A Guide for Perfectly Pricing Your Yard Sale Goods

In a previous post, we offered three tips for organizing a profitable moving sale. Also known as yard sales and garage sales, these quick sales let you get rid of infrequently used or unreasonable-to-transport items before you move. They also let you make a little cash to fund your move (or to buy something fun when you arrive in your new city).

You can’t host a yard sale without pricing all your items, but assigning a sale value to everything can be tricky, especially if you’ve never had a garage sale before. If you price your stuff too high, buyers won’t purchase much and your efforts will feel wasted. And if you price everything too low, you won’t make enough money to make your efforts worth it either.

Use the tricks below to simplify the pricing process and ensure your yard sale is a success.

Research Before You Price

Before you get out the stickers and the magic marker, do a little research. First, make a list of everything you plan to put out for sale. You don’t have to list individual book and movie titles (unless you want to), but you should know what categories of items will be up for grabs.

Armed with your list, head out to browse similar sales. Either stop by yard sales in nearby neighborhoods or visit several local thrift stores. Look for items comparable to those you plan to sell, and make a note of the prices. You’ll use those prices as a standard for assigning resale value to your own possessions.

One note of caution: do not make purchases on these research shopping trips. Your goal is to get rid of goods, not bring more home. Of course, you can make an exception if you find a bargain on a one-of-a-kind, can’t-live-without item-but leave the cash at home if you think you’ll be tempted.

Price Items by Category

Once you finish your research, you’re ready to price your own stuff. The guidelines below offer a starting point for the major categories of goods that often get purchased at moving sales:

  • Paperback or children’s books: 50 cents
  • Hardback books: $1
  • CDs: $1
  • Cassette tapes: 25 cents
  • Vinyl records: $1 to $5
  • DVDs: $2
  • VHS tapes: 50 cents
  • Board games: $2 to $5
  • Jigsaw puzzles: $1 to $2
  • Toys: $1 to $3
  • Baby clothing: $1 to $3
  • Children’s clothing: $2 to $5
  • Adult clothing: $5 to $10
  • Shoes: $5 to $10
  • Coats and jackets: $7 to $15
  • T-shirts: $1
  • Coffee tables: $20 to $50
  • Loveseats: $50 to $150
  • Couches: $75 to $300
  • Dining tables: about $100
  • Dining chairs: $15 to $30 each
  • Dressers: $30 to $75
  • End tables or nightstands: $25 to $75
  • Bookshelves: $15 to $50
  • Baby furniture (cribs, highchairs, etc.): $25 to $100
  • Lamps: $5 to $20
  • Wall mirrors or artwork: $30 to $100
  • Picture frames: $2 to $10
  • Home décor knickknacks: $1 to $5
  • China: $1 to $5 per plate
  • Dishes and glasses: 50 cents per piece or $5 to $30 for a set
  • Flatware: 25 cents per piece or $5 for a set
  • Kitchen supplies (spatulas, colanders, etc.): $1 to $3
  • Small appliances (toasters, blenders, etc.): $5 to $20
  • Medium appliances (microwaves, bread machines, TVs, etc.): $25 to $150
  • Large appliances (refrigerators, washers and dryers, etc.): $75 to $300

All your prices should depend on the condition and original value of the item as well. For example, you can raise the base prices by a few dollars for name-brand clothing that doesn’t have stains or damage from wear. You would also charge less for a plywood bookshelf than a real wood shelf.

If you have lots of items in a single category, plan ahead to let people buy that stuff in bulk for a small discount. For example, if you have tons of baby clothes, you can pack them into grocery bags by size and offer them at $15 per bag.

Mark Prices Clearly and Carefully

After you work out your pricing scheme, get to work marking each item individually. Buy a few permanent markers, and choose masking tape or painter’s tape rather than stickers-these tend to stay stuck once you apply them, which could damage the item and decrease its value.

You can make a few exceptions to the mark-everything rule if you have dozens of items in a single category, such as books or movies. In that case, write the price per item on posterboard or butcher paper, and put the sign somewhere that allows all potential buyers to read it.

Are you unwilling to haggle on the price of a few items? Let buyers know by writing “firm” on the price tag. Otherwise, assume that buyers will try to talk down your prices, especially for bigger-ticket items like furniture and electronics.

With the tips above and hints from our previous post, you’re ready to host a garage sale and get rid of some of your stuff before you move. Remember to partner with a moving company so that professionals can pack up and transport everything you keep.

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