How to Have a Wildly Successful Yard Sale -- Pricing Your Merchandise For Maximum Profit

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You want to make significant profits at your yard sale. Your plan is in place and you have gathered considerable merchandise. Now, it's time to price your goods for maximum benefit.

Get the right labels. You will sell more if you make it easy for the buyers. Price every item with the same kind of labels. Consistency is important so customers know what to expect. Thus, use easy-to-read and easy-to-remove price tags as a courtesy. On the other hand, be sure they won't accidentally come off. Adhesive labels and string hang tags work best. It is disappointing to see a book you want, only to find a price written directly on it with black marker. Many will not make the purchase only for that reason. Also, label anything damaged or questionable "as is."

Make the prices easy to read with a fine-tip black permanent marker on the tags. Alternatively, if you want to save time, buy color-coded circular labels. Put yellow stickers on the items priced at 25 cents, green stickers for 50-cent items, blue for 75 cents and red for $1. Post several large posters with the colors and corresponding prices.

Research, research, research. If you have items in new or near-new condition, it pays quite well to do research. Get a picture of the item advertised with the price so buyers know for sure they are getting a deal. Find the item in newspaper inserts, sale catalogs or online. Print the page with a picture and retail value, glue to index cards and attach to the corresponding merchandise. If it's brand new in the original packaging, price it for 25 to 30 percent of the retail price. If the label is still attached, all the better. Remember, your merchandise must be a terrific bargain to earn maximum profits.

This method works well for items that sell well on eBay. Many eBay sellers frequent yard sales for merchandise to resell so make it easy for them. Go to eBay and sign in, then run a search for your item. On the left side of your results page you will find a "Search Options" section. Check the completed auctions box and search again. Results will come up, giving you the final prices that the search items sold for in the last 10 days. Print that page and attach it to your item so your buyer will know approximately what he could buy or sell it for on eBay.

Check for recalls. Be sure the items you sell have not been recalled or pose any potential hazards. You should avoid selling older baby items such as cribs, strollers, bike helmets, playpens, car seats, and baby gates. Do not resell cribs with slats more than 2-3/8 inches apart or with mesh holes ¼-inch or greater or with corner posts or broken/missing pieces or manufactured before January 1994. Do not sell walkers with wheels or carseats that have sustained a crash, have broken or missing pieces, have no model number or date of manufacture, are more than six years old or are on a recall list with its manufacturer no longer in existence. If none of your items are on a recall list, place a notice stating that fact. If you have any question about the value of prospective yard sale items — especially antiques — first have them appraised.

Price things in groups. Among the items selling nicely in groups are silverware, kitchen utensils, hair accessories, Barbie clothes and accessories, candles, craft supplies, baby socks and baby bottles. You can tie them together or seal them in Ziploc bags. Try to package them so buyers can still examine them without detaching them from one another. Place labels saying "sold as a set."

Put a price tag on everything, no matter how small. If you don't take the time to do this, you will spend much more time constantly answering the question, "How much is this?"

Price everything low. Yard sale customers are looking for terrific bargains. It's the biggest reason most of them are there. It puts off buyers to find prices equal to or higher than the same items brand new on store clearance. However, name brands do command slightly higher prices. Really nice children’s clothes sell well at $1 each. If stained or not name brand, make the price 50 cents or less. Socks and underwear should be no higher than 10 cents each.

These prices may seem too low but you want to actually sell your stuff and realize a profit. If the prices are too high, you won't sell at all. Your profit will be greater if your prices are reasonable. For example, you could sell 20 items for $2 each or 200 items for 50 cents each. You will make much more if you sell at the lowest price. Setting prices about 10 percent of retail is a good ballpark figure.

Remember, it does not matter if you paid $65 for a DVD set and would like to get $40. If it is sealed in its original packaging, you could try pricing it at $9.50; otherwise, price it at $6.50 so it will sell.

Set prices higher than what you want. For example, you are wanting to sell an old dresser in good shape that works nicely, looks good and would sell in the stores for $250. You would like to get at least $25 so you price it at $35. Someone offers you $20. You counter with $30. You are offered $25 so you sell. Both you and your buyer are happy. Most customers who frequent yard sales expect to negotiate on price. If you price things on the high side, you have room to negotiate. You will still get what you want for the item; plus, your buyer thinks he got a terrific bargain. It's a win-win situation.


  • If you are holding a group sale, find out the lowest price the other sellers will accept on their items.


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