We know we're going to face some competition. The recession has spurred a recent rise in yard sales, with Craigslist seeing a 200 percent increase in yard-sale listings over the past two years. (The photos show people in Clarkrange, Tennessee, seeking deals at a stop on what's been called the "World's Longest Yardsale," which is wending its way over 654 miles from Alabama to Ohio from August 6 through 9.)
Follow this advice if you're planing to hold or shop at a garage, yard, tag, estate, or stoop sale this weekend or any other time of the year:
Don't buy a summons. Check with your local municipality to see whether you need a permit to hold the sale and whether there are restrictions on the types of signs you can use and the places and periods during with you can display them.
Aim for peak traffic. Schedule your sale for dates when other local events boost road or foot traffic near your home.
Use effective signage. Create some eye-catching, long-wearing signs; Microsoft offers some templates. Corrugated cardboard and plastic signs resist inclement weather better than cardboard or posterboard signs, and you can reuse them for future sales.
Build buzz online. Post notices on free classified sites, including Craigslist. "Mention big-ticket and 'hot' items such as toys and sporting goods in your ads to stir up interest,' says Donna Smallin, a professional organizer and the author of The One-Minute Organizer: A to Z Storage Solutions: 500 Tips for Storing Every Item in Your Home.
If you're a pack rat and want to organize your home, read our "10 Questions for . . ." interview with professional organizer Katherine Steiger.
Price items to sell. "Place yourself in the position of the buyer and think about what someone without an emotional history with the item would pay, not what you want to get for it. If you can't think about the item that way, maybe you're not ready to part with it," says Tobie Stanger, a Consumer Reports senior editor who covers personal finance.
Don't sell unsafe products. It's now illegal to sell any product that has been recalled, as the experts on the Consumer Reports Safety blog have reported. Check out this booklet from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF) or www.recalls.gov for more details.
Sell items with a broad appeal. Place a mix of your most compelling items for men, women, and kids closest to the street to turn passers-by into buyers. Hang and sort all clothing by type (men's and women's and, or shirts and pants and sweaters), and keep a mirror handy if you're selling accessories.
Turn out the tables. Use easily transportable fold-up tables to display your wares, then sell the tables themselves as they get cleared of goods during the sale.
Also place fresh batteries in items that require them and keep a live source of electricity handy so shoppers can turn on/off equipment and try it out. For items for which you have the original boxes, display them outside their boxes. If you have the owner's manual and product reviews (say from Consumer Reports), place them in plastic bags taped to the boxes.
Keep change on hand. To speed transactions, be sure you have a supply of one- and five-dollar bills and change as well as a calculator on hand.
• Don't show up too early (those signs say "no early birds" for a reason). But arriving just as the sale officially opens ensures first look at the most tempting finds.
• Never purchase a used crib, particularly one with drop sides or made before 1999. Also steer clear of car seats, play yards, and kids' clothing with drawstrings.
• Don't be afraid to haggle, especially if you're shopping near the end of the sale.—Gian Trotta | e-mail | Twitter | Forums | Facebook
Essential information: "Best Ways to Sell Your Stuff" provides advice on selling unwanted wares in person, online, or through third-party services like auction and consignment houses.