Our Annual Yard Sale

Every year since we’ve lived here, our best friends EJ and Amanda have hosted a yard sale. For the first few, we either did not participate at all or just showed up to hang out. EJ is quite the negotiator and it is really entertaining to observe him make sales. Last year we actually tried to bring a few things along, and this year we felt like we were starting to get the hang of it. (In case it isn’t obvious, this is not the way to try to make a lot of money off of your things, but rather a means to reduce the number of carloads going to the donation facility while having a little fun with friends.)


The year of the first yard sale (2010?), we actually paid for a classified ad in the Washington Post. Those days seem so far removed from now! This year, we just posted on Nextdoor and our community Facebook group. EJ drove around and posted signs around and near our neighborhood. (Unfortunately, he had to do this twice as rain the night before the sale washed them away!)

Supplies Needed

EJ and Amanda have a few folding tables on hand for parties, and we also brought saw horses that could be set up with plywood for more surface space. Items on tables sold faster than things on the ground. EJ’s sister Catie also bought an inexpensive clothes rack, which was a great investment for displaying clothes. The particular rack she bought wasn’t sturdy enough to hold everything, so she ended up rotating clothes onto the rod all morning. People don’t want to make much effort to peruse clothes, but they will spend time looking at items on a rack.

Here’s a checklist for us to remember what to have on hand next year:

  • Price tag stickers
  • Starburst tags
  • Sharpies and tape
  • Camping chairs for adults and kids in the back
  • Plastic grocery bags for customers
  • Tables/saw horses & plywood
  • Sheets or old table cloths to cover the plywood!
  • A clothes rack if possible
  • Signs for hanging around the neighborhood


Lessons Learned

I never formally worked retail, although my mother owns an antique store and when I was growing up she used to pay me $5 a day to “help.” (I would count the petty cash, water plants, get lunch, etc.) It was fun to pretend like we were “working the floor” in the front yard and chat with customers. People did linger longer when spoken to, and a few seemed to make purchases that wouldn’t have otherwise. As for what sells, clothing and toys were probably the most popular. Tools go fast, and we observed a lot of interest in the small appliances. Books are pretty much the worst thing to sell at a yard sale. I practically had to beg some people to take them away at the end. Strangely enough, the books that I did sell were music theory text books. (???)

This year we set the tables up inside the garage the night before so that on the morning of the sale, all we had to do was bring them outside. Being prepared like that saved a lot of stress in the morning. (If you say you are going to start at 8, there are always people who show up at 7.) One more thought we had for next year is that some of the kids will be old enough to have a lemonade stand, so that will add a fun element to the day.

What about you guys? Do you have an annual yard sale? What are your tricks of the trade? Any regular yard sale shoppers out there? We ended up “making” around $90, which is $90 more than we would have had if we had just donated everything. Our whole goal was to be able to buy pizza with the profits at lunch (achieved!), and it was a fun way to spend a morning. Not to mention, it really helped to clean out the basement!


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