Yard Sale Survival Guide

I cannot tell you how many yard sales I’ve participated in throughout my life because there have been so many. I’ve done them alone, with family, with friends, and at church. I’ve always really enjoyed doing them, despite the large amount of planning and prepping that goes into it.

My mom and I recently had a multi family yard sale and it was very successful. We got an unbelievable amount of comments and compliments about how well organized it was and how much easier it made the shopping.

img_1182Because of the amount of positive feedback we received, I decided to make a list of everything we did and make you a Yard Sale Survival Guide. Please note that not all these ideas were completely original but are a mixture of what we have both learned over the years and of ideas given to use by other bloggers. Please scroll to the very end of my post for links to our inspiration!

Getting Ready

    1. Organize your stuff into comprehensive sections: This is probably the number one reason why so many people complimented our yard sale. We made really cute little names for each section and tried organizing everything into what made the most sense. It was both creative and practical.
    2. Use boxes and other storage bins to help further organize sections: Not only do you need to make sure everything is organized into sections, but you also need to make sure that each section looks organized and clean. To do this, we decided to use nice cardboard boxes and storage bins that we had lying around. We do not recommend using something a customer might confuse as a sale item because you want them focusing on the items in the box, not the container itself.
    3. Put prices on literally everything: You have a box full of CDs? You have clothes hanging on a rack? You have a stack of picture frames?  Put a price tag on each individual item. Something I learned working in retail is that people don’t read signs. They feel less stressed while shopping if every item they pick up has the price on it so that they don’t have to use their brains to think about it or try to figure it out.
    4. Create sets: If pricing each item to sell seems too intimidating you can always bundle like items and mark the set as one price. We found that by doing this, people were more likely to buy multiple items.
    5. Only price items in increments of $0.25: This makes keeping up with a customers’ totals and counting your money during the sale super easy as well as creating a simple shopping experience. We bought our sticker packs from Walmart which included stickers for $0.25, $0.50, $0.75, $1, $2, $5, and a bunch of blanks. The larger items we priced in increments of $5 for easy negotiations.img_1190
    6. Hang clothes up on racks: One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that I sell more clothes when I hang them up on racks or even just at eye level than when they are folded or are lying on tables and in boxes. I would highly recommend finding a friend that has a portable clothes rack they could lend you, buying a really cheap one you can reuse, or even hanging the clothes on any sort of makeshift rack such as a garage door, a carport rail, or a tied up rope.
    7. Give your tables a clean look: We had 10 tables that we img_1193borrowed from our church for the sale and put colorful green tablecloths on them for a clean look. It really helped the aesthetics of the sale and we made sure to have a specific color pallet for the decor. Even the balloons we put on the mailbox matched everything!
    8. Get change in advance: We 
      always get change for our yard sales because we have a nice little cash lock box that we use specifically for sales. We also accepted card because we have Square but no one used it so I guess it wasn’t really necessary. Feel free to get your own mixture of change, but here’s what we got and it really worked out well; $15 of quarters, 2 – $20’s, 2 – $10’s, 2 – $5’s, and 8 – $1’s. Just be sure that if you use a lock box to either not lock it during the sale or have the key ALWAYS ready because you really don’t want to hold people up when they’re trying to check out. People are very impatient and will leave everything and just go if they don’t feel they are being helped fast enough.
    9. Decide on the placement of all sale items: You should plan to put large ticket items at the entrance of your sale to attract the customers attention and organize your tables in a way the makes sense to you and will flow easily for the shoppers.img_1181


  1. Make your yard sale signs are unique and visible: For most yard sales, I’ve always tried to make sure that the sale signs were easily read and gave clear directions to my house, but this year I also discovered that the way you decorate your yard sale signs really contributes to the sheer amount of people curious to stop by. My mom made sure to include a decorative arrow along with “Yard Sale”, the address, the date, and the time on a pink poster board. She attached little yard flags to them with Duct Tape to stick in the ground and hold the sign up. She then added eyeballs with eyelashes and eye-shadow to the signs and I really feel that the creative look sparked people’s curiosity.
  2. Place your yard sale signs strategically: Another extremely important thing to consider is how you direct potential shoppers to your  yard sale. Plan out the placement of your yard sale signs and ensure that you lead people from busy main roads. We only put signs when people needed to turn so as to not confuse them. Also, you will want to make sure that you do this in all directions so that you have a greater chance of having people who are driving different directions see the signs.


  1. Post your sale on the following sites: Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook (be sure to post to your timeline and in any resale groups for your area), Gsalr.com, YardSales.net, YardSaleSearch.com, GarageSaleFinder.com, GarageSaleTracker.com, EstateSales.org, and any other site that you find that may help get your sale noticed by potential shoppers. Keep in mind that a lot of these sites try to push subscriptions and charges on you, if you’re willing to post manually to each one then I would recommend ignoring the ads. My mom made a generic posting and a collage photo of all the items she was working to prepare for the sale to spark people’s interest and I just copy and pasted to each site.

Day of the Sale

  1. Use a calculator when checking customers out: Be sure to get out your handy dandy calculator because if you try using your phone and the screen turns off quickly, it will be a hassle trying to turn it back on every time you need to add up items for someone. The calculator is quick and easy.img_1185
  2. Create a system to track who gets the money: If you are doing a multi family yard sale, this one is very important, make sure you have a system for tracking how much everyone sells. We put our initials on all the price tags but as we got started with the sale we quickly realized that it was taking us too much time trying to collect all the stickers and put it in our notebook so we soon switched to simply counting up the customer’s total and writing down how much of each purchase went to who.
  3. Use a cash lock box to keep your money organized: This one is really a personal preference, but I like keeping the bills organized so that it’s easier to give people change. We also advertised that we had a square so we could accept debit and credit but no one really used it so if you want to try and see if you’re more successful please feel free. One thing I did notice was that people never once said they didn’t have the money and that they would come back later, so maybe having the card option helped us in a way.
  4. Station someone as a greeter: Have someone stationed at the entrance as a greeter and one or two people at the cash register for check out. This has consistently been the number one way to engage shoppers so that they feel comfortable shopping.
  5. Shopping bags: Have a bunch of shopping bags for when people check out. This was really helpful for people who bought lots of items and I really believe that it made their shopping experience better because they were able to tow everything to their car in one trip. We just reused all the ones we save on a regular basis but you can ask your friends to donate theirs if you don’t keep any on hand.
  6. Negotiate: One of the beauties of yard sales is negotiation. You will have a lot of people ask for negotiations; always be willing and prepared to negotiate prices. You will sell more through negotiating, trust me. That being said, don’t sell yourself short. Some offers, especially for big ticket items, are far too low. Don’t say no! Just counter offer; they will usually meet you somewhere  in the middle. Negotiation is definitely an art, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t great at it the first few times. Just keep practicing and you’ll get the hang of it!

After the Sale is Over

  1. Whatever you do, DON’T DONATE TO GOODWILL: Please don’t donate your remaining items to Goodwill! Find out what other options for donations that are in your area. If you’re in Memphis there are so many other better places to donate your stuff that will actually be put to better use than going into the Goodwill CEO’s pocketbook. Some of my top picks include; House of Grace, Habitat for Humanity, Moriah House with Memphis Union Missions, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.


Check out these blogs and pins that gave us additional inspiration. Definitely visit them and get even more inspiration!!

This is where we got inspiration for the cute signs: https://pin.it/thhu53xpgovrnb

This is where we got inspiration for the check out table: http://7thhouseontheleft.com/2012/04/yard-sale-tag-sale-house/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+7thHouseOnTheLeft+(7th+House+on+the+Left)&utm_content=Google+Reader


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