How to Have Your Best Yard Sale, Ever

It wouldn’t be a true blog about frugality and fabulosity without a post about Yard Sale how-to’s.

Like any Canadian, if it’s raining, I’m inside, purging my home of unwanted goods. If sunny, I’ll be outside, hunting through someone else’s yard sale for hidden treasure.

It’s basically an eco-system of gently used goods; for whatever item I pick up at a garage sale, one item from my home must go. It’s getting easier to get rid of unwanted goods these days, with free online listings to promote your event.

Step 1:

Find a venue. If you don’t have a yard or a garage, ask a friend who does. Would he or she like to share the event? The more the merrier, and it’s always good to have an extra pair of hands on deck for bathroom breaks, or running for spare change.

Sometimes churches, temples, synagogues or community centres may rent out their space to a group. If you get a bunch of like-minded friends, you could consider pitching in to meet the rental price. Ask if you can sweeten the deal by offering to donate a portion of your sales to their cause.

Step 2:

Advertise, advertise, advertise. If it seems excessive, you’re doing it right. Post to as many online classifieds as you can.

  • Print up yard sale ads, and post them to your workplace cafeteria (if allowed) or community bulletin boards and coffee houses (ask permission first.)
  • Start advertising roughly a month before the event. This gives the hard-core yardsalers time to add it to their calendar, and plants the idea in the minds of those who don’t make plans ahead of time. “What shall we do today?” “Oh, I dunno…I recall something about a yard sale going on today…”

Here are some free venues for advertising your yard sale: 

  1. Garage Sales By Map: A free online garage-sale finder. You can post it as far as a month in advance, and you can get an advance posting just by promoting it on your blog or webpage.
  2. Craigslist:  You can post weekly, or pay a nominal fee to keep it on the top. Unlike Kijiji, you can only post two weeks prior to your event.
  3. – you can post your yard sale, and add photos of your location, maps, and last year’s event, if you have any. Update weekly to keep it up top.
  4. Local online and newspapers: Many boroughs have advertising-based print and online bulletin boards or papers. Check their classifieds section, and post.
  5. Social Media: Create an event and post it on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and include daily updates.

Step 3: Prep Your Goods

Display: Make sure you have a wide, clean table, or at least, a couple of sawhorses and a plank. Pretty it up with a tablecloth: Potential buyers are less likely to approach your sale items if the display looks dingy, or cluttered.

Clean your items: Would you want to buy something dusty, chipped, or grubby looking? Of course not. True, there are some hoarders out there, but why make the sale harder than it should be? Wipe off that film of dust and grime.

Book displays: Put books in large boxes with the spines facing outwards: This makes it easier for browsers to see the title, and you can write the price on the box itself, instead of stickering up each book.

Have change ready: There’s always someone at the sale who wants to break a $20 bill for a twenty five cent purchase. Nobody likes that guy, but it’s always best to be prepared.

List your prices clearly: Do you have a “no haggling” policy? Let buyers know with a polite sign on the table. If you’re open to bargaining with buyers, don’t waste your time price tags for each item. If a customer is interested, he or she will ask. Other wise, lump similarly priced items together and make a sign like, “everything on this table $2.” If nobody is buying after an hour, make it a BOGO: Buy One, Get one Free.

Step 4: Have An Exit Plan

What are you going to do with the unsold goods? Part of the idea for the yard sale was to de-clutter you home, wasn’t it? Don’t return the clutter to your house, unless someone paid for a large item, and needs to store it until they can transport it.

  1. Find a charity that could use the items. The Diabetes Foundation of Canada has a service called, “Clothesline” that picks up your unwanted goods, so that takes delivery off your hands.
  2. Try thrift stores, like Value Village: They don’t pick up, but you do get a stamp on a card towards 30% off your next purchase at this thrift store chain for each bag of goods you donate. Proceeds go to charitable foundations.
  3. Homeless Shelters: Call to ask if they are accepting goods, first. Some places have policies on furniture or clothing, especially if they have limited (or no) storage space.
  4. Red Cross: There are some emergency plans for those who were forced from their homes in a hurry: Check out their website for a Red Cross branch near you.

What’s your best tip for a successful yard sale?

How To Get Free (Or Almost Free) Clothing

Like the changing of the leaves, those of us living in chillier climes change our outer gear seasonally. This means hauling out storage boxes that were carefully packed with moth-deterrents like cedar or camphor, washing, ironing and trying on clothes to see if they still fit. This ritual is often followed by a quieter ritual of weeping and self-recrimination, when waistbands appear to have magically shrunk themselves.


image by SmileyHaiku of


If, like me, you have been lounging about all summer and making some questionable food choices (helpful tip: Ice cream doesn’t constitute supper) – some of your favourite sweaters, pants and jackets won’t fit the way they should. What to do with the clothes that don’t fit, especially if you can’t really afford an all-new wardrobe?

The good news: There are some sweet ways to score new-to-you stuff, at no or minimal cost.  If you’re bound to your desk during the day, there’s still a way to hound down that hard-to-find sweater or a way to ditch the cute-but-not-that-cute dress while you are within reach of your mobile.

Free Apps and Websites to Find Free Clothes

  1. Freecycle.  This free online website is like an electronic trading post. People post what they are getting rid of, but members of the community can also list items they are looking for. You can sign up for daily “digests” – an email that summarizes items people are giving or hoping to get. You can sign up for various neighbourhoods, such as locations near where you live or work.
  2. Free apps like TrashNothing, Kijiji and CraigslistPro.  Yeahhh…it’s a mixed bag. There’s no real guarantee about the quality or the availability, but it’s always worth a shot.
  3. Peerby, the app that lets you borrow something from a neighbour. Their motto is, “want something, but don’t want to buy it?” This app is strictly for those who will return the item to its owner after borrowing it, but it’s great for those moments you simply must have a handsaw to complete your lumberjack Halloween costume.
  4. Barter is coming back, but unlike our grandparents’, we are using technology instead of trading face-to-face. Swapsity and Swapdom are websites that have members list what they want, and what they are willing to part with in exchange for the item. Swapsity is also a great resource if you’re looking for a service that you’re willing to barter for, such a re-upholstery or handyman work.
  5. Vinted is an app that also gives you the option to sell your unwanted clothes online, but if you’re looking for clothes to swap, it might be a good option to check out.

Image courtesy of “dierregi” of


Find a Local Clothing Swap – Or Host Your Own

  1. Host a clothing swap.  Bring your friends together – the more the merrier. The wider the array of sizes, the better. Have snack foods ready, and donate anything that is left behind to a charity of your choice. Friends get clothes, purge out their closets, and donate to a cause they believe in: win-win!
  2. Check Facebook or any local newspaper for clothing swaps in your area. Perfect for those who don’t have the room/time/energy to host.

Speaking of which, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, there will be a clothing swap held on October 29, at the Arts Market (846 College St.) on October 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm. A donation of $5 at the door will go towards Urban Wildlife Care, a group dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of our native wildlife.  Bring your fall/winter seasonal clothes, and only the stuff that’s in good shape: Nothing frayed, broken or missing buttons, please. As with all clothing swaps, kindly do not bring underwear or swimwear.

If you’re still looking for a Clothing Swap in November, Toronto’s West Coast Swing community will be holding a charity clothing swap to support CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.) Please bring your previously-loved clothing, shoes and accessories to the Dovercourt House (805 Dovercourt Rd.,) 3rd floor on Sunday afternoon, November 8th at 2:00 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds go to CAMH. All attendees will be eligible for the Door Prize: a pass to the Sweet Side of Swing – Northwest 2016 event taking place in Vancouver, June 24-26, 2016.