In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Yard Sale

Last Saturday my family had a very successful yard sale.  We made about 200 dollars and, more importantly, unloaded a lot of junk!  Here are some tips I've gleaned, not only from hosting the occasional yard sale, but as an avid yard sale shopper!

1. Use plenty of signs, and keep them simple.  When looking for a yard sale, people don't read words, they follow arrows.  Keep your signs all the same colour and style too, they will be like a trail of breadcrumbs to your door.

2.Advertise for free.  You can list your yard sale for free on Kijiji, local barter/sell groups or community facebook pages dedicated to that sort of thing.   In your advertisement, consider listing the colour of your signs in your description.  "Follow the pink signs" is more helpful than detailed directions.

3. Think like a store. Put like items together, display popular items at eye level, hang clothing and arrange items so that they are clearly visible. Most people won't rummage through boxes to find a treasure.  Put things where people will see them.

4. Price to sell.  We've all been to yard sales where it was clear that the person was way too attached to their stuff.  If you price things too high people won't even try to haggle you down, they'll walk away. Which brings me to the next point...

5. Say goodbye to your stuff.  Not literally.  But if you aren't certain you want to sell something, don't put it out at a yard sale. A "I only want to sell this if I can get 50 bucks for it" mentality is better suited to craigslist or Ebay.
6. Plan ahead.  Be prepared to make change and have bags or boxes available for people to carry their items away in.  Also, plan to have something simple for dinner (we had take-out!) because you'll probably be tired after the yard sale is all packed up! 

7. Give Kids a Job.  My 4 year old was the official greeter, and my  5 year old retrieved boxes for people who needed them.  Having jobs kept the kids entertained (a.k.a not whining) and let them be a part of what mommy and daddy were doing! 

8.  Keep it outdoors. As a reasonably cautious young woman I never, ever, EVER go to a yard sale that is inside, even if it's just an enclosed porch.  I can't be the only one who feels this way, so if you aren't willing to move your stuff out to the front yard (or an open garage that is easily visible from the street) then you WILL lose customers.

9. Get rid of the left over stuff pronto.  If you don't have a plan to drop it off at the thrift store right away there is a really good chance the clutter will end up back in your basement or garage, taking up space in your home and mind for another year.  Get rid of it before it even has the chance to make it back inside!

Please Please Please don't save it for another yard sale, another year.  You are not a big box store, and your garage is not a warehouse, so clear out the inventory!

10.  Keep it simple.  Don't stress yourself out with hand drawn plan-o-grams of where to put everything or a last minute bake sale.  Just put together the best yard sale you can with the time you have and then enjoy visiting with your neighbours and making a few bucks. 

Are you planning a yard sale for this year?  What tips do you think make for a great yard sale?


  1. Make sure everything is clean. If it's gathered a little dust sitting in the garage, a quick wipe down can change your price from 50 cents to $2.

    Also, if it's junk, just toss it instead of trying to sell it. I buy a lot more at sales when things are all clean and nice than I do at sales where I have to pick through nasty stuff to find the good things.

    Congrats to your family - - I hope to have a successful sale this spring, too! :)

  2. These are great tips!

    Another tip: Don't set your stuff out in the yard the night before. It will get wet-- either from dew or rain. I've been to numerous sales where this happened and nobody wants to go through wet stuff especially books that are now ruined!

    My husband and I usually go to sales together so we do stop at indoor sales sometimes. But I wouldn't go to them alone. Overall, outdoor sales are much better so you're probably not missing much!

  3. I'm having a garage sale tomorrow! Yes, always have plenty of change. I always sell ice cold bottled water in the summer. Hydrated customers are happy customers! I also keep my change/money in a fanny pack and on me or my husband at all times. Thanks for the great tips!

  4. Also, check your city ordinances! In my city, you are NOT allowed to put signs up on any city property (such as power poles, etc.) without a permit. The permit is free, but not having it can cost you $50+ PER SIGN! A lot of people get around this by putting it in friends' yards or on their cars that are strategically parked, but you definitely want to find out BEFORE your yard sale.

    1. agree. In my city you also have to have a temporary business license to have a yard sale. May seem like big brother is alwayd greedy, but you'd be surprised at the folks who have asked "hey do you have a license for this sale?" I can pull out the small form [in a picture frame].

  5. I use a construction worker's tool belt and wear it with the pockets around the front. It's so useful to hold and divide all the change. Also safe and efficient because the money is right there with you and you can make a deal wherever you are standing!


  6. We don't have yard sales in the uk, we have what we call car boot sales. This is where you take all your stuff to a large open space such as a field and pay to have a space. This is usually around £5 and you have to be there for 6am.

    I much prefer thd idea of a sale at your home. Glad you did well.

    X x

  7. I've been to a few boot sales in the UK and they are not as good as the ones here in Canada, but they have their advantages as well (lots of different people and therefore a great variety of stuff). I agree with having your things cleaned up, it makes a HUGE difference in price and most of all selling it. Something is better than nothing and if you are just going to drive all your stuff to the goodwill at the end of the day you might as well get something for it. Last year we had a man you would buy things for his consignment store so I told him to come back at the end of the day with his truck and give me $50 for everything that I had left. He came back, paid me the money and hauled everything away. We are having another sale next weekend and I plan on doing the same thing if he returns. I try to send my son somewhere for the day so that I can concentrate on the sale. How you manage with 5 kids is amazing. Thanks for your tips and wonderful blog.

  8. Can I buy those candles? Lol... just kidding. Thanks for the tips! I'm thinking of having my first ever garage sale, and needed this list.

  9. -Make sure that the doors to your house are locked. Theives have been known to have one person keep the homeowner busy while another one slips inside to rob your house.
    -Get a variety of change the day before. Be ready to change a $50 bill.
    -Keep your money on you. someone may try to walk away with an unattended cash box. A fanny pack or tool belt is great. If you have a giant wad of cash, consider putting some of it into a secure location.
    -Secure big ticket items. Some people will walk off with cameras, etc. I invite a few friends to come and sit with me. Make them comfortable with lawn chairs, cookies, and lemonade and you have your own little security detail!
    -Send a flyer around and try to get your whole neighborhood to have their garage sales together. You can all split the cost of a newspaper ad. Customers love the one stop shopping and it's a fun way to get everyone together.
    -Cookies (they can be store bought), donuts, and bottled water sell well, especially when sold by adorable children!
    -I always put a box of "free" items at the end of the driveway. instead of tossing these items, someone will get a little treat. I helps parent to keep their kids busy (I always toss in some old happy meal toys. As the day goes on, I sometimes add things that I realize are never going to sell.

  10. I want that picture ! $2 ??? I bet it sold fast !

  11. We've been having GS's for years. Signage is the key! Balloons attached to your signs are great attention getters. Placing items where people are going to SEE it is important. I'm a big fan of GS's and I can tell you that I'm not going to dig through that box of toy/clothes/etc. I can go to the next one where things are displayed well. I agree with the lock your're too busy to watch the front door while you're out back. Have fun and chat with the customers!

  12. A big tip for a stress-free garage sale is to always get help from friends and family. Lots of helpers not only makes you feel more secure but makes the day more enjoyable and often they will bring some of there own unwanted goods to sell which makes your sale bigger which attracts more shoppers which means more sales.

    Another tip is to cheat and check out for heaps of free tips.

    And one more tip - getting the kids involved with selling their own unused toys (if they're old enough) is a great learning opportunity for them.

    You want to get rid of it, yes?
    (Of course, making a buck would be helpful, too.)

    I remember going to a lady's house to be a sofa from the newspaper. Sofa wasn't for me, but I left with a new in box recliner. Then, wen she found out I didn't have dishware (first apt), she simply boxed a bunch up for free!

    Also, I've stopped at places where I pick some things up, put them down - buy other things - then the person puts the first things I touched in the bag as a bonus.

    Can help you CLEAR IT OUT!

    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D

  14. Great tips. I'm actually having my 2nd yard sale of the summer tomorrow... We did well last weekend, but had a lot of stuff to get rid of, so we decided to do it again this week! One thing that a lot of people do around here is have multiple families set up in the same place. (This works well in neighborhoods) It can get a little tricky with the money, but you just need to stay on top of who items belong to.

    I stumbled upon your blog from your 31 days of Organizing series (which I found on Pinterest) and I've spent the last hour or so reading through your posts! I'm loving your blog!

  15. I learned from my first yard sale - when I haggled too hard and ended up with a lot of unsold stuff - that if someone picks it up, make sure they don't put it down. If they offer me 10 cents for something I'd still rather have that than end up hauling the item to the donation center myself!


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