Monday, June 6, 2011

NEST: Yard Sale

As the warm weather is here, yard sales surround us on Saturday mornings.  

Yard sales make me so happy because they make me think of warm weather, wonderful finds and deals, simplifying life and of the dozens of garage sales my mom had in my youth.  

My mom was a garage sale master...she would make hundreds of dollars over the course of a few hours and would purge our house of unwanted clutter in the process.  I remember feeling like the morning of a garage sale was such an adventure and I loved having the opportunity to make a few dollars!  

 A few springs ago, I hosted a yard sale with a couple of friends and we employed many of my mom's tricks to make our yard sale a success.  Here are a few of them:

- Start preparing for the yard sale weeks in advance.  Go through your house room-by-room and closet-by-closet to collect items for your sale.  Have a staging area in your house to store the sale items.

- Price the items in advance prior to setting them out the day of the sale.  Be reasonable and price things to sell.  If you have an item that is truly valuable or hard for you to part with, do the research to see what is a reasonable sale price.  It is acceptable to price it to make a good profit, but be willing to come down if you truly want to sell it.

- Advertise!  We placed ads in our local newspaper, on Craigslist, and we put signs out around our neighborhood a few days prior.  Some cities have laws about posting signs, so be sure to know what is allowed.  But, I do think local signs drive a lot of traffic!

- Have a clear time listed on your advertising.  (And know that whatever time you say your sale starts, the early birds will be there much sooner!)  In Indiana, we had a garage and could stage our sale the night before.  Unfortunately in our recent sale, we had to have a yard sale and set everything out the morning of.  I was pulling our items out to our front law at 6:30 am and had about 5 customers prior to 7 am...and our sale did not start until 8!  Be prepared for the early birds coming to get a good steal!

- If you do have a garage, prepare it the night before.  And if you have to have a yard sale, have everything ready to roll out the door the night before.  Getting it set up in the morning takes a lot of work!

- Try to host an organized sale.  Group like items together.  We made sure to have an adult clothing section, a section for kids' toys and clothes, electronics, outdoor equipment, furniture and such.  But be flexible as people rummaging aggressively can make a mess of your setup.  Continue to rearrange and organize as the day progresses.

- Consider having a multi-family yard sale - and advertise that!  We had three families collaborate on our sale and it brought a lot more traffic and made the experience much more fun!  Be sure to have a good system for keeping every one's sales straight.  We used different colored stickers to price each families' items and we kept a ledger throughout the sale that we tallied up at the end.

- Be sure to start your sale with plenty of coins and one dollar bills to make change for people.

- Have snacks and cool drinks for yourself.  Having a yard sale is hard work!  And if you have little kids in your family, consider letting them have a lemonade stand at your sale.  I loved doing this as a child.  It was always so much fun and taught so many great lessons - preparedness, a spirit of being an entrepreneur, math and counting skills and such a sense of ownership.  

- Consider lowering your prices in the final few hours.  We cut everything in half in the last two hours and we advertised this on the signs near us.  We made many last minute sales this way!

- Have a plan for what you don't sell.  The point of a sale is to make money and also clear out your home.  We were committed to taking everything that did not sell to Goodwill as soon as the sale was over.  Once we had schlepped our belongings to the front yard, we did not want to have to carry one item back inside!

- And remember to have fun.  Having a yard sale is hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun.  You can get to know your neighbors better, clean out your house and spend a day outdoors.  Be willing to be flexible and go with the flow.

Have fun!
our yard sale halfway through the day...a bit more disorganized, but much was sold!


  1. I keep thinking that I have to plan a yard sale one of these years. We have SO MUCH STUFF and it would be nice to put it to good use and make some money. Thanks for these tips!

  2. our yard sale is in a couple weeks so this advice is so helpful! thank you! the lemonade stand idea sounds like so much fun and perhaps a fun task for a 4 year old?!?! target has some very cute lemonade stand decorations right now. ava is excited about making some money so she can buy some mermaid toys (her new fascination!) we'll see how it goes!!


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