How do you know how to price things for a yard sale?

We’ve got a big combined one coming up at work and I thought I might use it as an opportunity to get rid of a bunch of stuff we really don’t need - housewares, mostly. Wine glasses that don’t fit in the dishwasher, stuff like that. My husband has some books and some records he wants to sell.

How on earth do you know how to price this stuff? I don’t want to get nothing for it, but I don’t want to take it home with me either!

I would err on the side of underpricing it. People go to yard sales for steals, because generally if you don’t want it nobody else does either.

I would suggest between 10% and 20% of what the item cost new, on the high side if it’s a recent purchase and getting lower as the item gets older.

The best way is to go to yard sales and get an idea of the pricing. Unless you want to take stuff home/get rid of it, then yellowjacketcoder’s right on the money with 10%-20% of new.

Flip a coin for each item. If it’s heads, the item is a dime. If it’s tails, a quarter.

Then be prepared to be haggled down from there.

I seem to recall hearing on the TV show “Clean House” (they clean out people’s messy houses and sell their stuff at a yard sale, then re-decorate the clean house) that the rule of thumb for something that is relatively new/in great shape you should price it at 1/3 - 1/2 the original price, and then work up or down from there.

At my own yard sales, I have worked with this basic formula and then also considered how badly I want to get it out of my house/not have to look at it anymore, and adjusted the price accordingly. For more expensive items, I will price them at the higher end to allow people to “haggle” with me - people always want a bargain and seem to feel better about the purchase if they can get you to lower the price.

Late in the day, all the prices can come down if you don’t want to drag it back into the house!

If it’s records, you might want to check out eBay or related sites; vinyl records are hot nowadays. We just had a local sale, and I was astonished at how much people are paying for really old vinyl. Don’t just sell those for 25 cents or whatever.

I agree that most things should be priced at about 10% of retail. Books could be priced by the inch, measuring the spine, unless they’re in really good condition in which case you could price them individually.

Items in the wrapper or packaging, or clothes with tags on them, can be priced a little higher.

And one word of advice. Use peel-off stickers designed for this purpose, NOT masking tape or (yes, I have seen this) duct tape. You will ruin your merchandise if you do that.

Garage sales are an entertaining way to get rid of your junk (and it is all junk). If you aren’t entertained by the process and you aren’t willing to basically give it away, don’t bother. If you have stuff that you genuinely believe has value, try getting rid of it on craigslist. When that fails, have a garage sale.


I’ve held exactly one yard/garage sale.

Stuff with actual value does not sell.

Stuff with no value will sell for such an insignificant amount that you may as well just move it to the curb and put out a “FREE” sign.

As you are not going to be there to haggle, you might want to quickly call over a family friend or neighbor and ask them to be honest and tell you what THEY would pay for these things.

You might have some sentimental attachment or be unaware of value.

For instance, you remember buying that cheese grater for $15 and want $5…but your friend will let you know they sell even better graters in Target now, brand new, for $4 and you will be lucky to get a dollar.

On the other hand, you might think those wine glasses are only worth 50 cents each, but you will hear that similar glasses in that height and style can’t be found anywhere for less than $4 per glass and you should try for at least $2.

Plus, letting someone else put a price on them takes the stress of you thinking about it…and you can do a practice “haggle” to see why your friend/neighbor thinks it is worth less or more.

I think 10% is a little low unless there is damage or wear.

Nice things pop for me at about 40% retail. But they have to be nice.

I rarely price anything under a dollar. Screw dat. If you have lots of cheap stuff, bundle it together for a buck or so. My MIL wanted to sell 20 pens for 5c each. I came back, bundled them into one pkg, sold for a dollar the first five minutes.

Price no higher than 20%, then haggle if asked.

Remember: your object is to get rid of clutter, and then turn a few bucks.





This. Plus if your yard sale starts at 8am, all of the hawks and senior citizens will be there to pick you clean of all items that are worth anything. By 9am, you might as well just go to a bar instead of watching people look at the rest of your garbage with disdain. Call a local charity from the bar and ask them to come and pick up your stuff. When they refuse, take it to the dump the next day.

Decide what your primary goal is. Are you looking to sell things for what they’re worth or are you looking to clear out your garage?

If you’re looking to make money, you have to realize you’re going to have a lot of unsold items at the end of the day. Look at flea markets - those guys are set up to leave an item on display for weeks until a customer who’s willing to pay the right price comes along. And they have more potential customers than you’ll get at a garage sale. If you’re looking to make money, you’re better off putting stuff up for sale on eBay.

The people who go to garage sales to buy things are mostly looking for bargains. They’re looking for items that are not only cheaper than WalMart - they want stuff that’s cheaper than Goodwill. So you’ve got to offer extraordinary bargains to attract them.

I’ll use myself as an example. I buy books. If I have a specific book I want, I’ll go to a bookstore because that’s where they have the best selection. The next step down is a used bookstore - their selection isn’t as good but I can find books I want even if they might not have a specific title and they sell books at half cover price. The next step after that is a library book sale or a Goodwill store - their selection is pretty haphazard but I’ll probably find something worth reading and they’re only charging a dollar or two per book. The final step is garage sales - they might have a box of books on sale so the selection will be really limited but their price will only be a dime or a quarter.

Yard sale time-of-day seems to be ending earlier and earlier. Used to be 8-3 was pretty standard, now there’s not much past noon for traffic. If your experience is anything like mine, some minority folks from a nearby city will start coming by about noon looking to pay about a quarter of whatever you’re asking. Not trying to be racist, just heard that anecdote over and over and had it happen at our yard sales just as often. Schedule your yard sale no longer that 8-1.

Price yourself some haggling room but beware of those who “don’t haggle”. If you get silence to your price, ask, “what do you think it’s worth?” This allows you to get good money while not losing out on those who are beneath negotiation.

Don’t put prices on most of your things. Few customers expect this and you’re only shorting yourself and/or scaring buyers off. Let the customers ask you, “How much do you want for this?” or, “will you take three bucks for this?”

Almost everything is worth a dollar. The days of everything at a yard sale being a quarter or fifty cents are over. On your higher valued things, get the customer to talk first… you’re not selling a car and won’t have a relationship with them long term, so smile sweetly and say, “gee, I hadn’t thought about it, what’s it worth to you?”

Have change.

Let your kid sell lemonade/coffee/cookies/donuts as is weather appropriate, they’re irresistible and it will keep them involved instead of being tempted to tire of the yard sale.

If you have hardly anything but clothes, toys and baby stuff, consign instead of yard sale. Us yard sale guys hate “ladies only” type yard sales. In fact, having a couple of tools for sale, whether you planned to or not, is always a good idea.

Quite the opposite of my philosophy. I’m an in-and-out-in-seconds type of browser. No prices means means I’m gone even faster. I have no interest in wasting time asking.

Put a price on it. Period.

I’ve had several yard sales in my time and I always get a great amount of amusement from it. I liken it to putting out my trash and having people come and pay me for it.

As for pricing, personally I start at the low end of what I think someone will pay for something, then triple it, because I find people are going to offer (and I’m going to take) about a third of what I’m asking. If someone is willing to buy something at the tagged price, I like to throw in something else that they were looking at but put down.

During our neighborhood garage sales I put out a table of stuff with a box marked “Pay fair- pay what it’s worth to you,” then I left. At the end of the day I had $25 and less stuff and got to go to all the sales myself.

This only really works if you’re not there, though. One of the sales I went to nothing was marked and they wanted the same sort of thing- pay what it’s worth. But it’s harder to pay a person $1 for a pair of nice-ish shoes than just to put it in the box. So I didn’t get anything because I just felt awkward.

As far as pricing, I’ve found that all the stuff I thought was absolute crap goes first, because I put low prices on it. The stuff I think is nice goes more slowly or not at all because I have priced it higher. So, yeah, a quarter per item household stuff and books, $1 or $2 per record or CD, 50 cents or $1 per article of clothing, depending on how worn they are. If you’re looking to make $$ a garage sale is not the way to do it- you have to be happy that you’re decluttering and tell yourself that that is its own reward.

Absolutely no to this one. Nobody wants to get out the measuring tape to determine how much a book costs. Just put all of your books in a box together with a single price tag, like “Books: $1 each”. At most, set two different price points, like hardbacks $1, paperbacks 50 cents. Or maybe 50 and 25 cents, or maybe $2 and $1, or whatever, depending on the going rate in your area.

Also, in general, make sure you have a free box. Realistically, there are some things you’re getting rid of that you won’t even get a quarter for. And having a free box will cause people to linger a bit longer while they look through everything in it, in which time they (or their companions) might notice something else.

I second this. If I’m looking around I tend to ignore anything that isn’t priced. If nothing is priced, I’ll just go to the next garage sale. I have no interest in haggling over pennies.