March 20, 2010

31 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Yard sales are a lot of work, but they can be very profitable. Here are some tips to get you started.

1.  Go through closets, dressers, toys, cupboards, cabinets, bookcases, etc before the yard sale. Take out items that you no longer want and add them to your yard sale pile. It’s good to do this at least once a year. You may want to wait until spring when you’re doing your spring cleaning.

2.  Find a decluttering buddy. I don’t know about you, but it is easier for me to get rid of things when I have some moral support. It helps to have someone that can honestly say, “That doesn’t look good on you. That’s out of style. You haven’t used that in years.” Sometimes a little nudge is all we need. Unfortunately, I don’t have a decluttering buddy.

4.   Price as you go. As you find things in your home that you want to add to your yard sale, go ahead and take the few seconds to put a price on it. This will save a lot of time and aggravation on yard sale day.

4.   Spread the word. Let you friends, family, and Sunday School class know that you’ll be having a yard sale.

5.   If possible, post signs. We like to use the fluorescent poster board and thick black permanent markers for our signs. We have found that we do better with signs than with advertising. People stop by and say that they saw our signs.

6.  Put your signs up the day before the sale so that people see them on their way home from work. Then they’ll think, “I’m going there tomorrow.” Otherwise, they might not be out and about the day of the sale.

7.  Let friends and neighbors be a part. You can advertise the yard sale as a multi-family yard sale. This will let customers know that there will be more things and a bigger selection to choose from. Participants can also share in the advertising expenses.

8.   Put a price on everything. Some people will walk away rather than asking the prices for things. Even if the item is 25 cents, you need a price on it. All those 25 cent items add up.

9.   To save time, buy the premade price stickers. You can purchase these in the office supply departments at most stores. Recently, I even saw these in Dollar Tree.

10.  If you’re selling an expensive item, take the time to print a copy of what the item cost new. I’m doing this with toys that were expensive. This helps the person to see that they are getting a good deal.

11.   Advertise your yard sale, garage sale, or moving sale on Craigslist. It’s free!!!! Specify what you will be selling. Sometimes you can sell things before the yard sale starts.

12.  Get up early the day of the sale. If your sale starts at 7 am, you may consider getting up at 5 am. This will allow you time to get everything organized and set out before customers begin to arrive. Some early morning commuters may even see you outside and stop on their way to work.

13.  Specify if you don’t want “early birds”. Some people are pretty serious about shopping yard sales. They’ll come out as early as you’ll let them.

14.   Look through purses, wallets, pant pockets, coat pockets, etc to make sure there is no money or credit cards. Someone once told me they paid $1 for a purse that had $10 inside.

15.  Put attractive items in clear view. A lot of people are looking for furniture, so it would be wise to put the furniture where drivers can see it from the road.

16.   Don’t pick a holiday weekend to have your sale. I remember we did this one time and we made less than $100. It was such a waste of our time.

17.  Don’t have continual yard sales. You’ve seen people before who seem to be always having a yard sale. It gets old and then people don’t drop by their sale anymore. Plus, it’s tacky and your neighbors will be really annoyed.

18.   Have change. It’s hard to determine how much change you’ll need and what kind of bills to get. It seems as though first thing in the morning you’ll have customer after customer with $20 bills. It’s really frustrating.

19.   Guard your money. Unfortunately, sometimes thieves show up at yard sales. Usually every hour or so, I take my wad of cash out of my pocket or fanny pack (lol) and put it inside my house.

20.   Have bags available for your customer’s purchases. I can’t stand plastic bags and I don’t understand it, but some people do like anything they purchase to be put into a bag. It’s a courtesy.

21.   Be friendly. Greet each person or group that comes to your sell.

22.  Group like items together. All of the Christmas items should be together in one area, the kitchen stuff in another area, baby clothes in another, and so on.

23.  Sell miscellaneous items together. When we were moving, we sold a lot of odd things together in lots. We sold a large box of half used spray paint. It is better to sell it to someone that can use it, rather than throwing it away.

24.  Get some baggies and rubber bands. The baggies and rubber bands will help to secure like items together or keep you from losing the pieces. Come sell day, it will be hard to make sure your customers get all the parts that go with their items.

25.   Have an extra person around to help out. For me, this would be my husband. This insures that you’ll get potty breaks and be able to eat. It also helps so that you can talk to customers while someone else collects money or answers questions.

26.  Check with your local government or homeowner’s association to see if there are any restrictions. Some areas require you to have a yard sale permit. Yep, just another way to make money.

27.  When the yard sale is over, clean up your area and take down your signs. Don’t you just hate seeing signs that are several weeks old or searching for a yard sale that was probably last week?

28.  Advertise. This could be in your local paper or in a free online ad. Regardless of where you decide, you’ll need help letting the public know of the sale.

29.  Check your yard and make sure it’s safe. Wrap up garden hoses, fill any holes, and tape down extension cords or cables. You don’t want you visitors tripping and getting hurt.

30.  Have a strategy in place for what you’ll do with the leftover items. Will you put them back in your house for another yard sale later in the summer? Will you give them to charity? Have a plan in place.

31.  If possible, get someone to watch the kids. I can’t tell you the number of yard sales I’ve been to where the person’s children were out in the yard digging through their old stuff and getting upset that mom was getting rid of it. If you can’t get a sitter, then you need to have some discussions with your children before the day. Perhaps they could even help decide what they would like to sell.

What tips do you have for making your yard sale a success?

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Karen