Garage Sale Tips: Clear Clutter With A Yard Sale

garage sale yard sale

Garage sale, tag sale, yard sale--whatever you call it, the garage or yard sale is part and parcel of the American way of life.

On sunny weekend mornings, slow-moving cars ("I brake for yard sales!") circle suburban neighborhoods as their occupants hunt baby toys and panini makers, auto parts and cocktail shakers.

If you're in active declutter mode, the next stop is your house!

A yard sale can clear clutter and score some cash, but it helps to have a road map. Getting organized for a garage sale can mean more money and less stress.

Get organized for a yard sale with a free yard sale checklist and yard sale signs, then try these tips for a successful yard sale.

Gather Your Inventory

Your yard sale inventory is living right under your nose. The first step is to find it. In the weeks before your sale, scour closets and cupboards, bookcases and basement for yard sale finds.

How to decide? Some yard-salers ask these questions: "Have I cooked with it, worn it, displayed it, used it or read it within the last year?" Others apply a percentage rule: a firm 10 to 20 percent of all books, videos, clothing, or bric-a-brac must go. Either way, remind yourself that the goal is to clear clutter and make room in your organized home by finding new homes for items you don't use, need or love.

Challenge family members to contribute, and sweeten the deal by offering a cut of the profits. Children will be much more amenable to parting with outgrown toys if they see that there's something in it for them, in the form of cold, hard cash.

To get the most out of your yard sale, consider finding a clutter buddy. When it comes to culling clutter, two heads are better than one--and a two-family yard sale will get twice the traffic for half the trouble. Back one another up, and dare each other to clear clutter to the bone to stock the sale.

When collecting yard sale candidates, be sure to give them a temporary home: a dedicated place to hold your growing collection of garage sale goodies. A guest room, space in the garage, or a seldom-used dining room is a good place to create a garage sale staging area.

You'll need room to assess, clean and price your inventory, so choose a location that has space to work. A supply of records boxes with lids, found at the office supply store, will help contain and sort the growing stash of sale items.

Once an item's selected for sale, be stern! Store yard sale inventory in black plastic garbage bags or records boxes with lids to deter seller's remorse. No fair reading, looking or cooking; once an item is in the yard sale staging area, there is no appeal, no mercy and no second chance. Give that wedding-gift s'mores maker an emotional divorce. It's no longer junk or stuff, it's inventory!

Do Your Homework

Yard sales have their own etiquette and economy; for a successful sale, it's smart to bone up on both.

Read the yard sale ads on or in the local newspaper, and spend a morning or two visiting sales in your neighborhood.

Note price ranges on clothing, kitchenware and books. There's no sense labeling two boxes of kitchen utensils at 50 cents apiece if a quarter is the going rate for serving spoons and can openers.

Check with your municipality and homeowners' association. Some jurisdictions require a permit, or limit the number and timing of yard sales. Know the rules!