Tips and Tricks to Help you Have a Stress-Free Yard Sale

It’s May, and you know what that means…yard sale season has begun! Do you love going to yard sales, but dread the thought of actually having one of your own?

I’m one of those rare people who actually enjoy having a yard sale. In fact, I even volunteer to help my friends with theirs. Why? Because having a yard sale is a great way to unload stuff you no longer need, and, at the end of the day, you get to cram a wad of cash into your pockets. That’s what I call a win-win.

I’ve never had a yard sale that didn’t net me at least a couple hundred dollars. Many times I make far more than that by selling stuff that’s just lying around my house and yard.

Think of all of the ways you could use an extra $200+. You could use it to pay off debt, go on a weekend getaway, pay for your child’s summer camp, or have an awesome date night with your spouse.

Trust me; the “hassle” of spending one weekend in a month to host a yard sale is worth it. However, don’t just throw some shabby items on your front lawn and hope for the best. There is a tried and true method to follow in order to have a profitable yard sale.

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yard sale tips | sell stuff | yard sale pricing | yard sale organization |

Can having a yard sale be stress-free and profitable at the same time? ABSOLUTELY!


Before the sale…

Enlist the help of family and friends and delegate responsibilities to everyone. Even the youngest of kids can help stick price tags on items. Assign someone to handle the advertising, someone else to make sure everything is clean and sorted into categories, and yet another to price items. Have your kids make as many colorful eye-catching yard sale signs as possible to hang up throughout the neighborhood.

Gather your supplies.

  • price stickers
  • signs for advertising/pricing
  • fanny pack or cash box
  • plastic/paper bags
  • boxes
  • newspapers/tissue paper (to wrap breakables)
  • change (see below)
  • zip lock bags
  • water (for you)
  • snacks (for you and your kids)
  • extension cord (so customers can make sure electronics work)
  • batteries
  • calculator
  • cell phone
  • pen/marker
  • paper (for making “sold” signs)
  • something to read (during the slow times)

Take a trip to the bank and get at least $50 worth of small bills and change. I guarantee you, when your first customer pays for a $.50 item with a $50 bill, you will be glad you did. Aim for at least $20 in ones, $20 in fives, and a roll of quarters. You may also want to have a handful of dimes and nickels on hand for those odd-priced items.

A week before your sale, start advertising like crazy. Put ads in your local newspaper (if it’s cheap or free), on local facebook groups, Craigslist, and your own social media channels. Make sure to “refresh” the ads the day before the sale.


In order to have a successful yard sale, location and timing are everything. Usually, having a yard sale at the beginning of the month tends to be a good idea, as a lot of people get paid on the 1st of the month. Do not schedule your yard sale during a holiday weekend because only die-hard yard “salers” go to yard sales during these times. Also, if you live in a remote or hard-to-access location, consider having your yard sale at the home of a friend or family member who lives in town.

Make sure the items you wish to sell are clean and in good repair.

No one wants to buy your broken VCR {80’s reference}. If you would like to sell a big ticket item with small repairable issues, by all means, attempt to do so. Just make sure the buyer knows these issues before they purchase it.

Also, put realistic prices on everything. Don’t expect to get {even close to} what you paid for things. Even if they still have tags on them. People who go to yard sales are looking for a super-good deal. It’s what gets them out of bed at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. Give them what they want. A good rule of thumb for yard sale pricing is 10-20% of the item’s original value for smaller items, and up to 40% for larger items like furniture and electronics. If this upsets you, don’t have a yard sale. Opt instead to sell your items individually via the internet where you can make a larger profit.

When it comes to pricing items for your yard sale, you don’t have to put a sticker on Every. Little. Thing. Group smaller items in zip lock baggies and price as a lot. Similarly, you can group like items on the same table and have a couple of signs listing the prices for individual categories. For example, all glassware .50 each or paperback books .25 each. This will save you a ton of work as far as pricing goes.

How to Have a Stress-Free Yard Sale

Arrange tables so that there is a good “flow” between them. Too close, and your customers will be uncomfortable, too far away and they may lose interest before they’ve had a chance to check everything out. Set out racks for clothing or construct a clothesline between two trees. Here’s a really cool idea for a DIY clothes rack

How to Have a Stress-Free Yard Sale

(photo source unknown)

Bake cookies and prepare lemonade if your child will be selling them during your yard sale. This, by the way, is a great way to teach entrepreneurial skills to your son/daughter. I usually purchase the supplies {cups, ice, baggies, ingredients} and my son reimburses me with the proceeds he earns from his sales. After having multiple lemonade/cookie stands, my son has grown to be so business savvy, that he will go shopping with me for supplies so he can make absolutely sure I get the best deal possible. {He’s only 9!}

The day of the sale…

Wake up super early; so early that you wonder if the sun is even going to come out that day.

Have someone hang your signs in key locations around the neighborhood. Check with your city zoning office ahead of time in order to make sure there are no restrictions. Also, make sure you don’t violate any HOA guidelines, or your yard sale will end up costing you more stress (and money) than it’s worth.

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to host your garage sale in an actual garage {where you’ll have time to set everything out ahead of time}, you will need to wait until the day of the sale to display your merchandise.

Remember, don’t just throw everything out in your yard and call it “good”. The key to having a successful yard sale is to group like items together so that your customers can easily find what they are looking for. Even if they aren’t exactly sure what that is.


You’ll need to use a little psychology when choosing where to place your items for sale. Tons of people visit yard sales looking for furniture and baby items, therefore, place these items as close to the road as possible, so that people will see them when driving by.  Additionally, a lot of men dislike shopping at yard sales {or anywhere, for that matter}…UNLESS you are selling tools or outdoor equipment. If you are, you’ll want to make sure you place these items close to the front as well. You can put housewares, holiday decor, clothing, and books near the middle to rear of the yard sale area because most people who are looking for these items won’t mind digging a little deeper to find them.

Be visible to your customers so you can answer any questions (and take any money) they may have. In order to avoid confusion, try to have only one person collecting money. Additionally, for security reasons, you’ll want to make sure that person stays in close proximity to the cash box. I prefer to wander the yard sale wearing a fanny pack, this way I can be sure I never lose sight of the cash.

Speaking of security, display valuable jewelry, electronics, and video games where someone will be able to keep an eye on them. There are actually people who “troll” yard sales looking to score free items. Sometimes they travel in a group and someone will distract the person running the sale while the others make off with whatever small items they can fit into their pockets. Sad, but true.

An hour or so before the end of the sale, mark (with signs and announcements) all items 1/2 off!

Really, just do it. You don’t want to have to pack everything back up, do you?

after the sale…

Set a rule ahead of time that nothing from your yard sale goes back into your home. Unless it’s a big-ticket item that you plan to sell online. Box everything up and either call a local charity to pick it all up, or bring everything directly to them. You can also advertise on your local Facebook for sale group, “Leftover yard sale items, FREE! Must take all.” Poof, your unsold stuff will disappear in an instant!

Go inside and take a well-deserved nap. Or, just cuddle up on the bed with all of the extra cash you’ve earned. Whichever!

This post is part of a new series called: Simplify your Summer.

Stay tuned for more practical tips to help you simplify your home, schedule, budget, to-do lists, and more!

yard sale tips | sell stuff | yard sale pricing | yard sale organization |


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About Cheryl Lemily

A wife, mom of 3 boys & 2 dogs. A minimalist raising a minimalist(ish) family. Living a small, slow, simple life. Helping others declutter & simplify.

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