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. Kijiji.ca – 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?