Homelife Magazine

Hosting a Great Yard Sale: Own a business for a day

Clear the Clutter, Pocket the Profit




Dazzling Displays

*Clean everything so customers feel like they’re buying something of value.

*Have an extension cord handy to prove that electrical items still work.

*Display big ticket items close to the street for higher visibility.

*Create theme baskets or boxes. You can sell items individually or as a group.

*Provide grab bags for small toys, buttons or parts. Customers can fill a bag for $1.

*Play upbeat, relaxing music.

*Mow the lawn and sweep the sidewalk.

*Make your home as inviting and comfortable as possible. The longer they linger, the   more they buy!



What do I do with what’s left?

*Donate the items to charity. Some organizations will come to your home and pick up the items so you don’t even have to load them into your car.

*Move the things that haven’t sold to the curb with a big sign that reads, “Free! Must Go!” Giveaways with no strings attached are hard to pass up.

*Recycle in creative ways, turning old ashtrays into paintbrush holders or a group of hair combs into a coffee table centerpiece!



Why Am I Doing This to Myself?

Who can resist a low pressure, outdoor shopping experience on a beautiful day? Over 60 million people attend yard sales each year, from treasure seeking artists to bargain hunting moms. The ambitious yard seller gets to own her own business for a day with no overhead costs and an outstanding profit potential of $150 or more per day. Selling unnecessary and unwanted stuff eliminates domestic clutter and simplifies the home environment. The planning and work that goes into a yard sale pays off with a more peaceful living space.

1. Start Early

The first step to a successful, profitable yard sale is resolving to rid your home of unwanted, unnecessary possessions. Wait until you’re in the mood to toss and then go for it – no holding back. Place all sellable items in boxes a few weeks or even months before the sale, and store the boxes in a closet you don’t use very often. If you don’t need to retrieve anything for several months, you can probably live without it. Also, check with your neighborhood covenant and with local officials to see if you need a permit to have a yard sale. It’s polite to let your neighbors know when you plan to have the sale so they can anticipate the traffic and understand what’s going on.

2. Counting Down

About a week before the sale gather a hefty collection of plastic bags for sold items. If you’re going to sell breakables, you may want to have newspapers handy to wrap them. Get your calculator ready, too, so you don’t end up saying, “Oh, just take it all for $5!” and shortchanging yourself. Be sure to go by the bank to get plenty of change ahead of time.

It’s best to wear a fanny pack during the sale so the money goes wherever you go instead of leaving it in a box on a table while you attend to other business. Soliciting two or three family members or friends to help you is also a great idea. While one person conducts transactions, another can answer questions for other customers, answer the phone, watch the children, or run back and forth from the kitchen to the garage with drink refills. 

3. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

Christin Bryant, an experienced wife, mother and yard seller, says there are two kinds of people in this world, the true yardsalers and the passersby. The true yardsalers are going to show up in your yard at 6:00 a.m. or earlier. For them you need to advertise in your local newspaper and in other shopper guides in your area. If you don’t want to start the sale at the crack of dawn, write, “No early birds, please” in the ad or post a sign in your yard the night before the sale listing the opening time. Otherwise, be prepared to begin your day bright and early.

For the passersby, signs are the key. Use neon posters and write “Yard Sale” in bold, black letters that are big enough to be read from a distance. Draw an arrow in the direction of your home legibly and in large print. Place the signs on the busiest street near your house and on bulletin boards in the grocery store, community center or other places potential customers may frequent. Remember where you post your signs so you can do the courteous thing and clean up after yourself when the sale is over.

4. Priced to Sell

Countless stories about people finding valuable antiques at yard sales leave the seller as the butt of the joke. If you think something may be valuable, don’t take chances by letting it go for 50 cents. Call an antique store and have it appraised, check with a historical society or museum, or check the Internet to be sure no one wants to buy it.

A few days before the sale, label all your items with colored stickers. Then post a sign listing the prices for each color. All items with red stickers cost 50 cents. All items with blue stickers cost $1, etc. You can also display signs on the tables if you want to group items. “All items on this table cost $1.” As the flow of customers dwindles, remember that one of your goals is to simplify your life by getting rid of stuff. Start moving all your items to the lower priced tables, and when you think traffic is slowing to a halt, post a big sign that says, “Free!”



interview – Christen Bryant