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How To Hold A Profitable Yard Sale

As Published In Professional Organizers Blog Carnival
How To Hold A Profitable Yard Sale

Want to declutter, but the idea of setting up your wares in the front yard and spending a weekend selling unwanted items makes you break out in cold sweats? Garage sales don’t have to be so painful — not if you plan ahead from the very beginning. Here are some quick tips for making your sale both fun and profitable.

Gathering Your Supplies

What will you need to run your sale?

  • “display” items — tables, racks, table cloths, hangers
  • “checkout” items — cash box, extra bags, tissue/newspaper
  • “try-before-you-buy” items — extension cords, batteries, bulbs

Then turn your attention to the money — there is nothing more frustrating than running out of change in the first hour. Be sure to get enough to last you through the day — that means at least $20 in coins, $50 in ones, and $40 in fives.

Advertising Your Sale

Most dedicated “yard-salers” check the newspaper listings to plan their route of attack — so you definitely need to be included in the lineup. Call your local paper for prices and deadlines, and don’t forget to check with “free” and community papers as well. When placing your ad, include the date, time, address, and directions (if you live in a hard-to-find area). You may also want to make note of any expensive or unique or high-demand merchandise you will be offering. Plan to run your ad at least one day before and the day of your sale — much more than that really isn’t necessary. And keep in mind that advertising is usually priced by the letter or the word. Don’t list every type of item you plan to sell — folks know that yard sales have books and household items and clothes.

Following The Rules

Many people don’t realize that you can’t just put a pile of junk in your yard, slap up a bunch of signs, and hold a yard sale — many areas have specific rules and regulations about the size, location, traffic flow, and advertising of sales. To be on the safe side, you should call your city or county government for a listing of local yard sale regulations BEFORE you get too deep into your preparations. In particular, be sure to find out about “signage” rules governing the size, shape, and placement of billboards or signs. Also ask whether or not you need to obtain a permit to hold a yard sale in your area. You don’t want the cops shutting you down mid-sale because you didn’t follow the rules.

Setting Up Your Sales Area

But you have to remember that planning a yard sale layout involves more than just laying out all of your merchandise on the lawn. The first goal is to make sure that nothing is blocking your traffic flow — you don’t want a sales area so clogged with people that no one can get around or see what you have on display. Second, be sure to display like items and complementary items together. It will be easier for people to shop if you set up “departments,” with all the household items are on this table and all the books are together in these boxes. Put any valuable items that you don’t want to “wander off” in a closed case or right at the checkout table. Finally, make sure everything is clearly visible. Some shoppers like to dig, but most people “glance” their way through a yard sale — scanning tables and floor displays for something that catches their eye. You will want to price items as you go and label them with a description.

Leading Up To The Sale

The week before the sale is the time to get ready. Put up fliers in public areas around town and place your newspaper ad. Whether you live on a main road or in the middle of nowhere, it’s important to put out directional signs for your sale. You never know how many “casual” shoppers you will attract who were simply driving by and saw your advertisement. Put posterboard signs at major intersections and along your road — and always include an easy to read street address, hours of operation, and an arrow pointing folks in the right direction. You may also want to put up fliers in local stores, laundromats, and churches. These give you a bit more space to list major items of interest. A day or two before the sale, put up directional signs around your neighborhood. But don’t do it too soon or you risk your signs being blown down or rained on.

Get a good night’s sleep — you’ll need it! On the day of the sale, you will want to start setting up an hour or two before customers arrive. And finally, make arrangements ahead of time for a charity to pick up your leftovers at the end of your sale.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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