Springtime… when a consumer’s fancy turns to thoughts of Yard Sales!

by Lynn B. Johnson on April 3, 2013

yard saleHappy April, everyone! It may be 37 degrees where I live, but the sky is blue, the snow is gone, and I’m itching for yard-sale season to begin. I’ve hosted and attended a number of these consumer extravaganzas over the years… here are some tips for hosting as well as attending a yard sale that I’ve amassed along the way.

Hosting a Yard Sale

Factors that go into hosting a yard sale include planning, advertising, setting up, and day-of logistics.


Start by finding out if your town requires you to purchase a yard-sale permit. You can typically call City Hall for this information or do a quick Web search.

When it comes to planning a yard sale, the more, the merrier. See if your neighbors want to join forces or host sales concurrently.

If you and your neighbors are collaborating on a sale, see if they want to visit some yard sales with you a couple of weekends in advance so you can get ideas for your own sale. Otherwise, go by yourself and take a few notes.

If you’re collaborating with neighbors, agree on times to start and end the sale. Keep in mind that people often show up early in order to poach the best stuff.

The real preparation for a yard sale doesn’t start until you begin combing through every closet and drawer in your home to figure out what you want to sell. The best way to do this is to remove everything from said closet and drawer and only put back the things you’re sure you want to keep. If you pay for a storage unit, clear that out first. Imagine the money you could save on monthly rent to store your unused stuff!

Price your items as you collect them. Do not rely on colored dots and a colored-dot code on a big sign; these are amateur hour. Use hang-tags or sticky tags with the prices clearly marked in medium-line black pen. If you’re selling large items (furniture, etc.), mark the prices on a piece of 8.5×11” white paper. Use masking tape so as not to ruin the finish of any furniture.


Purchase a classified ad in your paper. If your neighbors are joining you, include “multi-family” in your ads. Usually, if you put a classified ad in your paper, they’ll give you a yard-sale kit with free 8.5×11 signs. These can be modified into helpful bulletin-board ads.

For street signs you’ll really want large, bright poster board signs written in wide-tip black marker.

Post your bulletin-board flyers in the following areas:

  • Coffee shops
  • Grocery stores
  • Churches
  • Teacher’s lounges

Be sure to remove these signs after your sale is over or else you’ll wind up with a bunch of perturbed would-be shoppers interrupting your weekend after all your junk is gone.


Think about liability – if you have a box of kitchen utensils, keep a separate box for any old knives you’re hoping to sell. If you have something that’s broken, throw it out. Also, post a sign that says “ALL SALES FINAL.”

It’s OK to have a “free” box, too, especially if you have little toys that wouldn’t be of much value but that you want to get out of your house (this is where Happy Meal toys go to die).

Borrow more tables than you think you’ll need. Neighbors, churches, and clubhouses can all be good sources for folding tables.

When possible, hang clothing on a garment rack. Make sure all clothing is free and unwrinkled. Infant and small-children’s clothes may be folded neatly on tables: group them by outfit or by type of clothing (sweaters, pants, etc.).

Get plenty of change at the bank the day before: quarters and dollar bills are king. People who show up in the earlier part of the day are more likely to try to pay with twenty-dollar bills. Be prepared. It’s best to carry your money in a fanny pack so it’s safe and close when you need it.

Rope a couple of friends into helping you. Tell them you’ll buy them a pizza lunch with your earnings.

As items are purchased off your tables, consolidate merchandise and collapse empty tables so your sale continues to look well-stocked.

Do not bring anything you didn’t sell back into your house. Post it to Freecycle or take it to your local charity shop.

Attending a Yard Sale

There are two factors to keep in mind when you’re readying yourself to attend yard sales: planning and quality control.                                   

Plan your map-of-attack ahead of time, so you spend the least amount of money on gas as possible.

Pre-measure the areas of your home you’d like to fill with yard-sale furniture, so you don’t get stuck with something that doesn’t fit. Keep those dimensions with your maps and directions.

Wear closed-toe shoes rather than flip-flops, so your feet don’t get wet from the morning dew.

If the seller says an appliance works, ask to plug it in and test it. If they refuse to let you do this, pass on it.

Beware of buying baby furniture at a yard sale; many cribs and baby gates have been recalled for safety issues.

Bring a measuring tape/yardstick so you can measure the furniture you’d like to purchase.

Bring a friend, set a budget, bring small bills and coins, and have fun!


Lynn B. Johnson
what's your favorite yard-sale tip?
April 3 at 18:01 pm

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