Host a Successful Yard Sale: 11 Tricks to Make Money and Get Rid of Junk

Exactly how much change you'll need, where to place your big-ticket items, and creative ways to organize your merchandise.

Think big-ticket first

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Draw people to your sale by positioning your big-ticket items (think sofas, furniture, power tools, lawn equipment, and bicycles) close to the sidewalk. These items show shoppers that you’re selling quality pieces. But beware the Catch-22: while you want these items to sell, you don’t want to lose their welcoming power too early in the sale. Overprice them at first or ask shoppers to come to you with a price. If a piece doesn’t seem to generate much interest, slash the price sooner than later. Snap up these garage sale finds when you see them.

Have change

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Many shoppers will want to pay with $20 bills, so make sure you’ve got a hefty supply of fives and tens. Price all of your items in 25-cent increments. That way, you’ll only need to stock up on quarters (take out at least two $10 rolls from the bank). Keep incoming change organized in your moneybox using a disposable muffin tin (use the other tins to display small knickknacks like jewelry).

Find the perfect price

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Each item at your sale should have a price tag with a reasonable price. If you’re unsure what certain items should sell for, visit your local Goodwill or Salvation Army and browse the prices of similar items. Expect most clothes to sell between $2 and $12, books and DVDs to sell between 50 cents and $1, and furniture to sell between $15 and $50. Bigger ticket items should be priced around one-third of their original price. Experts say it's best to avoid selling these at garage and yard sales.

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Be a bag lady

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Many first-time sellers say the biggest pitfall of their sale was not having enough bags. Start collecting plastic grocery bags now. To encourage people to pick up lots of small items at your sale, keep a bin of plastic bags underneath your table of low-ticket items like books and DVDs. Pin on a friendly sign that says, “Take a bag.” This will assure shoppers who stop by on their daily walk that they won’t have to hold their loot by hand.

The perfect setup

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Your yard sale should have a natural flow. Big-ticket items should be front and center and similar items should be grouped together. Hang clothes and organize them by size (baby, toddler, child, adult) and style (casual and formal). If you don’t have clothes racks, get creative: Try running a string from the porch to a tree out front.

The perfect attitude

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Say hello to visitors and welcome them to your sale, but otherwise allow them to browse at their leisure. Pay attention to shoppers' body language, especially if they’ve been looking at a particular item for a while. They might want you to come over and answer a few questions about it.

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Make your yard welcoming

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Get out your speakers and turn on some fun music (think the kind of tunes you’d listen to on a long road trip or at a BBQ). For a sale in the summer months, consider selling (or giving away) cold soda and water. These items are relatively cheap, but will guarantee people feel comfortable at your sale. Plus, saying, “Hi! Can I get you a water?” is a low-pressure way to initiate conversation with shoppers.

Advertise!

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Post your yard sale on Craigslist and make it an event on Facebook. As for signs, hang them the night before. Check Pinterest for creative, eye-catching designs. Hang them at your local grocery store, gym, and other community centers.

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