Is it Legal to Sell Food at a Yard Sale?: The Do’s & Don’ts

People eating food at a yard sale

Yard sales are fun outdoor events that allow you and your family to reclaim valuable space in your home and garage, while making a decent profit at the same time. One great way to increase your profits and keep your customers browsing around longer is by selling food at the event. However, is it legal to sell food at a yard sale?

Selling food at a yard sale is legally acceptable in most places, but this depends on where you live. Some cities and towns require you to have a license or permit before you’re allowed to sell food at a yard sale. Before you start selling food at the event, check with your local city council to see if they require you to have a license or permit before you can sell food.

If you’re thinking about selling delicious snacks and refreshments at your next yard sale, you might want to read a bit further first. We’re going to share with you valuable tips on getting permission to sell food at the event, and the different types of foods that work best at yard sales.

Can I Sell Food at a Yard Sale?

Selling food at a yard sale is a really great way to generate extra money. People will always be attracted to food, especially when they’re on the hunt to find unique or antique items commonly found at a yard sales. 

It would be a wonderful idea scouring for items while food and drinks are also being sold. That would easily draw customers to give your advertising an extra edge. Between a yard sale with a food stand and one without, customers are more likely to spend time at the former.

Hopping from one yard sale to another can also be daunting, especially if people wake up really early to get first dibs on items they need. A lot of people might forget or choose not to take a break and eat lunch or grab some snacks as they’re too focused on the sale. This makes selling food an opportunity to raise your profit as there are a variety of food items you can sell.

Do I Need a Permit To Sell Food at a Yard Sale?

While you can freely sell food at a yard sale, the question now is, what do you need to accomplish before you can sell food legally? Do you need to obtain a permit just so you can profit from edible goods?

Yes, you need to have a permit to sell food and even drinks at a yard sale. It’s almost always required in many states for health and sanitation purposes. People would not know how the food was made or if proper sanitary measures were practiced during the process.

Generally, it is required that food should be handled from a fully-screened booth. In addition, selling of food items at a yard sale will also require you to have a wash area nearby for both hand washing and cleaning of utensils. A fully-screened booth and washing facilities, however, may not be necessary if you’re selling packed items, such as drinks in cans or pouches. 

There are also instances where the above mentioned requirements are not necessary. When all the food you’re selling is donated by a local restaurant or any permitted food facility, then you don’t need to comply with those requirements. In this case, if any of the customers had problems with the food, the donors will answer to them.

It is worth noting that only food items from permitted food facilities are allowed – not food donated by an individual. Another important thing to remember when selling food at a yard sale is to always practice safe food handling.

Meanwhile, other states do allow the sale of food – especially homemade items, without going through obtaining licenses and permits. This is known as the Cottage Law, in which you can prepare food and sell directly to consumers without worrying about health inspectors or putting up extra washing facilities. If you live in a state that has this law, then selling food at a yard sale would be a breeze.

What Food Should You Sell at a Yard Sale?

Sweet treats and beverages are just some of the popular items that sell well at a yard sale. Homemade goodies such as sandwiches, hotdogs, and even jams can also be a hit. Anything can be sold as long as it looks and tastes good and prepared in a sanitary.

If open food such as sandwiches are put up for sale, you not only need to secure permits but also comply with the requirements, such as having a wash area. If you mainly sell packaged food, which will remain sealed until it is sold, then you don’t need to have the extra facilities. Still, this will depend on which state you reside in.

Coming up with food that can sell is the easy part. The hard part is actually having someone buy from you. It is expected that your food may not get any attention, especially if people don’t trust where the food comes from or how it was prepared. 

In this case, don’t get offended because it’s only a natural reaction coming from a consumer. Store-bought items, however, can make a difference and it’s likely to get noticed. If you intend to sell food at a yard sale, keep the mess to a minimum by choosing treats that are easy to eat. 

Can You Sell Baked Goods at a Yard Sale?

To increase sales, many yard sale hosts think of setting up a booth for baked goods – whether they’re homemade or store-bought. Yes, you can sell baked goods with the required permits, but making sales can’t be guaranteed.

Again, it could be about trust issues – people don’t want to buy from you because they don’t know you. And some surely won’t buy homemade food because they’re unsure of the process involved.

Still, this shouldn’t discourage you from putting up baked goodies for sale. You’ll never know someone who’s addicted to baked pastries might just walk into your yard.

On the other hand, your neighbors or anyone you know who drops by will readily support your small business by buying your baked goodies. These people already know and trust you well enough to buy food items from you. If they have friends over, then you’ll likely amp up your sales.

Tips to Sell Your Baked Goods

If you’re set on selling baked goodies, check out the tips below on how to improve your success in selling then:

  • Place your baked goodies on a table in a neat and attractive way. Have a clean table cloth with a pleasant design or put up cake stands. 
  • To let people trust you enough, make sure to have plastic gloves for serving and wrapping items nearby.
  • Label your treats, making sure to include allergen information
  • Serve coffee or tea – this goes well with baked goods and people would love it.

What Are Good Snacks To Sell?

Snacks would make wonderful items for a yard sale. They’re easy to eat – a customer can just browse items while having a snack on-hand. One can benefit from the extra boost in energy while looking for items they can purchase.

Home baked goodies are popular snacks but there are other food items you can sell too. Below is a list of snack ideas you can sell at a yard sale that people might find enticing:

  • Homemade cookies – these are a hit especially with the popular ones like oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies. When selling these, indicate ingredients, especially if it contains allergens like nuts.
  • Fruit slices – selling watermelon or apple slices is a great idea and this is best when you’re hosting a yard sale over the summer.
  • Muffins – a lot of people love muffins. You can sell homemade or store-bought ones. 
  • Hotdogs and hamburgers – this would be lovely if you are confident that you have a tasty burger patty recipe. You can include basic condiments to go with your burgers and hotdogs.
  • Breads – someone could always use a loaf of bread
  • Lemonade – lemonade is a perfect beverage to have at a yard sale, especially during a hot summer. Kids can take part in this, too. Just make sure your area allows kids selling food items.
  • Other beverages like coffee and soda, and of course – bottled water.

What Foods Are Easy To Sell?

Baked goods can sell fast at a yard sale and they can be the perfect food items to sell. They can easily entice people to buy – plus, they’re easy to eat. However, that’s not to say you can’t sell other food items.

If it’s legal in your area, barbecued meats can be sold at yard sales. This will cater to hungry people who drop by to find second-hand treasures. Barbecued hotdogs and burgers paired with fried onions and cheese will be a delight as well. Other than that, homemade jellies and jams have also been sold at yard sales successfully.

Conclusion: Is It Legal To Sell Food at a Yard Sale?

It is legal to sell food at a yard sale, but depending on where you live, a permit may or may not be required. There is a wide variety of food items to sell, including barbecues, store-bought goods, refreshments, and baked goodies. 

If you plan to sell homemade baked goods, keep in mind that some people might not like the idea because they can’t trust food items made by strangers. Regardless, it is important to practice safe food handling when selling homemade food and make sure they are properly labeled.