Planning a great yard sale!

April 30, 1998

Give many Tri-State residents an inch, and they'll take a yard - if there's a table piled with goodies in it.

The chance to scoop up bargains and discover treasures beats most other spring and summer activities by a country mile.

Whether you call it a yard sale, garage sale, tag sale, porch sale or deck sale, it's a great opportunity to clear the clutter from your life and make extra cash.

When the sale is over, you may even have enough room to park in the garage again.

Here are some tips on having a successful sale.

- Teri Johnson, Staff Writer

1. Getting started

Rules on how often you can have a yard sale depend on where you live.

In Maryland, you can have a yard sale without a permit if you sell your own goods on your own property for up to 14 consecutive days, and you can do it once in a 365-day period, says Rick Hemphill, administrative officer and deputy clerk at the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Washington County. To have more than one sale in a year, you need a traders license from the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office.


The Comptroller of the Treasury in Maryland allows you to have up to three yard sales a year without collecting sales tax, says Esther Dutton, revenue examiner.

West Virginia considers yard sales to be isolated transactions, and you can hold four per year without having a license, says Marylou Weller, taxpayer service representative for West Virginia Department of Tax and Revenue. Each sale can't last longer than 48 hours. To have a fifth sale, you must get a license from the department and must collect sales tax.

There's no state law regulating yard sales in Pennsylvania, says Rob Gardner, taxpayer program development specialist for the Department of Revenue. He says you can have one sale a year in Pennsylvania without having to collect state sales tax.

Check with your local government to see if any other permits are needed, as rules vary.

For example, Hagerstown requires no special permit for yard sales, while Charles Town, W.Va., requires that temporary sign permits be issued to place yard sale signs on private property.

2. Prepare to sell

Look in your closets, drawers, attic and garage and decide which items you'd like to sell.

Show no mercy - if you got a battery-operated screwdriver for Christmas three years ago and never took it out of the box, it might be time to let it go.

Jackie Cornelius, a McConnellsburg, Pa., resident who has been having yard sales for about 10 years, says being organized is the key to success.

Cornelius devotes a section of her attic to storing items to sell, and she prices each item before she takes it to the attic. When it's time for the sale, everything is ready.

Cornelius says clothing and books are popular with shoppers.

You might hate that purple chenille rug, but that doesn't mean somebody else will.

"Things you think are junk are someone else's treasures," she says.

3. Choose a location

If you're going to have your sale outside, have a backup plan in case of bad weather, Cornelius says.

Consider setting a rain date, or choose an alternate spot.

Cornelius has a garage, and if it rains, she has her sale there.

4. Price the items

Put prices on all your merchandise, says Tracy Hoover, co-coordinator of Washington County Hospital's Kids' Stuff Yard Sale.

"People hate to go up and ask," Hoover says.

The Kids' Stuff sale, which is Saturday, May 16, from 7 a.m. to noon at Robinwood Medical Center parking lot, features clothing, toys and furniture for children ages birth to 16. Hoover recommends marking sizes on clothing.

Cornelius says she doesn't have a system for determining prices. When she's in doubt, she puts a lower price on an item.

"My philosophy is that this is stuff I'm going to get rid of," Cornelius says.

5. Spread the word

Run an ad in your local newspaper a week before the sale. Include the location, date and rain date if one is planned, and describe some of the items shoppers will see.

Use signs or posters with bold lettering. Balloons also can help call attention to your sign.


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