Yard Sale Tips

I am obsessed with yard saling. It’s something my husband and I love doing together, and I used to live in Utah where we enjoyed taking full advantage of every summer Saturday morning. We just moved to Houston, TX where the weather is nice most of the year and I can’t tell you how crazy excited I am to be able to go yard saling way more often. I have compiled sixteen of the best tips I’ve learned about how to make yard saling fun and efficient – either for shopping the sales having them.

Let’s get this out of the way: I know ‘saling’ is not a real word, but “shopping yard sales” isn’t how I say it, so in an effort to be authentic I’m sharing my real, incorrect grammar with you.


1. Get out there early. I’m an early bird so this is easy for me but I know it isn’t for all people, especially if it’s your day off. Most yard sales begin between 8 and 9 AM and end early afternoon. The good stuff goes fast! There are plenty of elderly women (and me) out grabbing the goods right as the sales begin so you will want to get moving, especially if you are looking for something particular.

2. Get small bills. It is unlikely that someone will take anything but cash. You will want a mix of ones, fives, tens and quarters. Small bills make it so you don’t have to wait for change, which is often a hassle for those who are not pro bank tellers. Less work for everyone!

3. Barter. People just want to get rid of their stuff, so don’t be afraid to offer them a lower price. I have only been turned down once, and that was fine. If they don’t want to budget, don’t argue, just move on. That $4 used DVD is worth a fight.

4. Log onto craigslist or your local classifieds to see where the sales are happening. In Utah KSL Classifieds is my favorite source for this. My new neighborhood in Houston has a weekly e-mail list that they send out. I could not be more excited about this! Search for sales in your zip code, and if you can, enter how many miles from it you’re willing to venture.

5. Choose which sales look worth your time. The key words to look for are “multi-family” “huge” “moving sale” “estate sale” & “everything must go.” Then write down some of the addresses of the ones you want to hit and plan out a route so you don’t zig zag across your town twelve times. Huge gas waste! Husband and I usually write them down first and then look at the addresses and number which ones we want to go to in which order. For example we’ll hit the western-most one first and head east.

6. As you are driving you will inevitably see more signs or actual sales that were not advertised online.  We usually give them a looksy. The more the merrier.

7. Bring a tape measure. This way you can measure clothes to see if they will fit you, or furniture to see if it will fit in your house, etc. It’s just handy. I used to keep one in my purse all the time, now I’ve got a keychain tape measure and it’s handy for more than just shopping yard sales.

8. Some yard sales have claimed in their ad that they have a ton of stuff, but then you drive up and all they have is baby clothes laid across the lawn. If that’s what you’re looking for- awesome, but if not there is probably no point in getting out of the car.

9. Plan on either bringing beverages and snacks or buying some along the way. It can get hot out there and you’ll be thirsty. A lot of sales will sell water bottles or soda, donuts, cookies, tamales, or whatever their thing is for fifty cents each or something like that. Since we think it’s fun, husband and I usually just buy some of that stuff while we are out but if you don’t want to partake, eat beforehand.


10. Gather your things over time. It’s hard to pull enough stuff to have a good sale if you try to do it all the night before. I usually get a bag or box and keep it in my closet, that way when I notice something around the house that is just gathering dust or I don’t really need it anymore I add it to the box. (This principle can be applied to just getting rid of stuff in general. I do this and take my loads to my local thrift store to donate.)

11. Get other people involved. Ask your friends and neighbors if they want to get in on the yard sale action with you. Chances are they will have a few things they want to get rid of too. The more the merrier. Some people put flyers around their neighborhood and get an annual neighborhood yard sale going. These are my favorite! So many sales all in one place.

12. Plan ahead. You probably aren’t going to have a good experience if you throw it all together last minute. Since you have hopefully been gathering your things, you have a good base. Then take a few days to deeply de-clutter your house and really find all the stuff hiding in those nooks and crannies just wanting to be sold. Decide on prices and sticker everything. This step is tedious but important. This way, people don’t have to ask you the price of every item. They know and can decide. Fold clothes nicely or hang them on a rack of some type. Decide what tables you will use to display your things. Also, don’t forget to go to the bank and get change; lots of quarters, ones and fives.

13. Choose a good location. If your neighborhood gets a lot of traffic, that’s great. If it doesn’t, consider finding somewhere that does. A busy street will get you more people attending and ultimately you will make more money and have less junk left over.

14. Advertise. Like I mentioned before, I find sales by logging onto online classifieds. Post your announcement the day of the sale. That way it will come up at the top of the page. Don’t forget to put the address on the ad! Neon posters with thick black writing catch the most attention. Put arrows on them and write the address on the ones furthest away. Write legibly! 

15. Add food! If you have kids, put them in charge of having a lemonade stand and selling home-made cookies, store-bought donuts, whatever suits your fancy. Grown ups can do this too if kids aren’t around, but the cuter the better. People are driving around from sale to sale and that cold cup of lemonade will look so good to them.

16. Barter. (Yes, this one was up there in the shopping tips too.) Decide what is the lowest price you’ll take for any single item, before the sale, and don’t let someone bully you into giving them your item for an unfair price. If you tell them no once and they keep trying to barter with you on a price, a good head shake and “no deal” should do it. Hopefully.

Are you a big yard saler? Do you have a different way of doing it or more tips? Please share them in the comments!  

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