The Big Sell-Off!

If you have yet to tackle your seasonal cleaning, here’s an incentive to do so — earn cash for your trash by holding a yard sale. Be prepared: Yard sales are hard work. But once you’ve got the goods, it’ll be time to get them gone, and for that you’ll need some expert tips to get you through your yard sale.

The first order of business will be to verify with your municipality that you can hold an independent sale. There may be regulations surrounding which days and times you can hold a yard sale and how you can advertise. Once you’re in the clear, it’s time to organize your sale.

Sonia Weiss knows how to structure a successful yard sale. The co-author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Garage and Yard Sales (Alpha Books; $9.95) gives us some tips for getting started:

Discover merchandise. Children’s clothing, crafts, electronics, and furniture are good sellers, but don’t forget to appeal to the men. For male shoppers, you can offer up broken gadgets that can be repaired or repurposed for other needs.

Display your wares. Try to place all items on tables; they’ll look more appealing. Your lawn should be tidy, and pets should remain inside so everyone feels welcome and safe while shopping.

Price accordingly. If you want to sell everything, set bargain prices. If you’re looking to finance a vacation, for example, price higher. But remember that people want bargains and won’t buy if there aren’t any.

Time it right. If possible, hold your sale during the middle of the month. Often, mortgage and utility bills are due at the beginning or end of the month so people don’t have as much disposable cash.

Set policy. Establish control by implementing two policies. Returns: All sales are final. Holds: Buyer must leave a deposit. \

Great advertising can be the determining factor between a successful yard sale and a whole day wasted. Tracey Dale, a yard sale expert at Home and Garden Television, tells us how to get the word out about your sale:

  • Many local papers have a section where you can list your sale details for free. If you put an ad in the classifieds, ask if a free garage sale kit — which usually includes signs and price stickers — is available. Also, sites such as let you list your sale for free.
  • Put up notices on local supermarket and juice/coffee bar notice boards and in your place of work. The night before the sale, put up large, easy-to-read signs at nearby intersections and at either end of your street. Make sure they list the sale’s date, start time, and address. Balloons and streamers are a nice touch to catch the attention of potential shoppers.
  • Use word-of-mouth to tell your friends, relatives, and co-workers about the sale. “It makes for a fun day out for everyone,” says Dale.