It’s not as easy as it looks! Take your spring cleaning to the next level by hosting a sale of your own, whether it’s to make a few extra bucks off your junk or to fundraise for charity. Of course, we recommend the latter. You can help someone in need and get rid of your junk? Sign us up!
How to host a great yard sale
You’ll need good items, a conducive location, people to sell the items, and as appealing a display as possible. If anything needs to be assembled, do it in advance so a potential buyer can see what it looks like and how large it is. Offer a solution to deliver bigger items (ie. the number for a delivery company) so it’s easier for buyers to take them home.
How can I tell if an item is sellable?
Ask yourself these questions before slapping a sticker on it:
- Is it broken or soiled beyond repair?
- Is it unsafe?
- Is it out of date and not old enough to be considered ‘vintage’? (ie. magazines)
- Is it extremely specific or personal? (ie. a keychain that says ‘Johnny’)
- Is it unhygienic? (ie. underwear)
If the item meets one or more of these criteria, it doesn’t belong at your yard sale. Even certain outdated items may not be worth trying to sell, like old magazines–shoppers don’t typically buy these. You’re probably better off recycling these things.
How should I prepare items?
Clean everything as much as possible. Use soap and water for the more delicate items, and detergent for pots and pans and anything that can handle a deep scrubbing.
Repair items prior to sale. Assembling large furniture will actually help you sell better than if you had a pile of unidentifiable boards and hardware leaning against a table or on the lawn!
What types of items are best-sellers?
In our experience, some of the most common items people look for at yard sales are:
- Unique furniture pieces
- Sporting goods
- Knick knacks (‘ie. grab and go’ small items for the kitchen or the den)
- Old vinyl
How should I price items?
Run each item–especially more substantial ones–through these questions:
- What condition is it in?
- How ornate is it?
- Is the material good quality?
- How unique is the item? (ie. it may be worth more if it’s difficult to find at big box stores)
- Does the item have good structure and can it easily be refinished?
- Do you just want to get rid of it? (price it lower and/or sell it in bulk, like a bag of baby clothes)
Ask for other opinions. Is there a price multiple people can agree on? Pricing is often more intuitive than you might think. As a last resort, if you can find a similar item online or at a store, see what it sells for new.
Once you’ve priced an item, be confident in the price. Set a ‘lowest price’ threshold for the item if shoppers want to negotiate. If someone wants you to hold an item, especially during peak sale hours, ask for a deposit to ensure they will come back for it!
Are you fundraising at this yard sale? Don’t hesitate to ask for higher prices and ask shoppers to make donations! Sometimes an item will sell for more, simply because the money is supporting a good cause.
What else will make my yard sale awesome?
Group items together so people browsing your sale really feel like they’re shopping! CDs together, books together, chairs together, sporting goods together…you get the idea.
Want to turn your yard sale into a bigger event? BBQ for your shoppers! Sell burgers and veggie dogs to keep shoppers happy.
What should I do if there are items left over?
Donate it: Clean items in good shape can usually be donated. Some charities will send a truck or van to pick up items; others accept drop-offs.
Recycle it: Plastic, wood, and metal items that aren’t in good enough condition to be donated can be brought to your local recycling depot. Did you find out some of the electronics don’t work anymore? Recycle them!
Junk it: If you don’t have time or a big enough vehicle to drive around and drop off donatables and recyclables, ask your friendly local junk removal company if they can come by. Sometimes we can come that same day!
Thanks to the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Toronto franchise for the great tips and photos. Every year they host ‘Toronto’s biggest yard sale’ as part of the Yard Sale for the Cure. Through this yard sale, to date they’ve raised $180,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation!
Are you a pro at hosting yard sales/garage sales? Comment below if we’ve missed anything here!
Sam Landa edits the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? blog and is Content Manager and social media manager at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environment & Sustainability, and in her spare time, she enjoys playing live music and writing. Connect with Sam on Google+ or LinkedIn.