Having a yard sale is a great way to declutter your house and make a few bucks in the meantime, but if you don’t keep these important things in mind, you could actually lose money! Yard sales are a lot of work but trust me, the more time you invest, the higher your financial return. I have made over $1,000 at my yard sales just by taking the time and following these 6 Keys to a Successful Yard Sale.
1. Advertise. Place a cheap (or free…look around for free advertising in your area) classified ad in the local newspaper with the highest circulation for your area. Keep it simple and be sure to include the date, start and stop times, your address and list a few big ticket items that you are definitely selling. Furniture, kids clothing and toys, tools and electronics will lure people in. Don’t list too many details or things you know your friends or family may buy before your sale. Classified ads are cheap and effective ways to communicate your sale to those outside of the neighborhood where your signs will be hanging.
2. Pricing. It’s a lot of work to price each thing, but try to do it if you have the time. Sometimes people don’t want to talk, or you are too busy to interrupt with a question, so they put the item down and don’t buy it if the price isn’t listed. Grouping things in boxes and marking the price on the box is fine as long as the things are similar. Books, music and movies are great things to group into boxes because they are pretty easily organized and uniform in shapes/sizes. Keep in mind as you are pricing things that you didn’t buy anything to make money, you originally bought it to use. Selling it is just a bonus. You want to price things CHEAP! You don’t want to end your yard sale with a lot of things leftover. Have a ‘touch it once’ mentality and LET IT GO.
3. Display. How many of us have been to a yard sale where the people put a tarp on the yard and put piles (even neatly stacked piles) of clothing and shoes on the ground? You’ve just limited your sales because there are many people who either don’t want to or physically can’t get down and go through your piles on the ground. Borrow tables or hang your clothing if at all possible. Think of shopping in a store. It’s easy to quickly go through a rack of clothing to find what you want and move on. We use our garage and have steel bars hanging from chains that are secured to rafters. These are great because they hold a lot of weight without sagging and people can quickly see what we have for sale. It keeps things clean too. Put household items on tables. You can use sawhorses and a sheet of plywood with a bed sheet over it for a large makeshift table. Get things up and organized with cheap prices clearly marked for the best chance of success!
4. Supplies. When you are planning a yard sale, start saving those grocery bags and newspapers! You’ll put them to great use by bagging up purchases and wrapping breakables in newspaper. Also make sure to have plenty of small bills and coin change. Grab a calculator, notepad and pen to have handy at your checkout area, along with a money box. Determine beforehand if you will accept checks so that when you are in the middle of the chaos, you know how to answer that question that inevitably someone will ask. Also have a person or two on standby that can help with loading furniture and heavy things into people’s cars.
5. Signage. Create a document in a word processing program and make the font size big, sanserif and BOLD. You want it to say “Yard Sale”, the street address and the time. Again, keep it simple and remember that your sign not only has to get the attention of people driving a car, but they have to be able to read it quickly. Include a sign and maybe some helium filled balloons at the end of your driveway. Print out several copies and cover them with clear contact paper on both sides. This keeps them from flopping over or the ink running. Even if there is no rain, the morning dew will make ink run. The afternoon before the sale, travel through your neighborhood and town (obeying local laws and HA rules), hanging them from telephone poles and bulletin boards with a staple gun. Make note of where you are putting your signs and do a count so that you make sure to collect them after the sale.
6. Beware. Yard sales are great and most people are honest, however you need to be on your toes. If you are female, don’t have one while you are home alone. These days, it’s just not a good idea. Remember, you are displaying all of the stuff that you’ve bought while you are in your yard or garage where your other belongings are visible. People can size you up and case your house. They can see the quality of lifestyle you live and make assumptions of what’s inside your house. You should also be aware of people stealing from you or trying to confuse you at checkout. Be aware, friendly and helpful but also be careful and guarded and don’t assume everyone behaves as you do.
Follow these 6 Keys to a Successful Yard Sale the next time you have one and let us know how you did!