Yard Sale Safety
Tenna Perry

Every weekend in communities across the country signs go up on street corners advertising garage or yard sales. While there are no actual garages or yards to be sold, people drive around looking for these very signs in the hopes of finding a treasure in someone else’s cast offs. Those who have thrown a sale can tell the uninitiated how difficult it really is to organize, price and sell everything. What they may not tell or possibly be unaware of are the safety measures the seller should take to prevent robbery, theft or assault. While there is no way to be 100% safe in any situation, the following tips will help sellers stay safe.

— There is safety in numbers. Whenever possible, have someone at the sale to assist you.
— Have one designated cashier so no proispective buyer can claim they paid someone else.
— Set up the cashier’s table where they can see anyone leaving the sale
— Have the assistant walk around the sale as a shopper while watching for shoplifters.
— Keep a very limited amount of money on you! Fanny pack or cash box is your choice but only keep enough money in it at any given time to make change for a $20.
— If someone wants you to break a large bill, like $100, for a small item, simply a tell them you will be happy to hold the item if they want to go get change. Don't open your drawer or pack and check for money in front of them.
— Hold the sale out in the open, not in the garage. A garage can be a dangerous place! They are usually set back, have limited visibility from the road and neighbors, and often have an entry into the house.
A garage holds tools, equipment and other items that offer a tempting prize for someone casing the house for possible burglary then or in the future. Shut the garage door and lock the doors to the house.
It's easy for a person to slip into the house, take what ever they like or look to see what is there for future reference, all while you're busy helping a customer.
— Dogs are a double-edged sword and should be treated with caution. Dogs are protective and a natural deterrent to an assailant, however they are protective and could easily believe an innocent shopper approaching their owner is a threat.
If you are going to keep a dog outside as company or protection during a sale, make sure he or she is on a leash.
— Cut down on possible theft by having a 12-15 foot buffer zone between the road and the very last table. Don’t have things at the end of the driveway where someone could drive up; grab an armful and then speed off.
— Sales are a great way of teaching monetary values to children BUT the parent needs to be cautious with their child. If they are setting up a lemonade or soda stand to earn money, be sure it is very close to you. NEVER right next to the street. If the children are very young, be sure you are the one making change. Let them watch but don’t give some quick-change artist the opportunity to ruin your child’s day.
— Set up tables so you can see every one of them from where you sit. If you hang clothes up for sale, do it on one side of the sale and use them as an outside perimeter. Don’t allow them to block your view to your house or other items for sale.
— Keep a cordless or cell phone with you at all times.
— Have everything you want to sell outside and ready to be seen. Never walk into your house with a stranger to show them an item.
— While setting up, run extension cords from the house for fans to help keep you and your customers cool. If you have any electronic items, put them all together on a table near the fan. People want to know if items work. If you go inside to hunt for a cord, they could easily walk away with the item while you are gone or follow you in the house.


The number one rule in handling a robber is to remember that nothing is worth your life. If they have a weapon and want the cash drawer or fanny pack, your only response should be to air mail it to them. Take it off, pick it up and toss it to the person.

Try to physically keep a distance from the person. If you have consistently taken the income and put it away, then you will be out very little money. If you give them nothing at all, they are going to become angry and possibly hurt you. If they get the change and a few dollars, you can always tell them, “This is a garage sale, what do you expect?” or “See all the stuff on the tables? If I had sold it, I would have HAD more money.”

Again, the chances of this happening are drastically reduced if you have a second person on hand, if you have the sale out in the open where any neighbor or passerby could see you and of course, if you have your canine companion nearby. Remember, hand over the money, if you can get a license plate number great, if not, consider yourself lucky that you only lost a little bit of money.

Yard sales are part of an American tradition. As the saying goes, “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.” They are enjoyable, bring in a bit of money and allow you to get rid of items you no longer have a use for. Having fun and meeting people are what they are all about but in doing so, even in the most rural or neighborly areas, basic safety rules should be observed.

Tenna Perry is a native Texan who lives happily in the country with her husband and three children. She is the founder/editor of the ezine Survivor Haven and has a column at Suite101.com on Child Sexual Abuse. Hers is a strong voice that never hesitates to speak out against any form of child or domestic abuse and rape.



Home |Shopping | Advertising | Link To Us | Sponsor a Contest |
| Media | Parent Business Directory | Direct sales Directory |

Privacy Statement. Visit our Liability Disclaimer page. BPO is for entertainment and educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a professional. Check with your providers before following advice or content herein. ©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. BPO is property of the Busy Family Network (BFN), All Rights Reserved. No part of the website, newsletters or other materials can be reproduced in any form without written consent. Parts of the site and materials include, but are not limited to, graphics, copy/content, HTML, Meta tags, template and web layouts or other features. Each web page and its source code is valued at $5000 US. By using any part of any page on BPO without permission, you are agreeing to pay the owner and/or the artist/writer $5,000.

Copyright 1999-2009