How much do you want for this? | A guide to stress free yard sales

Saturday, Mom and I hosted a yard sale.

Yard sales. The very term brings back memories of waking up on a Saturday morning to find my parents had been awake since before dawn and were selling all of my toys. It should have been traumatic, but there were always donuts, so I got over it. No matter how many yard sales we had, we never seemed to have any less stuff. I think it has something to do with the curvature of spacetime. Maybe we’re just hoarders.

These days, yard sales are no longer the simple affair of yesteryear. Social media sites and online vendors have turned the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” mantra into a platform for global commerce.

A stress free yard sale is a snap with these three simple steps:

  1. Caffeinate 
  2. Wear comfortable shoes
  3. Go find a yard sale

Seriously, unless you’re just shopping, yard sales are stressful. With the gathering, sorting, purging, and schlepping, you’re exhausted before you even begin. Then comes the people who show up an hour early, the 700º heat, and the 489% humidity and (I am not making this up) fuss at you for not having a sign up yet. It’s a party.

I do have a couple of gems that I humbly offer for those who feel the need to invite strangers to their homes to sort through their junk:

  1. Use the dot method – Instead of marking everything with a price, use colored stickers to quickly label things and then post a key that explains the colors. Alternatively (if you have enough tables) group items of the same price and label the table/section.
  2. Hydrate – Lest you feel like a prune by the end of the day.
  3. Start Early – It’s going to take you longer to sort, stage, and price your items than you think. Give yourself plenty of time. Better yet, do it in stages.
  4. Post Items Online – Most communities have yard sale Facebook pages. List large items like furniture or exercise equipment online to increase visibility.
  5. Advertise – Put up signs directing potential shoppers to your sale, especially if you (like me) live off the beaten path. Put the word out on social media and keep your phone with you if someone messages you for information or directions.
  6. Ditch the leftovers – call Goodwill or schlep it off to the Salvation Army. Unless the item has real value (furniture, etc.) whatever small things are leftover at the end of the sale are obviously things you don’t want or need in your life. You may even get a tax deduction for it, and some charities will pick up your items if you have enough stuff!

Exhausted, sunburned, and filthy from head to toe, I nevertheless felt like this weekend’s sale was a huge success. We were able to divest ourselves of a lot of really nice things, and a bit of the crap, too.

I didn’t feel at all bad when I picked up pizza for dinner. Not even a little at first.

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