Everything We Learned from Our Big Yard Sale

July 30, 2018

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If you follow along on Instagram Stories, you probably saw that we had a huge yard sale this weekend. We haven’t done one for probably five years (or more!), but we knew for the last couple months that it was coming. It was time. How do you know? Well for us, when we pulled out our deck furniture from our storage unit this year, there was a lot of furniture that we had once used in our home that we put in there “just in case” that I had forgotten about completely. A lot of it I still loved, but I knew I didn’t have the perfect spot for it. The shelves in our home office were filled with the same kind of decor. Things we’ve had and used and loved at one time, waiting to get rotated back in, but I just found myself reaching for them less and less.

We also shared on CLJ TV last week (watch the fun video here!) that we moved all the furniture that came with our cabin out so demo could start up there. (In the same video we demo the kitchen–exciting, exciting, exciting.) That was definitely the biggest push to do the yard sale. We had a whole cabin’s worth of furniture that served us well the past several months, but don’t really fit into the vibe we are going for in the renovation. Think lots of 90s dressers, credenzas, coffee tables–just SO MUCH FURNITURE! Between all of that and the things we have accumulated around here, we had enough to fill our entire front lawn and driveway.

We purged all of our kitchen cabinets, closets, all the baby stuff went (yes, I cried) and we encouraged our girls to go through their toys and told them they could keep any profits they made from the sale of them. The questions poured in over the weekend about everything from how we priced things to why didn’t we just donate everything, so I thought I’d address the most FAQs below!

How did we price things?

In short, really cheap. Before you decide to do a yard sale, think about whether you want to make money vs. purge all the stuff. For us, it was more important to pass on as many things as possible. We were in that purging mindset. If you want to make top dollar, I would consider selling it online, piece by piece. While you’ll likely earn more money, it will also be more time consuming and you’ll have to store everything while you wait for things to sell.

We sold all six of our tan molded plastic chairs for $100 for the set. Most other nice chairs for $30-$40. Most of the dressers from the cabin for $30. Kitchen plates for $1 a piece. Kitchen Utensils for 25 cents. Small appliances for $5 (we had a plug nearby so they could test them.) We had clothes for $1-$2 a piece and baby clothes for a quarter. I sold the dock-a-tot we used for Polly for $60 and a car seat we don’t use anymore for $20. I priced most of the lamps we had for $10, but the ones that used to be in our bedroom for $30 a piece. We had three different televisions for sale–$100 for the largest, and 2 for $50. Bookcases for $10, decor for $1 or $2. Our girls priced all of their toys for less than a dollar, and I put an entire Melissa and Doug train set in a bag for $15.

What about Bargaining?

Truthfully, the whole bargaining thing makes me so uncomfortable and I think that’s another reason why I was more excited about pricing things on the lower end. The sale went from 8am-noon and I told anyone that asked for a deal to come back at 11:30 and if it was still there, I would make them a deal (and I did! We knocked every price by half in the last hour). Otherwise, what the sticker said was the price. The day before the yard sale, my sister and friend came over and they helped me price every last item. It really helped me to keep my head straight during the sale, kept the customers happy and moving since there were no, “how much” questions and it allowed my friend to check people out without having to double check with me. Definitely ask someone you trust to run the till for you! I was so busy talking to people and helping Chris load things into cars, that I would have never been able to accept payments, too.

What payments did you accept?

Which brings us to payment. Gone is the bartering tactic–“I only have $2.” We accepted cash or Venmo–a good idea if you have anything priced over $20 at your sale. At the cash table, we had a lock box for cash and a bright printed sign with my Venmo ID on it for easy reference. We didn’t accept checks or anything else.

Why didn’t you just donate everything?

That would have been a lot easier! Ha! But in the end, we sold things at less than thrift store prices and felt good about being able to pass on some amazing pieces for a steal. There were a few pieces leftover and we did donate those.

Where to advertise?

Our community has a yard sale Facebook page that I posted on announcing the sale. I also posted it on my personal Facebook page and Instagram. The morning of, we planted four big Yard Sale signs on nearby corners (the kind you can find at Walmart and Target) with our address and time on them.

What about having a combined yard sale?

This is such a great idea if you and a few friends/neighbors all have a handful of things to sell. “Multi-family yard sales” attract a lot of people because it usually means there’s going to be a LOT of stuff there. A few friends did ask if they could sell a few things during ours. We just asked them to make sure it had a price label on it (preferably a different color than what we were using) and I gave our friend that was running the till a notebook to keep track of what was sold from each of the three people that contributed. This was a lot easier than telling customers to go find a specific person to pay. At the end, we added up what they sold from the list and paid them from our cash box–easy peasy.

A few don’t-forget-details and surprises

• Don’t forget to say, “No early birds!” on your listing if you don’t want shoppers coming before you even have things set up. Serious yard salers will come sometimes an hour early to snag all the good stuff. To keep things fair, we decided we weren’t even going to let people even browse until 8am. By 8:03, it was a mad house, but at least everyone had the same opportunity.

• Decide if you’re going to allow holds. We had several people asking us to hold an item for them while they run and get cash. I always asked if they do Venmo before agreeing to it. If they didn’t, I told them we could hold it for 20 minutes and I put it behind the cash table. Most of the time they came right back, a couple times, I’m glad we set the 20 minute time limit.

• We had several guys (my dad, Chris, my nephew, Jordan) handy and a furniture dolly to help people load big things into their cars. It was a big help that made things run smoothly and, hopefully, helped everyone had a positive experience.  You could easily add “You Haul” to your listing if you aren’t in the position to help people load furniture. Some people did ask if they could pick it up later and our rule was everything had to be picked up by 1pm. As soon as something was paid for, we wrote SOLD on the price sticker and that alerted other buyers that that item was taken and prevented us from selling things more than once.

• Most people came right when we started, but I was surprised to see another rush around 10am–so many people! And then there was another big rush right before we were finished. I think those are the strategic shoppers that know they’re going to get a good deal, even if it’s all picked over.

Overall, it was such a fun morning with perfect weather and so many fun people came. Greta and Faye made $13 dollars from their toy sale and immediately wanted to go buy a new toy.  It was fun to have them so into it, and I think having them sell lemonade would have also been fun! We made over $2500 from the rest of the sale, but more importantly we felt so light after purging all of that stuff. There is no better feeling. Hope this helps for any yard sales in your future! Any other tips I forgot? Sound off in the comments!


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What do you think?

  1. Lisa says:

    This option may not work for everyone but it’s SO much easier than pricing everything (which takes forever if you have a ton of small items): set up a $1 table, $2 table, $5 table, etc. and you’re done!

  2. Samantha says:

    So inspired to do this. Random question about payment. What do you mean by you shared your Venmo code? Did you actually print the square barcode image? Trying to make this easier on ourselves, but I’m a total novice when it comes to technology. Just don’t want to accidentally be handing out my login, haha! Thank you!!

  3. Willow says:

    Thanks for posting this! I have everything for my garage sale organized and ready but I’ve been putting off the date due to uncertainty on pricing, unsure of how many people I needed to work with me, it being 100 degrees in Texas…this was the motivation I needed!

  4. Katie says:

    You’ve got great tips! The only think I would add is to consider offering everything for free at the end of the sale. We did a couple sales where we gave flyers to everyone who made a purchase saying things would be free come 12pm, or whatever time it was that we finished. If there was something we wanted to keep, we made sure to pull it back in before 12pm. Otherwise, we let the masses haul it away for free and avoided having to take anything to donate.

    • Courtney says:

      I politely disagree with this suggestion, while yes it would be nice (in theory) to offer whatever didn’t sell for free out of convenience for oneself, there are far more people in need in the world who often don’t have access to a car or truck to pick up said items. By donating items to charitable organizations, transportation of larger furniture items is almost always provided for those families and more often than not these organizations are established near bus terminals for individuals who use that mode of transportation. The way this yard sale was organised was absolutely brilliant and selfless.

  5. Molly says:

    That’s so awesome! Congrats for doing so well! I’d love to host a yard/garage sale, but we live fairly rurally, and I’m not sure we’d actually get much foot traffic so I’d rather not spend the time putting together a yard sale that no one will attend.

    Also- some of these commenters are shockingly rude! Sheesh. Someone apparently never taught them the Golden Rule.

  6. Kristin says:

    We participate in the Village wide garage sale where we live and love it! We also made big $$ – $1,600 last year, $800 this year. I buy furniture off Craig’s list and when I tire of it, it goes back on CL or into the rummage sale. We donate a ton too, throughout the year – but garage sales allow you to tell the buyer what you loved, how you used and any quirks you may have had with the item. It’s a good, honest, and fun way to pass your stuff forward. I have a woman that comes every year and thanks us for the great deal on the Kitchen Aid mixer and how much she loves it. :)

    And yes! Price everything ahead, but only a few days before. If you do it too far in advance, you might start second guessing yourself and price the items all over again.

    Also, we move our cars to a local parking lot or a friend’s so people can easily park in front of our place.

    We pick items that if we saw in a store, we wouldn’t buy today. We get buy change ahead of time – and plenty of small bills. And lastly, we donate everything that doesn’t sell.

  7. Jen Conre says:

    You made $2500 and the toys only sold for $13 ,hum?,I don’t see anything in the photos worth
    all that much.
    Consider yourself lucky if you sold that much stuff.
    I think you made a big story out of this to make it sound good.

  8. Jackie says:

    This is awesome – I love that you did this and I love reading about it!

  9. LuxieAnna says:

    I don’t expect this to be published but I would assume that you didn’t donate because tithing maxes out your deductions. I can’t say I know everything about owning a business and taxes. It comes off as a lie.

    • Julia says:

      Everything that wasn’t sold we donated, and we donate to a lot of organizations privately throughout the year. :)

      • I can’t quite understand why you are getting push-back for selling items that you bought?? There is nothing wrong with a garage sale and as a frequent garage sale shopper myself, I LOVE finding unique and cool finds for a great deal and appreciate people that hold them! It doesn’t make you dishonest or a bad person because you didn’t donate everything. It makes you thrifty to regain some money you spent on items while giving someone else a chance to love your picks. I am a total fan of you guys!!! So classy.

  10. Julia says:

    Wow, sounds like a successful sale! Thank you for sharing some helpful tips! I’m getting ready for a sale of my own and was wondering what your strategy was for collecting items around the house and deciding whether or not to add them to the sale. And how early before the sale did you start going through the house collecting items?

    • Julia says:

      We actually only started collecting items in the garage two days before. If I saw something that I didn’t absolutely love anymore or we weren’t using or hadn’t used for a year or more, then I added it to the stack.

  11. Nancy says:

    I do garage sales yearly, my biggest advice is not to put anything on your signs except address in large letters so people who are driving can see them. Then the date and time.

  12. Lilian Larkin says:

    I was really confused when you were talking about bartering. I think maybe you meant bargaining??? But now I totally want to have my own yard sale after hearing how much moolah you walked away with!!!!

  13. Elaine says:

    I think you mean bargaining, not bartering? I was fully expecting info on what people were wanting to trade (farm fresh eggs? Summer squash? Hoping for something weird!) and was somewhat disappointed. :(

  14. Kris says:

    Great info and all your pieces look amazing…I would love to find a yard sale like that!

    But, please don’t get offended when I say this…you didn’t really answer why you chose to have a yard sale over donating the items. You just said it would have been easier to donate the items but you felt good about selling them. I’m really not trying to be snarky. I’d just like to actually understand the reasoning or if you have a specific goal you’re saving toward that you wanted the sale of these items to go to. Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      Our thrift store prices are no longer inexpensive. So we felt better about selling things for less than you would pay at thrift stores had we donated them.

    • Carrie says:

      Why does any one anywhere have a yard sale instead of donating everything they no longer use?
      Because you spend your hard earned money on stuff and would like to recoup some of that to buy new things. Why are Chris and Julia any different? Because they’re ‘celebrities’? They have a business to run and a family to provide for, and expenses like everyone else. I hope they rolled their eyes every time they got this question. Quit your holier than thou attitude and quietly donate stuff you’ve spent thousands on if you’re such a superior human being.

      • Allison says:

        I have been selling a lot of unused items online and had a garage sale this spring (making a whopping $120). My goal has been primarily to make money while purging my house, but I also want my items to go to someone who will use them, especially if they’re items that are too specific for the general thrift store population. I’d hate to donate something that doesn’t find a new owner and just ends up in a landfill. I had a massive free table at my garage sale for that reason, and whatever was left was donated. (And ugh- I feel you on my local Goodwill’s prices being less than thrifty.)

      • Stacey says:

        I like to donate to organizations that give freely to those in need! Although goodwill is super convenient, smaller, local organizations gift your items to families who will benefit.

      • Donald says:

        I just took a huge box of kitchen stuff to Goodwill, big glass serving platters, decorative platters, candleholders, just a ton of good stuff. Stuff I inherited from my parents good stuff, stuff from them living overseas for 20 years good stuff. The guy at Goodwill took the big box out of my hands and tossed it into a container. CRASH! I screamed. Literally screamed before I could stop myself. There’s no way a single glass piece survived the toss and crash. So sorry Goodwill, never again.

      • Kris says:

        I didn’t say or imply that they were different than anyone else. I simply pointed out that she posed the question but didn’t really answer it. I wanted to know if they were using the sale of the items to go toward a specific goal. I wasn’t judging their decision to have a yard sale rather than donate the items; I wanted to understand the reasoning behind their decision since it was brought up in the blog post. Talk about being snarky…

  15. Keltie says:

    Great job with the mega purge! I’ve just started selling our no longer needed baby things and I have a big fat boohoo each time, so I feel you on that one!

  16. Keith says:

    Loved this post, lots of great advice, but DON’T use Venmo with people you don’t know, if they dispute the transaction after they leave they will get there money back and you will get banned. Apps like the Cash app are safer and allow you to accept credit cards as well, if you want to.

    • Samantha says:

      Oh! goodness. I just commented asking about how she used Venmo. I know nothing about this stuff. Cash app huh? Maybe I should just be sticking with cash, oye!

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