Memorial Day is one of the most popular times of the year for yard sales. My sister-in-law and her husband had a three day yard sale concluding today, which my family helped with on Saturday and if you’ve ever held these sales you know they are super exhausting. They can be a great way to clean out the clutter and make a little cash, but a little prep work goes a long way. I’ve come up with some tips for both would-be buyers and sellers to make the most of your yard sale experience.

In my opinion, yard sales are a buyers game and my reasoning for this is that by the time you decide to hold a yard sale, you’ve either been A. unsuccessful at selling items online or don’t want to go this route, B. Are on the verge of just throwing everything out or C. Really need to scrape together some extra cash for some unexpected or extra expense. Some people are really good at making hundreds of dollars holding yard sales, but it usually depends on how well you prepare, your location, the weather and of course your selection of goods up for sale. So here are some tips for the seller first:

1. Pick A Good Location And Date – It may be easiest to just pull stuff out in front of your house, but if you live really far off major roads you probably won’t see too much traffic. Your better bet is to team up with a friend who lives in a location that gets a lot more visibility from the road. Is it more work? Yes, but you increase your odds of packing less of your stuff up at the end of the day. Check weather forecasts in advance and try to pick dates where nice weather are in the cards. You might still want to set up tarps or just bring them in case. They can be great for shade on really hot days as well. Like I said earlier Memorial Day weekend has a reputation as a popular yard sale weekend so it’s a great time to cash in with a sale of your own.

2. The More The Merrier – If you can team up with another family or encourage several of your neighbors to hold their yard sales on the same day. You’ll draw more traffic and you can split the expense of advertising in the paper if you so choose to do this. The more selection there is, the more likely someone is to stop to see what treasures they can find for cheap.

3. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – My mother always did pretty well with classified ads in the paper so you could give this a try, but there are other free options. List your sale on and be sure to describe your big ticket items like furniture, tools, DVDs and electronics, jewelry, and baby equipment. These are the things I’ve personally noticed get people to stop and look around. You can post your sale in Swap and Sale pages on Facebook and there are even online virtual yard sale pages. Don’t forget to list the day(s), times, and location. Lots of signs with arrows pointing the way to your yard sale are also useful for shoppers who might just be traveling through the area and decide to stop by.

4. Bring On The Negotiations – If you aren’t willing to negotiate on a price, you probably should try selling that item on craigslist or ebay first. I think most yard sale shoppers venture out to sales with the expectation of negotiating your prices down. Start by marking your items up by a little bit, but keeping them within a fair price range. This way you’ll be prepared to negotiate down to your “must have” ideal price to sell it. You can always say no, but  a fish on the hook is worth more than a potential one. You can also encourage your shopper to keep looking and find other items to bundle with it for a reduced price. They get a lower price and you have less items to clean up when it’s all over. Some people also like to offer free gifts with purchase as an incentive to sweeten a deal. You could maybe say, “I really can’t go lower than $X on this item, but you can pick something out of this bin (usually your little items) for free if you can meet this price.” You have to keep in mind that unlike going to a shore, yard sale shoppers are looking for deals on items they would like to have if the price is right, not necessarily items they need to buy that day.

As I said earlier, I truly think yard sales are a buyers market so here are tips for the buyers out there.

1. Timing Is EVERYTHING – Check local papers and online and check for start and end times. You best bets to getting a truly great bargain are to go early or late in the day. If you’re hoping to score some big ticket items on the cheap, hit the sale earlier as they might not last till the end of the day. You can always ask that the sellers hold an item or you can prepay for it while you go get a bigger vehicle to bring it home in. But don’t wait on those big items because they are usually the first to go. If you’re going just to treasure hunt and aren’t in the market for anything in particular, stop by toward the end of the sale. This is your best time to get items for drastically reduced prices or free. The day after sales are over are a great opportunity to scoop up freebies that people don’t want to spend time dragging back into the house. Stop by sale locations the next day or check online where a lot of people offer yard sale leftovers to anyone willing to come pick them up curbside.

2. Negotiate And Bundle – Try to save negotiations for bigger items or bundle a bunch of items and offer a slightly lower price. Nobody really appreciates someone trying to haggle a dollar item down to pennies. Instead ask to get that lower priced item free if you purchase that other item or items you’ve been looking at. Most yard sale items are already priced pretty low, but you can still negotiate down in most cases, just try to be respectful about it because after all these are someone’s personal belongings.

3. Come With Cash – The yard sale is one where cash is king. While most sellers will hold bigger items for you, they might not be so willing to hold those lower priced items while you go and get cash. They might lose a chance to sell them to other shoppers who come by while risking the chance that you may not return for the item. My brother-in-law told me that a lot of yard sale buyers like to put a certain amount of cash (what they want to spend) in one pocket and the rest of their cash in another. When they pick up a more expesive item they might say, “Would you take $X amount because this is all I have (while flashing the cash).” A seller is more likely to work with you when you flash the cash because they know something is better than nothing and there are no guarantees they’ll get another buyer later in the day.

What’s the best deal you ever got from a yard sale or the most money you ever made?