Yard and garage sales are an age old method of de-cluttering your home and disposing of unwanted items before you move. The bonus is that hopefully you can make a little bit of extra money while you’re at it. But with dozens of garage sales happening every week, how can you be sure that yours will be at the top of the list for those who hit the streets looking for a deal?

Luckily there are numerous things you can do to increase the visibility and appeal of your sale so that you don’t have to throw away items that aren’t coming to your new home.

1. Bigger is Better

People tend to be drawn to larger sales since the chances are much higher that they might find something they like. They also guarantee a wider variety of items. Try to enlist other homes nearby to join with you and do a multi-house yard sale, or organize a church or community center sale which will be a big draw for the whole town.

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2. Know What Sells

Items that sell the quickest and for the highest prices include tools, sports equipment and collectible items. Electronic items can bring people in as long as they are new, in great working condition and are sold at a deep discount. There are also always new parents in the market for baby items such as cribs, changing tables and strollers.

3. Advertise in Multiple Mediums

Putting signs up on street poles works for people who live or work close enough to see them, provided the date and the address are clear enough to be remembered or noted in the time it takes to drive past.

To extend your reach further than your own neighborhood, use the following avenues:

  • Use the “For Sale” section of online message boards for your local newspapers or free classifieds such as Craigslist and Kijiji. Add a small list of the kinds of items you’ll be selling.
  • Make up flyers that can be pinned to the bulletin boards of your local library, grocery stores, coffee shops, community centres and post office.
  • If your sale will include many specialized items, seek out appropriate establishments to place a flyer or sign that list some of the items you have for sale. For example if you are selling a lot of children’s toys or nursery furniture, seek out bulletin boards or good places for a sign at or near local pediatrician offices, daycares and playgrounds. If you have sports or athletic equipment, target gyms and local sport fields or courts.

4. Make an Alluring Sign or Flyer

Use a brightly colored background and bold, dark, evenly spaced text that is easy to read from a long distance. Make sure “garage sale” is at the top, and that the date of the sale is accurate. Provide a small list of two or three of the most in-demand items under the title and above the address.

Flyers have a bit more room for information than a sign, in which case it might be helpful to include basic directions to your home, or identify well-known landmarks that are nearby.

5. Title Signs Accurately

Titles such as “Estate Sale” or “Moving Sale” are more enticing for customers than “Garage Sale” because they let people know that the entire contents of a home could be up for purchase, rather than old or flawed items.

6. Staging Matters

Surveys have shown that consumers prefer sales that are well organized and have all items clearly marked with a price. Take a lesson from commercial stores that spend millions of dollars presenting their items for sale. Don’t just pile items in a haphazard way; have covered tables that present items nicely. Mix and match colours for visual variety. A clothes rack is great way to present clothing.

Avoid having scary heaps of dirty items on the ground – people driving by to check out the scene won’t stop if your sale doesn’t look promising.

7. Bundle Items

If you have a lot of old books, maps or collections of a similar type of item that you are looking to dispose of, offer a highly discounted price to entice a customer to take the whole lot.

You can do this with maternity or nursing clothes, baby clothes, science fiction novels (or other genres), and boxes of kitchen equipment. If your goal is to have as little left over for the trash collectors at the end, selling in lots can clear out large amounts of clutter in one fell swoop.

8. Some Final Things to Keep in Mind

  • Familiarize yourself with your city’s bylaws regarding garage sales and posting signage. Some cities have heavy restrictions about where signage can be posted and even require that you purchase a permit to have a garage or yard sale.
  • Recalled baby items that are illegal to sell second hand, such as cribs with drop down sides and car seats that are expired or which have been in an accident, should be disposed of instead of sold. Make sure they are properly dismantled and picked up by your local trash collectors.
  • Put your advertisements out several days before your sale event, but no more than one week in advance. You want people to know in advance when your sale is happening, but not put your advertisement at risk of weather or being covered up or removed.
  • The evening before (or very early the morning of) place a few additional signs around the blocks surrounding your home, with arrows directing people to your street.
  • Have a plan for bad weather, and make sure it’s mentioned on your signs. Popular choices include a rain date or “rain or shine” if you have a way to keep things dry if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
  • Finally, don’t forget to remove all your signage and flyers so that they can be recycled or responsibly disposed of, rather than ending up as litter.

Holding a garage sale is a fantastic way of getting rid of your unwanted items and reducing the amount of trash which gets sent to your local landfill. Many families on a tight budget would be happy to give a new life to the items in your home that you no longer want, and with the right marketing, there will be very little left over for the recycler or your local waste management service.

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