Chapter 2

Garage sale pricing

How to price yard sale items

Pricing yard sale items is one of the most difficult things you’ll do during the entire yard sale set-up process. You don’t want to overcharge on your items for fear of not selling anything, but you also don’t want to underprice items either.

A good rule of thumb is to price things at 1/3 of their retail price. For example, if you are selling a coffee maker you originally purchased for $50, you could price it anywhere between $15-$20 at a yard sale.

Pricing Guide

Price your items to sell. Knowing how to price your yard sale items can be the difference between a great yard sale and a flop. Check out the handy guide we've made for you below.

Pricing Strategies

There are many different pricing strategies out there, but we will discuss the eight most commonly used and effective strategies.

How to price yard sale items

1. Check the Going Rates

Pricing second hand items starts with research. Find out what secondhand items are selling for by checking sites like eBay or Amazon for pricing information on items like electronics. If you can, visit other yard sales or secondhand shops in your area to see how items are priced.

2. Price items in $.50 increments

Pricing your items in $.50 increments will allow you to add items together quicker and have less change to make.

3. Offer a Good Deal

People come to yard sales because they're looking to score great deals. Secondhand items in perfect condition typically sell for up to 70% off the retail price, while items in fair to poor condition typically sell for 30% or lower. If you can go even lower than that, you’ll have a greater success rate.

4. Know How Low You’re Willing to Go

Like it or not, haggling is part of the yard sale experience. Knowing that you’ll probably have to negotiate on some items, you should have a “bottom price,” or the lowest price you're willing to accept for an item. For example, if you would accept 50% of the retail price for an item, you may want to price your item at 70%.

5. Bundle Smaller Items

Smaller items, like children’s toys, collectible trading cards, books, DVDs and other knick-knacks can be bundled together and sold under a single price. For instance, 10 books for $10, or a bag full of items from a bin for $20. This is a convenient way to cut down on coin and small bill exchanges.

6. Auction Off Big Items for the Best Offer

You may even want to put items, such as cars, motorcycles or furniture, up for bid online before your sale starts in order to collect a higher number of bids. You can announce the winner at your yard sale.

7. Put a Price on Almost Everything

You don’t want to have to haggle for every single item at your yard sale, and neither do your customers. Put price stickers on most items for sale for convenience. You may want to leave off prices and negotiate on items like cars, furniture, antiques or collectibles.

8. Adjust Your Rates (so that you’ll always be closing)

As it gets later in the day of your yard sale and you notice items not selling, you may want to adjust your rates in order to get rid of as many items as possible. Resist the urge to hold out for better offers late in the day. You’ll have much more success if you remember to “always be closing.”

What not to sell at a garage sale

Sentimental items

Don’t sell something that you think you might regret later. You may be tempted to get rid of your child’s old toys or clothes, but you may want to pick out a few items from the pile to save as mementos. You and your kids may not care about these items now, but they might in the future.

Antiques / collector’s items

The Beanie Baby trend went out of style rather quickly, but that doesn’t mean that some collector’s items aren’t worth saving. Things like old coins, baseball cards, vinyl music and comic books never seem to fall out of fashion. These items actually increase in value over the years. Instead of hawking them for a few bucks at a yard sale, you may want to sell directly to collectors or to a specialty vintage shop.

Potentially offensive / adult-only items

Have an old t-shirt with a tasteless joke on it? DVDs with sensitive content? Think twice about selling it at your yard sale, especially to young or underage children. An alternative would be to sell these items to secondhand shops. If you do decide to sell them at your yard sale, then make sure to mark the items as “adult only.”

Poor quality items

If something is falling apart or is one leg away from being thrown in the dumpster, you may not want to sell it. Customers will not be happy if they get home and find that their latest purchase is malfunctional. The best thing to do is to be upfront about the quality of the items and don’t try to sell them for more than they’re worth.

Deceased relatives’ stuff

Again, this is totally up to you. But keep in mind that your friends and neighbors, or the friends and neighbors of your deceased loved one, may be sensitive to your decision. Always check with people close to the person who passed if they want to keep any of the items.

What to sell at a garage sale

Unused appliances

We’ve all bought that breadmaker off the infomercial (or something like it) at some point. Maybe you used it to make homemade bread just once after you bought it and never touched it again. It can be tempting to hold onto this stuff, thinking you’ll have a need for it in the future. But you should ask yourself, will I realistically use this? If not, you could be making money off it.

Extras or duplicates

You probably need just one HDMI or ethernet cable, or just a few. But somehow you’ve amassed a collection of them. I have a box full of cables, power strips and other items that I’ve moved from place to place with me and rarely open. I’m not sure what makes me hold onto these items that are relatively cheap and easy to get. Take stock of your unused duplicates or extras around your house and put them on your sell list.

Relatively new children’s toys and items

New toys and children’s clothes can sell very well, but if you’ve been holding onto items for a few years they may be out of style. Also, toys that are dirty or damaged can give an appearance of low quality. Make sure you clean the items before other children use them.

Negotiation Tactics

Yard sale shoppers love a good deal, and they love negotiating their way to one if necessary, which means you are going to have to sharpen your negotiation tactics ahead of time. Having a general idea of the lowest price you would take is generally a good idea, that way you can quickly offer a lower price if asked.

Get them to reveal their price

One popular negotiation tactic is to have the buyer reveal the price he is willing to pay first.

You can usually accomplish that with the following scenario:

Buyer: Would you take less for this sofa?

Seller: I would consider it...what price were you thinking?

Buyer: I was thinking $100.

Seller: Sold!

Having the buyer name a price first prevents you from going lower than they are willing to pay. In the example above, if your lowest price was $75 and you had let them know that right off the bat, you would’ve been out $25. Always let the buyer say a number first.

Offer a freebie

Another way to negotiate on prices is to offer a freebie!

Let’s take a look at that example below:

Buyer: Would you consider $50 for that vintage bookcase?

Seller: No, but I’ll throw in the matching vase for free if you buy it at $75.

Add extra value by offering something else for free. The buyer thinks they are getting a deal, and you still get the price you wanted. Brilliant!