Having a yard sale is great because you can get rid of a bunch of junk you don’t want anymore, and people will give you money for it! But be warned: It’s a lot of work. That’s why some people just donate their unwanted items to charity instead. This is a noble gesture, but if you could use a little extra cash this summer, you might want to have a yard sale.

It’s critical that you plan it carefully. If you skip any important steps, you won’t make many sales, then you will have dragged all your stuff out on the front lawn and sat with it in the hot sun for nothing.

Follow the tips below for a successful yard sale.

  1. Check to see if your area has any laws governing yard sales. These can include limiting the number of yard sales you can have per year, the types of items you are allowed to sell and more. Some jurisdictions don’t allow any tables to be set up on public property either, such as sidewalks. Don’t risk getting shut down — do your homework first.
  2. Gather your items a couple of weeks ahead. Don’t leave this task until the last minute, so that you’re still digging through boxes in the garage when your first customers arrive. This is step is even more important if you live with others. Ideally, each household member should sort through their own items and box up the ones they want to sell. But in the real world, some members of a family always want to sell/discard other members’ items (which the first group calls “junk”). Fights may ensue.
  3. For goodness’ sake, clean the items! Too many yard sales feature items covered with dust, cobwebs and who knows what else. I will still buy a dinner plate that’s dirty if it matches my service, but I won’t pay as much for it.If you don’t want to clean your items, be prepared to part with them for less than you may have thought they were worth.
  4. Be realistic when you price items. People will offer less than you’re asking for. The item may seem dear and valuable to you, but it is likely less so to others. Do you really want to get rid of it? If you aren’t selling much as the day wears on, consider accepting some lower offers.
  5. Sell the big items on Craigslist or your neighborhood listserv. People who go to yard sales like to buy things for a quarter. Sometimes you can get $1, $5 or even $25 for an item. But if you have a good bicycle, large furniture like dressers or dining room sets in good condition or a musical instrument, a yard sale is not the best venue in which to sell them.
  6. Promote it properly. If all you do is slap up a few signs at intersections around the neighborhood, you won’t get many customers. You have to promote your sale online, too. You can post it on your neighborhood listserv or any other local forums you belong too, take out an ad in a newspaper or post on one of the many free online yard sale sites. Remember to check out sites with alternative names, like garage sales, tag sales or rummage sales.Make signs a few days ahead of time. Use poster board that’s big enough to paint on lettering that can be read easily by those driving by. Post them on all sides of intersections near your home.
  7. Ask others in your neighborhood if they want to join in. Advertising a multifamily yard sale attracts many more customers.
  8. Pick a date, but be flexible. Even if you have a garage and can hold your sale in the rain, you won’t get many customers. A few days to a week ahead of time, if the weather looks like it will be good, go ahead and post your ads and paint the dates on your signs. And if it rains anyway, all you can do is try again another time.
  9. Go to the bank and get change. Everybody only has 20-dollar bills these days. Get at least 50 ones, a couple rolls of quarters, and $100 worth of 10s and 5s. If you run out of change, you will annoy your customers and lose sales.
  10. Arrange for a charity to come by and pick up the leftovers. There will always be items that don’t sell. Do not bring these back into your home! You made the decision to part with them, so don’t go back on it now. Your home likely looks infinitely better without all the clutter, and that is, after all, why you had the yard sale — to get rid of it!

Once your yard sale is over and everything is gone, you can relax in peace in your nice, clean home. And don’t run off to the mall with the cash and buy new stuff!

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