Yard Sale Tips

(or Tag Sale Tips or Garage Sale Tips or Rummage Sale Tips or Boot Sale Tips)

Fact: Yard sales do not need to be perfect. They just need to happen. Making a pile of things “to be sold at a yard sale” is only a useful strategy if the pile actually gets sold at a yard sale.

Let’s make it happen!


If you don’t have enough stuff for your own sale, do one with your friends. Pick the yard that seems to enjoy the most traffic for your sale location.


  • Pick a date well ahead of time.
  • April, May, June and September are the best months for sales.
  • Holidays are not good for sales: people have other plans.
  • Weekends are best for sales, and between 8 or 9 am and 4 pm is a good time frame.
  • Schedule your sale as close as possible to a payday (the 1st or 15th).
  • Rain dates are good, especially if you’re planning a one-day sale. List the rain date on the posters, and in the ad.


Bold posters on phone poles with clear arrows help folks actually get to your site the day of, and newspaper ads draw the folks who plan ahead. Both are recommended. Don’t forget to flyer local bulletin boards at grocery stores and laundromats, and post as much as possible online.

*Check the deadline for placing an ad in your local paper. It’s probably about two weeks ahead. It should run for two days before the sale, and the day of.

Prepping the sale items

Create a “staging area” for the sale: a place where you can start piling up all of the stuff you want to sell. The garage is better than your living room. If possible keep types of things together: books, toys, clothing, etc. If you’re really cool, you can price as you pile stuff up: just keep a stack of blank stickers and a pen next to the pile.


Leave time for pricing. It always takes longer than you’d think. Invite some friends over and sit next to your pile and get tagging. And remember, this is not Antiques Roadshow. You’re pricing things to move. Price little toys so kids can buy them. Think 10 cents, 25 cents, 75 cents, whole dollars up to $5. Games? $1. Book and records? Definitely under $1 each, unless they’re rare (in which case, you probably shouldn’t be yardsaling them). Kids’ books, 25 cents each. Offer discounts for multiples. “Everything in this box $1.00” or “25 cents boxes” are great to save you from having to label every single happy meal toy. You can also have a free box, for all the doodads you come across that really are just this side of the trash can.


For pricing:

  • price stickers
  • pens

For posters and flyering:

  • cardboard
  • markers
  • clear packing tape
  • staple gun/staples
  • string/twine
  • scissors

For day of sale:

  • change: $30 to $50 in small change: lots of quarters, dimes, singles and fives. A few fives and tens. Everyone will hand you a twenty in the early morning.
  • folding tables/light tables and blankets/tarps/sheets for display
  • paper and plastic bags. The more they can carry, the more they’ll buy.
  • extra big plastic sheeting or tarps if there is any chance of rain. You can’t get it all back inside all that quickly, and you don’t want everything ruined. Also, if it just sprinkles, you can tarp for a bit, then reopen when it clears up.
  • lawn chairs or something else to sit on
  • music for amusement of the workers
  • a few helium balloons to make it clear where the sale is
  • don’t forget to save an extra nice “Tag Sale” sign for in front of your house.

Sale day

Put up posters the night before, or before 7 am the day of the sale.

The “Early Bird Factor”

Some folks will always show up really early to get the pick of your stuff. If this aggravates you, put up a sign that says “No Early Birds” (and include that in your published ads), and the exact time you’ll be ready to start. On the other hand, sales are sales, and if you want to move that stuff out, feel free to accept money whenever it is presented.

Be vigilant

  • Keep the doors to your house (and garage, if you’re not conducting the sale in there) locked.
  • Keep the money in your pocket. It’s safer than keeping it in a shoebox.

The end game

Be good about lowering your prices as the day goes on. And in the last hour or two, really drop them: 50% or more. Throw something free in with every purchase. You want money, but you also want to move this stuff.


Before you even start your sale, decide where your unsold stuff will go after the sale is over. The answer is NOT “back in your house.” If it hangs around, it will be reabsorbed into your belongings and that is not good. Pick a thrift store or donation box that you know will be open the day of your sale. (This is why it’s good to have a sale end at 4:00. That gives you an hour to pack your car and deliver the donation before stores close.)

When the sale ends, offer things for free to anyone who’s still standing there, then pack it all up, load it in to your car and immediately drop it off at your pre-selected thrift store or donation box. Make sure you get a form for a tax deduction.

On your way home from dropping off the leftovers, do the right thing and drive around and take down your signs. As the Girl Scouts say: “Leave a place better than you found it.”

Then go home and enjoy your riches. Since it will be largely in singles and quarters, you can even spread it out on your bed and roll around in it.