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Indiana PA Community-Garage and Yard Sale Planner

With Spring on they way, many people are thinking about spring cleaning. Spring cleaning also seems to go hand in hand with a Garage/Yard sales. This article is being made to help you plan your sale. The more you plan, the better prepared you will be. The better prepared that you are will increase your chances of having a successful sale with much less stress. I will be taking you through the process of the things that you may or may not have thought about putting on a sale.

First things first, having a garage or yard sale is hard work. Thereís no way to fluff the facts. The longer you wait before you start, the harder it is going to be. If youíre not willing to work hard to do your sale, then do yourself and others a favor and collect your things and head on over to the closest Goodwill or Salvation Army and donate them or give them to people who could use them.

Now with that out of the way, I will say that although it is hard work doesnít mean that you still canít have fun with it too. This brings me to point number one. You can not have a successful sale by yourself, so while youíre thinking about having a sale, think about who else might want to help and/or join you in the sale. These can be other family members in or outside of your household, friends, neighbors, co-workers or other church members. This will not only help you divide up the work, but also some of the costs involved as well.

The legals

  • Depending on where you live, there may be certain restrictions and/or permits that may be required. Check with your local municipality and subdivision.
  • Here is what you will want to know specifically:
  • Are there any zoning restrictions for conducting a garage/yard sale in your area?
  • Do you need to have a permit?
  • Are there limits to the number of sales that you can have for a given time period?
  • What are the restrictions for placing signs?
    • Free standing in the ďPublic Right of wayĒ (between the road and sidewalk)
    • Attaching to other signs
    • Attaching to utility poles and/or light poles
    • Attaching to trees

Gathering And Preparing Your Items

Ideally, you will want to start about a month before your sale. Start out by designating places to start keeping the things youíre going to sell. The garage and/or basement perhaps. Give each family member a box for their room to put things in. Keep a box in every room for the same purpose.

Your items need to be in "sellable" condition. Clothes should be washed, maybe even ironed and folded or hung up. Sizes should be marked. If an item does not work, it should be noted. If it wouldnít take much to fix it and it would increase the sale value then fix it. A dirty cookie jar isnít worth much, but if cleaned may be worth much more.

Always consider whether you are really able and willing to sell an item. Donít sell your kids, spouses things without asking them first! Realistically, your kids should help you and get the money for their items.

Pricing your items

You should price all items. Thereís nothing more frustrating for a potential customer to have to ask the price on everything and thereís nothing more irritating than having to answer those questions thousands of times throughout the sale.

If you are going to sell items from several people, you should have a method worked out to track these items. Color coding, pricing marks such as their initials and a pad and pencil/pen will go a long way and save you lots of trouble later on.

Many places such as WalMart, Staples, Dollar General, etc. have special garage sale pricing stickers. Many of those are already color coded and should be considered for pricing your items. If not, good old masking tape and sharpies work wonders. You can use different color sharpies or just use initials before or after the price.

Other things that work well, boxes or tables that are marked for all items that are the same price like a 50Ę box or a dollar table. Speaking of tables, if you are selling a table donít use the table for sale to put other items for sale on display. Also clearly mark that the table itself is for sale.

Decide your date(s) and times

Before deciding on your date(s) you should check to ensure that there are not conflicting events happening when you want to have your sale. Obviously if there is a parade going on during your sale, most people are going to go there instead of your sale. Donít pick a holiday that people tend to go out on, like July 4th. That is unless youíre en route to a popular destination like the lake.

Obviously, if there are several people involved you need to accommodate everyoneís schedule. Check long range weather forecasts and have a "bad weather" plan.

The times are also important. You typically need two hours to set up properly. If you schedule for 8am, you need to be ready to start working at 6am. Tearing down usually doesnít take as long, but make sure you leave yourself at least an hour or more. So donít set up your closing time too close to another engagement that same day.

Advertising and Marketing

Classified Ads

Well of course, We want you to take advantage of our FREE classified ads (For non-business use) to advertise your sale. Remember that the ads run for 14 days, so submitting your article on exactly the 14th day before your sale works the best!.

Of course we also know that there is this other thing around called a newspaper, so consider advertising in there as well. If you are doing the sale with others, you can split the costs as unlike your favorite community website, they do charge!

Speaking of charging for your ad, remember that they charge a per line fee most of the time. Take the time to plan your wording before calling. Also consider that no matter what you say, there will be the dreaded EARLY BIRDS! Hereís a few things that may help to thwart them though. First, donít list the exact address of your sale. Instead consider wording such as 300 block of Elm St. Perhaps, stating Early Birds are charged double and stick to that.


Signage takes an important role in getting traffic to your sale. Consider the legals as far as sign placement to plan on what kind of signs and where you are going to put them. Proper signage and placement can make or break your sale.

You can buy sale signs at places such as Loweís, Home Depot, some Office Supply Stores, WalMart or K-Mart as well as sign businesses. Many of these types of signs include a way to put them in the ground for free standing signs.

For less money, you can make signs yourself. Do consider that making them yourself may or may not be worth it though. It depends on what materials that you use, the amount of time that you have and how you value your time. Although making signs with your kids pre-teen and under may sound like a fun idea, I suggest that you donít. There is nothing worse than having bad signs that you canít read, the letters are too small, that are filled with crayoned in butterflies and such. Believe me, these will not help your sale.

The Doís of signs: Do use bright colored signs that will catch passerbyís attention. Do make your lettering BIG DARK and LEGIBLE. Do use block lettering (e.g. ALL CAPS) and extra wide letters for legibility. Do put arrows pointing the correct way to guide people. Do put enough signs from where your sale is to the highest traffic intersection closest to your location. Do put signs at every turn from the highest traffic intersection. Do put the date(s) and times of the sale. Do put the street name and at least the block of the of the sale. Do put the signs out before you sale starts even up to the day before. Do ensure that your signs can not blow away in the wind. DO REMOVE ALL SIGNS AFTER YOUR SALE!

The Do Not's of signs: Do not use a ball point pen, pencil or other fine line writing device for your lettering. Do not use a lettering color that is light or is close to the color of the sign you are writing on. Do not use flimsy paper or anything that is going to flap in the wind. Do not write in script. Do not leave your signs out after your sale is over. It is inconsiderate, is littering, is bad for the environment and may even be illegal.

Ideas to make signs are, poster board, wood steaks, pizza boxes turned inside out, cardboard boxes and paper grocery bags that are weighted, welded fencing, fence posts.


Often not thought about are flyers that you can simply make on your computer or that you just draw yourself. These can be posted on bulletin boards in nearby stores, offices, laundry mats, etc. Donít forget to go back and take them down after your sale.

Word of mouth

This is also overlooked often. Tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, bank teller, cashier, grocery bagger and relatives. These are the people who know you, recognize you and want the best for you. These are the people who also talk to other people. If you are too embarrassed to tell these people, I think you honestly need to ask yourself why you are having this sale then. There is a reason why all big business is all a buzz on viral marketing. It works! This can be done verbally and even in e-mail, your social networking site such as FaceBook or MySpace. If you use our site, to advertise, consider going to your classified ad after placing it and copying the link to the ad and posting it on Facebook or Tweet it. Facebook, will actually link to the page with your ad.

The Sale place

Where are you going to have the sale? The garage? Driveway? The yard? The church parking lot? All of these places will need to be trash free the day before the sale. In the case of a yard, you need to cut the grass at least two days before and if you have a pet that goes potty in the yard, make sure you clean that up!

If it is at your house, parking usually becomes an issue. Move your vehicles to another location. Many folks have two vehicles and even one vehicle space more for customers is a good thing. The easier it is to get to your sale and park, the more likely someone will come to the sale instead of just driving by.

The Display of items

When you go shopping, would you buy something that you found on the floor? Probably not. So donít put your items on the floor, driveway or the ground. Of course banquet tables work wonders, but most people donít have those or if they do, usually maybe one or two at the most. You can rent tables if money isnít an issue. Other sources for tables are the people that you know. Do they have tables where you work that you could possibly borrow? What about your friends and neighbors?

Make your own horizontal surfaces. Iíve used cinder blocks, boards, plywood, drywall, kitchen table chairs, step ladders, sawhorses, plastic totes/crates, garbage cans without the lids, bookshelves, coffee tables, picnic tables, benches, card tables, dining tables and microwave carts.

Clothes are usually displayed much better when they are hung up. Again, you can improvise with items that you may have. Rope, shower curtain rods, closet rods. Heck Iíve even used 2x4ís and step ladders.

If you have any large items, try putting those as close to the road as possible. They will help attract more people driving by.

One exception to the things on the floor ground is with young kids toys being on a blanket on the ground. Not only does it give the kids something to do while the parents are looking around, but thereís also a good chance that those kids are going to like those toys and insist that mommy or daddy buy it for them.

Money and Security

You will need to have change for your customers. A good rule of thumb is that you need to have 10 to 15% of what you think your total sales will be. A minimum of $20. For the mathematically challenged, you can figure out 15% without a calculator by simply doing it like this. Move the decimal point over one place to the left on your total sales. That is 10%. Take half of that amount (which is 5%) and add those two number together. That makes 15%. I use this all the time to figure out how to tip 15%.

Example: You think you are going to sell $300.00. Move the decimal and you have $30.00 (10%). Half of $30 is $15 (5%). Add those together $30 + $15 = $45 (15%).

The other thing to consider is what kind of change. I canít really tell you exactly. However I can guide you on what to consider. If youíre one of those types of people that are pricing things at $1.95 and $10.95, obviously youíre gonna need lots of nickels. If you donít have anything priced less than a Quarter, you donít need dimes, nickels or pennies. Just remember one thing, you canít have too much change and the banks arenít going to be open when you need more. Also you need to get your change at least the day before the sale.

These go hand in hand. Iíve seen and hear people recommending that you use a lock box for your cash. Donít do it. Letís face facts, people that are on the take are gonna see a lock box stick out like a sore thumb. I do like to use one to keep all of my other items in that weíll talk about later on.

I say use a fanny pack, foldable wallet. Use something that you keep with you at all times without much discomfort. If you canít attach it to yourself half decently, then it needs to be able to fit in your pocket. Not something you carry, because you will inevitably put it down to help someone with something and then itíll be gone.

Money is not the only thing that you need to concerned with security. Why are you having the sale? To make money. This means the items that you are selling are worth something. Make sure your items are visible from your main station. Keep the smaller and more valuable things closer to your station. It wouldnít make much sense to put your best jewelry out near the curb!

Also, secure your pets. If you have a dog/cat donít let them out loose to mingle with the people. They may be the most lovable adorable pets to you and me (I love all animals), but many people are scared of them or allergic to them. What happens if your dog jumps up on someone and knocks them down, or gets mud on them. Worse yet, your loving adorable dog takes a nip at the kid who couldnít resist pulling his tail.

Help, breaks, eating and yourself

If your sale is going to be from 9am to 5pm, guess what? Youíre going to need to use the bathroom sometime. Youíre going to want to eat and drink. You need to plan for this. Typically and unfortunately, the two busiest times that you are most likely to have are the first and last hour of your sale. This is because people will hit the sale while the best things are still available (first hour) and when you're tired and are more prone for price dropping and haggling (last hour). You may see the same people there both times. You will want to have at least two people working during those times.

Make yourself comfortable. Your going to be working a long shift, most likely outside in the elements. Make sure you have some comfortable seating for yourself and everyone else that is helping you. You may want to set up in the shade. Prepare snacks and drinks ahead of time and have them handily close. Perhaps in a cooler that you could even prop up your feet on.

Make sure that you have someone available even if they are inside that you can call for when you need to take a little breather or go to the bathroom. Make sure that you have a phone that you can use outside. Either your mobile phone or a cordless phone that will work outside.

Make your lunch before your sale, have a plan for someone to bring it, or plan on having it delivered. If youíre going to have it delivered, order it before youíre already hungry or pre-order it for a timed delivery.

Other things to consider before your sale

One of the best selling items at all of my garage sales have been drinks and snacks. Hey, your customers will get hungry and thirsty too. Stock up on some soft drinks, ice and/or make some lemonade or ice tea. If you have kids, thatís a great way to get them involved. Make some brownies, cookies, buy some doughnuts. Heck, if youíre going to order Pizza delivery, why not buy an extra pie and sell them per piece!

Itís inevitable, sometime during your sale someone is going to want to write you a check. What are you going to do? You need to decide what you are going to do before you have the sale. If you donít think about it before youíre going to be vulnerable when it happens and may awkwardly do something that you really didnít want to. What Iíve done in the past is that I will take a check, but only if the person has their address printed on the check (No temporary checks period!) AND they have to show me their license. The license must be valid and the address must match the address on the check. In addition, I write their license number down on the check or verify it if itís printed on the check. I do not waiver from this policy. If all rules canít be complied, I donít accept a check period. Thanks for playing, tell them what they would have won, Bob! You can decide your own policy. Whatever it is is fine, but stick to it.

Things that you should have readily available. This is often overlooked and becomes a struggle when you have to deal with it unprepared. So hereís my quick list of additional items you should have ready at a whim before your sale.

  • A calculator
  • A tape measure (especially if you have furniture)
  • An electrical extension cord ready to plug anything into it
  • A note pad
  • At least two different writing instruments (pen, pencil)
  • Lots and lots and lots of shopping bags.
  • Old newspaper or equivalent to wrap breakable items in
  • Masking tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Paper Towels
  • Something to read when you donít have customers
  • Music (Have music for yourself and your customers, but nothing offensive and not too loud)
  • A garbage can

Talking to your customers

Yes, you should talk to your customers. Always greet them and do it with a smile. You donít need to hover over them, give them the hard sale or any of that kind of stuff. The truth is, if you seem happy that theyíre there and youíre friendly, you will have better sales.

Things you can say: Hi!, Thanks for coming, Are you looking for something in particular?, It sure is beautiful today, pleasant or funny stories about items.

Things you do not say: Nothing, yell at your kids, anything about their body or their weight, insult them, profanity.

The pre-close

Consider marking things down about two hours before close unless youíre just packed with customers. Remember that whatever doesnít sell, youíre going to have to drag back in and put away somewhere or haul it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

Consider initiating the ďhaggleĒ when a customer looks interested in something when itís getting near closing time. Say something like, ďI always loved that dress. Itís getting late and it looks like you like it to. Iíll tell you what, Iíll let you have it for XXXX.Ē

The close

Obviously, you need to put everything away securely. You will need to balance your books with all those involved. You need to go pick up all of your signs. You need to collect all of your flyers. You need to figure out what youíre going to do with all the money you just made.

If you liked this article and/or found it useful, why not share the link on your Facebook page or Tweet it. Thanks!

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