Geralin Thomas

Article Summary:

How to organize a yard sale, including tips on pricing, scheduling, and promoting it.

How To Organize a Yard Sale

A pocket full of cash, a clutter-free home, and a lot of interaction between your personal possessions and members of your community. Yard sales are hard to resist.  Who hasn't driven by a yard sale and wondered if there are any too-good-to-be-true bargains or if there sits the perfect whatchamacallit for your family at a to-die-for-price.  Whether the sale is neighborhood collaboration or a single family sale, the perfect yard sale is one that works well for you. 

Why have a yard sale?
We all want our homes to be clean, neat, and reflect who we are.  A truly great home balances organization with comfort and style.  Hosting a yard sale is incentive to edit things from your life that no longer fit, work, come in handy, or are relevant to your lifestyle.  Oh yes, and yard sales generate extra income.

In order to host a successful yard sale all sale-ers must plan in advance. 

Pick a Day

  • Not every day is good for a yard sale. For example, don't schedule your sale on a holiday weekend unless you live in a tourist town.
  •  Saturdays are best
  • Earlier in the day is better than later
  • If possible, try to schedule your sale near the 1st or the 15th of the month because those are paydays for a lot of shoppers.
  • The best months for sales are: April, May, June and September. 


  • Your ad needs to state who, what, when, where, why
  • Who is involved in the sale:  single family, neighbors, community
  • What type of sale is it:  yard, community, garage, moving, fire
  • When is your sale:  date(s), day, time from xx am -xx pm  
  • Where is the sale located:  how to get to your home from a major intersection
  • Why should they bother attending?  Make your ad stand out.  Be creative with your wording and list a few "big ticket" items to draw interest.

Sample Ad:  Multi-family yard sale; designer-name maternity clothes, educational preschool toys, upscale infant gear, and much more. NO Checks. Saturday & Sunday 8:30am -1:00 pm.  EARLY BIRDS PAY DOUBLE!  555 Main Street across the boulevard from the community pool.

Sample Ad:  Retirement Sale; 60 years accumulation; antiques, furniture, power tools, appliances, gardening tools, house wares.  Cash Only.  Saturday Only 7:00 am--3:00pm, 555 Main Street.   3 miles West of Rest Assured Retirement Center.  NO early birds.

Spread the word

  • Let your neighbors know about your sale; if they don't want strangers parking in front of their homes place "no parking" signs where appropriate.
  • Inquire with local newspapers about placing ads.  Ask how many words, how much it is going to cost, and how far in advance you need to submit the information.
  • List a rain date or have an indoor back-up plan.
  • Post signs at local grocery stores.
  • Place ads on electronic bulletin boards.
  • Distribute flyers in community centers.
  • Use foam board rather than poster board for posting signs around the neighborhood.
  • Contact local authorities where you live and inquire about restrictions, regulations, permits, etc. for posting signs and hosting sales.


  • Go to the bank and have plenty of small bills on hand.  I suggest between $50.00 and $75.00 in cash
  •  If you really want to generate a buzz, ask the bank for $2.00 bills and silver dollars.  Younger shoppers love "funny money".
  • Do not accept checks from strangers
  • Hip packs are a must for carrying cash. Do not leave a cash box unattended. 

Price It Right
Do not price every single item for sale. It is time consuming and everyone is going to `bargain down' whatever the asking price is anyway.  Instead,

  • Group similar items together on tables price them all the same.
  • Label the table "$5.00-$10.00", "$1.00 or less", or "Best Offer--minimum $20.00".
  • Price in 50 cent increments (easier to add).
  • Face the facts, everyone comes to a yard sale looking for a bargain--so give them what they want and remember, the primary idea is to unload all your unwanted things; making money is secondary.
  • Group like items together and make "departments":  Exercise and Fitness, Bed & Bath, Camping, Books & Media, etc.


  • A great way for a teen to make a little extra cash is to sell coffee and donuts before the sale begins. 
  • Stock up at a warehouse-type store; sell mini bottles of water, juice boxes, small packs of goldfish crackers and other "parent approved snacks" for children in tow.  This keeps shoppers shopping longer.

Plan ahead

  • Have a cell phone charged in case of an emergency
  • Ask 2 or 3 friends to work alongside you for the day (safety in numbers)


  • plastic grocery bags
  • gift bags
  • brown paper bags
  • lunch bags
  • boxes--great for packing; store them under the display tables until needed
  • bubble wrap for fragile items
  • newspapers to wrap breakables
  • tape--to secure lids or keep stray pieces together
  • permanent markers--to change price signs throughout the day
  • rubber bands--to bundle silverware, spools of ribbon, etc.
  • tables--for displaying items
  • tape measure and yard stick--for measuring items
  • calculators--for adding up sales
  • extension cords -to plug in electrical items and see if they work
  • spare light bulbs--if selling lamps
  • batteries -for testing toys & small appliances

TIP:  If you want to earn extra income buy extra batteries and sell them

Hang Up!

  • Make sure all clothes are pressed, clean, and hanging on hangers.
  • Do not try to sell clothes that need mending, ironing, or stains removed.  
  • Group clothing according to sizes.
  • Have a full length mirror stationed somewhere convenient.


  • Have a trash can; people will dispose of their bottles and snack wrappers. 
  • Keep a large bottle of hand sanitizing gel or wet naps to clean your hands.
  • Leave enough room between tables for shoppers with strollers to browse.
  • Don't forget a roll of paper towels for spills and a box of tissues for sneezes.
  • Lock the doors and windows of your home.

 Do not bring the items that didn't sell into your garage. There are 3 options for leftovers:

  • Put them into your car and drive them to the nearest donation center and obtain a tax credit for your donation.
  • Place them curbside with a sign that says, "FREE--Help Yourself".  Anything that remains after 2 days should be trashed.
  • Conduct a "Leftover Raffle"; have anyone interested purchase a ticket for $ 3.00; draw names out of hat. The winner gets anything and everything they want and you make $3.00 per person on your leftovers.  This is where those $2.00 bills will be very seductive.

Sale-ers, by now you have motivation to get going and know exactly what to do.  Get on course and have fun sale-ing.

Geralin Thomas of METROPOLITAN Organizing is experienced in both residential and home office organizing. She always considers the lifestyle, budget, and personality of each client. Geralin works with homeowners, designers, builders, architects, and businesses creating organized environments and enhancing client's lives. Metropolitan Organizing is located in Cary, NC and can be reached at (919) 380-7718 or via website at: Metropolitan

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