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Yard sale set up on a sunny day. Clothes and kitchenware are on sale.

How To Downsize With a Yard Sale (2024 Guide)

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Default Author Icon Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 05/03/2024

Downsizing before moving into a smaller home can seem like a tall order, but a yard sale can make decluttering simple. Here, we’ll teach you how to downsize, arrange a successful yard sale, and earn some extra cash before moving.

Benefits of Downsizing With a Yard Sale

Yard sales can help you free up space, make money, and keep items out of landfills. Most municipalities do not require a permit or any paperwork for a yard sale, and you can advertise for free through social media or yard signs.

Steps for Downsizing

Decide what must stay and go before downsizing. This process helps you reduce clutter and mentally prepare for your transition to a smaller space. Follow these steps as you embark on your downsizing journey:

Start going through belongings early. Letting go of possessions can be difficult. Give yourself time to sort through your stuff without the pressure of a looming deadline.
Take inventory of what you have. The more detailed your inventory, the easier it will be to organize your yard sale later.
Decide what is essential or sentimental and must stay. Weigh each item’s practical and emotional significance. Only keep things that you use regularly or that hold sentimental value.
Store items in one room. Moving your yard sale items into a single room will keep them organized and leave the rest of your living space uncluttered. Choose a room that is on the ground floor to streamline setup on the big day.
Coordinate with the entire family. Talk to family members about which items have sentimental value and arrange for them to pick up anything they’d like to keep as part of the decluttering process.
Measure larger items. Furniture that fits perfectly in your current home may not fit in your new home.
Divide items into a “Keep” box and a “Sell” box. Throw away damaged or broken goods.

Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

A successful yard sale requires strategic planning and thoughtful execution. Presentation, customer interactions, pricing, and advertising tactics can affect how much money you pocket.

Choose Your Dates Wisely

Consider the timing of your yard sale. Weekends attract more shoppers, but it’s best to avoid holiday weekends, during which many of your potential customers will be out of town. Avoid the hottest summer days, too, and check the forecast to avoid rainy days. A temperate spring or fall weekend is often best.

Make Signs

Effective signage is the key to attracting passersby. Signs should incorporate eye-catching colors and list the date, time, and location of your yard sale in large, legible print. Post the signs in high-traffic locations around your neighborhood, such as the end of your street or nearby crossroads. Ensure signs are sturdy and don’t interfere with vehicle or pedestrian traffic.

Post on Social Media

Posting about your yard sale on social media can help you reach a wider audience. Post details about the sale in neighborhood apps and local community groups, such as Nextdoor or your neighborhood’s Facebook group. Share these posts on your personal social media profiles and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

You can also advertise your yard sale on Craigslist or place a classified ad in your local newspaper. Give readers an idea of the types of items they can expect to find. Mention any big-ticket items, such as furniture or electronics, to attract customers who are in the market for a specific piece.

Consider the Best Location

A yard sale at your home may be the most convenient option, but it’s not always the best one. Ask friends or family members who live in higher-traffic areas if you can use their space for an afternoon. A good location is one that is easily accessible and highly visible, with ample parking space.

Invite Others To Join the Sale

You can attract buyers by organizing a multi-family or community yard sale and advertising it as such. Larger and more diverse yard sales will generate more interest. You can also extend the invitation to friends and family members outside of your neighborhood and rent a central venue for the sale.

Keep a Calculator Handy

Have a calculator available on sale day to add up purchases. Using a calculator will minimize errors and speed up the transaction process for customers who purchase multiple items. It will also ensure a more pleasant and professional experience for everyone involved.

Have Cash on Hand

You should have small bills and spare change available in addition to digital options such as Venmo or Square. You risk losing out on sales if you can’t make exact change for cash customers.

We recommend starting with at least $100 in cash in denominations that range from dimes to $10 bills. You might have 20 $1 bills, five $5 bills, four $10 bills, a roll of quarters, and a roll of dimes, for example. You may also need some $20 bills if you have higher-priced items.

Prepare for the Weather

In the days before your yard sale, monitor the weather forecast and prepar a contingency plan for inclement weather. Prepare tarps or tents for rain or hot sun. You can also pre-select alternate dates.

A well-organized and visually appealing layout will entice customers. Follow the tips below to optimize your setup.

Start Setting Up Early

An early setup ensures that you look and feel ready to sell by the time your first customers arrive. Set up early to catch the attention of morning commuters, passersby getting a jumpstart on their weekend errands, and early birds looking for the best deals. Morning yard sales may require you to start setting up before dawn.

Organize Items Like a Store

Plan the layout of your yard sale to function like your favorite store. Group similar items together in broad categories to simplify browsing. You can sort books by genre and display them on a bookcase, and set kitchenware neatly on a table.

Make Signage

You will need signage that guides customers through the sale. Clearly label different sections of the area and indicate where customers should park and enter, particularly if the sale is not on your front lawn. Mark anything that is not for sale and areas that are off-limits.

Price Everything Beforehand

Price items ahead of time so that customers don’t have to ask about costs. Price stickers will streamline the selling process, preventing misunderstandings and minimizing customer hassle. Ensure you have a firm idea of the lowest price you’re willing to accept, especially for larger items.

Have an Outlet Ready To Test Electronics

Have a power outlet or extension cord ready so that customers can test any electronics or small appliances you’re selling. This makes the purchase less of a gamble for buyers, which increases the likelihood of sales.

Designate a Checkout Table

Set up a specific area for checkout and mark it with signage. This will help you manage sales more effectively and let customers know who to ask if they have questions. Consider offering electronic payment options for those who prefer to pay by credit card or don’t have enough cash on hand. Never leave cash unattended.

What To Expect on the Day of Your Yard Sale

On the day of your yard sale, expect a mix of early birds and leisurely afternoon shoppers. Some shoppers will stop on a whim when they drive by, while others will have carefully planned out a whole day of bargain hunting. A few shoppers may be professional resellers looking for antiques and collectibles that could turn a profit.

Remember that haggling is a common practice at tag sales, so be prepared to engage in some friendly bargaining. As the day progresses, think through what to do with items that don’t sell. Consider putting out signage that advertises deep discounts toward the end of the day.

Yard Sale Alternatives

A yard sale can sometimes be a waste of time if you cannot find a good location or if you need to downsize during the winter. In these cases, you can post items on eBay, Poshmark, or other online marketplaces. You can also take them to a local consignment store.

Consider hiring a professional to organize an auction or estate sale if you have many items or high-value pieces. You can donate gently used items to charitable organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

Our Conclusion

Downsizing with a yard sale is a practical way to declutter and save money for your move. It’s effective for selling smaller items during mild seasons in high-traffic areas. You can even boost your odds of success by teaming up with friends or neighbors to organize a multi-family or community yard sale. If a yard sale is not feasible, consider selling your items online or at a consignment store.

FAQ About Downsizing With a Yard Sale

How much change should you have at a yard sale?

You should have at least $100 of change at a yard sale. Have a variety of denominations available, including small bills and coins.

What is the best way to advertise my yard sale?

The best way to advertise your yard sale is online or in your local newspaper. You can advertise on neighborhood apps, Craigslist, community Facebook groups, Facebook Marketplace, your personal social media profile, and sites such as Garage Sale Finder.

What sells best at garage sales?

The items that sell best at garage sales include like-new clothes and accessories, purses, sports equipment, household items, hardcover books, power tools, unbroken toys, and furniture. Gently used children’s clothes are especially popular.

How do you declutter for a yard sale?

To declutter for a yard sale, start by methodically sorting through your belongings. Set aside items you no longer need, use, or want. Discard broken or visibly damaged items and organize the rest by category so they are ready to sell.

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