You’ve got 30 seconds to grab someone’s attention before she presses the gas and speeds off, says Aaron LaPedis, the author of The Garage Sale Millionaire. Here, his display dos and don’ts.

By Real Simple
Updated May 12, 2014
Yard sale display table and chairs
Credit: Greg Ruffing

Do position weighty furniture closest to the curb or sidewalk. It’s customer catnip!

Don’t dilute the impact of your best merchandise.
Place the most striking pieces on opposite ends of a table (with descriptive labels, like wedgwood bowl) and the mediocre stuff in the middle.

Do group some items by color (blue glasses with blue leather gloves on a blue tray). Set up others by “department”: kitchen, toys, entertainment.

Don’t leave clothes in a pile. Hang them on a rack or a clothesline, separated into women’s, men’s, and kids’ sections. Pin jewelry to a corkboard.

Do “stage” a big piece, like a sideboard, with accessories for sale (lamps, frames). It helps buyers fall in love with your stuff.

Don’t stack merchandise in cardboard boxes or, worse, on a tarp. “Some people can’t or won’t bend down,” warns Chris Heiska, the founder of

Do set the mood. A little warmth goes a long way. “When the atmosphere is upbeat, people browse longer and are more likely to buy,” says Kimy Kennedy, the owner of Peachtree Estate Sales, in Atlanta. So greet shoppers cheerfully, and play pleasant background music: something with broad appeal, like Sinatra, mellow rock, or classical. Free lemonade is nice, too.