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How to maximize your profits in Yard Sales

June 19, 2012

by Michal Ann McArthur
Central Oregon Writer

The first weekend in June, my girlfriend had a yard sale. Not only can she now park her car in her garage, but she also made $1200.00. You might be tempted to say, not bad for a couple of days’ work. But actually, there was a whole lot more to it than that. Successful yard sales don’t just happen. To maximize your profits, you have to plan ahead and work hard. Here are some things you can do to assure your success.

Choose the right time of year. As soon as the weather is nice enough, have your sale. If you can swing it, late May and early June are optimal times. People still have money to spend in early summer and haven’t yet crowded their schedules with too much to do—summer sports, vacations, home projects, etc.

Choose the right days. My friend made 65% of her sales on Friday. Weekdays especially appeal to two groups of shoppers: Moms who can shop while their children are in school (if you have a sale before school lets out) and professional collectors and dealers. A Friday-Saturday sale is better than a Saturday-Sunday sale to attract these professionals.

Get good advice on pricing. My girlfriend called a local second-hand dealer who came to her home at no charge and suggested prices. He pointed out what was of more/less value and why. She also got advice from people who used to own an antique store. If you’re not sure about the value of something, investigate before you sell, especially works of art or possible antiques.

Publicize widely. Of course, you can put an ad in your local paper, but there are places where you can advertize for free, like Craigslist. Churches, grocery stores, and senior centers often offer free bulletin board space. Be sure your road signs are large and easy-to-read. And don’t forget to take them down after the sale. Outdated signs clutter up the community and frustrate shoppers who are trying to locate sales. State clearly the hours of your sale and whether you will sell to early comers. Even when you do, people will show up early. Know in advance how you will handle this.

Use good pricing strategy. Opinions differ on whether or not to put a price on every item. Pricing everything is time-consuming. Plus, if shoppers feel your prices are too high, they tend to leave. My girlfriend put a price on a few important items and had a price in mind for the rest. She found that shoppers love to negotiate and that an important part of yard sales is the “art of the deal.”

Market your goods like a pro. How you display your goods makes a huge difference. Lay out as much as possible on tables. Put the eye-catching, hot items out front where they will attract shoppers. As people drive by, you want to give them a reason to get out of their cars. Sell with a friendly, out-going attitude; point out good deals and bargains.

Have enough help the day of the sale. You have to watch people or some will rip you off. That’s a sad fact. One person alone can’t keep an eye on everything. Have somebody in charge of the money box at all times. And of course, have on hand at least twice as much change as you think you’ll need.

Arrange for a charity to come pick up the leftovers. This way, joy of joys, you won’t have to haul anything back into your garage.

Cash in your pocket and parking space in your garage—I’d call that a successful sale. Yard sale money isn’t easy money, but you can succeed with some hard work and savvy strategies.


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Discuss this article

Andrea June 20, 2012

I’m seriously impressed. We batted around the idea of a yard sale a couple of years ago but decided that we couldn’t possibly make enough money to justify the amount of work. Maybe if we’d known all of this we would have given it a go.

Gene June 20, 2012

The idea of simply having a price in mind (rather than taking the time to label everything) is awesome. Seems like it would save time and in some cases would compel the buyer to be the first to name a price.

ggg June 20, 2012

Good advice, I find myself driving by a lot of sales that don’t have anything attractive out front… furniture, tools etc. (Esp. for us guys) are going to draw us in a lot faster than rack upon rack of baby clothes or women’s sweaters! and I prefer a generic price as a starting point (everything on the table $1) rather than having to ask about every knick-knack or trinket…if its hard, I won’t take the time and add anything more clutter to my next garage sale!

Jennie June 20, 2012

I love a good yard sale and I now I feel like I might even be able to have one of my own! Thanks for the great advice.

Amy C. June 20, 2012

I can use this. I love finding the perfect buy at yard sales. The problem is making best use of my time to find it.

Nancy June 20, 2012

Some great advice here that I haven’t seen before.

Dawn June 20, 2012

I consider myself a yard sale fanatic from the consumer end but reading this article makes me want to stand on the other side of the table and plan one! I have only held one yard sale a few years back and made a measly $300 but now that I’ve read these suggestions I might have to plan another one and hopefully triple my sales?! Thanks for the advice.

Shannon Ables June 20, 2012

Michal Ann,

A wonderful post! Thank you very much for sharing these specific tips. Am putting together everything this week for a yard sale on Saturday, now I realize, I will include Friday as well! Thank you again. 🙂

Kathi June 20, 2012

Excellent advice, and some I’d never heard before, such as the fact that Friday before school lets out is a critically good time. I am curious, though: was your friend just lucky, or will second-hand dealers really come to your house to give a free appraisal on values?

My son is getting ready for setting up his own apartment, and I’ve been going to garage and estate sales with him…second-hand stores, etc. I wasn’t really looking for myself but found a few stunning deals, plus Joel is going to have his apartment furnished with truly unique and lovely things, some that he’d never be able to find new and others that he could have never afforded new! A garage sale is a win/win for the community!

Bob June 20, 2012

Very useful advice. Thanks.

Yvon June 20, 2012

Hmm. . .great ideas! I hadn’t thought Friday being so important, but thinking back to some yard sales of the past, I do see a connection! I like the 25 cents or 50 cents table idea of ggg too! Using different colored dots can make pricing a lot easier too; no need to write prices.

Michal Ann McArthur June 20, 2012

Kathi, I don’t know if most second-hand dealers will come to your house to discuss your wares, but I know that some will. It doesn’t hurt to ask. My friend and her husband had visited this second-hand store on several occasions so the owner knew them. I’m sure this helped. Plus, my friend and I both have some items that we want to sell in a second-hand store, and since this man was so gracious about coming to my friend’s home, I’ll be selling my items in this man’s store. So, it does make for good business for all concerned.

John June 20, 2012

Good practical pointers all in a nut shell. Now I’m ready to try my own yard sale.

Lynn June 20, 2012

It would be worth taking a day off work, on Friday, for results like that. A sale Fri-Sat would be good, and then you can relax on Sun!
Good ideas! Thanks.

T,Taylor June 20, 2012

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on “garagin” as my parents got me hooked on garage sale shopping way back when. I’m still using the portable Weber BBQ I bought several years ago for a $1.00. I agree with your suggestions and would add if you feel you don’t have enough items for your own sale you can always team up with other family members or friends.

Judy June 20, 2012

Good, practical information, Michal. I especially appreciated the information about the day(s) to have a garage sale and the reasons given.

kay June 22, 2012

Great advice to remember for my next garage sale. Stopped at one today in the countryside as they had excellent signs to find them. Bought some unique items…so fun!

Claryce Parker June 25, 2012

Loved your article – I am planning to join my daughter’s sale coming up soon and plan to use your wonderful “hints to success”

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