Mastering the art of the yard sale: Tips for a successful sale day

Aug 3, 2023, 3:00 PM

garage sale of two ladies standing outside...

(Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

Not all of us wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s have a yard sale!”

Well, at least not most of us. A yard sale is typically motivated by a reason such as wanting to declutter your home, a popular effort of recent years. Maybe you are moving to another house, want to downsize, or want to make a few extra bucks to help fund a home improvement project you have been putting off. Whatever your reasons, these consolidated yard sale tips can make the process less stressful and potentially more profitable.

We conducted research regarding works and what does not, and here are some of the recommendations we have seen that we think make sense:

First Step: Check your local jurisdictions regarding yard sales. Different jurisdictions have codes relating to yard and garage sales. Some require a permit, some require a fee, and sales tax collection may be an issue. Some jurisdictions limit the number of yard sales one address can hold a year. Some HOAs only allow them during specific times of the year, not at all, or only as part of a community-wide event. Find out before setting up. The last thing you need on the day of your sale is a fine or having to shut down.

Sale Items: Choose items that are generally in good condition. Don’t put out things that should meet the trash bin as opposed to a new owner. Remember that some items having sentimental value to you may not translate into the same feeling for others. If old, tired things are displayed, the shoppers may view everything as old and tired. The saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” doesn’t always apply. Sometimes one man’s junk really is junk.

Advertise: Many websites cater to yard and garage sales. You could post your yard sale on Craigslist, Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, and other social media outlets. Your local media publications can be a great source to generate buyers. Be advised that many of these outlets charge an advertising fee. Prepare posters for the day of the sale. Make them bright in matching colors. Be sure to include the address, time of the sale, and examples of sale items in lettering large enough for a passerby to read. At the same time, make sure you do not post your signs on someone else’s property or in an area that prohibits signs.

Location, Location, Location: Living on a well-traveled road where people may notice will work to your advantage. Your advertising will also help folks find you. If you live in a rural area or a difficult place to get to, consider having the sale in a more accessible location. Ask family and friends to help determine a better place. Consider teaming up with others to gain a more accessible and attractive location.

Pick the Best Day and Time: Saturday is the most popular day of the week for a sale. You probably already knew that, though. Fridays and even Thursdays are also good days. If you can’t make a Saturday work, these alternatives might be good backups. The best times are between 7:00 a.m. and midafternoon. Going much earlier or later usually doesn’t produce good results.

Set Your Prices: You will need to think about this beforehand. As you identify an item in your home for sale, consider a fair price (remember sentimental value), and mark that item with a tag or sticker indicating what you want. Most garage sale items fall in the .50-cent to 20-dollar range. Furniture and large items may be priced higher. If you don’t have time to price items or have no idea, go the “make me an offer” route. Either way, be prepared for some old-fashioned haggling.

Set Up. The day before your sale, set out all the tables. Arrange sale items so folks can see them clearly and even pick them up without knocking anything over. Arrange items so buyers can walk around them and the tables. Make sure spacing for furniture and large tools is visible from all sides. Get a rack and hang up clothes if you can. This makes looking at them easier, and you won’t have to keep refolding clothing on the table. Because people may arrive 15 to 20 minutes earlier than you stated as the start time, you will be ready to go.

Rain: Make sure you have tarps handy should you need them to cover them during a rainstorm. The winds that typically come with these storms can be rough. It would be best to have heavy ballast to hold the tarps down.

Money: Make sure you have coins and small bills to make change. The amount of change you will need depends on how much you have to sell. Also, consider getting or borrowing a credit card reader or using an app such as Zelle or PayPal. The more payment options you have, the better. If you have a cash bag, keep it in the hands of one responsible person during the entire sale. Have them wear a fanny pack to prevent it from accidentally being set down and left for sticky fingers.

Safety: Always keep safety at the forefront. Note that if you promote the sale address a day or two before the event, you may get people knocking on your door the night before requesting a sneak peek or showing up before you are ready.

Never let anyone in your house whom you do not know. If you have items in the house, escort one person in at a time and only take them to the room where the item is located.

Clear your yard and driveway of any items that could be a trip hazard, You make $20 on a vase only to pay $20,000 in insurance claims for a fall on your property.

Don’t sit out there alone. Have family or friends help so you can engage shoppers. More eyes on the shoppers ensure that items don’t mysteriously disappear.

If your pets will be outside, keep them on a leash so they do not get spooked and run away or attack if they feel threatened.

Other considerations:

  • Stash grocery bags and boxes a few weeks before the sale. They will be helpful for people buying multiple items.
  • Make “mystery bags.” These are usually items like toys, miscellaneous kitchen tools, household items, etc. If you are putting clothing in these bags, indicate the size and gender of the clothing article. Price it as is with “no peeking!”
  • If you collect all your items and see you may need more to sell, team up with a neighbor, a friend, or a family member and combine your yard sales. Using different color price tags can help keep your accounting separate.

Check out these articles about decluttering and organizing ideas that will be helpful as you plan your yard sale.

Yard sales can be a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people, get rid of clutter, and make a few bucks!

Let us know how your yard or garage sale goes. If you have helpful tips to add, please send them to

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.

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Mastering the art of the yard sale: Tips for a successful sale day