Ask the Readers: Do You Have Yard Sales?

By Ashley Jacobs on 27 August 2013 (Updated 3 September 2013) 55 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Gina, Elena, and Laura for winning this week's contest!

Having a yard sale is a great way to get rid of that china set you always hated and make some money while you're at it. However, it might not be as simple as throwing up a YARD SALE sign one sunny Saturday. Your community probably has rules about when and where you can have a sale, and it can take a lot of work to set up and run the show.

Do you have yard sales? What are your experiences like? Are there any community regulations you need to follow when you host a yard sale? How do you spread the word about your sale? What is the most money you've ever made?

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Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I don't like yard sales...at all. My neighbor just had one last weekend and there was so much traffic on our street starting at 6 am. I much prefer to sell my items to a consignment store, pawn shop, or on Craigslist.

Guest's picture
Tyler

Do you have yard sales? Yes!
What are your experiences like? They have always been good. Just be prepared and keep your money on your person.
Are there any community regulations you need to follow when you host a yard sale?
Nope.
How do you spread the word about your sale? Street signs, craigslist, and word of mouth.
What is the most money you've ever made? not sure. . . probably around $300.

Guest's picture
Guest

No. We did one once, on neighborhood yard sale day. Our street is only 1 block long and well out of the way of any traffic whatsoever. In six hours we made $40, and that was by selling a piece of furniture. It was a total waste of time. We haven't bothered since then. Instead, I call a local charity that does pickups when I have stuff to get rid of. I have been majorly decluttering as we're house hunting, so I have the charity come about once a month and collect a porchfull of stuff. We itemize on our taxes, so we get the benefit of that plus no weirdos on our property trying to scam us plus the stuff doesn't sit all year waiting for the day of the sale.

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Christina N

I usually try to do a yard sale every two or three years, that way, I have more stuff to put out and I do not mind the time I have to put into it as opposed to doing every year. I only make a few hundred dollars, but it is better than nothing.

Guest's picture
Wanda

I had no choice this summer to have a yardsale. My mother passed away and left me with a house full of her lifetime to dispose of. It was painful in more ways than one. I live in Indiana and her in Florida (alone).

I started a week before the actual sale. Mainly because she had SO MUCH STUFF. I invited friends and family to come in and pick out/purchase items that they loved and wanted. This helped me to move many large peices of furniture before the weekend sale.
By the time Fri & Sat came, I had more room to pull out hidden treasures. The rules in her town were strict so I couldn't hold the sale for longer than two days. Which left me with many items still left over.
An auctioneer came in and purchased what was left (not for what it was worth either).
All in all. I made well over $6000 for a ton of work. My hubby & I worked day and night for over a week.

Guest's picture
Monica

We do yard sales every once in awhile. We only need signs in our area, it attracts enough traffic but we also usually do a craigslist ad as well. We found out that in our area Fridays are the best days and Sundays aren't usually worth it at all.

Guest's picture
Jamie

Before I moved from the suburbs of Maryland to the middle of Philadelphia, I had lived in the same home for 24 years. My dad and I went through the entire house (he planned to move in the next year) and had a giant garage/yard sale. We cleared our garage and added tables for things and then lined the driveway with tubs of stuff.

We cleared out quite a few rooms of a 3-story 5bedroom 3.5bathroom home and made a little over $1,000!

Now that I live in Philly, I don't have the capacity to have a yard sale and don't really have a community that could do a block-long yard sale or anything. Luckily, I cleared most of my junk before I moved. Now when I have things that I might yard sale if I had the space, I give it to friends or take it to the Philly AIDS Thrift Store.

Guest's picture
Christie

Nope. Too much work for not enough return. Living out in the country it is different than the city. I usually just donate things to the Salvation Army and take the tax deduction!

Guest's picture
Elena

I do yard sales once a year. I post about garage sales on craigslist

Guest's picture
Peg Mooers

Absolutely! Great way to clean out and make some extra cash!

Guest's picture
KelR1

I used to have a garage sale every few years but, since moving to a home within an association community, I haven't had one. Here they are only allowed on the first Saturday in September.

Guest's picture
monique

Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and can't have yard sales. I do see signs for yard sales at houses in my neighborhood. When I was younger and my parents would have yard sales, they would sometimes make a couple hundred dollars during a particularly good sale.

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Betty D.

I did a yard sale at my friend's house once. We paid $5 for a permit, then placed an ad in the local paper. We both did really well. I was surprised at the items that were a hit. Even our kids had fun selling cold drinks. Maybe I'll do another one in the Fall.

Guest's picture
J. Pario

We did some major purging two years ago and had a big yard sale that was done at the same time as our neighborhood sales. Joining in with the neighborhood sales was key. We publicized on Craigslist, listing specific items, and we did Friday and Saturday. (Friday was busier.) We also had some signs.

My 7 year-old niece had her first lemonade stand, which I thought was a good chance for her to learn that $ can be earned.

Tip #1 - Got any friends who want to sell one big or sough-after item? Including it in your Craigslist ad can help you both, as it will increase traffic to your driveway. (Just be sure to remove it off of Craigslist when it has sold.)

Tip #2 - "All unmarked items a quarter." This saved TONS of time pricing and was a good marketing tool.

Tip #3 - All unpurchased items go directly into the car to be donated. (Ok, I kept some fabric....) Don't spend too much time sorting through it all again!

Tip #4 - The first day is the biggest regardless of whether it is Thursday or Friday. If you are doing a Saturday sale, try "Saturday Only" on your signs so people know they aren't getting the dregs.

That said, a yard sale is way more work than it is worth if you value your time. (I took in $311, mostly in quarters and I spent a week working on it.) However, if you are a thrifty-frugal person OR you have bigger stuff like furniture, it can be worth it. Me? Not doing that again until we are going to sell everything and move to Croatia!

Guest's picture
Gina

I don't have yard sales. It's tedious to stand outside all day. It's easier to list items for sale on Craigslist and then sell certain other items (books & clothes) at secondhand thrift shops. Quick and easy with no haggling.

Guest's picture
Evelyn

We used to do yard sales but it didn't get much foot traffic where we live. We made $50 on a Sat. and I didn't think it was worth it with all the work and lost of a Sat. Then we used to haul our stuff every 3rd Sat. of the month at a local college. We had to pay for 2 parking spaces, for about $20, but we sold more there in one day than in front of our yard. We did that for about 3 months in a row (Summertime) and made about $300-$400 each time. My husband had to keep going home and bringing stuff from our shed to the college flea market, since we were selling so much stuff. and our goal was to empty the shed. We stopped when Summer was over and then we tried to do another yard sale at home a few years later but didn't do good. Made like $50. I think it really depends on your location because you need lots of foot traffic. We made huge signs on everywhere too and hung it on the main roads. I do love going to yard sales since there are lots of great deals to find there. Now, I unload stuff through online and get way, way, way more customers and interested people that way.

Guest's picture
Heather

I have a yard sale about once a year or at least every other year. It definitely is a lot of work in planning and prepping for a yard sale (getting all the items together, pricing them, then strategically laying them out on display, etc). However, I definitely feel that the pros outweigh the cons. I enjoy making money (it gives me a rush!) and I always make sure I have a friend around to keep me company throughout the duration of my yard sale, so the time becomes more enjoyable and bearable. The cons of a yard sale can be the people sometimes. When I advertise for my yard sales I always make it a point to state no early birds, and it never fails, people show up about 30 minutes prior to your yard sale acting like savages and asking you for your gold, silver and other high priced items. I think it is so rude to show up that early. I do not mind people coming to my yard sale looking for treasures (although I pride myself on not being stupid and I know exactly what I am selling) but I find that most of them are rude and abrasive in their demeanors and often when I do not have what they want I find they give me an attitude like it is my problem. Other than that most of the other people are very friendly and respectful.

When I want to get the word out I advertise on craigslist and I usually google other ways to advertise yardsales and some independent websites come up that will allow me to post an ad. I also use signs on the day of my yard sale in my neighborhood. Luckily, my town does not have any ordinances that prevent me from doing so and there are no restrictions in having yard sales (yay).

The most I have made was about $400 which made me so happy because I usually sell small things at yard sales, I leave the big things (like furniture) to Craigslist and sell them separately on there.

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Catherine

I've had two yard sales, with moderate success. I would like to wait to have another one until I have a lot of stuff peole might want.

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Lori P

We have had several. All with good results. Last year we used signs that we posted around our area and we put the info on Craigslist. We made over $400. We were very happy with the results.

Guest's picture

A friend and I just had a yard sale outside my house on Saturday. It went well, and was the time we spent. EVERYTHING we didn't sell, we packed into her car and drove straight to Goodwill. So, we each get a tax break for charitable contributions on top of the $ we made.

Guest's picture
Susan D.

Do I have yard sales? No. Never. Yard sales creep me out. I don't like going to them, either.

Guest's picture
Rachel

We had a yard sale in June, right before moving from our 1200 square foot rented duplex unit, to our first purchased home (1800 square foot). We got rid of SO MUCH stuff... didn't make a whole lot of money, but what we didn't sell we gave away (before we packed it into the car for the Goodwill trip, though, we had a couple of hours where everything was free. That was fun!). The best reward was getting rid of unnecessary items, lightening our move and decreasing our stuff-per-square-foot ratio in the new house!

Guest's picture
Melissa Hansson

I haven't hosted a yard sale in years, because they never seemed to produce enough money to make them worth my time. However, I shop at yard sales frequently in the summer and at thrift stores in the winter.

I try to share things I don't want or need with friends. Then I donate the goods that are left (that I might sell in a yard sale) to a local thrift store that offers coupons in trade for donations.

I re-sell books to 2 local shops. I use a consignment shop for my nicer clothing and also go to quarterly "naked lady" parties where a bunch of ladies trade clothes, accessories and more.

Guest's picture

I hold a yardsale about every two years. It's a fun community experience. And things that aren't good enough to sell I put out with a big "free" sign. It always gets snapped up.

I clear my clutter and make enough money to put toward my vacation.

Guest's picture
Kathleen

To have a successful yard sale you really have to put in prep time to:
1) Label everything with a price (colored stickers for different amounts help (alternatively, you can group similarly priced items on different tables).
2) Set up tables the day before the sale so that on the day of the sale you can just pull them out of the garage (or house).
3) Have a cash drawer with plenty of change
4) Have bags/boxes for people to take items home in
5) Have an electrical outlet handy (or extension cord) for testing out any electric items
6) Advertise a couple days in advance, either in the local paper or an online neighborhood listserv, and posting signs on the nearest busy streets with balloons or other eye-catching bling helps!!

Guest's picture
Q

We had a huge yard sale in January, right before moving across the country. We got rid of so much stuff, it'll be a long time before we have another one!

Guest's picture
Liisa

I tried one once with little success... I didn't have enough stuff to really draw a crowd. These days I hate to keep anything around that is unnecessary, so I get rid of things on a monthly basis so it never really accumulates enough for a sale. Plus I volunteer at a really great thrift store, so my unneeded stuff goes to a great place!

Guest's picture
Lisa B

I had one last summer after saying I'd never do one again. Big waste of time. I had a lot of stuff, nice stuff, a lot of new stuff. Tons of pretty current books. I spent days or weeks getting ready. $66! My mother has been trying to convince me that a yard sale was the way to go to get rid of a lot of her almost hoard. I didn't have much of her stuff, mostly mine. Now I can truthfully tell her that it is NOT the way to go. Taking it to Goodwill is the way to go. Catalog everything and take the charity donation. It is worth hundreds in refunds to us every year, and takes so little time compared to a yard sale. In our city, we are limited to three a year. I could find no local or community papers that would list it, so I used signs. That's usually not a problem in this area. Won't do it again!

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

My mom never went to or held yard sales when I was growing up, and I didn't get into them until just lately. I like going to yard sales, and I've had one myself and one with my brother at our parents house.

Guest's picture
MG

Our community has yard sales. After spending all of the time getting ready and sitting outside waiting for people only to make a few dollars and still have to go to donate lots of stuff, I thought that there had to be a better way. For the big stuff, I sell on Craigslist and for the rest, I still donate. This way, I do not waste time and make a little bit more on the stuff that I can sell.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes, yes and yes. My city allows 2 sales per year at each address - I have one during my neighborhood sale. The neighborhood sale is Memorial Day weekend and I am always amazed by the turn out - I guess I am not the only one who celebrates at home!

I occasionaly have a 2nd sale - but am always tempted - time constraints, etc.

I love vintage and tend to sell mostly stuff I no longer LOVE and always highlight vintage household in my listings (both neighborhood and Craigslist).

Guest's picture
Bethany

Yes, we do a garage sale every year. I try to plan it for when the neighborhood has their annual sale. Then I don't have to advertise, but I do like to put my address with some specks in craigslist, because it always seems to bring a few more and it is always helpful to get people to come around that need your kind of stuff. So we get rid of junk, make money, and meet people. Win, win, win!

Guest's picture
Lynda

i have held one before. it was so tiring but we did make quite a few bucks ;)

Guest's picture
Cate Taylor

my MIL has two yard sales a year, but i gave them up a long time ago. IMO, there is too much time and energy for little return and a horrible hourly rate when it comes to yard sales.
instead, my eco-friendly neighborhood has started a handful of facebook groups over the last two years dedicated to selling/sharing/trading/freecycling items locally. the two main selling groups are a classified group where you can sell EVERYTHING (and people do sell kitchen sinks) and a "kids sell & swap" group page so those with kids stuff don't flood the regular classified page. both groups have membership in the mid-200s, and local addresses are verified before you are approved into the group.
i love these groups. as we outgrow furniture or clothing, household goods or toys, i just snap a picture with my phone and post a picture with an asking price. if something doesn't sell after awhile, i put it on the neighborhood freecycle page or donate it.
the time is takes me to create this post is less than a few moments and allows me to move items out quickly and not have to wait for, and create space to store items for, a yard sale date.

Guest's picture
Maura

Did when my children were younger but they are so much work with little to show for it.

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Kristine R.

I have never had one. It seems like a lot of work to put all your stuff out and I am not really fond of interacting with strangers that close to my stuff. I am weird, I don't know. I do enjoy going to others' sales.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have never held a yard sale of my own. I have taken things over to a nieces yard sale. I try to keep the things I acquire to a minimum by following the 1 in/ 1 out philosphy, so I currently love all the items I own. I usually take used items I no longer want to a goodwill.

Guest's picture

Yard sales are such fun!

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Ernest S.

I'm not a big fan of yard sales. I feel like I get better results by just posting specific items on Craigslist. But then again, I try not to accumulate too much stuff in the first place.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've had a lot of yard sales. They're an excellent way to get rid of good, usable items that you no longer need. People love yard sales. Seems like each time I've had a yard sale, I've usually made a few hundred dollars. If you're careful to price everything with a rock-bottom price, stuff usually goes fast. Everyone loves a bargain.

Guest's picture
Laura Jacobson

Oh yes, we have one every year, and go to them almost every week during the summer! So fun! I have found such wonderful stuff there for great prices!

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kristina

I don't have them, but I go to them frequently. I'm always looking for a good buy.

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Kate

We don't usually have yard sales, but this weekend is the exception. Everything is ready for sale and what is leftover will be donated. Any proceeds will be going towards back to school clothes!

Guest's picture
DeeDee

What are your experiences like? Have done it. Are there any community regulations you need to follow when you host a yard sale? Yes, limited to 2 a year How do you spread the word about your sale? Posters What is the most money you've ever made? $60.00

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Tabathia B

No we don't have yard sales. I live in a HOA townhouse and we aren't allowed. But I like attending big ones (like church, or several families)

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Patrick

I've never had a yard sale. We just donate to Goodwill and take the tax break. However, I enjoy going to yard sales. You can find great deals.

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Christina

I have never done a yard sale, used to live in a small apartment and i just list on Craigslist anything i need to sell one at a time. There is a day every summer that the town has a town wide one, no permit required, if I ever did one I would do it that day, no need to advertise (tons of people come to town going from street to street, I kind of hate that day since I don't hold a sale) and no permit fees.

Guest's picture
Sara

Absolutely! I think that a good yard sale needs to have more than toys, books and clothes though. I generally drive right by those kinds. But if you have lots of furniture or bigger bulky items, I find that the yard sale is a lot more productive! I think set up has a lot to do with how good or bad you'll do too. I always try to figure how people see the items when they drive by and try to put the best eye catching item I have right out front. There aren't really any regulations where I am, but usually the best day is Saturday/Sunday. My experiences have always been good, I find most of the people that come to the yard sales are generally really down to earth, friendly people and I always end up striking up a good conversation. We put up and take down the signs (which most people just leave) ourselves. The most fruitful yard sale I've ever had was one with my mother where she made a little over $600 dollars because we had a plethora of furniture to get rid of!

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Carmen

We just had one this weekend. We didn't make a lot but this was our third for this year; as long as we had everything priced and already at the location we decided to do it again for the city-wide sales. We made $300 at the first sale of the season - over $600 total. It may be quarters and single dollars for a lot but it's amazing how fast it adds up. We donate most of what is left and it's much better than just throwing it away.

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Guest

Nope I have not.

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Polly

Had a garage sale a few years ago....a woman offered us a dime for each item she wanted. It was early in the day, so we asked a quarter for those items. Later in the afternoon she returned, offering a dime again....we sold her a lot of things!

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Deb K

I participated in a community-wide HOA-sponsored garage sale last summer. They provided advertising in newspapers and posted signs at the various entrances to the HOA. They also handed out directional signs for use within the HOA for those participating. We made a decent amount of money; over $300, I believe. Normally, however, I either donate items or sell them on Craigslist.

Guest's picture
Joseph

Yard/garage sales are great! It seems like people tend to get out of them what they put into them. I suggest being willing to part with things for a good price and consider donating what doesn't sell so that you're not holding on to stuff you don't want or use. It's useful to coordinate with neighbors or better yet, an HOA to advertise together.

Guest's picture
Molly

We have one garage sale a year. I love it and I love going to them!!!

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zav1

I definitely do yard sales on about a yearly basis. With four children constantly outgrowing clothes and toys, etc. I find it's usually a pretty easy way to make some quick cash. We're lucky in that our town doesn't have any fees or restrictions regarding yard sales. I will admit, I always drag my feet before having the sale, but feel relieved and glad once it's over, relieved to have cleared out clutter and glad for the extra cash. The most we've made is probably $500, but I helped a friend with her sale and she came away with over $1000. It's worth it in my opinion even if we just make $100!