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How to Price Yard Sale Items So They Actually Sell

Pricing stickers sitting on a table next to a sharpie.
ImagenX/Shutterstock

When it comes to preparing for a yard sale, advertising is going to bring people in, but it isn’t going to make them buy anything. You have to price your items right if you want them to sell.

It helps to keep in mind when you price your yard sale items that you want to get rid of them. They no longer serve a purpose, but you’d like to make a little money instead of just tossing them in the donation pile.

So, it doesn’t matter how much you paid for an item; you want to price it to sell at a yard sale. But how do you do that?

The Rules of Yard Sale Pricing

There are some rules you can follow, which might help you price your stuff to sell. And do make sure you put prices on everything. You might be willing to wheel and deal, but there are plenty of folks who’ll walk away without items they want because they don’t want to ask how much they are. It might seem like a hassle to individually price everything, but you’ll have more work to do if none of it sells.

How Much Would You Pay for It?

Ask yourself this question before you price an item. Consider how old that shirt or video game is. If you wouldn’t pay $5 for Glee Karaoke Revolution for Wii, how can you expect someone else to?

The Ultimate Pricing Rule

Consider that your item is used and comes with no returns or warranties. Even an item that’s currently worth $50 on the market will only net you about $5 to $10 (unless you’re lucky, it’s a collectible, or it’s in high-demand). Yard sale items are generally worth anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of their market (or new) value. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get $50 for something you spent $100 on, but be prepared to be stuck with it at the end of your sale.

Price It for Resale

Plenty of people make a living buying stuff and reselling it on eBay or at kitsch stores. If you want your sale items to sell, price them at a point that allows someone who makes a living in resale to sell it for a profit. Yard sales aren’t eBay or resale shops, so you shouldn’t expect to get collectible prices, even for collectible items (unless you’re advertising the sale with collectors).

Know the Demand for Your Items

If you’re selling a high-demand item at your rummage sale, you might be able to get more out of it than some of your other items.

Sometimes, you can price collectibles and higher ticket items at a higher price point. For example, if you live in a town with lots of lakes, your fishing gear might be worth more. If your sale is happening around prom time and you have old prom dresses, you might get more for them than you would in the middle of summer.

Check Out the Prices at Other Yard Sales

Priced glass vases and trinkets sitting on a table at a yard sale.
Nature1000/Shutterstock

Scope out other yard sales in your area during the weeks leading up to yours. If you can, check them out on both the first and last day. On day one, see what they have, and at what price they’ve marked any items similar to what you’re going to sell. On the final day, see what they have left and whether they resorted to a half-off sale to move stuff.

Let People Know You’ll Haggle

When you’re hosting a yard sale, it’s a good idea to watch people while they shop. If someone picks something up and seems interested, but returns it to the table, speak up! Tell them something beneficial about it (it works great, was only used once, etc.), and that you’ll take less for it. You might lose a buck or two, but you’ll have one less item to pack when the sale is over.

A good yard sale host knows that all prices are negotiable. If someone makes you a reasonable offer on an item, take it.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Firm

If you do have some collectibles or other items you won’t budge on, write “firm” on the tag. This tells shoppers you won’t haggle on this particular item. Don’t worry—even firmly priced items have a chance of selling.

Again though, to emphasize our previous point, don’t be firm because you’ve attached a false sense of value to the item. If you don’t plan to sell it on eBay later (and have a realistic chance of actually getting a higher price), just let it go for what people are willing to pay.

Beat Thrift Store Prices

If your yard sale stuff doesn’t sell, it’ll likely end up in a thrift store. To prevent this from happening (and add more money to your pocket), price your stuff lower than the local thrift stores.

Keep clothing $3 and under, unless it’s a fur coat, prom or wedding dress, leather jacket, or something else that comes with a big price tag when it’s new (and even then, remember the percentage rule).

Price board games at a dollar or two. Sell video games and movies for what you might get if you traded them in somewhere.

Make Everything Less Than $5

If you have a Five Below store near you, you know it’s a popular destination. People like to feel like they’re getting more for less. Use that retail model when it comes to your yard sale items and price as much as you can at or under the $5 price point.

People come to yard sales looking for deals, so give them what they’re looking for, and you’ll likely get rid of all (or most) of your stuff!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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