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How to Safely Enjoy Those Yard Sales Popping Up All Over

A hand written yard sale sign on the curb outside a home.
Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock

Yard sales are a summertime right for many sellers and shoppers. While the country is still in the midst of a pandemic, rummaging through another person’s belongings may not sound like the safest pastime, but some people rely on them.

I was raised on yard sales, so the moment I see signs start to pop up in my neighborhood, I get excited. This year, along with the excitement, I felt a bit of trepidation. Will picking through someone’s discarded treasures end up being the thing that finally exposes me to the coronavirus?

Is It Any Riskier to Shop a Yard Sale Than a Store?

Now that states have canceled stay-at-home orders and many have slowly been allowing more and more businesses to open up (often to decreased capacities), many yard sale signs are popping up, but are people shopping, and is it okay to shop?

Successful garage sales can easily pull in more than a dozen people in a confined space. While much of the stuff may be outdoors, you need to consider how many people are touching items one after another. Though it’s hard to find any statistics for the risk of shopping at a rummage sale, it’s probably not that far off from shopping at a small local store.

A Quick Word on Having Yard Sales Right Now

Before getting into how to stay safe while you shop, there are some things to do if you’re considering hosting a sale at your home—you want to offer a safe space for customers (which may attract more people to your sale).

Here are your must-haves for having a yard sale during the pandemic:

  • Post a sign at the entrance to your sale (right out at the road with your “sale here” sign is great) that tells people to practice social distancing.
  • Set up a sanitation station at the entrance where shoppers are required to use hand sanitizer before entering your shopping area.
  • You can help folks stay socially distanced by spacing all of your shopping tables six feet apart.
  • Place arrows and x’s with chalk on your driveway and garage floor to help guide people in practicing social distancing and keep the flow of traffic running smoothly.
  • If your sale is outdoors or in an open garage or barn, masks are still a good idea, but some people may be reluctant to wear them—you can keep others safe by asking folks to stay distant and not touch items unless they’re considering buying them.
  • Lastly, be sure to do some routine cleaning in between customers by wiping down tables and items that are frequently touched.

How to Safely Shop a Yard Sale

Whether you’re the type of yard sale shopper who does drive-bys (you pull up to the sale, look to see what they have, and use what you see to determine if you’re going to get out and shop), now is the time to embrace this habit. Instead of checking to see if you can spot items you typically shop for, you should be looking for social distancing signs!

Of course, just because a yard sale host doesn’t seem to be doing much to keep shoppers safe, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and look around if you see something that catches your eye. Take safety into your own hands with these tips:

  • Always wear your mask when you head into a yard sale, even if it’s outdoors—not all people follow social distancing rules, so you’ll be better protected this way.
  • Wear disposable or washable gloves (and don’t touch your face with or without them on). I like to use a pair of gardening gloves. (They let my skin breathe.)
  • Take hand sanitizer with you. Don’t rely on people having yard sales to have hand sanitizer available for public use. Use it before and after you shop.
  • Put your purchases in the trunk or backseat and leave them there, untouched, until you get home. When you bring them in the house, sanitize each item and then wash your hands.

Living in the time of a pandemic is scary, and life is quite different right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the “normal” things you do when there isn’t scary disease out there—just be sure to take every precaution.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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