Yard Sale Should Be The Sale of Last Resort

I very much enjoyed a recent Saving Advice column that considered the etiquette of having a yard sale. The writer made several excellent points about how a seller should approach a yard sale and what can and should be sold at yard sales. It occurs to me, however, that a yard sale really should only be a sale of last resort.

When one considers the effort that goes into a yard sale, from accumulating items for sale, to pricing them, setting up the yard sale, sitting through the sale and then cleaning up after the sale, there is a lot of time needed to effectively participate in a yard sale. Even if you do invest the necessary time for a yard sale, you are subject to the fickle whims of the buy


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8 Responses to Yard Sale Should Be The Sale of Last Resort

  1. Annie Jones says:

    I disagree with you on this one, David. We have always had good experiences when we hold garage sales. An average 2-day sale for us will bring in about $600, which is more than the same items, if donated, would reduce our taxes.

    Instead of pricing to make money, we price to sell (and get rid) of things, and most of our items are gone by the end of the sale. Those that remain are set at the curb and advertised as free, or donated to a thrift store.

    As we have a garage sale almost every year, we just sort and mark items as we cull them out of our closets and basement. That way they are ready to go when we’re ready. All we have to do is set up our tables, put up our signs and run an ad on craigslist.

    I have found eBay sales have decreased in the last year or so (listing costs and postage have both caused me to increase my prices), but garage sales are still going strong in our part of the country. I like to use craigslist for items that might bring a higher price than they would if sold at a garage sale. I also like to use craigslist to sell things when it isn’t garage sale “season”.

  2. John says:

    I have some other suggestions. I do agree that a yard sale is usually not the best option.

    Craigslist: Craigslist might not have the same customer base as eBay but the free listing makes it a good choice. For some small items the listing fees on eBay cut your price to much.
    You can also become an Amazon seller. Amazon fees seem to be less than eBay most of the time. The down side here is you are still pricing the items against the market.

    With used CDs, DVDs, Games, Books there are a number of swap sites like SwapTree.com and SwapADVD.com. On these sites you are trading items so if you are trying to pare down what you have it might not be the best option. But if you want some new stuff trading a DVD for a book is not a bad option.

    The one thing missing in the post is that some used shops will not give cash. Most of the shops around me will only give store credit.

  3. MomEsq says:

    I disagree. A yard sale can be a great money maker, and there’s no easier way to move items fast.

    Ebay hasn’t worked out for us lately because of the selling fees, postage and number of people looking for cheap or underpriced items. Unless you’re a frequent seller, eBay probably isn’t cost or time effective (and can be a headache). Craiglist can be a great resource, but my experience is that you have better success with larger items and you have to be careful and confident that you’re dealing with honest people.

    There are sites, including Craigslist, where you can list your yard sale, and some local papers will publish for free or a reduced amount. Some communities will have a yard sale day, which is great free advertising. You have control over how much time you put into the sale, and you can often be done after just a few hours. The best part is that your take is in cash, the item is gone on the same day, and you can take stock of whatever is left and (if in good shape) donate the rest for a tax credit.

    Of course, you have to remember that people are looking for bargains, and you have to price the items accordingly. If you have an item that you think is valuable, do your research and sell it in the appropriate venue. For the rest of your other consumer items (kids stuff, toys, clothes, trinkets and small furniture and appliances) the yard sale is a great way to de-cluttter and make some cash.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve found that Craigslist has provided a very easy way to move large or small items. I prefer to “meet” the buyer at a public spot or parking lot rather than have them come into my home. If it’s possible to meet them in the driveway as they pull up, that’s better than having someone enter my home.

    Local sales bring about half what the item currently sells for online (my rule of thumb) and if the item’s been well maintained, is clean or freshly painted, it’s easily sold. Good pictures and descriptions (measurements) help as well. Saves lots of calls.

    CL now has a wider customer base with “CRAIGSLOOK” site that can search in a wider radius that just your locality. I’ve received calls from a far away as Utah (I live at the Virginia coast) about some items that people are looking for. They pay for shipping, of course.

  5. never had a yard sale but I’ve been to a few. great way to save money

  6. Gail says:

    Ebay is going down the tubes fast and unless you are an active seller or are tuned into the newsletters telling you what is going on with it you may not realize that it isn’t worth your time and money to list there. Ebay has been such a big name for so long that those that don’t actively use the site may not realize that it isn’t the best online place for selling off stuff.

    However, there are many places to sell goods on line. The main one for books, DVDs and VHS is Amazon. For other items there is ecrater.com where I happen to sell sewing patterns, but there are many kinds of goods for sale on ecrater and you can list for free and there are no final value fees. There are other sites on line also that you can list on depending on what you have for sale. Before you try to sell on line, take the time to research your type of items to see where they sell best and to see the rules for the site so you do the best possible listing job.

    You may find in the long run that a yard sale is quicker and more of a time saver than listing on line, but you probably won’t make as much money. You will have to decide which is the most important to you time or money and why are you selling. Do you need the money to pay the mortgage next week or are you just de-cluttering and have plenty of time to get rid of stuff, so then you can use a mixture of techniques.

  7. Chris says:

    I have been to some estate sales to see if I could pick up a few items cheap. Most of the stuff was from another generation and not stuff that I was interested in. Most of it was pretty much junk.

    I have had success selling things on Craig’s list. It is a great venue for local buyers and it is no charge! For selling you car try Autotrader.com. Don’t be in a hurry if you want top dollar.

  8. Alex says:

    the last three garage sales have been disappointing (Central Texas area) in spite of almost new, usable items in very good condition and good prices. People want garage sale items for almost free — why shouldn’t they when they can buy clothing and other items cheaply at Walmart, Marshall’s, Ross’, etc. I agree with David—in our case, garage sales are not worth the time and effort. Better for us to take the tax write-off for donations.

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