4 things to do in February to prepare for your yard sale

Get organized now for your summer yard sale. But be warned, you could damage your sales items if you start putting price stickers on them months ahead of time.

Get organized now for your summer yard sale. But be warned, you could damage your sales items if you start putting price stickers on them months ahead of time.

Last month, the Yard Sale Secrets team offered you “4 things to do in January to prepare for your yard sale.” We’re already half-way through February, so we figured we ought to keep you working hard to make the most out of your upcoming retail extravaganza.

So, now that you have all those January items checked off we have a new list for you.

1) CUTBACK ON HOLIDAY DECORATIONS: When Valentine’s Day is over, you’ll be clear of any holidays for a little while. Sure, maybe you decorate for St. Patrick’s Day. And maybe you do a total blow-out for Easter, but this is — at the least — a temporary lull in the holidays. So now is a great time to start sorting through holiday decorations. Hit the bins marked for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. Try to reduce all of them by at least 20 percent. Throw out items that are broken. Put anything else you don’t want anymore in your yard sale bin.
2) CHECK THE RULES: Some municipalities have very explicit rules on how you can conduct your garage sales. Others just want to get a couple of bucks from you to help the bottom line. Take a few minutes to call your municipality and check up on those rules. Better to know now rather than be forced to change your plans later.
3) VISIT THE ATTIC: Even in early spring, your attic can be a dismal place to spend a few hours sorting through what you want and what needs to go. Head up there this weekend and do your sorting in the pleasantly cool temps. You don’t necessarily have to bring it out of the attic. Just get it organized and ready to be pulled down at a moment’s notice.
4) AVOID THE PRICING TEMPTATION: Whatever you do, DO NOT start pricing your items now. Sure, you can mentally price them, just don’t put price stickers on them just yet. Most yard sale price stickers are not meant to stay on for months at a time. They eventually lose their adhesive properties and flutter to the floor. How about masking tape, you ask? Don’t do that either. Masking tape and other stickers tend to leave a terrible residue or destroy the object its affixed to if left on too long.

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Notes (and tips) from the yard sale

As we hinted at last week, we hosted a yard sale over the weekend. Though we didn’t earn fistfulls of money (which we didn’t expect to do), we did manage to clear out a lot of merchandise (which we did expect to do).
To do so, we tried to get as many things right as we possibly could, and also followed some of our own past tips to maximize the sale. Here’s what our game plan was:

  • PIGGYBACK SALE — We weren’t doing a solo sale, instead we joined in with Mount Wolf’s Community Yard Sale. This helped draw a lot of customers to our area as we answered lots of questions about where other sales were. We did notice that the piggyback sales created a bit of a parking problem for some other yard sale in the borough. (Get customers to park where you want them!)
  • ADVERTISE — We posted a simple ad in the newspaper classifieds. You’ve gotta let people know what’s up. (Write the perfect yard sale ad!)
  • PRICE TAGS — We made sure everything was marked. It still didn’t stop people from asking “How much?” Still, most transactions went off without much haggling, which is what happens if you don’t price items. (How buyers will try to haggle with you!)
  • DISPLAY — We moved everything to the front of our yard, and put our large-sized items in front of them to draw more eyes to us. (How to set up your sale!)
  • SIGNS — We posted multiple signs at key intersections. These help bring in customers. Since we didn’t specifically list our address in the advertising, it really worked! (Signs can make or break you!)
  • TABLES — Only a few things were on the ground, the rest were up on tables. Sure enough items on the tables sold more than those that didn’t require bending over. (Read all the table tips!)
  • CHANGE — We started out with $75 in change. We priced everything in intervals of a quarter, so we didn’t need pennies, nickels or dimes.  (How to keep your cash safe!)

Some additional observations:

  • BOARD GAMES: We had about six board games for sale, and ended up selling three of them. This was quite surprising, since we didn’t expect to sell any. We priced them between $2 and $3. (More toy-pricing tips!)
  • VHS TAPES: We sold $10.50 worth of video tapes, which were priced at 25-cents each. That means we got rid of 42 tapes. That might sound impressive, but they all sold to one person. When we asked if they were buying for a dealer, the guy said “Yep, we sell them at the flea market.” We would have preferred to sell them to a avid VHS film collector, but oh well, a sale is a sale. (Selling music, books or movies? Check our price guide!)
  • CLOTHES: All our clothes were priced at $1 each. That include baby clothes, shoes, hats and women’s clothes. We did OK, but not great. Still, we had a lot of people beat on prices. Some were asking $2 and $3 for baby clothes. (How should you price clothes?)
  • BICYCLE: We were trying to sell a NEXT-brand mountain bike for $25 and marked it at $50 for some wiggle room. We ended up not selling it all. The problem? It had two flat front tires and a messed up handlebar. Since it didn’t sell, we realize we should have fixed those first. (What to do with stuff that doesn’t sell!)


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Is this a good weekend for yard sales?

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer season. Beaches are ready for the onslaught and folks are opening their pools – so does that mean this is a good weekend or a bad weekend to hold a yard sale?

Well, that depends. One yard-saler here at the Dispatch swears it’s never a good idea to hold a yard sale on a holiday weekend. So that means Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are out. Why?

She said she thinks people are too busy doing other things. There are cookouts and family gatherings. That is if people are even in town. Memorial Day weekend is a big getaway weekend. And she would never hold her own yard sale this weekend.

Another yard-saler says hooey to that. People holding gatherings or cookouts aren’t doing those things in the morning, and a three-day weekend is very nice for the weary yard-sale holder: It gives you an extra day to recuperate before heading back to work.

What do you think? Yeah or nay to Memorial Day yard sales? Drop us a line.

We’re pretty sure lots of folks will be holding yard sales this weekend, so check back tomorrow for our Best Bets.


If you are staying in town this weekend, get ready for summer-like weather. Humid, highs in the upper 80s and a chance of thunderstorms are forecast. Best chance of rain is Friday.

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Pricing and organizing your sale

This could be it. We hate to put the jinx on it, but it looks like this weekend could finally be a good yard sale weekend.

We’re going to operate under the assumption the weather forecasters are correct in saying this weekend will be a beauty.

So, today’s Tips for Sellers centers on how to price and how to organize a yard sale.


Rule #1: Put prices on everything. We mean everything. Nothing will annoy people more than picking up something at a yard sale and having to ask what the price is. And it creates more work for the seller, too.

Group pricing is a great way to cover similar items. Example: All paperbacks 50 cents; or baby clothing, $1 each.

Rule #2: Make prices visible. If you buy price tags, make sure you place them in a prominent place on each item. (Just a hint: Sticker price tags have a tendency to fall off.)

Rule #3: Start your sale with cash on hand and keep it in a money box. (Guard your money box at all times, especially during busy times of your sale. Having a friend or family member work with you certainly helps. )

We like to have at least $85 to start with, and it’s very important to have enough small bills. You’ll be breaking lots of $20s.  We start with $25 in $1 bills, $20 in $5 bills and $40 in $10 bills.

Don’t forget lots of change, particularly if you have any items less than $1. Some sellers don’t want to handle change at all, so they price everything at at least $1. But your wares better be worth at least $1. Which brings us to…

How to price: This is a yard sale, not eBay or Craigslist. If you’re expecting to earn back the price you paid for an item, don’t put it out at a yard sale.

Yorkers are particularly shrewd when it comes to yard sales and expect to find bargains there.  We’ll discuss what to charge for what in a future blog, but suffice it to say the cheaper, the better.


Rule #1: Put out your bigger items closer to the road, where folks just driving by (and they will) will be enticed to stop and get out of their car. Some people shop by drive-bys and won’t get out of their car until they check it out curbside first. Draw them in with lots to look at.

Rule #2: Arrange your tables so it’s easy to maneuver. Think how you like to shop at yard sales, and set your own sale up to mirror that.

Rule #3: Arrange clothing by gender and size, if you can. At the very least, keep babies clothes separate from teenager’s clothes.  Hint:  Check all pockets for personal items and, better yet, money before you put it out.  At least one of us once pocketed a $20 bill in a yard sale purse she bought.

Rule #4: Arrange books and CDs in a box so prospective buyers can see the titles without having to sort.

Rule #5: Have grocery store bags on hand for shoppers to use.


And now, the highly anticipated weekend weather watch: Friday looks to be about 64,  with a chance of early sprinkles, but nothing appreciable. Could be a lovely day to sit outside. But Saturday will be even nicer, with passing clouds and a high of 71 degrees. YIPPEE!!!!

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