It’s summer, which means yard sale season! I love the thrill of the chase, planning out my strategy, getting up early, bargaining for the lowest price. Perhaps that’s why I have such an excess of stuff in my life right now. Since we are considering moving, we’ve had to drastically pare down our belongings, and having a sale is a good way to turn extra stuff into cold hard cash. This past weekend we had our second yard sale of the summer, and hopefully our last for a long time. I’m working hard to make sure we never have this many extra belongings ever again. From my vast yard saling history (yes, saling, not sailing, don’t get confused) I’ve come up with a list of 10 tips for having a great yard sale-combining my experience in being both the shopper and the seller.
When you give a yard sale, there are a lot of things to consider and prepare. Make sure you are organized and ready for the day of the sale. Prepare as much as you can beforehand-if you have a garage and you can set up ahead of time, do it! Don’t wait until the last minute to be pulling things out of your house, and don’t think that you will have enough time the day of. You never will!
Plan ahead not only for your sale but for your family. Make sure you have snacks for your neglected loved ones, as you’ll be busy all day. Make sure that your schedule is clear and you can devote all your time to your sale.
Get change! Make sure you have enough small bills and coins to make change for the first sales of the day.
And remember to be ready for the flashlight people-the ones that come so early, you’ll swear they were waiting all night at the end of your driveway!
People can’t buy if they don’t know where to go! This is the single thing that can make or break your sale. Look into the different options for advertising, and utilize as many as possible.
The local newspaper usually has a spot for ads, and may also offer a complimentary yard sale kit with price stickers and signs. Put up ads around town. Look into the online options as well-my community has several online groups and social sites devoted to advertising sales.
Network with other families and sales. If you notice that your neighbor is also having a sale, ask if they will direct people to your sale in exchange for you sending people there. Check to see if your town has a designated yard sale day that you can participate in. Plan to have a sale on the same day as your neighbor. Anything you can do to let more people know is a good thing!
Finally, put up signs with big arrows pointing toward your house. Some yard sale aficionados don’t look for ads, they merely drive around until they see a sign. Make your signs large and clear, and place them in highly trafficked areas. Include the dates and address in clear lettering, and make sure to remove the signs when the sale is over.
Sorry to tell you, but if you live in the middle of nowhere it doesn’t matter how much you advertise. People just don’t like to drive to the boondocks to buy your used bowling ball, so you have to take it to them. Do you have a friend who is willing to let you set up shop in their yard? Could you participate in a community sale? Look for ways to get your stuff to the people.
Once you have your location, dress it nicely. Put big ticket items out front, and create a little section of “man stuff” that is visible from the road. Make your sale look bright, cheerful, and inviting. Place a variety of items close to the road where they can be sighted during drive bys. And if all else fails, wave cheerily and call out a greeting as people creep by checking out your sale. Guilting buyers into parking and getting out of their cars is not a bad thing.
Do a little research before you decide on the time of your sale. Ask friends who have had successful sales, and consider when you see most sales happening. When I was growing up, my mom always had her sales on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Good for that time and place, but in my current location, Friday afternoon is the hot time. People love sales that run into the evening on Fridays, and aren’t so excited to visit on Saturday morning.
Make sure you choose a good date, as well. Will there be construction, a major event, or other impediment for people coming to your sale? Are they predicting rain for the weekend of your choice? If so, you better pick another day.
You can’t do this alone! Well, you could, but it’s way more fun with company. From the setting up to the adding up to the tearing down, yard sales are better with company. Having a wingman will ensure that you always have another person around if you need to run inside for a minute, and they can help you watch over the cash and items. It’s an unfortunate fact that theft does happen at sales, and it’s always good to have someone to back you up.
Remember that you want to get rid of these items! You may have paid $100 for that set of dishes, but the hard truth is that it’s not worth that much at a sale. It hurts but you need to make sure you are pricing items appropriately to get folks to buy them.
It’s very important to price your items ahead of time. You will not have time to do it the day of the sale! Having items that are unpriced is a sure way to get less money out of your stuff. Some shoppers will ignore unpriced items-they don’t want to bother tracking you down and asking you. Others will use your disorganization to their advantage and try get items for less than they are worth, either by catching you in a busy moment or grabbing a large amount of items and offering a low price, hoping you won’t realize what they have. Save time and frustration by pricing each item or writing up a large sign with a master price list.
Seriously, are you ready? Yard sale shoppers can smell a timid seller from two streets away, and they will try to bully you into letting them set the prices. Be ready and willing to bargain, and know what price you will stand firm on. You are going to be selling your stuff, but it does have some value. Don’t just give things away-unless you just have garbage, and if that’s the case, why are you having a sale?
Some people think that certain things just can’t be sold at a sale, and that’s just not true. At my last sale I advertised home office supplies-I had people showing up hours early asking for specific notebooks and folders. Look carefully at your belongings and pick out some things you may not initially think of. Plants, extra scrapbooking supplies, even cleaning products are all big sellers.
Nothing turns people off more than driving up to a sale and seeing that the owners have merely set out boxes of stuff for you to sort through. Think of your sale as being a real store and set it up accordingly. Group items by type and size, and use down time to refold clothing and organize other items. Make things look appealing and they will invite your buyers to shop, not scare them off.
Okay, I know I said in the last point that nothing turns people off more than disorganization, but I’m taking that back. What really bothers buyers is when there is nothing. To. Buy. They have come to your house expecting a sale, and they want things to purchase. If all you have is a card table half full of clothes and an end table, a sale you do not have. Find a couple friends and get enough stuff together. Make sure you have enough to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto your property. Big ticket items, such as furniture, are not necessary but are strongly encouraged.
What tips do you have? Are you an avid yard sale shopper, or are you never out bargaining at 7am? Share in the comments!