How to Hold an Easy, Low-Stress Yard Sale

Updated on June 25, 2017

Everyone knows that Yard Sales are a good way to get rid of unwanted items in their home, but many people do not want to deal with the stress of pricing items for sale. After all, how do you know what to charge? Are you asking too much or too little? Others dread the idea of setting up their folding chair and spending precious hours on their day off to “babysit” their items and occasionally negotiate a sale. But there is an easier way. I call it the no-stress yard sale.

Now before we go any further, you must decide. Do you enjoy negotiating with a perspective customer about the price of an item? If it really matters that you collect 50 cents for an item instead of a quarter, then this article is not for you. If you have lots of extra time on your hands and like sitting unproductively watching people peruse your stuff then perhaps you also should stop reading now.

But, if your main goal is to free your house of clutter, and have people carry away your junk leaving you some cash behind, then, by all means read on. While this method of holding a yard sale is not for everyone, it is quick, easy and very low-stress. It also has become popular at our annual neighborhood Yard Sale. We call it the “Pay What You Want Yard Sale.”

In short, to hold a yard sale like this you do not need to bother with pricing any items. People pay what they want. You simply provide the items, a secure location for shoppers to deposit money, and good signage.

How does this work?

  1. Collect your items. Look through your home for items you no longer use or need. Items should be clean and in good repair. While we might be tempted to refer to unwanted items as “junk,” nobody really wants your trash. If you have dirty or broken items on display, it will give the impression that you are simply trying to pass off your garbage. Keep things looking nice.
  2. Like any yard sale, choose your date. For us, we join in with our yearly neighborhood yard sale which brings lots of folks into our neighborhood. Someone else takes care of the newspaper ad and the street signage. We simply pay the requested monetary donation to the person in charge. Remember, the goal is low-stress.
  3. Display your items nicely. My wife enjoys arranging things on the tables. Keep similar items together. Tools with tools, toys and games, household items, books, etc.
  4. Provide a secure location for people to drop their money. We open the back driver’s side window of our car about an inch and place a large box on the seat to catch the money. It is a good idea to “prime the pump” by placing several dollars and a few coins in the box as if others had already made purchases. This assures the shoppers they are “doing it right.”
  5. Hang a large sign proclaiming “Pay What You Want Yard Sale!” This serves as an attraction. People will sometimes stop just to see what this is all about.
  6. Place signage on the tables and on the car. In our area, we have found it helpful to print this sign in English and Spanish.
  7. This is the best part: go about your normal life. Clean the house, surf the web, play with your children and don't worry about what is happening outside.
  8. Later, when it is time to clean up, collect your money and bring in the remaining items or load the leftovers in the car and drive straight to Goodwill.

Clear signage helps customers know where to put their money.
Clear signage helps customers know where to put their money.
Don't forget to "Prime the Pump."
Don't forget to "Prime the Pump."

But don’t you get ripped off?

This has been the most asked question when people first hear of our technique. The answer: probably. But, as this is stuff we do not want or need, our main goal is to get rid of it. Are we glad a few items are stolen? No; but this is low-stress. We don’t worry about it and we don’t know for sure it is happening. Interestingly, we have found that it works both ways. About two years ago we were cleaning up when a car stopped and the driver got out and gave me two dollars. She said she was there earlier and had no money, but she took several things. She was just stopping by to pay.

In another instance, on our first attempt at this type of sale, I watched through the window to see a gentleman put money in the car and walk away with a small table that I would have priced at 2-3 dollars. Since this was early in the day, I was curious and went out to look in the car. There, in the collection box, was a ten dollar bill!

Certainly this would not work everywhere. If you live in a high crime area your tables might be stripped bare with no financial reward for your minimal labor. For those situations you might opt not to go with this method.

What about items of value?

If an item is worth more than a few dollars, I have found it is better to sell it on Craigslist than through a yard sale anyway. The other option is to put a sign on the item with a “minimum price” to guide the purchaser. Of course, there are no guarantees with this game.

The Entertainment Value.

There is another benefit of this type of sale that I did not mention and that is, it is fun. The first year we tried this we looked out the window numerous times and often found ourselves laughing. Watching people’s expressions is priceless. We have seen people read the sign, look at the car confused, read the sign again and then walk to the car and put in their money. We observed people reading the sign and laughing, calling over their friends who also laugh. Often individuals appear to look carefully for something they can purchase in order to put money through the car window, probably so they can tell someone else about their crazy garage sale find.

Sadly, if is also apparent that some people can not or do not read. We have watched people put money in our mailbox, place it between the screen and front door, and a few have knocked on the door in an effort to pay. It is quite a lesson in humanity and it is entertaining.

We know this type of yard sale is not for everyone. But, if you have things to get rid of and can’t afford the time to aimlessly wait for buyers to come to you, you might give it a try. If you do, don’t forget to spend a few minutes peeking out the blinds. You too, might get a good laugh.

Bilingual signage can be helpful.  Use Google translator.
Bilingual signage can be helpful. Use Google translator.

What do you think? Would you try a "Pay What You Want" Yard Sale?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      2 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes-- great tips. Our neighborhood homeowners have a yard sale twice a year.... They make maps, and provide signs. My MAIN goal is to get rid of unneeded items that might be useful to others.

      If I have something that I think has some significant monetary value, I will put a price on it (and take half the price).

      I don't need to sit out in the sun all day, so I usually only mind my sale for three hours or so.

      I always have a "FREE" table, and as time goes by, I put a "Free" sign up for all of the remainders.

      If I do still have a valuable item, I pull it back in, and let the scavengers take the rest. Much better than hauling it all to the dump-- especially if someone else can use it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)