With summer in full swing, it’s time for beach days, camping vacations, road trips, and yes, yard sales. A suburban tradition virtually everywhere in the country, yard sales—or garage sales, depending on what you call them—are a great way to declutter your home and collect a few loonies to spend on summertime fun. 

If it’s been a while since your last major purge, where do you even start? We’ve got some suggestions for planning and executing a successful yard sale.

Image via Mike Mozart on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

What to sell at a yard sale

Though it largely depends on your own surplus inventory, there are some proven hot-ticket items at most yard sales. Remember, the point is as much about getting rid of stuff as it is maximizing your earnings. Your buyers won’t know what you paid for something, it’s their sense of value to which you need to appeal. Collectors are often on the hunt for vintage, retro, and hard-to-find items, so they may be willing to pay a little more if it means getting what they need. 

Just know this goes the other direction as well. People likely aren’t willing to pay more for an item just because it holds sentimental value to you. If that’s the case, consider holding onto it for a little while longer until you’re ready to part with it.

Perennial in-demand items include: 

  • hardcover books;
  • CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records;
  • toys;
  • video games, consoles and controllers—in any format;
  • artwork and frames;
  • power tools;
  • small chairs, tables,or stools;
  • handbags and purses;
  • winter sports gear, like skis and hockey equipment;
  • plants; and
  • bikes and skateboards.

If you’re ambitious, you can sell baked goods or barbecued items like hamburgers or hot dogs—especially if you’re making this a community sale. Boost your food sales by offering water, juice and pop at reasonable prices. Look to pre-packaged foods for add-ons, things like chips, granola bars, or freezies. Keep it simple and delicious. This is also a great way to get the kids involved with a lemonade stand! Just remember to check with your local bylaws when it comes to food and beverage sales. Sometimes permits are required, and you’ll want to make sure you’re meeting all the necessary health and safety requirements.

Best time to have a yard sale

Jobs and school tend to push yard sales to the weekend. Yard sale experts advise Sunday usually isn’t a good day for sales—they recommend a Friday or Saturday affair, if you can arrange it. While you lose out on those who work on Friday, you’ll still see some of your most profitable buyers. 

You may also want to consider when post-secondary students will be going back to school. Many first-year students living in dorms or student apartments will be searching for dishes, furniture, window dressings, and other home accessories on a budget, so it could be a prime time for you to host your yard sale.

There’s something about good weather that puts a yard sale over the top. In Canada, any time from May to October is fair game, but consider your location and when you can most likely count on sunny skies. Even with your best guess, you’ll need a rain plan, whether it’s a backup date or portable gazebo.

How to set up a yard sale

In many parts of Canada, “yard sale” and “garage sale” are synonymous. It doesn’t matter where you set up—driveway, garage, or lawn—you can call it a yard sale for neutral marketing. Regardless of where you set up, hide anything not for sale. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend time away from legitimate sales directing people away from your keeper items. 

Enlist everything you can to present your merchandise. Use some creativity to display items in a unique way. Things like folding tables, TV trays, crates, and even cardboard boxes can be used as display space, just make sure to mark if the tables and trays are for sale or not. Step ladders are handy, and if you have a portable garment rack, it’s a logical spot for any clothing on its way out. 

Place like items together by type, colour, room, purpose…whatever you can come up with to avoid a haphazard “pile of junk” impression. Don’t forget to leave room for shoppers to maneuver!

Image via Rick Obst on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

How to optimize your yard sale

Marketing your yard sale is another essential line of prep work. You don’t have to spend much, if anything at all. Look for free online opportunities such as Facebook Marketplace, sell and swap or community groups/pages and local Kijiji pages. Do a search for your city and neighbourhood to discover other places you can leave free ads. 

Posting signs is a time-honoured yard sale marketing technique. If you have a lot of a certain thing—books, kids items, antiques—it can be a good idea to include that on your sign. This way, people who may be on the hunt for certain items know to stop in at your sale. Don’t forget to be a good neighbour and remove all advertising when your sale is over. 

Have you considered a block sale? Get your neighbours involved! A multi-home yard sale that’s well-advertised can attract more buyers and you’ll become a prime yard sale event. Don’t be surprised if your block sale turns into a block party at the end of the day!

Things to keep in mind

Yard sales are regulated at the municipal level, so your community may have rules and your sale could require a permit. For example, in Toronto, you don’t need a permit, but you’re limited to two yard sales per year. A two-day event, though, counts as one sale. 

Yard sales are also subject to federal laws. Health Canada outlines your responsibilities as a seller as well as a list of items that can’t be sold on their Facts for Garage Sale Vendors webpage. Be sure to give it a scan during your planning. 

It’s just not summer without yard sales, and it doesn’t take much to make the most of yours. There are still three months of prime selling left for most of the country! We’ve created some templates for you to print off for signs around your neighbourhood, plus some social media graphics you can share for your upcoming sale. Feel free to download and use them!

Download your yard sale sign and sticker pack

Download social media package 1

Download social media package 2

Courtesy: realtor.ca

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