How to Host a Yard Sale Like a Pro

Olivia Elsher

May 14, 2024

random items from a yard sale, doll, knickknacks - how to host a yard sale

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You went on a decluttering spree and now have a bunch of stuff you no longer want or need. You could donate it to a charity. Or, you could sell it on Facebook Marketplace. Or, you could host a yard sale and make a few bucks.

Knowing how to host a yard sale often comes down to experience. Fortunately, there are some tried and true tips that will help even the most inexperienced garage sale thrower. 

Why Is It Called a Yard Sale?

Although people will use terms interchangeably to describe a sale held at your home sporadically, yard sale, garage sale and rummage sale are all used interchangeably to describe the event. 

Technically, a yard sale occurs out in front of your home in the yard. However, some people start the sale in a garage with the door open and let it spill down the driveway and into the yard. The weather can necessitate tents or moving items inside to keep them from being ruined. 

How to Host a Yard Sale in Seven Easy Steps

Whether this is your first yard sale or your 600th one, there are some simple steps that will make the process flow more smoothly.

1. Gather Participants

Multi-family yard sales and neighborhood sales tend to attract more shoppers. People want a nice selection of items to see if there is something useful to them. When you involve multiple families, you’ll have more people talking about the sale and a nice mix of items to attract buyers. 

You can still have a sale if you are the only participant. Do your best to gather up as many items as possible and be honest about what you have available. The goal is to attract those who want to buy what you have to sell. 

2. Price Items

Garage sale prices are not equal to secondhand stores, thrift stores or clearance sales. There is a tradition with yard sales where items are extremely reasonable. Most people want to move out their extras, make a few bucks and donate what’s left. If you bought a jacket for $80, wore it twice and priced it at $75 for your yard sale, it’s unlikely to sell. 

One of the best ways to determine prices is to visit other people’s sales. Many now put their items on Facebook in local classified groups, so you can get an idea of what it might sell for. If you’re trying to live a minimalist lifestyle, leave your wallet at home to avoid temptation to buy more stuff. You are only doing research to figure out how to host a yard sale. 

It’s a good idea to hold your sale over a number of days. You can come down in price on the second day and slash things to clear them out on the final day. If the idea of putting stickers on hundreds of items wears you out, set up areas with $1 items, $3 items and so on. However, it is easy to get confused about what came from each table.

3. Lay Out Merchandise

Layout for a garage sale. Items on tables. People browsing.

A yard sale is similar to a pop-up store. The way you lay things out will impact traffic flow and how easy it is for people to find what they want. Many people place the cash table in their garage, where they can grab the money box  if they have to run inside for a minute. 

You’ll want some plastic grocery bags and a few papers to wrap up fragile items. From the garage, make a row on either side of your driveway. Create tables for similar items, such as one for decor, one for clothes, one for toys and one for electronics. 

4. Get Change

Go to the bank and gather some change before the sale. You’ll need 10s, fives, ones and coins. Some people choose to price things only on the even dollar to avoid dealing with change. However, people will also make an offer and haggle at yard sales. You can price something at $1, but if someone offers 75 cents, you need to be able to make change for them. 

If you plan to accept credit cards, you can get a free card reader through a site such as PayPal or Square. You’ll need to plan in advance and order the equipment and sign up for an account. 

5. Advertise

Getting the word out about your sale is probably one of the keys to a successful event. You’ll want to call your local newspaper and see if they post garage sales in their classifieds section. Find local sales groups on Facebook and post the dates, times, what is available and location.

Print flyers to hang in the laundromat, bank bulletin board and library. Some grocery stores also offer community information areas where you can post a paper. Finally, make big bright signs pointing the way to your sale. Include the word “sale,” your address, dates and make sure the letters are big and dark enough to read while driving past in a vehicle. 

6. Greet Customers

You’ve done all the legwork for how to host a yard sale that succeeds. Now, it’s time to greet customers. Welcome them to your sale. Tell them about any specials, such as if a table is buy one get one free or you’re having a half price day. 

A yard sale is an example of a retail store, although a temporary one. In a Statista survey, 78% of consumers said they made purchase decisions based on quality of customer service. If you want people coming to your sale to buy, you must greet them warmly and make them feel you care about their needs. 

Greeting them lets them know where you are when they’re ready to pay for their items. It also can bring a shy shopper out of their shell. They may ask if you have an item they are looking for rather than guessing and leaving empty handed. 

7. Clean Up

Once the sale ends, your work continues. You will have items left. Your options are to keep it, donate it, give it away or let a reseller buy the entire lot for a deeply discounted price. You can arrange for some charity thrift stores to come and pick up the items. You will need to box them up and have them ready to go.

Group of people donating items to charity.

Make sure you backtrack and remove any signage and flyers you’ve placed around the area. Return any borrowed tables and put others up for the next sale. Make sure all trash is removed so your neighbors don’t have to deal with an eyesore.

Is Hosting a Garage Sale Worth the Effort?

If you live in a high traffic area, you may sell most of the items you price. When you break down the hours spent pricing, organizing, managing and cleaning up the event, you may find the pay per hour is paltry. If you enjoy the process, then it may be worth it for some extra spending money. 

If you hate every minute of it, plenty of charities will take the items off your hands for free. You can also sell them one at a time on Facebook Marketplace and online classified groups. Knowing how to host a yard sale is helpful but you can also refrain from having one should it seem overwhelming. 

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