Steps to Having a Successful Garage/Yard Sale!

  1. Set a Goal
Whether it's making a large purchase for the home, updating the living roomSO important is because you need to know that this EXTRA stuff that is cluttering your life and your home is not needed and that instead of this you get a new TV or a new couch or fewer monthly bills; that the GOAL is more important than this crap that you no longer use. It will keep you focused on having the sale and it will keep you sane when people start talking you down on price (you will realize your goal is more important that what you thought that lamp was worth). I know this probably does not sound important but you HAVE to have a goal in mind; it will DRIVE you to have a successful sale! Note: If you are doing this yard sale for someone else it is important that they set a goal or they will be combative on getting rid of things.
furniture, or just earning some extra cash to pay bills to build savings, it is essential to set an earning target. The reason this is
  1. Set a Date
Pick a Saturday only sale! I have never had a sale go 2 days and I have had some BIG ones! Keep that in your mind too as a goal! One day only! Everything must go! Don't plan your sale near any holidays, school vacations (like spring break), and not during cold & flu season. You want to be sure people are in town and ready to shop.
  1. Gather the Merchandise
This can be a BIG job if you are cleaning out a house after a death in the family or if you have never had a yard sale before have collected MANY years of MANY items! So here is how to proceed...
    1. Stay focused and remembering your GOAL!
    2. Clear an area that is in the garage or out of the house that you are going to put everything that is going into the sale. This needs to be an open, clear, designated, clutter-free area. If you don’t have an area outside then designate a specific room in the house.
    3. Go one room at a time so you don't get overwhelmed. Start with the closet and move out from there, top to bottom. Remove any items from that room you no longer want or need and put into the designated area. This includes bedding, towels, Knickknacks, pictures, everything! If it is furniture that can’t be moved yet, mark it with a piece of tape so the "movers" will know it needs to go out the morning of the sale.
    4. The hardest areas are the kitchen and attic or basement. But just take one room at a time, one drawer at a time, one cabinet at a time, one closet at a time. Always taking the stuff to the designated area! You are ready to move on to your sale is when everything that you are selling is in ONE area and NOTHING you are selling is left in the house except for furniture (and that is all marked with tape).
  1. Start an Itemized Expense List
Remember your goal and make sure you write down every penny spent on this sale (it's pointless to have a sale if you don't make money). Signs, supplies, advertising, and your bank are usually the only expenditures. DO NOT RENT TABLES!!!
  1. Everything Sells...Everything!
Keep in mind when you do this that people buy anything! And I mean anything! One person's trash is another's treasure. Broken, dirty, old, worn out, you name it. When I've helped people host yard sales in the past they've always said things like "that frying pan is melted" or "this comforter is torn" or "that garbage can is broken". My response is always the same, "Well,we might only get 25 cents, but THAT goes toward your GOAL!". Also, don't forget about home renovation items like old toilets, sinks, blinds, and even used carpet or flooring! You might only want $1.00 for that old toilet but someone else might be glad to have it.
  1. Organize the Merchandise
It is important to organize the merchandise for two reasons. It makes it easier to keep track of the big ticket items and it makes pricing a snap. You should organize your items as follows (by the way, this is where people go overboard with yard sales and do not want to have them because they make this way too hard):
    1. Value
      The items that look like antiques and the ones you know you paid a lot of money for, you want these items on a table of their own near you! There are people out there that love to steal at yard sales. Know what is on this table and have in mind the prices you want for them. This leads me to the next section of value. If you don't know the price of something make a list of brand, features, item name and type. Make this list as you are separating the items. Then when you are done go on the Internet and Google those items. Figure out how much they are worth. Have that figure in your mind for the sale. If you check the item on eBay also check and see the demand? Are you going to be able to sell this item for sure or are there 20 of them and no bids? Keep in mind if it can be shipped or not so at the sale when people want to negotiate the price you can decide if it is better to come down a little and sell it now or possibly sell it on the Internet after the sale?
      • Example 1: You have a watch and you know it is worth $100 and you know it won't cost much to ship. But you also know there were 10 watches just like yours and no bids. Someone at the sale offers you $75...TAKE IT!
      • Example 2: You have a desk that you know is worth $500 but it will be expensive to ship and someone offers $300...TAKE IT!
      • Example 3: You have 250 beanie babies and you know you can sell all 250 online and get about $200 and at the yard sale the highest offer is $50. Sell them online.
      Think about the final goal. You can also take pictures of important items and go ahead and list them on Craigslist before your sale. It is free to use Craigslist and any item sold goes toward your goal, regardless of where it sells.
    1. Categories
      After you have put the expensive stuff, collectibles, and antiques in one area, next you separate items by categories. Clothes, bags, camping/fishing supplies, kitchen items, yard supplies, furniture, toys & games, pictures & paintings, linens & comforters, etc.... I never spend time cleaning the items, but the only exception I have to this rule is if you think by wiping an item down it will show its true quality and will make more money. Is it WORTH your time? If not then just put it in its pile! Do be sure and remove any torn boxes, papers, old checkbooks, and photos out of bags, etc.... Basically, throw away the trash. Throw it away while you separate!
  1. No Price Tags
They are a huge waste of time! Do not price anything small, most people will talk you down anyway. Those who won't just assume you won't negotiate and will look at price and walk away. Then you'll never know they were interested and they'll never know you would've taken $1.00 less. This means NO SALE. The only items I price are big ticket items like furniture. Take BIG full sheets of paper the morning of when everything is set up and a black sharpie, and tape. Walk around and tape to the big items prices like $150 but ALWAYS put OBO behind it. People need to know to let you know they are interested. It might be the ONLY person that day that wants an over the toilet shelf!
  1. Advertising
This is very important! First see if you need a permit in your area or permission from your home owners association. This only usually costs $10-15 and if you don't have one and need it they will make you stop and could even fine you! Next see what the cheapest ad costs in your local paper for a weekend ad. Don’t add on any extras except for Internet publication (but that is usually included free of charge).
    • Wording
Regardless of what you are doing for this sale always say these key words: Estate Sale! Everything MUST GO! One day only! Saturday [Date] Dawn until gone! Antiques, Kitchen Items, Toys, Furniture! [address]. Do not put your phone number or people will drive you crazy with phone calls (they will want to come and see stuff before the sale). If they come to the house and knock on the door before the sale and want to take a look, ALWAYS tell them NO! You might have to abbreviate some words to make it all fit into the papers allotted space, but try and get all the words in there.
    • Signs
This is also VERY important! Look at the location of your sale. Pick out key roads and intersections. Count how many you think you need and add 4 to that number (the more the better, and backups always come in handy). Make sure they can be seen from all the different directions people might could approach your house. Map out where your signs will be even if you have to make them follow the signs from a big road to your house. If you are told you have to use signs that the city provides try and ignore that fact and make your own The only thing they can do is tell you to take it down and if that happens then you can put theirs up which are usually white. This has never happened to me. You want to buy neon poster board at least 8X11, black sharpie, and stakes from your local Lowes or Home Depot. They are very inexpensive. Here is what you want to say: ESTATE SALE! EVERYTHING MUST GO! SATURDAY ONLY! [address] with an arrow at bottom pointing in direction to go. You don't need times dates or anything else Just BIG BOLD LETTERS.
  1. Night Before the Sale
Take someone with you and set up the signs. It is sometimes hard to hit them into the ground. You will need a big hammer, nail or staple gun and tape. Have extra poster board and sharpie in car in case you see someplace you missed that you can put a sign. Make sure that it is not suppose to RAIN that night or you are in trouble. If it is you will have to wait until next morning. Also look around for sprinklers because you don't want them to spray on your signs. NEVER put signs over a traffic sign, this is against the law! Before you go out you can nail gun the signs to the stakes if you know FOR SURE the direction of your arrows. If not then wait until you get to the location.
  1. Bags and Boxes
Have a stash of bags and boxes on hand for people to load their stuff in.
  1. Have a Bank
Get at least $40 in ones and as much change as you can (usually $20 worth is good) so you can make change for all those sales you'll be making.
  1. Early Bird Gets the Worm
On the day of the sale, START AT 4am. You will have the antique people there first. Tell them they have to WAIT by the road until everything is out! DO NOT let them go through stuff as you are putting it out, it will just slow you down. THEY WILL WAIT!
  1. Set an End Time Target
I always have a goal to have EVERYTHING gone and sold by 2pm! This day takes commitment! Keep your GOAL in mind and you'll do what it takes to get through the sale. If you have done these steps correctly you will be shocked at the number people that will be waiting in their cars when the sun comes up. These are non-negotiable:
    1. You have to have everything out by the time the sun comes up!
    2. Put BIG items down by the road and side walk, it draws attention. Furniture and items that are hot. Then work your way up driveway to the smaller stuff.
    3. Have someone do a run to check ALL of your signs and make sure they made it through the night. If not, have them go out and fix them while you set up (this must be done before sun comes up). NO SIGNS MEANS NO CUSTOMERS! I can usually tell within 1 hour of the sale if I have a sign issue. If people are not showing up, the first thing you should do is GO CHECK YOUR SIGNS! The busiest time for all sales is 6am-10am.
    4. Lay down a sheet in the yard and pile the clothes here. People will go through these all day. Shoes & bags on another sheet. You can put a sign on ground for all clothes 50 cents. If there are suits and dresses you can hang them up, but don't waste your time setting up a clothes line or rack. Also don't price clothes individually, they usually don't bring that much money.
    5. Prop pictures up on trees so they can easily be seen.
    6. Try to have a couple of tables lining a path up the driveway. Put kitchen items and smaller items on these tables. Don't rent tables, just use what you have! I have even used an ironing board as a table before. Put stuff on end tables that you are selling. Put a big price sheet on the table if it sells move the items to other tables.
  1. Appearance
Don't look to nice. No makeup, just a hat and work clothes. You want to look warm and approachable, not fancy and uptight. Most buyers are coming because they don't have a lot of extra money to shop for their houses. You want to be RELATABLE!
  1. In the Mix
You need to be in the center of it all. Keep your eye on the big ticket table and the people that walk up to it. If they pick up an item, tell them about it. Keep your BANK ON YOU! People are shy! Don't be pushy, but be sure everyone knows that everything must go and prices are negotiable. They will think you are desperate and will be willing to negotiate for things they don't even need.
  1. Rearrange
Constantly rearrange to appeal to the road. Make it look like there is more there then there really is. Spread things out, whatever it takes to get people to stop and shop.
  1. Assess the Situation
As noon approaches, take assessment of what you have left, how many people have came, and how close you are to your goal. If it has started to slow down (which it usually does by now) send someone to check the signs just to be safe. Also take notice of what you have left and what people have not been inquiring about. Drop prices on these items immediately! Start putting things in price bins: everything here $2.00, everything here $1.00, etc....
  1. Take Signs Off Furniture
The goal is to get people to start asking you how much the big ticket items are. Take off all these prices and encourage people to look these items over and make an offer. You don't want this furniture back and you want to meet your goal.
  1. Everything Must Go
As your end-time target (see #12 above) approaches, start yelling out "name a price, everything must go, closing up shop". Usually by this time you have VERY little left if you have done this right! If it is junk you can even holler to passing cars that everything is now .25 cents or free. Once you are definitely done for the day, you should move the items you consider junk down to the side of the road and put up a sign that says free. People will continue to take stuff into the night.
  1. Charitable Giving
If you have made it this far and have ANYTHING OF VALUE left (I usually don't), it's time once again to decide to either try and sell it on the Internet or another option: give it away to charity. One benefit on giving your remaining items to charity is that it keeps the clutter from ending up back in your house and you could possible take the donation as a tax write off (check with your financial advisor).
  1. Go take down signs
The last step for the day is to go out and gather up your signs. Usually when I come back from this all the stuff by the road is gone. But even if not, just leave that stuff there and people could still come and go through it. There are some people that just go to houses from paper the night after sales and go through garbage. NO LIE!
Good luck reaching your goal. Be sure to leave me some comments and let me know if you have any tips to add. Also please let me know how it works out for you if you use this advice. Can't wait to hear from you.


  1. Very impressive! I must try soon! Any advice on selling vintage items? I have an attic full of vintage Stawberry Shortcake dolls/items from my childhood.

  2. The best way to sell Vintage items is to get everything out. Take and inventory of all items make notes with each item on an inventory sheet like if it is in a box or not, and if it has accessories etc. Then go on eBay and see not only if other similar items are for sell but if people are bidding on them and what the demand is for the item. Also, look at previous history for the items and see what they sold for in the past. Add up the total price for all items or individually sold. Then take pictures of all the items and 1st post them on It is free and you never know...then if it does not sell there then post to ebay if you saw there is a demand. If there is a demand you can always do both. Make sure and list items separate or as a total lot for everything depending on the prices that you found. Good luck! Hope this helps ;)


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