8 Lessons I Learned from Our Latest Yard Sale

We held our long-awaited yard sale this past weekend and it was a great success! We got rid of TONS of stuff that was filling up our garage as well as lots of our vintage items that hadn’t sold in the antique space or online. The best part was that, at the end of the two days, we had a little over $1300 to put into our house fund! We were totally blown away by how well it all went and I’m thinking we should do this once a year to clear out our excess stock. Here are some tips based on what I learned from this and past yard sales:

1. Do it on Friday.

My mom advised me to start our yard sale on Friday rather than Saturday and she was soooo right!  We decided to do Friday and Saturday and just forget about Sunday altogether (in my experience, it’s always dead anyway). So we both took the day off of work and started it up Friday morning at 8. We had lots of people show up early on Friday, especially the people looking for vintage stuff, and we had steady traffic the rest of the day. It seems a bit counter-intuitive but here are a surprising number of people who have time to yard-sale on Fridays! Saturday was also really busy, with people showing up a little later in the day but with a steady stream all the way up until we packed up at 2:00.

2. Post pictures!

I think this is key, especially for big items like furniture or if you have vintage/antiques to sell. Make sure you take lots of clear pictures of what you’ll be selling. We took the time a couple of days before to set out all of our best and biggest stuff and took lots of pictures of everything, especially the vintage items. I have to admit it was kind of a pain to take it all out and then pack it back up, but it was totally worth it! I posted about 10 pictures on the ad and Craigslist lets you put up to 24! I had lots of people mention that they really liked our ad because of all of the photos, and several people asked about specific items they had seen. The best part is that it’s totally free, and we didn’t even bother with an ad in the local paper at all!

3. Post not only in your local Craigslist site, but in nearby areas as well.

We posted our ad in both the Santa Maria Craigslist and the San Luis Obispo Craigslist.  The areas are close enough that it makes sense to advertise on both, and we did have several people mention that they drove in from another town after seeing our ad. It takes a little extra time but it’s worth it!

4. Embrace the “Early Birds”

We had a lady show up a full day before the sale and a guy show up at 5:30 AM on Friday as we had just started putting tables out (it was still dark!). It was a little weird, but guess what? We sold things to both of them that I’m not sure we would have been able to sell to anyone else. I think that if someone is rifling through your stuff and being totally annoying, you have every right to ask them to leave you alone, but if they’re pretty unobtrusive, why not? A sale’s a sale!


 5. Have it in town (if you can).

I remember when I lived at home and we would have yard sales at my parent’s house, who live a little ways out of town in a more rural area. We would have tons of great stuff, but we never got nearly as many people as we had at this yard sale last weekend (Phillip and I live in a neighborhood right in the middle of town). It really did make a huge difference in terms of traffic, so if you live in a rural/inaccessible area it might be worth hauling everything to a friend or relative’s house in a more yard sale-friendly area.

6. Post clear signs on major streets.

 Make your signs clearly readable with the address and an arrow pointing in the direction of your sale and post them on intersections with larger major streets nearby. Many people mentioned that they had come by after seeing our signs. (Make sure you make them visible to both lanes of traffic). We went down to WalMart the night before our sale and picked up a pack of bright-colored poster board and a jumbo-sized sharpie, which I think cost about $5 altogether.

7. Post your ad twice.

We put our ad up on Wednesday night to make sure people had a chance to see it before Friday, and then I posted another one early Saturday morning to make sure all of the weekend yard-salers would see it too. Remember, it’s free!

8. Don’t haggle over stuff you’re going to donate anyway.

It’s amazing how cheap people can get at yard sales! I used to get really irritated by everyone trying to get things ever cheaper (“seriously? it’s 50 cents!”) and I would refuse to budge out of principle, but then I thought about it: I’m going to donate most of these things after the yard sale anyway, so why not just take the little money they offer? At least you get a little money for it, and more importantly and it’s one less thing you have to pack up and haul to the thrift store. There were some things we knew we could try again to sell online or in our antique space, so we wouldn’t go below a certain price on those, but for the things we were going to donate anyway, we pretty much took any price offered and we got rid of SO MUCH STUFF!
Weird Yard Sale Story: On a side note, we had a really strange experience with some people a few streets over. Apparently they were having their own yard sale the same day and they felt like we were competing (as if we had any idea that they were having a sale that weekend!). We found that on Saturday morning they had torn down one of our signs and put their own up. We just put up a new sign and went on with our work setting up. Later in the day, a woman drove by our house and yelled to people walking around that “this garage sale sucks! Go to the better one down the street!” and even later a man came to our sale, was really rude and combative, and then said “I’m going to the better yard sale they’re having down the street!” How bizarre is that? I always thought it was good to have multiple sales in the same area so that you can benefit from the traffic the other ones bring in. That’s why people do neighborhood and city-wide yard sales, right? Have you ever had someone get angry at you for having a yard sale the same day as them? 
I hope this post was helpful! Is anyone planning a yard sale soon? Any more tips to add?