Tips and Solutions Detail

World's Longest Yard Sale Tips

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Table for Yard Sale

This famous sale winds its way 650+ miles through several states. In 2009, Lifetime’s organizational expert Donna Smallin stopped by the heart of the sale—Jamestown, Tenn.—to offer a few yard sale ideas to participants and collect tips from the best sellers to share with us on Lifetime.com.

If you can’t make it to the sale, don’t fret; below are a few of Donna’s tips for your own garage sale. Looking for the perfect sale date? August 14 is National Garage Sale Day!

Donna's Yard Sale/Garage Sale Tips

  1. Collect Your Inventory—Yard sales are a great way to get rid of clutter and make a few bucks, but it can be difficult to decide what to part with. As a general rule, if you don’t love it or use it, lose it. With this mantra in mind, walk through your home with packing boxes in hand and decide what goes. Get kids involved by letting them keep whatever they earn from selling their old toys and clothes, or plan a fun family activity with the total proceeds.
  2. Spread the Word—Three days before the sale, place a classified advertisement in your newspaper and post listings on local websites. Mention big-ticket and “hot” items such as toys and sporting goods in your ads to stir up interest. Also, place a “Yard Sale” sign at the nearest major intersection to capture drive-by traffic and post additional signs with arrows to point the way home. To get your sign noticed, write in black letters on brightly colored card stock.
  3. Price to Move—If you’re not sure what to charge for items, take your cue from other yard sales or the Salvation Army Donation Value Guide.  Then, use black marker on blue painter’s tape (which is easily removable) to price everything.  If you’ve got a large collection of like items, such as books or CDs, place them together in a bin and hang one price tag on the container (e.g. paperbacks 25 cents). Toss odds and ends and anything not worth selling into a box with a “Free” sign.  Once the sale starts, remember, it’s better to sell low than not sell at all, so if people are walking away without buying, lower your prices.
  4. Organization is Key—The more easily people can navigate your sale and test out items, the more they’ll buy.  Hang and sort all clothing by type (men’s, women’s, or shirts/pants), have a mirror handy if you’re selling accessories and plug in a power cord to test electrical devices.  Most importantly, have enough space to display things properly. I recommend setting up on a few folding tables from Lifetime Products—they can easily support heavier items and are UV-protected so the yard sale heat and sun won’t hurt them.  (They come in handy for other events, too.) Consider setting up an extra table for selling home-baked goods and/or lemonade.
  5. Move your Stock—Have enough coins and bills to make change for at least three $20 notes, and carry money, along with a calculator, in a fanny pack or apron for quick sales. Also keep a stack of newspaper on hand for wrapping fragile items. When business starts to slow, close up shop and drive all remaining items to the nearest donation place. Take down your signs on your way.
  6. Combine Efforts—Don’t have enough stuff for your own yard sale?  Set a date one to two months out and hand-deliver flyers inviting neighbors to participate in the sale.  Split the cost of placing an advertisement for a “Neighborhood Yard Sale” in the newspaper and have all participants post signs in front of their house or tie balloons to their mailboxes on the day of the sale.

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