linger longer. Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts offer boxes of fresh brewed coffee to go with cups, cream and sugar included.

16)  Put out a power strip attached to an extension cord so you can demonstrate that electronic items work to potential buyers. You can purchase extension cords and power strips at Walmart, Target, Home Depot or Lowe's.

17)  Negotiate like a pro
LaPedis says if you let the buyer speak first and indicate what he or she is willing to pay for an item, you are far more likely to get more for it.

18)  Display like a store
LaPedis says use your fence to hang clothes on if you don’t have racks and group items such as toys or electronics together to make it easier for buyers to shop.

19)  Use fanny packs with lots of change
Do not use cash boxes, says LaPedis. The people helping you at the sale should all have fanny packs with lots of change instead. "Assume every buyer will pay with a twenty dollar bill." Get rolls of quarters and small bills from your local bank.

20) Stay firm before noon, then get generous to move items out
LaPedis says most buyers will arrive early so you can afford to be firmer with prices before noon but be more flexible in the afternoon so you have fewer items to haul away for donation at the end of the day. 

TELL US: What was the best thing you ever bought at a local garage or yard sale? 

grama April 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM
I've found Wednesday and Thursdays to be good days in my area. Saturdays and Sundays were always slow for me.
grama April 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM
And yes, I take my signs down immediately after my garage sale.
Mikey's Mom April 14, 2014 at 02:45 PM
I like going out to yard sales more than holding them although we do at least twice a year. My boyfriend is great at finding deals (more expensive items) and then flipping them, that's pretty awesome! I enjoy the early mornings out together, coffee, meeting new people and sometimes coming across something really cool, like my angel bell. I've never heard of bookoo.com Stephanie P, gonna look into that for selling : ) thanks!
Doug Ashley May 10, 2014 at 09:59 AM
The gorilla is back for another year. http://roseville-ca.patch.com/groups/events/p/community-garage-saleheritage-oaks-west-roseville-saturday


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