Yard Sale Advertising

Easy Ways to Attract Buyers to Your Yard Sale

Making yard sale signs is a crucial part of yard sale advertising
Hanging yard sale signs is a crucial part of advertising your sale. Rob Gage/Photodisc/Getty Images

If shoppers can't find your yard sale, you won't sell your stuff -- no matter how much merchandise you're offering, or for how little. Yard sale advertising is crucial. If you don't do it, all those hours of sorting, organizing, and pricing go to waste. From garage sale ads to great signage, here's how to advertise your yard sale:

1. Advertise Your Yard Sale on Craigslist

In recent years, Craigslist has become the most important place to list your yard sale ad.

It's free to place your ad, and computer-savvy shoppers would rather browse online listings than pick up a newspaper. Additionally, yard sale smartphone apps and websites for finding yard sales and mapping sale routes, such as Yard Sale Treasure Map, frequently pull their results from the Craigslist garage sale section.

Here are some tips on writing your yard sale ad:

  • Include the dates, starting time, and your address. If you live near a well-known landmark, such as a school or major intersection, include that too. Make it easy for shoppers to find your yard sale.
  • After you've listed the when and where, add a short list of the most desirable merchandise you have for sale. Don't list every single odd and end, but don't skip the merchandise list either. Hardcore bargain hunters read these and prioritize their routes based on what you have for sale. You don't want your sale to be the last one on their route; they'll be tired, short of cash, and they'll expect bigger discounts.
  • Add photos of a few of your hottest pieces -- such as good furniture, collectibles, or trendy vintage lighting and accessories -- to your listing.
  • Schedule your yard sale ad to start running a day or two before the sale. Many shoppers plan their yard sale routes in advance.

The only exception to advertising your yard sale on Craigslist is if you're holding your sale in a town too small to have its own Craigslist page -- and if you're more than 40 minutes away from a larger city that does.

This doesn't include suburbs and bedroom communities for larger cities. In those cases, you're still part of the greater metropolitan area and you should list your sale on the primary city's Craigslist site.

2. List Your Yard Sale in the Newspaper Classifieds

Many longtime yard sale shoppers still check their local newspaper classifieds for yard sale ads; the younger folks aren't the only ones with money to spend.

Listing your yard sale in the newspaper classifieds is crucial if you live in a small town, or anywhere without a designated Craigslist page.

Even if you do have a city-specific Craigslist site, your local shoppers may rely on both. For example, I live in a city with a population greater than 650,000. My greater metropolitan area has more than 1.3 million residents. I plan my garage sale route using listings from both Craigslist and the city newspaper. Though there's some overlap, I always find listings exclusive to one or the other.

To check your city's listing habits, check the Saturday classifieds of your local newspaper for yard sale listings. If you see some, go ahead and list your yard sale in the newspaper too.

Write the newspaper ad for your yard sale using the first two steps above in the Craigslist section.

Make sure you:

  • Schedule the newspaper ad to start the day before the first day of your sale. Make sure it runs on the days of the sale as well.
  • Add your listing to the newspaper's online version. Inclusion is usually automatic these days, but go ahead and pay the difference if it's not. Some shoppers use only view the online listings.

3. Make Garage Sale Signs

No matter how many ads you place, you still need garage sale signs. Signs are the only advertisements some shoppers will ever see.

To be effective, yard sale signs have to draw the eye as potential shoppers drive by. Even in a city where most people walk, your signs have to stand out from the rest of the paper flotsam littering the urban landscape. Drawing the eye means using attention-getting color.

Making your signs from neon-colored poster board is an easy way to get color -- and it's one of the most effective.

 Regular yard sale shoppers frequently scan the streets for glimpses of neon as they drive; those colors usually indicate a sale.

  • Letter your signs in black marker or paint. Or, use your computer to print black lettering on white paper, and then paste it to the colored poster board. If you opt for the latter, leave a large border of neon visible around the printed text.
  • At the top of each sign, write "Garage Sale" or "Yard Sale", or whichever term is the most common where you live. If it's a group sale of any sort, say so. "4-Family Yard Sale" tells potential shoppers that you have a lot of stuff. On the next line, add your street address. Then, at the bottom, add a big, thick arrow to show shoppers where to go.
  • The information in Step 2 is all you really need on your yard sale sign. But, if you have a particularly choice type of merchandise and including it won't crowd your sign, go ahead and add that too. Keep it brief, and don't list everything you have. "Lots of Antiques" or "MCM Furniture" will suffice.
  • If you're printing your signs and pasting them to the poster board, use huge letters and bold them. If you're hand-lettering, draw thick letters and a thick arrow, and then color them in. Letters made from a single marker stroke are too thin to read from a moving car.
  • Use tape to hang your signs from utility poles and stop signs, unless your city prohibits it. Place them at busy intersections leading into your neighborhood. Within your neighborhood, lead shoppers to your sale by placing signs at every turn. If attaching signs to utility poles and stop signs is prohibited, attach your signs to wooden stakes and drive them into the ground at those locations.
  • Remove your signs after the sale ends.

Neon poster board isn't the only good option. The colorful sign in the photo definitely draws attention. It works because the letters are thick, bright, and they contrast with the red. Thick white lettering would also work, but black would nearly disappear.

Black lettering on white poster board works, as long as you add a touch of color, perhaps a big orange or green arrow or a trio of colorful balloons tied on top.

4. Submit Your Sale to Yard Sale Websites

While their use isn't widespread enough to rely on exclusively, submit your sale to yard sale websites, especially if the listing is free. Many have route planners and smartphone sale finder apps to go along with their sites, and you want to make sure your sale gets included in the results. 

5. Promote Your Yard Sale on Social Media

Arrange some of your most desirable merchandise into an attractive vignette and snap a pic. Then, announce your yard sale on Facebook, Twitter, and other appropriate social media types. Your friends and followers probably don't all live nearby, but odds are that some do.

Cities, neighborhood associations, churches, and activity groups sometimes have social media sites that serve as community calendars. If personal announcements are permitted -- be sure so you don't accidentally spam -- post your yard sale there too. Some towns even have yard-sale-specific pages just for selling through the site and announcing sales.