My Love-Hate Relationship with Yard Sales

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saturday I finally had my Yard Sale that I have been planning all Summer long. I am such an organized person that I had to clean every single room in my house from top to bottom and find every unwanted item to sell. I had to price every item and organize it all into sections. This is why it takes me all Summer to prepare for a Yard Sale. If I didn't have to be so organized about the whole thing I could have had the Yard Sale 3 months ago and been done, but I am a planner and have to plan, plan, plan, stress, stress, stress.

I have had a lot of Yard Sales and here is what I have learned:

Make big, bright signs with arrows directing traffic straight to your house. I live in a quiet cul-de-sac, but 2 blocks away is a main road with lots of traffic. With the right signs my Yard Sale gets very busy. I use the same signs every year.

Price everything before the Yard Sale so you don't lose customers or have to think up a price on the spot. Here is a picture of everything in my garage after it is all priced and ready to go.

If there is no one at your yard sale have someone walk around and pretend to be looking. No one wants to be the only one at your Yard Sale being watched by the owners.

If you have a baby or young kids, have Yard Sales frequently. No one will want that high chair or stroller 10 years from now, but you can get good money from it if it's only a couple of years old. I have a 6 year gap between my last 2 kids and I had sold all of my baby stuff when I got pregnant with the last. I was so glad I did because things had changed a lot and I got to enjoy new things. If I were to try to sell those 11 year old strollers and baby items now, no one would want them. If you need them again you can always check craigslist and find them for the same price you sold them. That way you never had to store them and you can even get newer used items than what you had with your older kids. Does that make sense?

Display everything and don't make people look through boxes. I used my ladder to hang baby clothes up. I used my picnic table from the back yard and displayed things on the table and benches. I also used a work bench with a long board on top and sheet covering it all to display items. Even cinder blocks with boards on top can work.

Use craigslist and your local online classifieds to place adds the day before. Use pictures in your ads and list items that you will be selling. I had 5 cars pull up at my house at 7:00 am just from those ads alone. I hadn't even put up my Yard Sale signs yet. These are some of the pictures I used.

And the biggest lesson I have learned from having Yard Sales:
Don't buy so much stuff! By having a Yard Sale I am forced to evaluate everything I have ever purchased in my house. I hate selling stuff that I paid good money for and never used. I remember this lesson every time I am at the store about to buy something. I ask myself, "Will this end up at my Yard Sale next year?" I actually made less money at this years yard sale than I have in years past and that is a good thing. Most of the stuff I sold was clothes my kids had grown out of and baby items my baby had grown out of. Not making a lot of money at a Yard Sale is really a good thing. A couple of years ago I made around $2,000 at my Yard Sale and another $1,000 on craigslist and ebay for the rest of my stuff for a total of $3,000. I don't buy very much these days and made a grand total of $350 this year and will probably make another $200 on ebay and craigslist when I am done.

Making less money is a good thing for me because that means I made smart buying decisions throughout the year. These days I pass up many items on sale or clearance and only buy things that I really LOVE. I would rather pay more for something that I love than something that is a good deal, because if I love it I will use it (or wear it) more. Occasionally I find something that I love on clearance and then I am in heaven. Just remember that when something is on clearance you are not saving $9.99, you are spending $4.99 (or whatever the price is). And always remember that LESS is MORE. Less clothes that you love is much better than a ton of clothes that you kinda like.

10 Things I Hate About Having a Yard Sale
1. Spending 3 months going through my house top to bottom and cleaning out all of the clutter and unused items.
2. Storing the yard sale items in the garage as I collect them. This is a growing pile of stuff that gets bigger and bigger and takes up more and more space in the garage.
3. Having to spend days and weeks pricing every single item. I hate yard sales where things are not marked and I am not the type of person that will ask the price. If I don't know a price I just walk away so I make sure that at my Yard Sales, everything is priced. Lots of work!
4. Hearing my husband complain about the Yard Sale because he thinks it is tacky and embarrassing to display all of our stuff for the neighbors to see.
5. Having to do all preparations for the Yard Sale by myself because of husbands disapproval of the whole event.
6. Fighting with my kids over what I am getting rid of even though they haven't played with some of the things for over 2 years (old Sega Genesis with games as an example). Suddenly they become the most important items to them in the world!
7. Getting up at 6:00 am to haul everything outside and listening to my husband grumble about the whole ordeal while he helps me set up the tables and carry things outside.
8. Kids coming to my Yard Sale and playing with things and messing them up and losing parts that I have carefully placed in bags to keep together.
9. I understand how to bargain, but some items I won't bargain on because I know how much I can sell them for on ebay or craigslist. Some people get mad and walk off because I won't go down in price on these items. I go down in price on a lot of things and at the end of the Yard Sale I even give some things away for free. I am just smart about my prices and some people get offended by that.
10. Having to haul a bunch of stuff that didn't sell to DI (like Good Will) and list the rest on ebay and craigslist.

10 Things I Love About Having a Yard Sale
1. Spending 3 months going through my house top to bottom clearing clutter and ending up with before and after photos like this:

2. Having a clean and organized house.
3. Having my kids be at the yard sale and see the money come in from the items they didn't want to sell. Being able to give them the money for their unused toys and see them learn a valuable lesson. They were so excited about having the money to buy things they had been saving up for that they didn't miss the old toys anymore.
4. The money. Even my husband gets excited about this part and agrees that it was a good idea to have a yard sale. He never thinks we are going to get much money for our junk and is always surprised when I pull in 2-3 times as much as he expected. I am good at bargaining and negotiating. I know when people are bluffing and will actually pay full price. Some people just ask for a lower price, but are willing to pay full and I can sense it.
5. Having my mom and grandma come and sell stuff with me and spend the entire Saturday sitting outside and talking with them during the Yard Sale. I love to see the things my grandma brings. This time she brought this patch repair kit that is so old it doesn't have a bar code. She also brought this vintage leather coat from the 60's or 70's. I marked the price up (She was going to sell it for $2) and told her I would list it on ebay if it didn't sell.

6. Getting paid to git rid of stuff I don't need or want.
7. Helping my kids set up a little drink and snack store of their own. We live in a cul-de-sac so Yard Sales are the only times my kids can have a "lemon-ade" stand and they love it.
8. After the Yard Sale and after I take unsold items to DI (like Good Will) and sell the rest on ebay and craigslist, we can finally park both cars in the garage again!
9. All of the money I get is tax free and I can get a tax deduction for the stuff I donate.
10. Spending the money! This year I earned enough to pay for the new trailer hitch on our mini van and the bike rack I am now going to buy to put on it. Now I will be able to take all of our bikes to the canyon for some great family bike riding adventures!


  1. I echo all your points ... we have lots of yard sales.

    Pop over to meet my friend & new blogger ~

    TTFN ~ Marydon

  2. I'm not nearly as organized as you are when it comes to yard sales, but I completely agree with your love-hate relationship, even down to the complaining husband. Way to go, though!

  3. Great post! We are having a yarsdale tin 2 weeks, cant wait, cleaning things out!

  4. Thanks for the great tips. I have yet to have my own yard sale, but we had them all the time when I was growing up...and my mom could not ever pass one up! She was a yard sale junkie! It used to drive me crazy. I agree, less IS more. I buy higher quality things now and appreciate them more than having lots of not-so-high-quality things.

    We are hoping to do a yard sale sometime soon to purge some more-I give a lot of clothes to my sister, neighbors, etc. with kids because we have gotten great hand-me-downs too. But I want to sell some bigger items and walk away with a little extra cash-your tips will come in handy!!

  5. Why did you sell your jogging stroller?

  6. Oops, forgot to sign my name, that comment was from Robyn- your sis. in law.

  7. My little guy likes the speed and height of my bike better than the jogging stroller. I sold the stroller for twice what I paid so I don't feel bad. Today I used all the money from the yard sale to buy a really nice bike rack for my van so we can go biking in the canyon. I can't wait for 7-14 days from now when it arrives at my front door :)

  8. Kasey at Thrifty Little BlogTuesday, September 15, 2009

    I agree that the pricing is important! Whenever I see something that is priced well, I snatch it up right away.

  9. Very useful and practical points.I must say I agree with them all.
    It's the first time I've come across your awesome site. I came across a bunch of fantastic articles.
    Keep up the fantastic work :)


  10. Why do all husbands act this way? is it just so they don't have to help, then they act all surprised by the money we make but the first thing they want to do is go have dinner out somewhere!!!!!!!
    I'm having a yard sale Oct 2nd and will be using some of your tips. Thanks!!!

  11. Having a yard sale this weekend-thank you for all the helpful points!

  12. This is a great post! As a Mom of 5 kids, 18 years and younger, I truly regret getting too much stuff. I do not know how to deal with my family...I have tons of Dreamsicles, Precious Moments, toys and Birthday girls cluttering my attic as gifts. It is a daily battle clearing things out just with books and clothing. I am doing EBAY right now. I really should do another Yard Sale.