Chapter 3

Holding the yard sale

It’s here! The day you’ve been so meticulously planning for has arrived, and hopefully, the sale goes off without a hitch and you sell everything!

There are still a few things we need to discuss however, to make sure that your sale is the most successful it can be.

Meet the many characters of yard sale shoppers

If you’ve held a yard sale before, then you know about the different characters that you are likely to meet at every garage sale. I feel like it’s always better to be prepared, so I’ve made a list of the people you may meet as well as how to handle them with class and professionalism.

The Early Bird

Who are they? These are the people who will be creeping and tip toeing around your yard way before the sale starts. If your sales starts at 8am...these early birds will be doing the slow drive past your driveway at 6:30am. They are looking for first dibs on the good stuff. Most yard sale hosts do not like dealing with early bird shoppers, because they generally invade their set-up time. If you aren’t willing to deal with the early birds, kindly put out a sign in your driveway that says NO Early Birds. Also, this is when having a garage comes in handy, you can shut the garage door until the sale starts.

The Haggler

I mentioned this earlier, but there are some people who go to yard sales strictly to haggle. Haggling is part of their everyday life and they get a thrill out of it. Be prepared to negotiate on each and every item this person purchases because they want to feel like they are getting a deal.

In order to best handle the negotiating type, tell them that you’ll consider a lower price once they’ve collected all the items that they are interested in purchasing. This way, you don’t have to barter on each individual item and can instead give them a bulk discount. This way everyone is happy.

The Creepers

The creepers are a little different than the early birds, in that they don’t come early, but they do perform the slow drive by of your house, quickly gauging whether they should stop the car or continue on. You can try to engage these shoppers by giving them a wave. But the best way to get these people to stop at your sale is to have your best items prominently displayed out front, closest to the street.

The Flippers

These people know exactly what they are looking for and can quickly figure out if you’ve got the stuff they need in a matter of minutes. These people are looking for deals, antiques, collectibles that they can turn around and sell at a profit online on sites like Ebay & Craigslist.

If you spot these people, be sure to point them to your valuables, your antiques, whatever you got that might be worth some money to them.

The Complainers

These people will find something wrong with just about everything you have laid out and they won’t have any problem telling you about it either. These people love to complain and unfortunately, today you’re going to get the brunt of their criticism. The only way to deal with these people is to kill them with kindness. Don’t try to engage with these people about the woes of the world, just smile and nod and work your way through the crowd.

Last Call Shoppers

These are the type of people that will roll into your sale 10 minutes before closing time to try to snag some very or deeply discounted stuff. Most yard sale hosts love it when someone comes in at the last minute to help them get rid of stuff. The only thing you need to know about last call shoppers is that you better be prepared to give them some hefty discounts and or free stuff because that is exactly what they are looking for.

The day before your sale

The day before your yard sale, you’ll want to prepare as much as you can, so you can wake up in the morning ready to rock it. I’ve had many instances where I didn’t prepare the day before and cursed myself the day of for sure!

Get Your Signs Ready

You’ll want to make sure your signs are ready to go. You’ll need signs for the main intersections, directional arrows and category signs for your items. Some people like to put up their signs the night before. Honestly, I think it comes down to personal preference on this one.

We have some printable signs you can download and print or just use as a reference. Just click the image below to download the sign kit.

Get Change at the Bank

We recommend getting between $50-$75 in small bills ($1s & $5s) and about $10 in quarters. Do NOT forget this task because banks do not usually open until 8-9am on the weekends, and you don’t want to be stuck without change for your customers.

Organizing Your Items by Type

If you haven’t already organized your items by type, you’ll definitely want to do this now, so that you can quickly display like items together.

Set up the Tables

If you have a garage (and the space) set up your tables the night before. That way you can quickly move them around and fill them with your sale items in the morning.

Price Everything

Hopefully, you’ve purchased some pre-labeled pricing stickers. Now is a great time to start plopping pricing stickers on each of your items. Doing it the night before will allow you some time to carefully think about how you’re pricing items. If you wait until morning, you may just be tempted to throw whatever sticker you see first on the item.

Give Items a Once Over

If you didn’t thoroughly inspect your items ahead of time, go through them now to ensure they’re in good shape. Wash things that need to be cleaned, fix things that can be fixed.

Mow the Lawn & Clear Debris

Make sure your sale area is as clean and clear as possible, which might mean you need to mow the lawn, spray down the driveway and clear it of any trash, brush or lawn furniture.

Notify your neighbors

It’s good yard sale etiquette to let your neighbors know ahead of time about your sale. That way they can be prepared if someone parks near their house, or there’s extra traffic.

The day of the sale

Now that the day is here, you’ve got to rise and shine because your work is just beginning! If you’ve followed the advice in this book, then you have a lot of the organizing done and today we’ll be your final step in the process. Time to unload the goods you’ve collected for sale, meet some new people and hopefully earn a lot of money.

Garage sale signs

If you have not already hung up your signs you will want to do that at least 1 hour before your sale begins. Be sure to include directional signs at every turn and use balloons or brightly colored streamers to attract even more attention.

You can download these category and directional signs in pdf here.

How to Display Items for Sale

How you organize the items for sale will be key to how well your items sell. No one likes to see sale items strewn about or clothing piled on the ground. Below we’ll show you about a few ways that you can organize your items to get the most sales:


  • Hang clothing on a clothing rack or fold nicely on a table
  • Put outfits together
  • Put like sizes together
  • Use signs to categorize (Women’s Clothing, Children’s Clothing, Men’s Clothing)
  • Line up shoes in a row


  • Make sure the furniture is clean of dirt & pet hair
  • Place closest to the street

Glassware/Kitchen Items:

  • Make sure these items are on a stable table or shelving unit (Less risk of breaks!) • Make sure they are clean and free from dust
  • Display like items and sets together


  • Use plastic tubs or totes to hold books
  • Use a spare bookcase if you have one available
  • Pile them on a table.


  • Arrange on a table near an outlet
  • Make sure you have extra batteries on hand

Money, Money, Money:

We mentioned earlier that you’ll want to make change the day beforehand. You’ll want to have between $50-$75 in small bills and at least $10 in quarters. Below we’ll discuss a few best strategies for accepting payment at your yard sale.

Never accept a personal check

Do yourself a favor and refuse to accept personal checks at your yard sale. While most people are honest good people, there are some who aren’t, which unfortunately ruins it for the rest of them. The last thing you want is to sell a valuable item to someone who pays with a check and the check bounces. Boo! Avoid that entire scenario by accepting cash only.

Want to accept credit cards? No problem!

Thanks to modern technology you can now accept credit cards at your yard sale with just your smartphone. You’ll want to set up a Square account before the yard sale. This Square account will allow you to accept payments from your phone.

Use a fanny pack to carry cash

I know many people tend to use a cash box; however, just to be on the safe side (remember not everyone is as honest as we are) you’ll want to have the cash on you at all times. We recommend wearing a fanny pack to carry the cash in.

Use a calculator to tally up totals

There is something about yard sale days that just turns my brain to mush. I always keep a calculator on hand to double (and triple!) check my math.

Safety Precautions

  • Don't talk about how much money you are making. (Don't tempt thieves.)
  • Keep your cash box or bag on you all of the time. We recommend wearing a fanny pack to hold your cash.
  • Don't let anyone in the house for any reason. Not to use restrooms or try on clothes.
  • Keep all doors locked except the one near you that you are using to go in the house from the garage.
  • Make sure each person helping with the sale knows what their job is. Is it taking money, watching tables, getting lunch, running bills in the house, or greeting customers?
  • Please do NOT stand or sit together talking or talking on your phone and ignoring your customers. Make yourself available to them.
  • Keep dogs inside the house or in another secured area. As friendly as dogs can be, accidents happen whether they snarl at a stranger or some child or elderly person trips over Fido. There is also the possibility your precious pooch could get stolen. It has happened before.
  • Invite your older children to join in! Children can help by setting up a little snack area and selling cans of pop or bottles of water from an ice-filled cooler. Keeping children busy or finding a sitter for younger ones is a good idea so you can keep your mind on your sale and not them.

After the sale

Congratulations! You made it through your yard sale, and hopefully you made a bunch of money while unloading most of your stuff. Unfortunately, there is still work to do! Below we’ll take a look at some of the things you need to do after every yard sale.

Donate the Leftovers

Nobody wants to bring unsold yard sale items back into the house! Arrange for a donation truck to come by your house after the yard sale to take everything you don’t want. Many times these donation trucks are affiliated with a charity, which means a bonus of a tax write off for your donation.

Here are some links to find local charities that you can either drop off your goods or schedule to have them picked up.

Give it away for FREE

The other option you have is to stick a big old sign on the pile of items that says FREE. You’d be surprised at how quickly your pile disappears! Neighbors and passers by will gladly stop and see if you have anything good.

You can also post your items on for free. Mark them as FREE and people will come and take them!

Don’t forget

A few things you want to make sure to do:

  • Take down any signs you put up
  • Count your money (Divvy it up if it was a multi-family yard sale)
  • Relax!