Organizing a Yard Sale

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

I Timothy 6:7


I love a good garage or yard sale. I do enjoy going to them—you never know what you might find!—but I’m a very picky buyer.  What I really love is hosting a garage sale.

I know many people don’t feel this way.  (My husband certainly doesn’t!)  If you love to give things away and be done with it, that’s wonderful!  But I love getting the things we no longer need or love out of my house and knowing that they’ll be used in someone else’s.  I enjoy talking with the people in my community and hearing their stories.  And, of course, I’ve found the money very helpful as well!

I’ve been to enough garage sales to know that there are good ones, and there are bad ones.  Often, people walk up my driveway and say, “Oh, you’re so organized!” My favorite compliment is this one: “This is a dangerous garage sale!  Everything is so nice, and the prices are right—I’d better hold onto my wallet!”


If you’d like to hold a dangerous garage sale, try some of these tips:

  • Walk through your house, gathering everything you don’t need or love.  I like to walk around with a laundry basket and throw stuff in.
  • Make sure everything you’re selling is clean and in good repair.  Never put out any item you wouldn’t feel comfortable buying.
  • Price everything to sell. It’s not doing you any good just sitting around your home!  The goal isn’t to make a lot of money, but to get your stuff in use elsewhere and clear out your spiritual clutter! And when you price things so that people can afford to buy them, you’re choosing to bless others.
  • For large items, a good rule of thumb is to price the item at about half what you paid for it (if it’s in great condition).  Be willing to take less, and know your “bottom line” number before you begin to bargain!
  • For small items, a good rule of thumb is about 10% what you paid for it.  Stick with whole numbers when possible (not $1.75, but $2, or better yet, $1).
  • If you have a group of like items, make a sign that gives the price so you don’t have to price them individually.  For example: “Hardcover books $1, Paperback books 50 cents, Children’s books, 25 cents.”
  • Trying grouping little toys and trinkets into sandwich-size baggies, then selling them for a quarter each. Parents will often let their kids choose a grab-bag while they’re shopping.  I’ve had teachers completely clean out my stash for their classroom treasure chests!
  • If possible, lay your items on tables rather than on the ground.  People are more likely to pick them up to look at them this way.
  • Put your larger items in front so shoppers can see them from their cars.
  • As you lay out your items, organize them into categories if you can. (Housewares, books, movies, décor, craft supplies, etc.  I generally have so many toys that I group them by age-level.)
  • List your categories on a piece of poster board and tape it to the back of a chair, letting people know what you do and don’t have.  Then place the chair at the end of your driveway so people don’t park there and block your sale.
  • Set up a lawn chair so you can sit and read between customers.  Place it directly in front of the door into your house, blocking the way. Next to it, place a big box of plastic grocery bags so you can offer people a way to carry out their purchases.
  • Make sure you have plenty of change to start off with—the first several shoppers will often want to break a $20 bill on a 25-cent purchase!  You may want to attach the moneybag to your belt loop with a safety pin. As the sale progresses, take the $20 bills inside the house.
  • List your sale on Craigslist and yard sale websites—these listings are free!
  • On the day of the sale, get up nice and early and have breakfast.  Wear sunscreen.  Try to have your “doors open” at least 30 minutes before the sale is set to begin—there will be early birds!
  • Be prepared for the hardcore shoppers who like to negotiate.  They can be bullies.  Be kind, but firm.  You can shine Jesus at everyone!
  • As the sale progresses, consolidate and re-arrange the things on your tables so they don’t look picked-over.
  • And at the end of the day, don’t let those things back in your house where they will clutter up your spirit!  Box them up and give them away!  (True confession: I have enough room in my basement crawl space to keep my boxes of garage sale items until the next year’s sale—but I never put anything back into use in the  rest of my home!)


Hopefully, this post has given you a little garage-sale fever!  Happy selling, and blessings to you as you clear the spiritual clutter out of your home!


For more about sorting through your stuff with Jesus, check out my book, Building Your House: The Faithful Mom’s Guide to Organizing Home and Family.


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