Dealing with Early Arrivers

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated December 22, 2021)

If you've ever held yard sale or a garage sale, then you know the term "early bird." A garage sale early bird is a person who shows up well before the advertised time of the sale. Often, they are professional yard salers, restorers, or resellers, and show up early so that they can buy your items cheap, and then resell them for a greater price. Knowing if they come back later in the day and the item may be gone, early birds dicker and haggle with you before the sale begins so that they can resell the item at their own sale.

Early birds have been known to show up the night before a yard sale, watching as you set things out on your tables for the following day. They also show up on your sale day more than three hours before your sale begins. While you can circumvent showing your wares early by having your sale inside of your garage, you limit your space by doing so. The best way to deal with early arrivers is to confront them head on. You really only have two choices if early arrivers show up at your sale:

  • You can sell your items to them right away.
  • You can tell them firmly that your sale does not begin until precisely at the time of your advertisement.

Early birds can be a real distraction while you're setting up your sale. If you allow them onto your property while you're placing out items, they may feel free to handle your items and ask questions of you, taking your mind away from pricing your items accurately. Pandering to early birds can also ruin your sale. When customers show up to your sale at the correct time, only to discover that you have been selling to early birds for a few hours, they may become angry and simply walk away without purchasing anything.

When you place your ad for your sale, clearly state the time your sale begins. You can also post the words no early birds in bold lettering on signs placed around your property, and on your street.

If you have an early arriver who insists that they can give you top dollar for your item, and indicates that they cannot wait for your sale to begin, you may choose to take their contact information and call them later just in case the item doesn't sell for the price your early bird is willing to pay.

A drastic measure for dealing with insistent early arrivers is to charge them more. Clearly state in your yard sale ads and on your printed posters that early birds will be charged double or triple the posted price for any item. Such wording usually stops early arrivers to your sale.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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