The dish on selling food at yard sales

A selection of foods can really enhance your yard sale profits thanks to all the hungry visitors you'll get. (Photo by Iryna Yeroshko via  -- mandarina94)

A selection of snacks can really enhance your yard sale profits, just make sure you check with your municipality first. (Photo by Iryna Yeroshko via — mandarina94)

One of the most common tips for hosting a yard sale is to sell some baked goods, drinks and other food along with your regular household items.

For the most part, it’s a solid idea. You can make a decent return on your investment by selling food.

Before you do, remember one thing — check with your municipality to make sure its OK. Some actually forbid it — requiring a health code check for anyone selling food. Others insist that everything be labeled for those suffering food allergies

Once you get past those possible problems, we say sell away. Brownies, sodas, water or hot dogs can all turn a yard sale into a bonafide success.

Some tips for this money-making endeavor:

  • WHAT TO SELL –There are tons of options for you as a seller. Do you want to sell something memorable? Comfort food? Something to generate a big profit? Something easy to prepare? Or serve a fresh-cooked meal? Those are all questions you’ll need to answer before your yard sale. Here at Yard Sale Secrets, we suggest brownies or cookies for baked goods, hot dogs in buns for a meal, cupcakes if you’re a master baker and drinks as your high-profit item.
  • SAMPLES – If you do decide to try something more exotic than a peanut butter cookie, then we’d suggest you offer some very small samples to your customers. Don’t put a heaping pile of goodies on your sample plate either — someone might think they can take the whole thing! Instead, offer no more than six teaspoon-sized samples at one time.
  • WRAPPED TO GO – Be sure to include a bag or some other container to carry their snack off to the car. For cookies and brownies, a simple plastic sandwich bag is good. For hot items, such as hot dogs or hamburgers, wrap them in tin foil.
  • GARBAGE CAN -- Since some people might want to eat while perusing your other goods, you can have a garbage can available. No sense in allowing people to drop litter on your property.
  • BY THE SLICE – If you decide to offer something that can’t exactly be bagged, such as a cake or pie, then you’ll need to have plates and utensils available. Make sure to have the slices pre-cut before the sale, that way the customer doesn’t think they’re going to get a monstrously huge piece.
  • INCLUDE THE RECIPE – Another neat idea is to offer a printout that includes the recipe of your culinary masterpiece. The recipe by itself might intrigue some to indulge!
  • PRICE SUGGESTIONS -- But what sort of price should you charge? Our simple rule is this, if its a baked good and not bigger than your hand, it should be a dollar or less. Meal worthy items — hot dogs or hamburgers — can be up to two dollars. Set drink prices between 75 cents and a dollar.


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Best Bets for Aug 7-9

Yes, we know, it’s been an eternity since we offered a Best Bets list. (It’s been even longer since we actually went to a yard sale, so we’re hurting too!)

Look for mostly sunny skies on Friday and Saturday with temps in the low 80s. That’s some great yard sale weather, for sure. Get the up-to-date details on the weekend weather from our pals at The York Dispatch.


  • HILLCROFT NEIGHBORHOOD: Look for deals at Old Farm, Clover, Old Orchard and Pine Hill roads. Friday and Saturday.
  • YORK: If you’re into Elvis or Avon, the multi-family sale at 1260 Christensen Road is for you. Thursday through Saturday.
  • MANCHESTER: A multi-family sale includes professional attire and jewelry. Find it at 254 N. Main St. Saturday only.
  • NEW PARK: Look for a toddler bed, baby items and a swing set at the multi-family sale at 486 Davis Road. Friday and Saturday.
  • YORK: Check out the multi-family sale at 400 Bellaire Drive. Friday and Saturday.
  • Did we miss some? Check out the listings!


  • Need a Harley? Check out the Dover area yard sale at 3461 Emig School Road. Friday and Saturday.
  • Lacrosse players can stock up on equipment at a 849 Grand View Road sale in York. Friday and Saturday.
  • Got a trendy teen on a budget? The sale at 2400 Pleasant View Drive in the East York area is offering tons of brand name clothes for sale including JCrew, Gap, Hollister and Hot Topic items. Friday and Saturday.
  • Stocking up for your dorm? A sale at 6 Asbury Lane in Shrewsbury promises plenty of items, including small appliances and rugs. Thursday through Saturday.

For more on these yard sales as well as the complete list, check out The York Dispatch classifieds.


Yard Sale Secrets, in conjunction with The York Dispatch and the York Newspaper Co., now has a yard sale app for iPhone and Android phones. The app helps you locate all the yard sales advertised on MediaOnePa, which includes sites in York, Hanover, Chambersburg and Lebanon. Zip to the bottom of this page for a link to the app.


Yep, the Yard Sale Secrets has adopted Twitter. We might only use it sporadically, but we welcome you to join us. We especially hope to use it on Saturdays (and some Fridays) when we are out on the road. Join Yard Sale Secrets on Twitter now!


Got a question for us here at Yard Sale Secrets? Or, even better, a great tip on selling or buying? Then leave a comment for us and we’ll respond in an upcoming post. We love to hear from other yard sale fanatics!


If you’re hosting a yard sale this weekend, take some pictures of your event set up. We would love to see it. If you’re heading out to some sales, lets see some pictures of your loot! E-mail them to for inclusion in an upcoming Yard Sale Secrets post.

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Strike a deal at that yard sale

Get ready to fill your trunk with a weekend of yard sale haggling.

Get ready to fill your trunk with a weekend of yard sale haggling.

A while back, we wrote about getting the best deal at yard sales, and since that time we’ve learned a few things. Here at Yard Sale Secrets, we are all about learning everything we can about our chosen profession. Its our goal to spread that deal-making prowess to you.

We looked at haggling tips from around the Internet and have a few ideas to offer you that weren’t included on our original tip sheet.

In this article, we found some great bonus tips about the “art of the deal”:

  • WANT A DISCOUNT? JUST ASK – Whether you’re at a antique store, flea market or yard sale, simply asking to take a little off the price works. After all, vendors want money more than they want that item. At many antique stores there’s an understanding that most buyers can get a 10 percent discount if they just ask.
  • FIND THE FLAWS – Without being a jerk about it, check out your item and point out any problems it has to the seller. Then ask if they’ll take a little off. It usually works.
  • ASK, AND THEN SHUT UP – Once you make an offer, clam up. Don’t say a thing. Let an uncomfortable silence sit between you and the other guy. This practically forces them to respond, and usually in your favor.

Moving on, we liked the seller-based tips in this article, from the always informative Best Garage Sale Tips:

  • MAKE YOUR LOW-PRICED ITEMS FIRM – Don’t let people waste your time haggling over $2 or less items. Post a sign that says “Items at $2 or less are our bottom line prices.” This encourages people to buy up and haggle over your high-end items and smooths out the rest of the process.
  • POINT OUT SIMILAR ITEMS – When someone wants to buy an item and asks for a discount, point out similar or associated items that can go with it.  For example, they want to buy a $20 power tool for $15. You say, “How about I give you it, plus this extra battery pack for $25.” With a little more haggling, you might end up selling both.
  • WHEN HAGGLING ISN’T HAGGLING AT ALL – Definitely look at this list for tricks some sneaky buyers will try to pull.

Over at a site called Garage Sale Coach, there’s some another helpful tip:

  • GO WITH THE BASICS – When you pick up that awesome, name brand items with all sorts of bells and whistles, don’t say “How much is this 2012 Model XL Powerscore Food Processor and its 12 attachments?” Instead, you just need to ask “How much is this appliance?” By asking about it in the most basic terminology, you devalue it.
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Get your Garage Sale Kit

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Garage Sale Kit offers tips and printable signs. Maybe we should do something like that.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Garage Sale Kit offers tips and printable signs. Maybe we should do something like that.

We love it when other newspapers get involved in the Yard Sale tips game as well.

The folks over at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review assembled a great PDF to help organize your yard sale.

It has oodles of tips, printable signs and even a guide to haggling.

Here’s the link:

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The U.S. government is having a yard sale too

The federal government has been selling off almost all of its lighthouse properties for decades now. This one in Wisconsin has an opening bid of $10,000.

The federal government has been selling off almost all of its lighthouse properties for decades now. This one in Wisconsin has an opening bid of $10,000.

Here at Yard Sale Secrets, we like to talk about our yard sales and the yard sales we visit. But there’s an even bigger yard sale going on all year long, and its being held by the U.S. government.

The General Services Administration hosts a site called GSA Auctions where the government lists all of its surplus property that it no longer wants, needs or isn’t allowed to keep.

And some of it is actually pretty darn interesting.

While there's a lot of interesting items at the GSA's auction website there's also some strange items too. Why put a grimy old chair up for auction? It's not even a set of chairs. It's just one chair!

While there’s a lot of interesting items at the GSA’s auction website there’s also some strange items too. Why put a grimy old chair up for auction? It’s not even a set of chairs. It’s just one chair!

Looking for a lighthouse of your very own? Click on the “Real Estate” link and then on to “lighthouses”

How about an airplane or two? You can find them under “Aircraft and Aircraft Parts”

Maybe you’re in the market for a new house. If so, you can check out these hot properties in the “Real Estate” section as well.

But maybe you aren’t interested in such extravagant purchases. You can also use the site to bid on office supplies, landscaping equipment and old computers too. There are categories for just about everything, in fact — furniture, hand tools, jewelry and photo equipment.

Before you get too excited about the deals from the GSA, be sure to read the fine print. In a lot of cases, you’re required to go pick up the items or to have them privately shipped to you. The vehicles come with zero warranties. The computers are wiped clean, too, so you won’t be finding any “X-Files” hidden on them.

Likewise, some of the listings are just plain silly. Do you really need to have your very own “chair on wheels”? And if you do, why not just go to Walmart and get a new one?

And those lighthouses? Well, the tough thing with owning a lighthouse is that you actually have to find a way to get to there. Once you’re at your solitary little paradise, you have to put up with the Coast Guard stopping by to check up on their equipment.

You know, the very equipment that made that lighthouse obsolete in the first place.

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