11 Do's and Don'ts of Interacting with Yard Sale Customers

How to Be Helpful Without Harassing Your Yard Sale Shoppers

yard sale sellers talking to shopper
Burke/Triolo Productions/The Image Bank

Whether they're shopping a yard sale or a high-end boutique, shoppers prefer to buy from sellers they like. But, sometimes it hard to find the balance between being friendly and being that seller who just won't leave you alone to shop. Before having your next sale, learn these 11 do's and don'ts for interacting with yard sale customers:

1. Do let early birds browse if you have everything ready and it won't stress you.

Shoppers who arrive before your starting time still have plenty of cash -- and an early bird is also a bird in hand.

2. Do feel free to turn away early bird shoppers if you're not ready to receive them. Don't feel obligated. Dealers and dedicated yard sale shoppers are the ones who show up early. They'll probably come back.

3. Do start the sale on time. Some shoppers undoubtedly routed your sale based on your stated starting time.

4. Do greet your customers as they arrive. It's polite and it identifies you as the person holding the sale.

5. Don't launch into an extensive explanation of your pricing system as soon as shoppers arrive. It's fine to say, "Welcome. The paperback books are 50 cents each. Everything else is marked." If your pricing requires more explanation than that, it's too complicated anyway.

6. Do take your cue from the customer on the amount of interaction. If the customer starts chatting after you greet her, a little small talk is fine, but many prefer to get right to the goods.

7. Do keep watch on your sale and your shoppers. If a customer raises her head and looks around, she may have a question. Approach and ask if you can help.

8. Don't follow your customers around the sale. It's offensive. Even if you're just trying to help, they'll assume you suspect them of stealing.

9. Don't comment on every item your customer notices.

It's pushy -- and a yard sale isn't the place for high-pressure sales. Just let people browse. Shoppers don't care that you bought it on vacation, your daughter wore it to homecoming, or your sister gave you a new one for Christmas. Most yard sale items don't require a provenance. 

10. Don't waste your or the customer's time “selling” him on the item he's already holding. If he wants its history, he'll ask. He probably just wants to pay you and leave.

11. Don't get offended when customers ask for a lower price. Haggling is just part of the yard sale culture. You don't have to accept any offer that's too low, and hagglers expect you to make a counteroffer.