Yard Sale Advice for Buyers and Sellers

Ok. So, I am very much a tightwad, so things like yard sales and thrift stores absolutely thrill me. I mean, where else can you find such treasure for such amazing prices? Its like Christmas for adults!

I’ve learned a lot of tricks for maximizing yard sale potential over the past few years. My mom and I have developed quite the extensive theory about the best yard sale hunting. We amused my in-laws one day by going through our whole process, which made for quite the interesting conversation.

I realize that yard sale season will be over soon, and there aren’t too many really good weeks left for it. But this is pretty good information and I’m excited to share it with you!

Now, you may be thinking, “What’s so in depth about yard sale?” Its not really that it in depth. But there are just some things to make the whole buying and selling experience better.

So here goes.


-Advertise well. Put your signs up for several miles in various directions, pointing from major roads and with clear direction to where your sale is. The further out and more well advertised your sale is, the more likely I am to show up. Don’t be afraid to use Craigslist to get the word out too. Most of the best sales I’ve found have been because of Craigslist. Good advertising makes me believe that you have something worth me coming to look at.

-Price your items! This is crucial. If I go to a sale and nothing has prices on it, I’ll leave. The worst thing you can say to me is “Nothing has prices, so just make me an offer.” Uh-uh, you don’t want me to do that. Cause you apparently think your stuff is priceless (pun intended), and all I see is junk. I’ll make you an offer, but you likely will be offended. Unless I see some thing really amazing that I really want, I won’t suggest a price cause its just not worth it to me.
So get some stickers or pieces of masking tape and think up some prices. If you have big ticket items, be open to negotiation. But at least give your customers something to work with.

-Price reasonably. I’ve been known to turn around and leave sales that are priced ridiculously. Take into consideration that your stuff is second hand, and unless you are selling brand spanking new stuff, don’t expect to make a huge profit.
Clothing is the biggest one. T-shirts and tank tops should be $.25-50, no higher than $.75 for ones in top condition. Button-up tops, skirts, dresses and jeans in excellent condition should be no more than $1, but if they are new with tags, no more than $3.
VHS tapes, books, cassettes, coloring books, notebooks, and toys should be $.25 or under, and no more than $.50 for ones in excellent condition.
With other random household items, consider how much they have been used, how old they are, if they are out of date, missing pieces, dusty, smell bad or just look weird, and then price wisely. It does not matter to your customers who got it for you, how cool you think it is, if you think its an antique, or especially how much you paid for it. All they care about is the fact that its not new anymore, and whether or not they can get good use out of it.
Bedding, blankets, towels and pillows are tough, because I personally would never buy them second hand unless they were new with tags. So if you are brave enough to try selling your old ones, good luck. Just price them cheap.
Furniture. Eh, that’s a tough one. If you’re going to sell it, please make sure its in good condition. And don’t charge too much for it. Sure if its brand new, go ahead and try to get $50-60 for that loveseat or dresser. But if its old, faded, got scratches or just…old…please keep it more like $10-20 depending on the size of the item. And be open to negotiation.

It’s second hand, people.

-Don’t “sell”. You are not a sales person. I do not want to hear how great your item is. If its that great, I will buy it. Guilt tripping me is not going to work. If you talk to me too much, other than passing remarks about the weather, odds are I will leave without buying anything.
Even more important: DO NOT follow me around. If I want to look at it I will look at it, and I would prefer to do it without you hovering over me.

-Take your signs down! When you are done with your sale, BE DONE. don’t keep advertising a sale that ended last summer just cause you’re lazy. And for heaven’s sake…if you absolutely must leave them up after your sale is over, PLEASE put a date on your sign so I don’t go following your breadcrumb trail to a sale that doesn’t exist anymore.

Now. Buyers. Your turn!

-Be prepared. Especially if you are making this an all day thing. Bottle of water, a snack, and most importantly a map or GPS. Unless you know the area really well, you’ll find places a lot easier if you have a little help. Carry with you a decent amount of change and small bills. Odds are you will go to ten different sales and pay for $1 worth of stuff at each, rather than one sale and pay for $10 worth of stuff immediately.

-Go early. If you want to see everything, start as soon as you can.

-Go late. Things may be more picked over, but a lot of times, people are more willing to discount their stuff on the Saturday of their sale than on the Thursday or Friday. If they are doing a multiple day sale, by the time that last day rolls around, their attitude has likely changed from “I have wonderful things
! Come buy them all and pay me lots of money!” to “Ohmygoodness I don’t care just take it!!”

-The Art of the Drive-by. You don’t have to stop at every sale. Some of them you can know if they are good or not just by driving by. I tend to look for tables with piles of clothes, small pieces of furniture, shoes and books, and if I don’t see anything like that, I generally won’t stop.
Most of the time I won’t stop if the sale is inside a house, either, but that’s just personal preference. I really don’t like walking through some stranger’s home. I did break that rule just recently because their sale was really well advertised and inviting, and I managed to score a bookshelf out of it, so sometimes it is worth it.

-Working the area. This goes with the Art of the Drive-by. Not to sound prejudiced or anything, but the area that you shop determines the quality of the stuff. The best places to go are subdivisions or nicer suburban or semi rural areas. If their house and yard are well kept, then odds are their items are too. Once you get more into the city and the cost of living goes down, the quality of the sales greatly lessens.

-Have a plan…and deviate. If you plan on making a day of it, search Craigslist or your local newspaper for some sales in your area. Try to map it out so you make somewhat of a loop, and then hit the road! Above all don’t be afraid to deviate. If you are on your way to a sale and see a sign for another one on the side of the road, go for it!

-Enough is enough. As with any shopping trip, know when you are done. Whether its by having spent your allotted amount of money, or simply by being tired and hungry, stop when you’re done. Don’t get too tired or else you’ll end up hating the experience.

Forgive me if I sound completely insane. I had a lot of fun writing this. And honestly, everything about it is exactly what I do when I go on a yard sale hunt!

So whether buying or selling, I hope you enjoy your next yard sale adventure. And hey…if you ever need a hunting buddy, call me up!!



  1. Hannah, I like your blog and loved it on blogionaire.com


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