Once you’ve done the sorting, consigning, and online selling you’re ready to hold a curated yard sale. These first stages of selling are important to get the most money for your belongings. Buyers at in person yard sales are looking for bargains. They want to be rewarded for making the effort to attend. In addition, shoppers at your yard sale don’t want to look through piles of junk or boxes of miscellany. It isn’t worth their time. From what I’ve observed, yard sale attendance has dropped with the advent of online selling and buyers are more choosey about where they spend their time. It’s important to strive for a yard sale with quality content and curb appeal.

Signs designating categories help keep the yard sale orderly.

Once you’ve finished selecting and sorting things to sell, go through all you’ve collected and do a little quality control. Broken? Stained? Missing pieces? Throw it out. If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it. Junky clutter is distracting and causes buyers to question the condition of the other things in your sale. Sure, you might make a quarter on a shirt with a hole in it, but you’ll also probably lose fifty cents off a French press coffee maker when someone offers you less. Anything that isn’t in good condition should go to the thrift store or in the trash.

The next step in preparing for your yard sale is to price and organize your curated items. Pricing is probably the hardest task when it comes to having a yard sale. I would suggest for the most part, pricing things lower than your online listings. Chances are if they didn’t sell online at the advertised price, they won’t sell for that price at a yard sale where people are expecting lower prices in general. However, give yourself some room to negotiate. Price knowing that buyers will probably offer you less and give yourself some room to make a counter offer halfway between your asking price and their offer.

When it comes to the actual price tags, I like to use brightly colored Post-It Notes with the price written in bold Sharpie. They’re eye-catching, easy to spot even from the street, and even easier to read. Many yard sale goers are seniors, or moms trying to shop with children in tow, who will appreciate not having to hunt for a price. Post -It Notes also make it simple to change the price of an item. Simply peel off the old Post-It and replace it with a new one. If I notice that something is not selling, I’ll lower the price. I also keep a time in mind, be it noon, an hour before the end of the sale, or the second day of the sale, when I lower the prices of everything.  

“Price knowing that buyers will probably offer you less and give yourself some room to make a counter offer”

As I’m pricing items, I’m organizing them into categories similar to a department store. Home décor, office supplies, electronics, kitchen, etc. are some of the categories I’ve used in the past. Categories are useful when planning the layout of the actual sale. Stacks of pots and pans are going to require more space. Christmas lights and power tools will need an extension cord handy to prove they’re in working order, while dresses and jackets might require hangers. Organizing sale items into categories also makes for faster set up when you’re trying to beat early bird shoppers. Labeling tables and sections of your yard by category the day of the sale is helpful for buyers and a potential hook for passersby.

Post-It Notes make prices easy to see and change as the sale progresses.

Advertisements for your yard sale should include online notices and physical signs posted around the community. Return to the neighborhood and community groups where you did some of the earlier online selling and notify them of your yard sale. Include details like dates, times, address, and a sampling of the things you’re selling. Our most recent yard sale was a two-day event. I reasoned that since I was putting so much effort into planning and organizing the sale, I might as well try to get the most I could out of it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that, at least in the United States, Friday has become the new Saturday when it comes to yard sales. The retirees were out in force on Friday, along with parents who stopped by after dropping their kids at school.  Saturday morning still had its fair share of visitors, but that number dwindled in the afternoon. When deciding on a time for your yard sale to begin, just keep in mind that dedicated shoppers will come early.

I branded our yard sale a “Moving to Scotland Sale” hoping that the affinity people have in the southeast for Scotland would attract attention and make my upcoming yard sale one to anticipate. Even if you’re not moving to Scotland, or moving at all, it’s still a good idea to find something to set your sale apart so people will remember it when planning their busy weekend. “Summer Fun Sale,” “Toys and More,” “Whole House Clean-Out” will stand out in buyers’ news feeds.

My “Moving to Scotland” graphic created for social media announcements.

The images in your announcement create interest in your sale. It’s a great time to highlight some of your best items. To accompany my announcement of the sale on Facebook Marketplace I created a simple graphic using Canva. Canva has templates that make it easy to upload photos, drag them into place, and then download the finished picture. I added text with the dates, and location along with a little plaid to underscore our “Moving to Scotland” theme.

While a curated yard sale requires many online steps to keep up with changes in buying habits, one thing remains the same: physical yard sale signs posted in the neighborhood. These signs should be sturdy, attention grabbing, informative, and easy to read. I used poster board and wooden stakes for our signs and this combination lasted for the duration of our sale time. Neon isn’t my favorite color scheme, but when it comes to grabbing attention on a busy road, it’s a good choice. Keeping all your signs the same color, creates unity and leaves a visual trail for drivers searching for your house. Adding balloons and streamers to the signs lets them know something special is ahead.

“Keep text on yard sale signs large, bold, and in a font that’s easy to read in a moving car.”

Keep text on yard sale signs large, bold, and in a font that’s easy to read in a moving car. Thin letters, small letters, and flowery fonts won’t make much impact from the side of the road. Large, block letters along with bold arrows to point the way to the sale, are your best option. When constructing signs, keep all the letters in a word the same color. Multicolored words are hard for the eye to read, especially at a distance. I would not recommend the flimsy plastic signs sold at the Dollar Store. A neighbor gave us a few of these, and though I appreciate her generosity, some of the signs broke while we were setting them up.  

Piper “helps” with the neon signs for our yard sale.

Before hanging signs there are two things you need to check: the rules governing signs in your community and the weather. Every city has different rules to determine when yard sale signs can be posted and when they need to be taken down. In Toronto the window for hanging signs was very narrow, while in Tennessee things are more flexible. Always double check to see that your yard sale signs are not obstructing the view for drivers or pedestrians. If rain is in the forecast the week before your sale cover signs in clear packing tape to waterproof them.

Preparation and pre-selling are the keys to a successful curated yard sale, but there are still a few things you can do the day of the sale. Neatness counts so make it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for by labeling tables and bins. When there’s an ebb in attendance, walk around and straighten up anything that might have been dumped out, knocked over, or left in the wrong place when a buyer changed her mind. Have plastic grocery bags on hand to help shoppers carry their purchases home. Update social media throughout the day with photos of your sale. You never know when someone scrolling through their feed might see something they like. When packing up after the first day, keep things organized by category so set up for day two is quick and easy.

At the end of your sale, if you’ve followed my suggestions for a curated yard sale there shouldn’t be much left to donate to charity and the income from your sale will make all the work worth it.