You stand to make a sweet deal by following these steps.

By Alexandra Churchill
May 30, 2019
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A yard sale is a wonderful way to eliminate clutter and to ''recycle'' the belongings you no longer need, whether you're planning a move or are just trying to simplify your surroundings. The key to organizing one successfully is planning well in advance.

Know What to Sell

First and foremost, clean and declutter. During the weekends before your sale, go through every room and purge, purge, purge. Take an objective look around your home and set aside all of the things you don't use, don't need, and don't love. Everything from furniture and antiques to clothing and toys can be sold. Aside from the obvious-used cosmetics, undergarments, last night's leftovers-very little is off-limits when it comes to what you should sell. Just because you don't want it doesn't mean others won't. Outgrown baby clothes: Someone in the neighborhood might have a newborn. Gifts from loved ones that are collecting dust: Shed the guilt and get rid of them. Quirky collectibles from decades past: There will always be a collector. When in doubt, just sell it.

Set a Date

Decide on a weekend for your sale. June through October tends to be the best time for yard sales because people are in the throes of preparing for the next school year and college moving, and the weather is pleasant enough. Set a rain date just in case-or be prepared to sell out of your garage if the weather doesn't hold up. Remember, die-hard yard-sale shoppers will show up rain or shine. It's a good idea to invite neighbors and friends to participate, since multiple-family yard sales attract more customers. Even if you don't include your neighbors, be sure to alert them, so the extra traffic won't come as a surprise. You'll also want to check with your town hall in case you need special permission for additional parking, for commercial use of residential property, or for temporary signs.

Advertise Everywhere

Call up your neighbors and family members, post an announcement on Craigslist and local news websites, and update social media with the details of your sale. Give the date and time, a rain date if there is one, the exact address, and mention the most intriguing items for sale. If you don't want people showing up at your door at the crack of dawn, specify ''no early birds.'' You should prepare for the sale by making easy-to-read signs and posting them in your neighborhood, directing shoppers to your home. Make a large sign for your yard so people will know they've found you.

Set Up the Sale

Gather as many picnic, garden, and card tables as you can. Assemble everything you want to sell on the ground, then plan table displays. Lure shoppers with eye-catching arrangements of items-group objects in the same color, for example. You can appeal to collectors immediately by grouping your most interesting items by era, style, and so on. Make items as accessible as possible, putting clothes on racks, books in boxes, and miscellaneous items on tables. Keep kids' items separate so that little ones aren't aimlessly rifling through valuables or restlessly getting in the way of more serious shoppers. If you have a section of items like toys and sports gear for them to go through themselves, both child and parent will stay happy-and maybe even purchase more. An old-school lemonade stand, ice water, or baked goods (should you be so ambitious) are small gestures that go a long way. Shoppers and their kids get tired and thirsty, and a quick, refreshing break may be just the trick to motivate them into further deal-hunting.

Have help on hand the day of the sale: Assign someone to greet shoppers as they arrive, and another person as the cash attendant, so all the money is in one place. Clearly mark one table as the cash table, to centralize buying, receipt giving, and bagging. Have plenty of singles and quarters and bags saved from the grocery store, and keep an extension cord handy so buyers can test electrical equipment.

Price Smartly

Set your prices high enough to allow for bargaining, but not so high that you'll scare off buyers. And let people know that you're willing to negotiate. If you have any question about the value of prospective yard-sale items, especially antiques, have them appraised ahead of time. You can also consult antiques price guides or online sales and auctions to learn the going rate for specific collectibles and furniture. Put a price tag on everything, no matter how small, and if an item is noteworthy, label it as such-''Gothic hall chair'' or ''Eastlake-style mirror,'' for example. For a multiple-family sale, color-code the price tags or stickers. That way, you will know whose item is being bought and can note it on a pad. The money can be divided at the end of the day.

Pack Up

By midmorning of your sale, much will be gone, so regroup and reprice your tables. Move items closer to the street for impulse buyers passing by, and reduce prices during the last two hours of the sale. By afternoon, consolidate: Pack unneeded goods, and begin bagging litter. Keep cardboard boxes nearby for packing what doesn't sell, and donate these items to a local charity.

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