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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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Custom Yard Sale Sign Examples

Many people fail to realize how critical their signs are to the success of their sale. These Yard Sale Sign Tips are provided to help you drive the most traffic to your yard sale.

Yardsalers will often just drive around and follow signs to find the next Yard Sale in their area on a given day. These are your potential customers. They will pay you cash to carry away the stuff you don't even want anymore. You want them to find you easily. They want to find you. If they can't read or follow your signs, how will they find you?

You must make the construction and strategic placement of your garage sale signs a top priority if you want a successful sale. Keep on reading to find out how.

Topic Menu

Jump right to the garage sale sign tips you are interested in by clicking on these links:

Sign Materials Size and Quantity Sign Wording and Content
Placement and Mounting Takedown  

Sign Materials

Your sale signs will be subjected to the outdoor elements for up to several days so it is important to select a material that will stand up to both wind and rain. Remember, each sign that isn't where you put it or isn't readable before or during your sale doesn't draw people to your sale and could make you lose potential sales.

Paper sheet signs seem to be the most popular sign material chosen, but unfortunately they fold back in any amount of wind and turn to mush when rained upon. They also tend to be on small 8-1/2" by 11" sheets that just can't be read very well from a moving car.

Another popular choice is poster board. It is stronger than paper sheets and comes in larger sizes, but still suffers from wind and rain damage. We usually see these signs with their top corners folded over the front of them (so you can't read them) if it rains or is very humid.

Then there is corrugated cardboard. This offers more wind resistance than paper and posterboard do, but can still get mushy in the rain.

The best sign material we have found is corrugated plastic sheet. It has very good wind resistance. As for rain, we have actually drenched it with a garden hose for a while and observed that the water justs rolls off of it without affecting it. In light of this kind of durability, we had one question - Why doesn't everyone use corrugated plastic sheets for their Yard Sale signs?

"When I tried to make my own sign I totally botched it up, I wish that I had ordered [more] custom signs, they really look professional and stand out!"

-- Pam in Pasadena, CA

In an effort to clear our confusion, we went to a local sign company and asked how much they would charge to make an 18" x 24" corrugated plastic sheet sign with custom Yard Sale information on it. They said it would be about $25 per sign with a minimum purchase of four signs (and that was back in 2000!). We had our answer. Doing the math, this meant having to spend $100 for just four signs to advertise our sale (we would probably need several more signs to be effective). Add that amount to the cost of a local newspaper advertisement and we would be looking at a sizeable advertising investment in a sale that might only bring in a few hundred dollars.

We couldn't just let this great material stay out of the reach of those having Yard Sales. As a result, we developed a way for you to get affordable custom printed Yard Sale signs on corrugated plastic sheets for significantly less than we were quoted. You could save even more money and get blank 18" x 24" white corrugated plastic sheets if you would like to write your own information on them and make your own signs (Be forewarned though, - it is a lot of work to make yard signs that are effective!). Use giant 5/8" wide tipped magic markers in black and red to help get your message across if you choose to make your own signage.


Size and Quantity

"The size of the signs attracted many people. They were much larger than the other signs that were in the surrounding area."

-- Rhonda in Hopatcong, NJ

"The signs were very easy to use and large enough to read from far away..."

-- Michelle in Centerville, OH

"The big sign was great...we've had a garage sale every year for the past 10, so we will be able to use this sign again next year."

-- Stephanie in Hackensack, NJ

The size of your sign is one important factor in making sure that it is readable from a passing car. Do not use the 8-1/2" x 11" size for signs placed on the side of a road. These cheap yard signs (usually advertised as "free garage sale sign" or "free yard sale sign") are almost impossible to read unless you are in a car that is stopped next to one of them (even then, they are hard to read).

Signs should be at least 11" x 17" and larger is better. Contact your local authorities to find out if they have restrictions on the maximum size that your Yard Sale sign can be. Many do. We have found that many jurisdictions allow signs that have an area of up to 4 square feet (our 18" x 24" signs are 3 square feet), but you need to confirm this for your area.

You may also have restrictions on the quantity of signs that you are allowed to put up for your sale. Again, you need to confirm this with your local authorities. In general, the more signs you put up, the more people will show up at your sale to buy your stuff.

If you can, get or make enough signs to cover all the local intersections leading to your sale as well as a few key high traffic intersections a little further out. Remember, each four-way intersection will require at least 3 signs to effectively divert its traffic to your sale. One will have left-pointing arrows, another right-pointing arrows, and the third, straight or up-pointing arrows (you don't typically put U-turn signs on the lanes going away from your sale).


Sign Wording and Content

Keep in mind that your sign has just a couple of seconds to communicate to someone driving by in their car. This means that you should limit the information on your sign to the three key pieces of information (shown below) to get people to your sale.

"I had comments from a lot of the people who came that my signs were wonderful. I do marketing for a living and I know how important it is to "do things right" if you want good results."

"I was selling a lot of quality, high end furnishings and I needed "quality" signs to relay the message. They were perfect and I am certain helped to attract many people to my sale...Thank you."

-- Nancy in Wilton, CT (Marketing Coordinator)

Most yard sale signs and garage sale signs we see being offered for sale elsewhere online and in local stores just don't seem to get this absolutely critical marketing concept. You see these signs with "Yard Sale" and "Garage Sale" printed in such ridiculously huge letters that there is no real space left over for you to put your specific sale date, time, and location information in a way that drivers can understand.

Oh, there may be some information scrawled or printed at the bottom of the sign that looks great when holding it in your hands, but as you drive by these signs, this information becomes blurred and unreadable and you only get the message that there is a Yard Sale somewhere. When and where this sale is - you have no idea, but by golly, there's a sale out there somewhere!

Don't Use Distracting Fonts or Graphics on Your Sign!

Sometimes purchased yard sale signs are printed with inverse fonts that can be hard to visually process and distracting graphics such as balloons that take away valuable space for you to get your sale information across. We have even seen corrugated plastic signs with printing on both sides! (not a good idea - more about that later...)

We also see signs offered for sale with fancy artwork and funky fonts that can clutter the view of someone passing in a car, potentially causing them to miss the key information they need to get to your sale at the right time. While this design style is great for baby yard signs, stork yard signs, and birthday lawn signs (intended to be seen by people who are moving around slowly in your neighborhood), artsy, cutesy, or other kinds of busy fonts should not be used when trying to direct paying customers to your sale. They want to know how to get to your sale so they can get their bargains. They are not driving around to enjoy hard-to-read decorative signs.

There is a reason why most street signs use very simple, high-contrast fonts and don't tend to use inverse fonts. It is because using these clean and simple fonts actually works to effectively direct drivers where they need to go (without distracting them).

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

When you purchase garage sale signs or make your own signs, don't forget the main purpose of the signs - to drive customers to your sale! If your signs don't do that because they are hard to read or over-decorated, then they aren't of much value to you or your potential customers no matter what you paid for them.

Now, here's a little secret - Did you know that yard sale sign suppliers can sell lots of pretty signs that aren't necessarily very effective at bringing customers to yard sales? This may sound shocking, but it's true. You see, in order to make the sale of their signs, all they have to do is sell you on the idea of buying their sign since you're the one actually paying them. Once the sale is made, they've got your money. If their sign only brings you 25% of the traffic it could have if it had a clean design that clearly communicated all the key information, they still have your money. They are not judged (in terms of being able to sell signs) on how effective their signs are, they are judged by whether they can get you to fall in love with their signs and buy them.

In marketing, this is called impulse buying. It is when someone falls in love with a product because they like how it looks, how it will make them feel, etc. The person ignores the practicality and effectiveness of the product, becomes blinded by their love of it, and has to get it - whether it really serves their need or not.

Sadly, many people continue to make their sign buying decisions based on the prettiness of the sign design and as a result, can unknowingly miss out on a lot of yard sale traffic. We wonder how much more could have been sold and how many more people could have been blessed by their stuff if their signs were just clear and uncluttered.

Don't Print on Both Sides of a Corrugated Plastic Sign!

While you may be tempted to think that this is a good idea, it really isn't. You may already know this, but corrugated plastic sheet used for signage is actually translucent. This means that if you print on both sides of it and have a bright light source shining behind it (like perhaps, the sun in the wee hours of the morning when your customers are trying to find your sale), the shadow of the printing on the far side can bleed through and make the whole sign difficult to read.

Double-sided signs have limited usefulness when directing traffic to a garage sale since they need to be placed right at the intersection to turn at in order to utilize both sides effectively. Unfortunately, doing this may not serve your visitors well since they won't be told where to turn until they already need to be turning. Placing a double-sided sign in this manner may not give them enough time to react and they may end up having to turn around if they miss the turn. Always set your single-sided signs 5 to 10 yards (or more depending on the speed limit) before an intersection to turn at so that your visitors can slow down or change lanes as necessary in order to safely make the turn.

The only conditions we know of that a double-sided sign could possibly work well are: 1) If it is made of something opaque (i.e. light does not bleed through), and 2) It is placed directly in the yard that is having the sale. This way you can safely catch the attention of people driving up and down your street at low speeds while your sale is in progress.

We'll, we've rambled on long enough about what not to do with your signs. Let's move on now and discuss what you should put on your sale signs...

Three Key Pieces of Information Every Sale Sign MUST Have:

  • WHEN - ( SAT 8AM - 2PM, TODAY 9AM - 5PM, SAT - SUN 7AM - ?, etc. )

The most important thing to communicate is WHAT you are having (a Yard Sale, Moving Sale, Estate Sale, Flea Market, etc.) in your Sign Title. This should be placed at the top of your sign in the largest letters possible without crowding out the other two key pieces of information. Make your letters thick enough, too. Many people fail to understand that letters made with single strokes of a common magic marker are hard to read from a passing car (even if the letters are drawn big). We recommend that you make letters with at least 1/2" thick strokes either by coloring them in or using giant magic markers.

The next thing to put on your sign is WHEN your sale is. These letters can be a little smaller in size than the Sign Title. Don't put the actual date of your sale (i.e. 6/7/18 or similar) on your sign so that you can re-use it at your next sale (or if you get rained out). Use three letter abbreviations ("SAT", "SUN", etc.) for the day(s) of your sale and set your starting and stopping times at the o'clocks (use 8AM, 9AM, etc., not 8:30AM, 9:45AM, etc.) to minimize how much information a driver has to process as they drive by. If you have a multi-day sale, try to set the starting and stopping times the same for each day. This way, you can put "SAT - SUN  9AM - 2PM" on your sign which has less detail to remember than "SAT 8AM - 2PM, SUN 10AM - 4PM" does. If you are unsure as to what time to end your sale, just put a question mark "?" as the stopping time for your sale like "SAT  8AM - ?".

Finally, put WHERE your sale will be held towards the bottom of your sign. If you are having a Yard Sale, use your street name (and possibly your house number). If a Community Sale, use the name of your community or development. For Rummage Sales, use the name of the facility it will be held at (such as a church or school). Flea Markets and Hamfests can use the name of the fairgrounds or parking lot they will use. The point here is that, if you can, try to associate your temporary sale with a fixed location in the area. Landmarks like these can be much easier for a local driver to find than street addresses.

Click the following link to see example sale signs that are optimized to clearly communicate your sale message to someone in a passing car while meeting all of the above sign requirements.

Also, don't forget to put directional arrows on your sign and make them stand out from the rest of the information on your sign by making them a different color (RED catches the eye's attention well). We discuss the placement of directional arrows on your sign in the next section.


Placement and Mounting

Once again, your local authorities may have set up more restrictions for you regarding where you can put your signs and when you can put them up and have to take them down. Contact them to see if there are any. Many people aren't aware that several areas prohibit placing signs on telephone poles, and end up doing just that because they have seen so many people do it before and think it must be OK.

Don't put a sign on anyone's personal property without getting their permission first (You wouldn't want to wake up on Thursday morning and find a bunch of Yard Sale signs in your front yard, would you?).

"The products which I ordered were perfect. Many customers mentioned how great my signs were -- so professional and easy to read."

"I believe that many people were affected by the quality of the signs and decided to then check my sale."

-- Ann in Potomac, MD

Sit down and make a map of your immediate local area. Especially note nearby high-traffic intersections. Put a dot on the map at each spot you plan to place a sign. Place dots at all the significant local intersections leading to your sale as well as a few key high traffic intersections a little further out. Don't forget to plan for periodic signs with arrows pointing up (to keep drivers going straight) for long stretches of road where the driver may be tempted to think that they have missed a turn somewhere. Think about which direction the arrows on each sign will need to point and write down "Left", "Right", or "Straight" next to each dot on your map. (Hang on to this map until after your sale. It will come in handy when you need to take all your signs down.) Make a tally of each arrow direction needed and place or draw the arrows on your signs as appropriate.

Mount your signs to something sturdy that won't bend over in the wind. It is very hard to read a sign flapping about or bent over as you drive by it. Even if it is not a windy day, the cars driving by your signs can create a significant amount of wind force on them. If your signs are made on corrugated plastic sheets with vertical flutes like our custom printed signs are, we recommend that you use low-profile wire sign stakes that you step on to push into the ground. The low-profile design of these wire stakes helps keep the sign from bending over in the wind and they are a piece of cake to install. Just slide a stake into the bottom of each sign, step the stakes into the ground, and you're done!

Stay away from using the tall skinny wire frames (usually around 30 inches tall) commonly used with corrugated plastic signs, as these are far too often seen bent over from the wind blowing on them. Also, resist the urge to tie balloons to your signs. While they may catch someone's eye and look festive, they may be more likely to pull your signs over in the wind. The increased surface area they provide just magnifies the force that the wind puts on your signs. Bent over signs are hard to read and could give the impression that you just don't care enough about your sale to provide good signage for your customers. Check your local rules, as some areas may even ban the use of balloons on signs.

If you want to go to more effort to mount your signs, you can use a wooden stake from your local hardware store. Make sure that you don't use the stakes that have major knot holes in them. When you pound a stake into the ground, a significant amount of force is applied that can snap the stake in half if it has a large knot in it. Screw your sign to your wooden stake using multiple stainless steel screws (stainless - so they don't ooze rust all over your sign in the rain). Also, since the force of pounding can sometimes tear your sign away from the stake, place several strips of duct tape across the back of the sign over the stake to cushion the blow when pounding it.

Now, go out and place your signs - or better yet - delegate this to other people and have them place your signs (each with a copy of your map, of course).



You may be required to take your signs down immediately after your sale. Check with your local authorities to find about any sign takedown restrictions they may have.

Give a copy of your sign map that you created in the previous section to each person responsible for taking down your signs. Have them go out and collect EVERY sign that was placed for your sale. Your neighbors won't appreciate seeing your signs up days or weeks after your sale is over. If the signs are still in good condition and the information on them is generic enough, you may be able to use them for your next sale.

Now, go count your money.


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