It may still be icy and freezing out in Northern Virginia, but spring is right around the corner. And do you know what that means? Flowers a’bloom, birds singing, bees buzzing… and yard sale season! Unless you are new to the yard sale scene, you already know that these sales are a great way to destash your house while making a sweet little chunk of change. And, while everyone is in the thick of the KonMari craze, holding a yard or garage sale is an awesome solution to sparking joy AND collecting some coin, which you won’t do if you simply haul all your treasure to Goodwill. Never held a garage sale before? No worries. The following are some insider tips for having a spectacular sale, whether in yard or garage.
The art of garage sale pricing is a delicate one. Sure, you want to make some money, but you also have to keep a few things in mind. Both consignment and thrift stores can command more for merchandise because they have it sorted in an orderly fashion and you are indoors. Outside, with the sun in your eyes, you want to pay “yard sale prices.” A good rule of thumb is that most items will sell for under $5, unless they are bigger items like small appliances, expensive handbags, home improvement tools that are in great condition, and/or anything else that is a big-ticket items. Clothes and books should almost never exceed a couple of dollars. If they are actually worth more, websites like eBay, or Mercari are your best bet.
Advertising and Signage
Craigslist is the go-to for garage sale advertising, but also check out sites like GarageSaleHunter, YardSaleSearch, and GarageSaleFinder. You want to get the word out to as many people as possible! It’s dying a slow death as an advertising form, but you may also consider listing your ad in your local or neighborhood paper. Good ads should list the highlights of what you are selling, include the hours, and possibly the closest intersection to your home if you are in the suburbs. Make sure to specify “no early birds” if you don’t want people peeking in your windows while it’s still dark outside or hassling you while you set up.
It’s a guarantee: to every yard sale, there will come cheapskates. On top of those low-ballers, almost everyone will ask you for a deal of some sort. It’s up to you and your confidence in your pricing as to whether you negotiate or not. If an offer is reasonable, feel free to take it. If it’s insulting, stay firm. A good tip is to limit negotiations in the first few hours of the sale, as this will be your busiest time with all the prime merchandise still there, and if someone isn’t willing to pay $5 for that hand mixer, odds are good that someone else will. As it gets later in the day, start slashing prices and making deals as you see fit. Keep in mind that everything left over at the end of the sale will have to be donated or packed back into your house, so let that motivate you when it comes to haggling.
Stay Within the Law
Yard sales in Northern Virginia are generally legal, but there are a few specifics you should know depending on your neighborhood or county. Here are a few things that may be restricted in your area, so you will need to research ahead of time!
- Placement and size of yard sale signage
- Days and times garage sales are allowed
- If you can host a personal yard sale, or if you have to wait for community days.
Start the search for the answer to these questions on your local county's site. Fairfax County yard sale signage placement rules are here, and if you're casually running an annual yard sale in Alexandria then you don't need a permit, but there is some fine print listed here.