How to Write a Great Garage Sale Ad

Young woman writing yard sale ad.
Woman writing yard sale ad. Cavan Images/Taxi/Getty Images

No matter how many signs you hang, you still likely need to place garage sale ads online and in your local newspaper’s classifieds. Serious yard sale shoppers plan their routes in advance and they might miss yours if you skip the ad. Here's how to write a great garage sale ad, including specific wording and tips.

Your Headline is Your Hook

The headline you write for your yard sale creates the first impression potential shoppers have of your sale. On Craigslist yard sale listings, shoppers may not even open your ad if the headline doesn't sound appealing. Use your headline to convince shoppers to prioritize your sale.

Start With Where

Serious shoppers target the neighborhoods most likely to have what they want. They scan for those areas when planning their routes and prioritize the most promising sales. The headline isn't the place for your full address. It is the place for your subdivision name, part of town, street name, or whatever briefly identifies your location as a place shoppers might choose to prioritize.

What You Are Selling

The words "Garage Sale" or "Yard Sale" do not make an effective headline. Readers already know they're looking at garage sale listings. Your "what" is where you tell shoppers why your sale is more promising than the rest. 

If you're moving out of state or cleaning out the attic, for example, say so because that tells shoppers you probably have lots of stuff. The same goes if you're having a huge church sale or if you have five families participating. If your sale isn't particularly large but your merchandise is superior, tell us why. "Antique Collector Downsizing Sale" sounds a lot more promising than "One-Family Garage Sale."

Online Headline Tips

It can be very helpful to use Craiglist or local Facebook groups to advertise your sale.

  • On Craiglist, don't save the general location for the location and postal code boxes. Fill those out too, but make sure you put your neighborhood name in the box labeled "posting title" along with the rest of your headline. If you don't, the general location won't show up when users do a certain type of search.
  • On Facebook, it's very easy to include pictures of your items. Take higher quality photos of the best items to draw visitors to your sale.

Newspaper Headline Tips

If your local newspaper lists yard sales, go ahead and list yours. Check the paper a few weeks prior to see if this is a popular method for advertising sales.

  • If your newspaper doesn't have a headline option for its classified ads, pay extra to bold the first line of your listing and write that one as your headline.
  • Don't waste your money on borders and goofy graphics to draw attention to your yard sale ad. Savvy shoppers just want to know where you're located and what you have.

Say Exactly Where and When

Now that you've grabbed our attention with your headline, visitors need to know when and exactly where. The address is easy, but you'd be surprised at how many people forget to include their addresses in their garage sale ads. Even if you're sure you've already added it, check again.

Some advise sellers not to include their exact address. In an attempt to foil early birds, some suggest providing the general area and let yard sale signs to lead shoppers to the sale once it starts. This is not good advice and is not helpful to planners who map out their routes.

For the time, include the complete hours of your sale (7 a.m. to 2 p.m., for example) or just list the time your plan to start. Be precise about times. Avoid phrases like "starts at sunrise" or "dawn till dusk." You may assume sunrise means the sun is up, but the early birds will interpret it as "as long as I can see with a flashlight." 

Tell What You Have 

The body of your yard sale ad is the place to tell potential shoppers what you have for sale. There's no need to list every last piece of lidless Tupperware you have for sale. Please don't. But, you do need to include these two things:

  • List the overall types of merchandise you have
  • List specific pieces for merchandise that are particularly desirable

For example, don't list coffee mugs, t-shirts, headbands, florist vases. A better listing might include vintage linens and kitchenware, garden tools, furniture, plus-size clothing, mcm arc lamp, Victorian fainting couch, etc. Be honest about what you have. If you lie to make your sale sound more impressive, you'll annoy the shoppers you mislead.

Show Your Stuff

Snap a few photos of your best stuff (the biggest or most desirable pieces, not the junk) and add them to your online ad. If photos are free for your newspaper's online listings, include them there too. Make sure your photos are well-lit and in focus. Snap them outside, if possible, and avoid using the flash. Bad photos are worse than not having them at all.