Preparing for a Yard Sale: First Steps


You may call them yard sales, tag sales, garage sales, or barn sales. With a few simple tips, you can have a great time and make some money.

  1. First you’ll want to find everything you want to sell. Don’t think too much right now about whether someone will buy it or not. Everything has a potential new home. Look in your attic, barn, garage, cellar, storage unit. Your bedroom, kitchen, living room, and all your closets could hold things you no longer want or need. Bring all your finds together in one place. A large area like a cellar or garage floor is good for this.
  2. Now, look through what you have. Put items into categories so that items that are similar are together. This might mean putting the audio CDs you found in the living room with the CDs from your kids’ rooms. Or the cookbooks from the kitchen with the hobby books from your computer room. Next, look at the condition of the items. Are there chips in your glass items? Are you missing Monopoly game pieces? If something is broken but repairable, like a blender or chair, or is missing parts, label it with that information so that you and the buyer know what you are selling.
  3. Another important step is to make sure your treasures are clean. Wash glass items, polish knickknacks, dust off the antiques. You don’t want someone focusing on how dirty something is instead of thinking about the item itself. Also, put items with many parts into a box or a sealable bag so they stay together.
  4. There are several ways to price items.
  • Put all your CDs together in a box or on a table put all drinking glasses or coffee mugs together on a table. Sell them for the same price, say, $5 for CDs or 25 cents each for the glasses and mugs.
  • Put a sign on the table or box indicating your price. Put stickers on individual items. These could be color coded so that items with red stickers are a certain price and items with blue stickers are another price. Be sure to make a sign noting the prices of the color coding. This will help you and your buyer.
  • Or use stickers and price everything individually by writing the price on the sticker. Place your stickers in a visible spot on the item to attract attention.
  • You can also label some items, like glasses, with wax pencils, which the buyer can easily wash off.

Putting prices on items or on signs will help the customer know what you’re expecting. They also won’t have to wait around for you if you’re constantly busy telling people what the prices are. Sure, you might take less for an item, but this gives someone a starting point. Not everyone likes to haggle and might pay the stated price. And not everyone likes to chat up the seller, they just want to pay their money and go.

You can also put some items together that you’d give away. You may lots of plastic ware that won’t sell but you don’t want to throw out. Clearly label them or have specific categories of them so you’ll remember this.

So how do you determine what price to put on something? Think about what you would pay for something that is not being sold brand new at a department store. Also, think about the condition of the item. Is it broken but repairable? This would take a little work so keep in mind the time or price for parts that your buyer is going to have to put into it. Does it need parts? Same idea – think about what the buyer is going to have to do to find and buy the parts. Does the coffee mug have a chip in it? That would sell for even less than a used mug in good condition. You might want to consult the internet or an appraiser if you’re planning to sell collectible items so that you’re asking a reasonable price.

Remember that you want someone else to take these things off your hands. They don’t have an emotional attachment to items you own. They won’t want to pay $20 more for that vase that you got on your anniversary than for the other vases on the table. To the buyer, something is only worth more if the marketplace gives it that value. Ming vases are naturally worth more than the one you got with the flowers from eFlowers. Your pricing should reflect the value of the item in the marketplace.

So now your items are ready for sale. What else do you need to do to get ready for your sale? I’ll cover that in an upcoming post.

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