When I held my last yard sale, I had to request a day off work. My boss agreed, but scoffed when he heard why I needed a Saturday off.
“That’s such a waste of time!” he teased. “People don’t make money at those things. You’d be better off working Saturday. You’ll probably make, like, 50 bucks.”
$700 later, I was the one teasing him.
I was one week away from moving to New Zealand for six months, and although I had been saving for a long time, I needed as much money as I could get. I was determined to make this yard sale a good one.
Many factors play into hosting a successful yard sale, such as advertising and choosing the right time of year. However, tiny details can make your day the most successful — and the least stressful.
Here are a few techniques I used to make $700 from my driveway.
1. Rock a Fanny Pack
Not to sound like your mom, but you really should consider wearing a fanny pack.
You may find it helpful to set up a payment table, but having people stand in line gives them time to reconsider their purchases. If you walk around collecting money, shoppers can pay you on the fly and go on their merry way.
A fanny pack makes it simple to keep all your cash and change organized, making payments quick and painless!
2. Designate One Money Handler
If you hold the sale with friends or family, choose just one lucky person to wear that stylish fanny pack and collect all the payments.
These events are chaotic, and having multiple people handling money can create confusion. Instead, choose one money handler, and let everyone else help shoppers find items or load heavy objects into their cars.
3. Welcome the Early Birds
You’re probably getting word out about your sale through Facebook, Craigslist or your local newspaper.
If not, I seriously suggest doing so! It makes all the difference. I made around $300 from friends who read I was holding a yard sale and wanted to support me. Some of those friends came on the big day, but one stopped by a few days early and spent $40.
Once you’ve promoted the event, you’re likely to hear from a few people about coming over the night before to look at bigger, pricier items. Dealing with them may sound like a hassle, but don’t turn them down! Early birds are often the best shoppers because they’re usually willing to pay a bit more for the privilege of getting first dibs.
Thanks to this strategy, I had already made about $200 by midnight the night before my yard sale. Between accepting early birds and getting the word out on social media, I made $460!
Plus, I didn’t have to haul the couch, patio furniture or bookcase out to my yard the next morning.
And a couple of the shoppers who showed up the night before were intrigued enough to return the next day and buy even more items!
4. Hang Clothes
First of all, I wouldn’t recommend trying to sell all your old T-shirts. I’ve tried this at every big sale I’ve held, and I don’t think I’ve ever sold one.
But go ahead and sell any nice coats or dresses you have laying around.
Presentation is everything. If you hang clothes on a rack, shoppers will see that they’re in nice condition, and they will stand out more than if you piled them on a table or stuffed them into a big box.
If you can’t find a rack, here’s a little trick: Put clothes on hangers and spread them out over a long section of fence. At my last sale, I made roughly $40 from pieces hanging on my fence.
5. Whip Out the Extension Cords
Electronics can be some of your biggest sellers… if you can prove they work.
When you set up in the morning, connect extension cords to outlets on your home’s exterior. When shoppers check out a record player or blender, they can verify it actually works, and you’ll be much more likely to sell it.
I made around $75 from my electronics. I sold my electric keyboard for $40, and several lamps and an old-school television for $5 to $10 each. Thanks for suggesting that extension cord, Mom!
6. Make Arrangements for Leftovers
Yard sales are exhausting. The last time I held one, I woke up at 4:30 a.m.and closed shop at noon. The last thing you want to do after a tiring day is find a place for things that didn’t sell.
Instead, plan ahead. Several charities would be happy to take these items off your hands. Call Goodwill, the Salvation Army or another local organization a week or two before the big day and arrange a time for them to pick up the goodies from your home.
Use Goodwill’s guide to inventory the value of your donations, and include that list with your donation receipt when you file your tax return.
After making $700 cash in one day, it was pretty great to know I would also get a tax deduction. My donation ended up being worth around $300.
I simply left everything out on my front porch after the sale, and Goodwill pulled up to the curb and carried everything away. Arranging the pickup ahead of time relieved a lot of stress, which meant more time for napping after my busy day!
7. Price and Color Code Your Items Beforehand
This is a tactic I wish I had used during my last sale: Price your items beforehand (here’s a guide to pricing). Because my dad is an impressive salesman, we were OK, but it would have been much easier to have everything priced in advance.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to take time to label each individual item. Use colored stickers to label smaller pieces, then make a giant sign: “Green = 50 cents; Blue = $1; Purple = $2.” It’s easy for everyone to understand.
Even though I made most of my big bucks off large and medium-size items, I still made a surprising amount of money from tiny pieces. I sold $20 in stuffed animals, as well as around $15 in books. I wonder how much I could have made had I been more strategic in advertising my prices.
Don’t underestimate your little items. Price and color code!
What’s Your Best Yard Sale Tactic?
Yard sales take a lot of time and work. You don’t want to make them more difficult than they have to be, and you don’t want to do all that work for little profit.
I can’t tell you how good it felt to walk into work the next day and say to my boss, “Guess how much money I made?”
Your turn: What yard sale strategies have you used to make a ton of cash?
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer who is always looking for ways to make some extra cash. She recently moved to China to teach English with her new husband.