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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Learn tips on how to have a successful yard sale.

Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Anyone can save huge amounts of money buying things they need or want at yard sales. But what if you need to make some extra money? Did you just finish spring cleaning and have piles of unwanted (but still usable) items? Or maybe you are moving, downsizing, or just trying to simplify your life. All are wonderful reasons to host a yard sale. Sales are hard work, but not as hard as one might think. Here are some tips on how to organize and hold a successful sale.


  • First, you need to pick a date for your sale. Next summer, next month, next weekend – it all depends on how quickly you can complete the preparations. Consider whether or not you would like to ask a friend or neighbor to join you. Larger sales often attract a larger crowd. Also keep in mind that major holiday weekends are not a good time for a sale unless you happen to live in an area that attracts tourists.
  • Second, start gathering items for your sale. Declutter your house, including the attic and garage. Some like to make this a part of their regular cleaning routine by keeping a box for yard sale items in an out of the way place. When it is full, they start planning a sale. Whether you do it all at once or gradually, the key is to organize and price items as you go. This will save you a lot of time when you set up.
  • A few words on pricing: Remember that you are much more likely to move merchandise that is priced reasonably. The items you are selling are not new, and your customers are expecting to find a deal. If you have an item that you really think is worth money, you might be better off selling it on Ebay or Craigslist (for example a nice piece of used furniture, a collectible, even clothing if it is high quality and gently used). A good rule of thumb is to consider what you would pay for that item at a yard sale. Just be careful not to think of your items more highly than you ought to, just because they are yours or you know what you paid for it new. If you do have minimum prices for some items, it may be a good idea to keep a list, especially if you have family or friends helping you with your sale. Also remember that customers often want to bargain, so you might want to start out slightly above your target price (i.e. if you want to get $10 for your set of dishes, ask $12 or $13, because if you ask $10, they may try to talk you down to $7, or you might just get $12!)
  • Last, start gathering other supplies that you will need to hold your sale: small bills and coins for change, shopping bags, tables, tarps, snacks and drinks, etc. You may need to rent or borrow some of these things, so give yourself enough time to find and procure them before the sale.


If you want steady traffic, you need to get the word out about your sale. It might be a good idea to read some yard sale advertisements for ideas before you write yours.

  • First, advertise in local newspapers and online forums. You should put your ad out at least a week before your sale, especially if it is a large neighborhood or church sale. However, if you are trying to minimize out of pocket expenses, the bare minimum would be the day before and the day of your sale. Most papers will give you an option to also post your ad online, however there are numerous free yard sale forums (find a long list of these at Yard Sale Queen.) Be sure to include specific information including the location, date, time, whether or not it is a single family or group sale, if the sale is for charity or a fundraiser, whether or not you welcome early birds, a brief summary of items (i.e. furniture, baby stuff, women’s clothing, etc.) or a highlight of your best items (i.e. 4 piece queen bedroom suite for $200).
  • Second, put up signs around the neighborhood, especially if you live off the beaten path. Before you do, you need to check with your city or county, as some have certain guidelines or restrictions for hanging such signs. Make sure that your signs are large and that the writing is readable. You may even want to drive by your sign after you hang it to make sure drivers can see it. Also, it’s not that arrows are forbidden, but please don’t just put “Yard Sale” and a big arrow on your sign. Make sure you put your street address and the date and time of your sale. There is nothing like driving out of your way only to discover that the sale was last week or to get lost in a neighborhood and never find the sale.
  • Last, tell your family and friends and ask them to spread the word for you! Word of mouth is always a great way to spread news, especially in a small town.

Set up a Professional Sale

You may think there is nothing less professional than a yard sale, but this doesn’t have to be true.

  • First, organize and market your items well. Place your most attractive items out near the road in plain view (for example a nice piece of furniture, a newer appliance, or nice children’s toys). Group similar items together, for example all of the toys on one table, all the clothes on another, and all of the housewares on the third. Hang your clothes up on a clothesline or rack instead of throwing them on a tarp or in a bin. Make sure that all prices are clearly marked. If you have a larger item (i.e. furniture, a t.v., set of dishes, etc.) make a larger sign and include some of the specifics (i.e. TV is 5 years old, 20″, used infrequently, and works well, $30.) If you have appliances, have a set of test batteries on hand or a power strip so that customers can verify that they work. Or go ahead and plug in the TV or DVD player and play a movie or turn on the radio you are trying to sell.
  • Second, do a quality check as you set the items out. Don’t even try to sell items that are dangerous or seriously damaged (small nicks and stains are ok, I’m talking about a toy that has not worked for 10 years and has corroded batteries in it). This can just make your whole sale look junky. If you really want to get rid of them, but don’t want to fill up the land fills, put them in a box out of the way and offer them for free or an extremely low price (a few dollars for the whole box).
  • Be ready to barter in a professional and reasonable manner. Typically sellers stick to their prices for the first hour or so, and then start to budge a little more as the sale goes on. Again, remember that you might actually bring in more money when you offer better deals. Better to take $3 dollars for that lamp at 9 a.m. than to keep it marked at $5 and never sell it.
  • Offer your customers refreshment. Have a pitcher of water and some plastic cups available on a hot day. You may even be able to bring in a few extra dollars by selling cans of soda or small snacks like chips, cookies, or fruit. You might let your kids try their hand at an entrepenurial venture. No one can say no to such a cute little face! Just be sure that everything looks and is sanitary. No one wants to buy something that your kids are putting their dirty hands all over, or see you touch your merchandise or money then serve you a cookie.
  • Last, professionalism can protect your earnings as well. Not all yard sale customers are sweet deal seeking mommas. Some will try to distract you, switch stickers, put a smaller item inside of a large one, get you talking then say they already paid, or tell you they gave you a $20 instead of a $10 and ask for more change. I don’t think there is any need to be paranoid, but be careful, especially about your cash box! Either have someone guard it at all times or wear a pouch or fanny pack on your person.

When it’s Over

No matter how successful your sale, you will always have “leftovers.” Decide ahead of time what you plan to do with them. You may plan to have a two day sale and make the second day a half price sale or tell customers to fill a grocery bag for a dollar or two. (If a customer is bargaining with you, and you really don’t want to come down at that point, you can tell them to come back the next day at their own risk for a lower price).  Another option is to call a charity like Goodwill or Salvation Army to come pick up leftovers. If you get a receipt, you can write this off on your taxes as a charitable donation. One last option is to list your items on Craigslist or Freecycle. Advertise “left over yard sale items – take it all for $20 or take a box for $5.” (Note: You must offer the items for free if you post them on Freecycle.) Another seller or a junk collector might come and take it all away for their sale or collection.Last, have a little fun counting your earnings and take it to the bank! Congratulations on a successful sale.


    • Leah

      We have had a lot of success by having our yard sale when our town has the “city wide” yard sale. This attracts people from other towns and we had a constant stream of people coming by.

    • Snellmom

      We had a sale this past weekend and were happy with the results. My funny story is about a bike rack that goes on the back of your car. We were packing up on Saturday and a group came to look. The wanted the bike rack. My husband said “$35”. The guy was rude and said “What? I can get it at Wal Mart for $39” We didn't really care. We were desperate to get rid of it. He tried to get my husband to do it for like $10 or something. Well, they wanted to see if it would work on the back of their car, so dh went down there with them and tried it out. He sold it for $30, which was $10 more than he told me was the rock bottom for it! We had a good laugh over it!

    • daphnegticola

      We are going to be participating in our neighborhood “Montegue Lakes” garage sale for the first time. We're moving out of state, so I've got a lot to get rid off. Anyone in the Upstate mark it in your calendars for May 15th!

    • cmccabe

      Thanks Jenny for the good advice. This is just in time!

    • Hattie

      For some reason the yard sale prices here have really hit rock bottom. Many people are saying they are barely clearing $100 per sale. After hearing that, I determined not to have any sales until the tide turns. Rather, I just have fun shopping for my family and for selling things on eBay (where the prices have remained pretty steady for me).

    • misscoupondiva

      Great info! I am gearing up for my annual sale as well. I consider my prices really cheap! Someone said price them higher than you would like, because they will barter you down regardless of the price. I am sticking to my prices (like a quarter for clothes, and $1 for home decor.. super cheap ya know!). What I do not sell I will use as a write off on my taxes when I donate. That is better than getting ripped off or insulted with low offers. I'll take the write off any day!

    • Kelley

      Excellent advice on offering snacks for sale. One year my family had a large yard sale and while we sold quite a bit of our stuff we made the most money selling canned drinks. Even people who didn't buy an item would buy a drink! Just buy something you won't mind consuming if it doesn't sell.

    • It's funny how you say don't do it on a holiday. We always do one on Memorial Day weekend and do very well! And we don't live in an area that attracts tourists either!

    • Ramona

      Thanks a bunch for the great info! Just let me add that here in Wilmington, NC, we have some resale stores called “Vintage Values.” I always ask that people take their “leftovers” to them because all the workers are volunteers and all the profits go to the domestic violence shelter for women and children.

    • Jessica

      If anyone is going to be in Norcross, GA this sat, stop by Clear Cteek Cottages between 8 and 3. We're having a community yard sale….we're the “colorful Charleston lookin houses” on Holcomb Bridge, right down the street from downtown Norcross. Would love to see everyone!

    • Linda

      My theory on pricing is a bit different…I price things about 2x higher than what I REALLY want to get for them (so, say I want $10 for an area rug, I price it at $20). BUT…I put signs up everywhere that say, “Make me an offer!!!” and I'll go up to customers and tell them that as well. AND, I'll say, “Hey, if you really like the rug, I'll give it to you for $15. A lot of times, customers think they're getting a bargain because they get a price lower than what you asked. But when you look at my pricing idea, you'll see that I actually made $5 more than what was my “rock bottom price”. And I am always willing to dicker or throw in something else.

      you ARE trying to get rid of stuff, after all.

      and when all is said and done, I put a message up on my local freecycle group saying “Yard sale leftovers – must take everything. Keep what you want, freecycle the rest”. Never fails to get rid of everything else. Because I don't want it in the house! (typically, I only have a yard sale if I'm getting ready to move, so I don't want the stuff anyway!)

      • Val Sullivan

        Thanks for this information, We are having a yard sale this Sat. Im wondering if I should put a few products out that I have a lot of that I got for great prices? what do all of you think?

    • Dana

      I like to wear my one of my half aprons to keep my money in. I don't have to worry about watching a money box and I can always make change from where I am at.

    • Jennifer

      My tip is – Don't do it! Sell on Craigslist instead. Last year we made 4 times the amount on left over yard sale junk than on the “good stuff” that we spent hours on. I'll never have a traditional yard sale again. I've been doing them for years and use to help my mom on hers and usually made hundreds of dollars. No more!

    • Staceyb

      I have made gobs of money (hundreds) at every yard sale. The trick is to be very very organized and take A LOT of time setting up and neatly pricing your items (a good rule of thumb is 1/4 of the original price, but it depends on the item). To deter people from switching price tags, I use the larger paper hang tags and write a one or two word descrip of the item on it. When having multiple families participate,we put our initials on the labels. It is more convenient and less confusing for the customers and ourselves to have one check out table . We usually have two cashiers to check out and bag and then several other people watching and helping customers. You need lots of eyes so that no one pockets your items. I have received many compliments on the organization of our sales so I really do think I make more money that way. I have notices when doing multiple family sales, the people who put the most time into organizing, make the most money. Also, friendliness goes a long way too. Yeah, just about once every sale there is one difficult customer but it usually makes for a funny story later on. For the most part, you get to chit chat and meet some new people and have a great time.

      • Hattie

        I admit; it is fun to have a yard sale. But they are just so prevalent here. People have no real incentive to pay a higher price because they will find the same item or better just around the corner. I can't think of any “disorganized” yard sales I have been to lately~they all seem pretty well set up. The only “funny” thing I have noticed is how so few people are good at making change. It almost confuses them beyond words sometimes to make change.

        I won't reveal here what I make selling yard sale stuff on eBay but it is WAY, WAY beyond the earnings mentioned on this post.

    • James

      I had a yard sale today and priced most items for a quarter. I organised as best I could however my signs would not stay up lol. Anyways I still walked away with just over $200 for 1 day and did not allow any haggling. Overall I think it was a tremendous success. What drew most people in was VHS tapes surprisingly enough people were buying them in bulk for 25 cents each. Give people a great deal right by the road it worked for me. Another thing, I sold out of everything I thought would not sell and had leftovers of what I thought would sell. Going for day 2 tomorrow hopefully somewhat successful. Oh I started on thursday on advice of friends and WOW was I surprised try it for yourselves. :-) Happy Sailing to you all!!!!

    • James

      I had a yard sale today and priced most items for a quarter. I organised as best I could however my signs would not stay up lol. Anyways I still walked away with just over $200 for 1 day and did not allow any haggling. Overall I think it was a tremendous success. What drew most people in was VHS tapes surprisingly enough people were buying them in bulk for 25 cents each. Give people a great deal right by the road it worked for me. Another thing, I sold out of everything I thought would not sell and had leftovers of what I thought would sell. Going for day 2 tomorrow hopefully somewhat successful. Oh I started on thursday on advice of friends and WOW was I surprised try it for yourselves. :-) Happy Sailing to you all!!!!