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Hosting a Yard Sale? 3 Ways To Rake in $1,000 or More — Plus, Tips for Finding Steals at Other Sales

Your success will be the talk of the town.

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For most of us, prepping for the warm, beautiful weather means cleaning out the cobwebs and refreshing our homes. You might be tempted to donate everything that you no longer use (rather than selling it), and no one would blame you. It’s less hassle, because you don’t have to price anything or hold onto it until a buyer comes along. Plus, you know your items are going to a good cause. However, a yard sale may be the right move for clutter that still has value. At a time when inflation is sky high and we’re all in a financial crunch, you’d be doing both yourself and the buyer a favor.

With a few easy steps, you can become a savvy seller and rake in as much as $1,000. Below, pros share their secrets on how to make your sale one for the record books. Bonus: They also share what to look for when perusing yard sales yourself.

1) Create a party atmosphere.

“Turn your sale into a party and you’ll sell, sell, sell!” says Bruce Littlefield, author of Garage Sale America (Buy from Amazon, $6.77). That’s because the more fun people are having, the more they’ll buy. A few ways to let folks know they’re in for a good time: Tie colorful balloons to tables, play music, or have little ones set up a lemonade stand. Ensure your signs capture this sense of fun: “Make ’em big and bold, using vivid words like ‘spectacular,’ ‘smokin deals’ and ‘dirt cheap,’” urges Littlefield. Also smart: Consider asking neighbors to hold yard sales on the same day as yours. “Multi-family sales attract more shoppers because they seem like an even bigger party.”

2) Add funny labels to your items.

If you can make someone laugh, they’ll be more apt to buy, observes Littlefield, who encourages flexing your creativity by hanging humorous signs on your wares. For example, you might label a box of LEGOs “Barefoot alert!” and a bread maker “Gave up carbs!” Tap your imagination even more by suggesting how folks might use your stuff. “Sometimes, people need to be led to a good idea,” he notes. “I once sold a box of old kitchen tiles with the label, ‘Instant garden stepping-stone path.’” Simply painting a picture in customers’ minds helps them envision using your items, pumping up sales dramatically.

3) Offer freebies.

Top sellers know they’ll earn more by bundling — giving away free items when customers make other purchases. If, say, you have a ton of $1 items, your sign might simply read, “buy four $1 items, get one free.” “People are much more likely to pick out five items instead of just one or two because they want that fifth freebie,” confirms Cindy Sabulis, author of The Garage Sale How-To Guide (Buy from Amazon, $10.99). Pro tip: If one piece of a set is flawed — say, a chipped china teacup — keep it to the side, then once the set sells, offer it at no extra charge. That imperfect item now becomes a free bonus, rather than a liability, creating the kind of goodwill that makes shoppers happy to spend more at your sale.

How To Spot Money-Makers at Other Yard Sales

Shopping yard sales yourself? Check out these tips to find the valuable items first, before anyone else.

1) Pinpoint valuable game pieces.

If you see Monopoly figures or Scrabble letters, make an offer, urges Heather Hooks, host of the “Hooked on Pickin’” YouTube channel. The reason? Crafters buy game pieces all the time. “I sell them on eBay for $10 to $100.”

2) Focus on costume jewelry.

If it’s got a maker’s stamp on it, such as Lia Sophia, snap it up, advises Hooks. Even though they’re faux, well-made costume jewelry necklaces, earrings, bangles, and other pieces sell for $20 to $50 on Etsy and eBay.

3) Seek out nostalgic toys.

Old toys like Holly Hobby dolls or Easy-Bake Ovens are great investments, even if they’re not in mint condition, says Hooks. “They have sentimental value, so people spend more on them.” In fact, vintage toys sell for $20 to over $100. Just don’t fix ’em: Most collectors prefer all original parts — even if they’re flawed.

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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