How to have the ultimate yard sale

Maria Thacker doesn’t consider herself a yard sale pro. Still, she is savvy enough to pull in big bucks when she hosts a sales event from her Atlanta area home. On her first two tries, she raked in about $500 and expected no less the third time around this past weekend.

AJC file photo

AJC file photo

She grew up going to weekend sales with her mother and as an adult, has shopped her way to some good finds, like a $100 dining room table and chairs set. When her turn came around, she was well prepared. That, said Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and founder of Eliminate Chaos, is key to any yard sale success.

“If you have a well organized yard sale, you’ll probably have a better chance of selling your stuff,” Leist told Bankrate.com.

Having quality items doesn’t hurt, either. Just a week ago, I bought a name brand sweatsuit for the winter for 50 cents and a fleece sweatshirt for 25 cents. That doesn’t compare to what Deanna Mingo found at a yard sale in Candler Park, her favorite garage and yard sale haunt: A ceramic flat iron, regularly priced at $60, still in the box and selling for $3.

“It still had that brand new smell,” she said.

So, what else makes a good yard sale? I asked Mingo, a regular shopper, and Thacker, a successful host, for their tips.

Thacker: Price things reasonably and use price tags. “Otherwise, it can become crazy,” she said. In advertising your sale, it also helps to describe the items you have.

Mingo: Have nice signage. “A good sign catches my eye.” Signs should be bright and colorful and indicate the days and times of the sale. One helpful place to locate sales is GarageSalesTracker.com, which uses a map to pinpoint the locations.

Mingo: Quality matters. “I look for things that are in good shape; not something beat up that you’re trying to get rid of.”

Thacker: Keep it clean. “Dust and clean things off. Use a little Windex on a mirror and you can get $1 or $10 more for it.”

Mingo: Customer service goes a long way. “If you have kids selling water or juice, that’s great. It’s helpful; it’s been terribly hot lately.”

Thacker: Make it enjoyable. “I usually have a little music in the background; nothing inappropriate.”

Thacker: Be Neat. “Nobody likes messy sales. You don’t want to dig through a pile of things at the mall, so why would you want to do that at a yard sale.”

Thacker: Change, please. “Make sure you have enough change on hand.”

Best advice from both ladies: Be polite.

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7 comments Add your comment

John K

June 22nd, 2010
9:25 am

I agree having enough change on hand, but when you first customer wants to buy a .50 item with a twenty, that kind of screws it all up.

MaryK

June 22nd, 2010
9:54 am

I participated in my Milton community yard sale this past Saturday. The entry signage was small and there was NO advertising which could have easily been spared by the HOA fees which would have brought alot more traffic to the neighborhood. I spent the entire week sweating in my garage sorting, polishing, scrubbing and displaying items that went for practically nothing. Not worth the 5 hours of sweat for $100 profit (and the .50 buyers who wanted change for a $20!!!) What “committee” decides it’s a good idea to have a yard sale in June in Atlanta?!!

Jody

June 22nd, 2010
10:10 am

A few other minor things to note:

1) Always, if possible, cover up things not for sale.

2) It doesn’t hurt to use your furniture to as set-up tables.

3) Advertising is key. While the newspaper ad is an investment, you can post free ads on craigslist.com for your yard sale.

4) If possible (and you have a garage), hold the yard sale in your garage. This way you can be prepared the night before and only open the door the next morning. People inevitably show up 1-2 hours before you plan to start searching for that great deal.

Debby

June 22nd, 2010
10:14 am

Don’t overprice your stuff unless you want to haul it back in the house or to Goodwill. Also, don’t follow me around and make comments about every single item I’m looking at. Good signs with large easy-to-read lettering are important.

jrp

June 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

@Debby..So, so right..I hate nothing more than hearing, well I paid $50.00 for this 15 years ago and it’s still in good shape and blah, blah, so yes, I’m asking $45.00 for it now..I don’t care how much you paid for it, I’m only interested in what I want to pay for it NOW..I also hate to hear, well it’s not mine and I rally can’t take less than that for it..

Sharon

June 23rd, 2010
7:43 am

Going to a sale where nothing is priced or no lists posted is very aggravating! Make me an offer & you do…well I was really wanting more for it. Then tell me the price. No pricing on clothes & you ask the prices…well it depends on what it is…ugh!

jake's mom

June 23rd, 2010
8:55 am

We come to garage/yard sales looking for BARGINS! You’re not Walmart or Target, so don’t price your items as if you are. We could shop in airconditioned comfort with a shopping cart if that’s what we wanted!