How I Yard Sale + Link Party

By Kate Riley July 11, 2011

I learned years ago as a kid that having a successful yard sale was like a competitive sport ~ there is hard work, sweat, and strategy involved.  My parents used to have them every year, and often we’d visit other sales too.  After my own kids came along, the excess unwanted stuff began to pile up rather quickly, so selling it all at a yard sale and making some extra cash seemed pretty genius to me.  Ever since, I’ve had one at my house every summer.

Here are the guidelines I follow for a successful yard sale every year:

Declutter Every Single Room.   Go through every room in your home the month or week before your sale, asking yourself do you love it, use it, or is it just collecting dust?  Does it hold serious sentimental value?  If not, put in in the ‘yard sale’ pile.  Don’t try to sell things that are broken or worthless, instead recycle or dispose of them, they will detract from the things you’re selling that have actual value.

Get Together.  Enlisting friends and neighbors makes for a fun social scene, and also more things to offer buyers.  Make sure you mention in your ad that it’s a multi family sale!

Advertise.  Online ads on sites like Craigslist and Garage Sale Finder have replaced the local newspaper, so use them strategically.  List the time, specific address, and directions if your home is not so easy to find.  List your categories of goods like “toys” or “linens” and a few big ticket items too.   Keep the sale short, I find it brings more customers.  “Saturday Only, 8 to 11” sells your stuff a lot quicker than “Saturday and Sunday, 8 to 2”.

Signage. Cardboard or poster board work just fine.  Tack up a few large signs on the main road directing traffic to your home, and make sure they’re clear and legible for passing drivers.  Make sure you follow any local ordinances regarding advertising on public streets.

Keep it Clean.  Dusting and cleaning the items before you put them on display will make them more attractive for buyers, so give everything a quick wipe down to get rid of dust or cobwebs.

yard sale things

To Price or Not to Price.  There are different schools of thought, some think it’s best to price everything, others believe you should simply wait for the potential buyer to inquire.  Something in between makes the most sense to me.  I mark the big ticket items, and group the smaller items by price and/or category.  Remember, a lot of your stuff will go unsold and you’ll be carting if off to your local donation center, so consider how much time you want to spend actually marking each item.  Prices (for me) get lower as the sale comes to a close, so being flexible and negotiating prices works to your advantage.

prepare for lullKeep Pets Away.  As charming as your pup may be, many children and adults prefer not to interact with your pet, so keeping your beloved dog inside your home or in your side yard helps to not deter potential buyers.

Prepare for the Lull.  Good coffee, a book or magazines, and a notebook for those who want to ‘think about it’ are a good idea for times when the crowd thins.  .

Have Lots of Change.   The day before, make sure you have plenty of singles and quarters to make change for your buyers.  And be sure to keep your money out of sight or in a safe place away from the main traffic area too.

Free!   I always have a box of “Free” items for little kids to sort through to keep them busy while their parents look through the remainder of stuff for sale.  Parents appreciate not having to pay for stuffed animals or plastic toys their kids fall in love with.  Also, I make a “Free Stuff” sign at the end of every yard sale for folks to rummage through at day’s end, plus it means I’ll have less to cart to the Goodwill.

Don’t Allow Any Item to Reenter your Home.  This is key!  Load up your car immediately at the end of your yard sale and take it all to the Goodwill or other donation site.

What about you?  What’s your best tip, how do you throw a yard sale?  Have you scored any great deals at a local yard sale lately?  Link up, or leave a comment!



  1. Great Garage sale ideas and I totally agree with the idea of “do not let any item reenter your house”. If you have decided to sell it anyway, donate it.

  2. Great tips, thanks! I am thinking about doing one soon and this should help me be more successful.

  3. Kate excellent tips for a successful sale!! It is a lot of work so you do want to make it worthwhile!


    Art by Karena

  4. I LOVE a good yard sale, both when I am selling and cleaning out my unused and when I am finding a treasure at someone elses sale! I have to say, I am really into bringing everything home and up-cycling right now…I am pretty sure I could link up my entire blog to your link party….I tried to hold back and just keep it to the treasures I have found this past week! I guess that means I should start planning my own garage sale soon :o) Great post!

  5. Kate:

    I agree with your suggestions on the yard sale. This weekend, I had my yard sale and found it to be successful in some ways. However, many of the people wanted things for practically nothing. Now I am off to Goodwill for my remaining items that were left over.

    Love your blog, I would love for you to come visit mine at

    Have a great day!

  6. Great tip on the Free Stuff box. I’ve never hosted a yard sale, but my kids do love to “rummage” while I’m looking. Usually, they find the dumbest item possible, but it’s free, right? ;)

  7. I don’t like when stuff isn’t priced at yard sales–and I’m not usually bold enough to ask unless it’s something I really want. I agree about grouping smaller items–makes life so much easier!

    P.S. I wish I lived in California so I could come to your yard sale. :)

  8. All excellent tips! I do agree that a shorter sale will sell stuff faster, but I also like sales that are 2 days because I can’t always shop on Saturday mornings. The popular thing to do here is to sell for a few hours on Friday afternoon (yay!) and then for a few more on Saturday.

  9. As a frequent yard sale buyer I want things to be priced but also negotiable. If I buy a quantity of items I want you to show some gratitude in the deal you give me.
    If you only hold your sale for a few hours I prefer the prices to be ready to move!
    The idea is to declutter your house, not get rich. I can tell immediately if a sale is someone who thinks all their items are rare and collectible. Unless they are fun and interesting to talk to that is not where I would go to pay inflated prices. There are Antique malls or at least Charity thrifts which tell us they use the money for “causes.” (some of which I question how much goes to cause and how much to administration.
    As a seller, get the family and friends involved. People like to see you having a good time as long as you don’t ignore the customers.

  10. These are great tips! I’ve always had very successful yard sales because I spent time fixing up items, dusting them, giving them a quick coat of spray paint if needed, etc.

    It’s also important to check with your city and see if a permit is required. In my city, a garage sale permit is required. The cost is minimal, but if a police officer shows up at your garage sale and you don’t have a permit, you can kiss all of your earnings for the day (plus some) goodbye.

  11. Wow Kate, looks like you had some good stuff at your yard sale. Wish I could’ve come by. ; ) I love me a great yard sale! You can find some of the coolest things and for cheap. Love that!! Thanks for hosting. Now I have to come up with a post for my blog speedy quick so I can link up. Ahhh! haha
    ~ Catie

  12. I never have good luck at yard sales, mainly because I just cant drag myself out of bed early enough to get the good deals! One of my coworkers, however, find amazing stuff all the time! I had a moving sale when I left my last house, and was just stunned by what people bought. (Most memorable? A lady on oxygen bought a copy of “Waiting to Exhale”)

  13. Great suggestions. At our moving sale this past April, we made over $1000, and had no big ticket items. We staged the items, did a lot of signage, and had a unique/catchy yet simple advertisment in the newspaper. We placed the items out more as if staging a unique shop, rather than a junky garage sale, and it seemed to work!

  14. I just helped out at a friend’s garage sale that was quite successful. We put reasonable prices on the items, but we were willing to negotiate . . . towards the end we moved more clothes by letting people fill a bag for a buck, did some buy 3 get 1 free on things like books and videos. We also threw in some baked goods for 50 cents a piece and sold bottled water and freeze pops for the kids. Good signage and sorting the items into categories definitely helped shoppers find what they were looking for and I think helped people stick around a bit longer since things were organized.

  15. Ha! Brandon, that is too funny! I’m always amazed what people buy too, often it’s grandmas looking for their grandchildren, or collectors asking what ‘rare antiques’ you have for sale :) You just never know!


  16. Just to piggy back on the “FREE” signage/end-of-day giveaway idea, I have found RIDICULOUS success posting an ad in the “Free” section of Craigslist. Within one hour all of my leftovers were gone, saving me a trip to Goodwill!

  17. Great, great tips, Kate! We are gearing up for a big garage sale next month. Our garage is half full of items already. I did not know of Garage Sale Finder! By chance are you selling those white chairs? My niece just got married and is looking for a couple dining chairs.

  18. Though not *exactly* a yard sale, we always keep our eyes peeled while walking around our town to see what great things people put out on the curb. Living in tiny houses, as most of the places around us are, people sometimes throw away some really great “junk” that just needs a little TLC. These roadside, or sidewalk side finds are sort of like yard sales where everything is free.

    Around us, we don’t see very good yard sales, no only because people really don’t have yards. But there is the occasional estate sale in a giant old house that is choc full of rare antiques and fun finds. We tend to buy old tools and Christmas ornaments at these types of sales. Last year I got an almost new drywall screw gun for $5, and Wendy picked up a few antique blown glass Christmas ornaments for $2 each. Sales like those actually make me wish we had a much bigger house, so many cool things but we had no other choice but to pass on them.

  19. I linked up my best advice for hosting a successful yard sale. I participated in a big multi-family yard sale every fall and made money by having a drinks and snacks table as a kid. I have great memories of the whole experience. Now I have shelves in my basement where I store items to be sold, and I host my own sale every other year. People always tell me I have the best yard sales because I sell great stuff that’s in great shape! It’s just home or clothing items that we no longer use. Thanks for hosting a great link party!

  20. Get out! Are those really your yard sale (to sell) items in in the picture? Those things are too nice. Man, I gotta move closer to you ;-).

    Thanks for the tips. I have a pile of yardsale items that is growing steadily in our attic. Nothing as nice as your stuff though.

    My tip is to throw in a small item or two that the person seemed interested in for FREE just to keep them happy and get the stuff out of my home.

    Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)

  21. We just had a garage sale this past weekend and I missed my mom because she is the ultimate garage sales woman . . . she could sell a parka in 105 degree weather! We did really well and only took a couple of boxes to Goodwill. It always feels food to purge the garage.

    On another note, I was researching funny garage sale signs in hopes of drawing in some more traffic.

    My favorite was this one:

    Divorced Wife Sale
    “His loss is your gain!”

    I couldn’t stop laughing!

    Amanda @ The Ivy Cottage Blog

  22. Thank you so much for the great yard sale tips! I especially like the one that says – Nothing re-enters the house! haha :) Geez I wold love to go to one of your yard sales, you have so many beautiful things!

  23. I guess it depends on your area & type of customers. But in our area, (Fresno/Clovis) I have found it key to list EVERY single thing. I did this at our last yard sale (b/c I left my husband in charge) and it was much easier. We have a very high hispanic population here, and it is like second nature to haggle every, everything.

    I have also had a lot of people steal stuff while you are busy pricing items. They even team up to do it. It’s pathetic.

    Also, I have done much better when I put it in the paper as well. Lots of older people use the paper. My grandfather JUST learned how to use Craigslist, and that’s only b/c my grandma has it on her iPad, so he relies on the newspaper mostly.

    So like I said, I guess it depends on your area.

    Silver Lining

  24. Put your best-selling items (often furniture or children’s items) near the back (but still visible) so that buyers will have to walk past everything else to get to them.

    Also, we always have ours on the first weekend of the month. A lot of people around here get paid at the end of the month, so they still have a little extra money when that next weekend rolls around. Also, the second and third weekends of the month around here are dedicated to big flea markets. No one is out shopping yard sales when the flea markets are in town. So plan your date according to when locals do the most yard sale shopping.

  25. Ugh. Our HOA only allows us to have a sale on the annual pre-arranged date. This year it rained and was cold. In Vegas! In April! And there are no do-overs. Bah. Now my garage is a nightmare because there are some things I just can’t bring myself to donate knowing that I can make some extra cash. Great tips for next year though.

  26. i love how you set up your sale like a real room! even garage sales should be chic, right? i have had some great luck with after garage sales-like when they just give things away for free. i’ve become quite the frame and bad art hoarder, figuring i can change any of that up.

  27. Like the others, I LOVE your not letting the stuff reenter you home rule. Great idea. I had not thought about the free box but now that I think about it, most of the garage sales I go to have one. I will definitely have to do that.

    Thanks for sharing!


  28. I sure would’ve enjoyed finding your Garage Sale, you have some beautiful things. I love love love Garage Sale-ing! Around our community (north of the Dallas metroplex) the big day for Garage Sales is Fridays.

    You are correct, no one wants to pay very much at a garage sale .. but that’s because it defeats their purpose. If you go to a garage sale, you intend to find a “steal”!! I hate it when you go to a Garage Sale and the prices are only like 50% off of normal retail price. I don’t care how nice your tablecloth is, it shouldn’t be more than $2, this is a GARAGE SALE!

    Also, please . price . your . items! I am a personable person, but I am always shy about asking for a price. Normally, unless it is something I am dying for, if its not priced, I walk away.

    Another tip for those NOT having a Garage Sale in my area ;-). Put your big ticket items on Craigslist. Then, only the ones that are truly interested in THAT item will respond. It takes more time to meet with them individually, but you will get a far better price than when you are on your hot driveway, negotiating that big ticket item, telling another customer that the empty frame he is inquiring about is $1, and telling the Mom that her kid can have that toy for free, and what? oh, I think I just told that man that I would take $20 for this sofa that was originally marked $150. But you don’t care because, you are tired and just want to get rid of the rest of the stuff and go inside.

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