Yard Sale Series: How I made $2,500 in a Weekend

So you’re thinking about having a yard sale.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how I planned my super successful yard* sale.

Yard Sale Series: 1

*please note I will be using garage and yard sale interchangeably throughout the series

I’ll start by indulging my husband: I didn’t actually “make” $2,500. Yes, okay, fine, because the initial amount of money that was spent on the items we ultimately parted with was far greater than $2,500. Can I say “I recouped $2,500” then? Because for a yard sale, that’s a pretty nice haul!

It all started after an intense decluttering marathon; we had plenty of items that now needed new homes. Clothes, gently-used kitchen appliances, DVDs, furniture… You name it, we had it. And it had to go. We decided to have a yard sale.

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I have to admit, until last summer I had never had a yard or garage sale as an adult, and also I don’t tend to go to any either, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I understood the basic concept (our junk could be your junk!), but beyond that I had no clue about the do’s and don’ts of yard sale success. In my following Yard Sale Series, I will detail everything I learned that helped me have a successful sale, and hope that you can have one, too!

Things I’ll Cover:

  1. The 5 W’s (and an H)

  2. Multi-Family Sales

  3. Pricing

  4. Advertising

  5. Do’s and Don’ts

  6. Extra Special Touches

  7. Exit Strategy

Chair with Pillow

First things first. Let’s wrap up this first post in the series by talking about “The 5 W’s”

The 5 W’s

If you are unfamiliar with this saying, the 5 W’s stand for who, what, where, when, and why. You can also add a “how” in there for good measure. This is a great place to start when planning your sale. Questions to ask yourself while planning your sale:

Who is participating in this event? Is it just you, or a couple of friends? Planning can become more complicated when sharing the event with others, but this doesn’t mean it won’t work in everyone’s favor in the end. For starters, promoting the event as a “multi-family sale” generally generates more interest which can get a sale more traffic. People assume there will be a greater variety and amount of items. What worked for my multi-family sale was taking charge. I was the point person, the sale would be taking place at my house, and I laid out the timelines and guidelines for the event. (More on Multi-Family Sales coming soon!)

What else is happening that weekend? Try to avoid holiday weekends or weekends of big events or sports games if possible, as the turnout will likely be poorer than anticipated. Also, what kind of vibe do you want? Personally, I wanted something more akin to a super cute, expertly curated pop-up shop, so I went out of my way to try to provide that for my patrons.

Where will the sale be? Location is important. As I’ve described above, the sale would be taking place at my house. I felt this was a good idea for multiple reasons: ample free parking, easy to find location, and the ability to take advantage of the publicity and turnout of my neighborhood’s annual garage sale event. If your place doesn’t have great parking or isn’t in an easily accessible area, consider partnering with a friend who has a more shopper-friendly location and have the sale at their place instead.

When is your neighborhood’s annual sale weekend (if it has one)? I was interested in trying to plan my event to coincide with my neighborhood’s annual garage sale weekend to take advantage of extra foot traffic. At first I wasn’t even sure if we had such a thing, so I went on the website nextdoor.com and asked my neighbors. To my luck there was a yard sale weekend, and it happened to be a perfect weekend for me (no other plans, not working, etc.), so I blocked out my calendar fast. I did a little research to see if the local newspaper (the Northeaster) would be printing details for this event, and they were, so I paid the couple bucks for my sale to be listed.

Why do you want to have the sale? What are you hoping to accomplish? For me, I was in the throws of decluttering and thought the extra motivation of having many cool things to sell in a yard sale would help me part with more things (spoiler: it did). Planning a yard sale might be just the thing to keep you going when things get tough during your decluttering. If you are on the fence about parting with an item, planning a sale may help make the decision easier. In my experience the act of committing to the sale itself really increased my ability to pare down my belongings, and also put a deadline on decluttering. It also gave me the opportunity to bargain with myself: If I can sell these things I don’t need, I can put the money towards something I do need (like paying down debt).

How will you get paid? I decided that in addition to cold, hard cash that we would also accept shiny plastic (via Square) and virtual payments (via Venmo). I think the ease and variety of payments made our sale more successful than it would have been had we just accepted cash. Also, how will people learn of your event? Will you publish it in a local newspaper? Post about it on social media or sale sites? Diehard yard-salers do check newspapers, so it may be well worth the couple bucks to get your listing in there. Craigslist is another option, as is posting flyers on community bulletin boards (check your local coffee shop, for example). Do note, however, that your city or neighborhood may have guidelines about where you can and can’t post flyers!

Get paid

Are you totally psyched to start planning your sale? Stay tuned for the next post in the Yard Sale Series: Multi-Family Sales!