Five Ways to Make More Money at Your Yard Sale

Along with flowers, another sure sign of Spring is the proliferation of yard sale signs popping up as the weather improves enough to make them feasible.

If you’ve joined the drive to get rid of your extra stuff and clutter, Billshark wants to offer you some ways to ensure make the most at your yard or garage sale.

1. Time it right

Most yard and garage sales are held on Fridays and Saturdays. Get a jump on your competition (and catch shoppers while they still have a wad of garage-sale cash in their hands) by starting yours on Thursday.

And whether you advertise your sale for 6 or 7 or 8 a.m., the serious shoppers will come earlier, so expect that, and be nice to them. They’re not just browsers—they’re looking to buy, and will often pay top dollar for your merchandise.

2. Make it look nice

How many times have you driven past yard sales and seen tables piled high with things for sale? And lots of things sort of just scattered in the yard? Did it make you want to stop and check out the bargains, or did it remind you of the “before” photo of a house organizing TV show?

You not only have to catch the eye of those driving by, you have to capture the interest of those who are curious enough to stop.

So think about how the professionals market items for sale. And by pros, we mean department stores. The very name—department store—suggests organization into various departments or compartments.

Therefore, you should group like items together: sporting goods, kitchen ware, children’s toys, collectibles, household items, books/DVDs/games, clothing. A note on the last item: Either hang clothing on a clothing rack, or fold it neatly the way they do in the stores.

Also, if you’re selling electronic items, make sure they have fresh batteries. If they require power, run a power cord from inside so buyers can check to make sure the items are in working order.

3. Drive traffic to your sale

There are many ways to get buyers to show up, and you should take advantage of as many as you can. Such sites as eBay Classifieds,,, and Craigslist are the go-to sites for free classified ads. Twitter and Facebook, of course, are standard ways to get the word out. But also think of other places that others aren’t using these days.

Hard as it is to believe, some of the older generations won’t be checking the Internet or social media. They’ll either go out for a Saturday drive and hunt for signs, or check, yes, the local newspaper. A classified ad isn’t very expensive, and many local papers feature a special Yard Sale section this time of year.

Another great place to advertise is on the bulletin board at your local supermarkets. It costs nothing, and gets lots of foot traffic.

You will, of course, have to have the street signs. Use thick poster board, keep them simple (“Yard sale” in five-inch tall block letters with an arrow), and hang them at driver’s eye level. Start them on the main road into your development, and be sure to have enough to guide buyers to your sale. Think of them as real-life GPS instructions. If you think you’ll make enough money to justify the cost, helium balloons attached to the signs are a good attention-grabber.

4. Price it right—or don’t price at all

Check out the prices of your items at eBay or Craigslist, not just what buyers are asking, but what similar items have sold for. A good rule of thumb is to price items for between 10-25% of what you paid for them.

Also consider a BOGO offer: “buy one, get one free.” Or “buy three, get one free.” The supermarkets love this tactic because buyers love the word “free,” and it helps move merchandise.

If you have some broken electronic items, offer them for sale for parts. The same with a collection of miscellaneous cords: Box or bag them and sell them as a single unit. Many hobbyists look for these kinds of odd items.

How to price them? You can save yourself a lot of time and effort if you don’t go through the hassle of putting a price on anything. Just ask buyers to make you an offer. It turns out, they’ll often offer a figure higher than what you’d think you could get for it.

If you have a lot of items left at the end of the sale, try the grab-bag trick: Offer shoppers a bag or box and let them fill it with as much as they can for a fixed price, say $5. This will help you move your left-over merchandise quickly.

5. Pay attention

Yes, it’s boring to sit there hour after hour if no one’s coming by. But a lot of shoppers are shy, and won’t want to interrupt if you’re reading a book or focusing on your smartphone. Think of your sale as a two-day gig, and your only job is to sell. Smile, put your buyers at ease, ask if they have any questions.

One more thing: Be safe. Keep your house locked, your phone with you, and your cash box under surveillance at all times. Better still, keep your cash on you. Invest in a store-keepers’ apron at a hardware store, the kind with front pockets that can help you organize your bills and coins.

Yard sales are a great way to recycle things you no longer want, and also to put extra cash in your wallet for relatively little effort. Another way to do that is to turn over your bills to Billshark and let our sharks go to work finding you savings you never thought of.

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