10 Essential Steps for Any Yard Sale

A quick guide to cleaning out your house while making a profit!

Want to get rid of the stuff in your house you never use anymore? Follow these 10 essential steps and you’re guaranteed to have a successful yard sale and some extra cash in your back pocket!

1) When to Have Your Yard Sale

The Season

Orange yard sale sign

There are pros and cons to each season, but the absolute prime time for hosting your sale is early spring, when it’s just starting to warm up. People don’t want to shop in the frigid cold or the heat of summer. If Spring isn’t possible for you, though, early fall can also be a successful time of year.

The Day

Having your sale on a Saturday or Sunday will bring you the most customers, so these days are almost always the most profitable. The exception is if you have very high end merchandise. In that case, hosting a Friday sale is a better bet to attract antiques dealers and well-to-do retirees.

The Time

If you’re an early bird, open at 7:30 am to get those eager shoppers. If you need to sleep in a little more, you can open closer to 9:30 or 10:00 am. But beware, it’s definitely beneficial to open in the morning and get the eager shoppers. Not only that, yard sale aficionados tend to arrive as early as they can, whether it’s the advertised start time or not, so you may not get to sleep in even if you try!

After your opening time is decided, you need to choose how long you want your sale to be. If you have a small yard sale set up, you can keep it down to four hours. A larger yard sale should be around six to eight hours. You also have the option of an open ended yard sale — have a definite start time but close when you feel the customers aren’t coming anymore.

2) Location, Location, Location!

House with a yard sale

Check if a permit is required in your city to host a yard sale! Many people forget this step and get shut down after weeks of preparation.

Your location is extremely important to the success of your yard sale. If you live in a rural area, ask a friend or family member in a more populated area if you can host the yard sale at their house. Foot traffic is essential to a yard sale’s success, so keep in mind that people won’t want to drive out into the country to shop at your sale.

3) Collect What You Want To Sell

Go through your house room by room and pick out items you want to sell. You’d be surprised at what some people will buy, so everything in good condition is fair game. Used but working tools and hardware, DVDs, unbroken dishes, gently used clothing, and furniture are just a few examples of what you can sell. 

But while you want to sell as much as you can, don’t set out everything! Customers dislike rummaging through boxes of random items and they won’t buy anything broken. Pick out your nicer things to sell.

4) Get Organized

As you pick out what you want to sell, it is vital that you stay organized and categorize every item. It will be a hassle and a waste of your time if you have to sort through one big pile of stuff to sell, rather than categorizing as you go. This can’t be stressed enough! Stay organized! For example, you can make a category for dishes, pots, baby clothes, adult clothes, toys, technology, etc. You’ll save time by staying organized throughout the entire yard sale process.

5) The Right Price

Priced dishes

Your merchandise must have clear prices labeled! Customers get shy and are less likely to buy things if they have to come up with the price themselves and bargain for it. 

How to Price an Item

Be smart about your pricing- don’t sell an item for its original retail value even if it’s brand new. If you have something brand new, price it around 50% retail value so customers feel like they’re getting a deal. Something slightly used should be priced at 30% retail value and well used items priced at 10% retail value.

If you like bargaining, price your merchandise slightly higher than the 50%, 30%, 10% rule. This way if a customer really wants to bargain you have a little room to bring the price down. This is a risky move since most customers don’t like to bargain, so pricing your items higher may discourage them from buying.

Have all of your prices round to an easily calculated number. Make them end in .00, .25, .50, or .75, which will make it easier for you to make change as well. 


If you have a lot of one item, sell them in bundles. Books and DVDs are harder to get rid of, but if you say “5 DVDs for a dollar” or “a box of books for 5 dollars” they’re more likely to sell.

6) Advertise

Colorful yard sale sign

Getting the word out is a crucial step to having a successful yard sale. Get your friends and family to spread the word, get an ad in a local newspaper, post on social media, make flyers, or post on Craigslist. If you’re wary about posting your address to Craigslist, give the location of a nearby street then tell them to follow the signs. When you post to Craigslist include some pictures of your biggest ticket items to entice buyers.

Make signs that have clear, visible, and bold lettering. Include bright colors to attract attention. Make sure your signs have “Yard Sale” printed legibly on them, along with the date, time, and location. Spread the signs throughout your area with arrows pointing towards your yard sale.

7) Grab Some Help

Hosting a yard sale is hard work so enlist the help of family members or friends. They can help with lifting heavy inventory, working checkout, or running errands.

If you have kids it’s hard to keep track of them and monitor the yard sale. Ask family, friends, a babysitter, or a nanny to take them for the day.

8) The Layout

Not on the Ground!

Rule number one when planning your layout is never put anything on the ground! Merchandise on the ground simply doesn’t sell because customers don’t want to bend over or get on their knees to look at items. Also merchandise on the ground is associated with being dirty or of less quality. Borrow tables or set things up on shelves, just get it off the ground!

Drawing in the Customer

To draw in customers, place your big ticket items near the entrance of your yard sale. Make sure these items are also visible to cars passing by- if they can see items they want from the road they are more likely to stop by.

Displaying Clothes

Organized hanging clothes

When displaying clothes, organize them by size and gender. Hang clothes up and remember that customers can get overwhelmed if they see a rack overstuffed with clothes. So pick the nicer clothes to display and if some outfits get bought up you can restock the rack. Baby clothes and pants can be folded neatly on a table.

Overall, have everything displayed by category, clearly visible, and looking clean.

9) Go Beyond Expectations

Lemonade StandRefreshments are a great way to keep customers shopping or make some extra cash. Have your kids set up a lemonade stand or sell homemade cookies. No matter what you offer, customers will appreciate the offer and keep shopping while they eat.

A kids table will help keep the children occupied while their parents shop around. It’s simple to set up- just place out a few coloring books and some crayons. Preoccupied children means the parents have more time to shop around!

10) Having an Easy Checkout

Have extra cash on you at the start of your day because not everyone will have exact change. Have a considerable amount of ones, fives, and tens. Don’t keep your money in a cashbox where it’s easy to steal. Keep your hard earned money close to your person in an apron or fanny pack.

Woman helping a customerFor easy transport have plastic bags handy. This will help your customers carry everything they bought and they will deeply appreciate it.

Newspaper is crucial for selling anything breakable. If a customer wants to buy a fragile dish, wrap it up in some newspaper to avoid it breaking during transport.

To help you with your event we’ve created the Yard Sale Checklist. An easy list that will take you through the process of planing a yard sale step by step. Follow these essential steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful yard sale!


PS: What to do with the stuff that doesn’t sell…

For your merchandise that doesn’t sell, freecycle is a great resource and easy to use. You can make a post on freecycle and if someone wants it they’ll email you then pick it up! If freecycle doesn’t work, you’ll most likely have to dump it. Thrift stores don’t want the leftovers from a yard sale because if you can’t sell it, they probably can’t either.