Monday, June 10, 2013

7 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Yard sales. People either love them or hate them. I happen to LOVE yard sales.

I love going to them and I love having yard sales. If I have a free Saturday morning from April thru September--unfortunately it's rare--I try to hit a community yard sale. I'm always looking for girls clothing, good books, and clean Tupperware.

Every year, we participate in our community's yard sale. I'll spend a weekend or two before the sale to go through closets, cupboards and drawers deciphering if this is the year that I don't need that oval baking dish or that long sleeved blouse I haven't worn since 2007. I've learned several tips after all of these years of hawking our junk and we had a very successful yard sale a few weeks ago.

And by successful, I mean we got rid of just about everything that I put out, except for 3 boxes of winter clothes. Apparently, people aren't interested in a wool sweater when it's 90 degrees outside, even if it is only $1.

We made some money too, about $150. Which isn't too shabby when most of our loot was marked at $1 or less.

This was a big year to get rid of toys. The girls decided that it okay to part with the plastic kitchen, Handy Manny tool bench, and the Dora pop up tent. They've moved on to bigger (and more expensive) toys and have left the toddler ones behind. We also told them that they were going to need to earn their spending money for souvenirs during our beach vacation this year and that became their motivation.

Our big ticket items were a hardly used 16" Disney Princess bike that is every girls' dream except for our little one who is now too big for it and a gently used Handy Manny tool bench that we bought on Black Friday several years ago and still paid too much.

Everything is out of my house now and it feels so much lighter.

7 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

1. Participate in a Community Yard Sale vs. a Single Family Yard Sale
 A community yard sale is an attraction for people, because they can park the car and hit a number of sales at once with not a lot of driving time. I rarely head to single sales unless by chance I'm passing one that I have time for. If you don't have a large neighborhood to participate with, then ask your friends to join you and advertise a "multi-family". People want to stop at larger sales to make it worth their time.

2. Signs
Post signs through out your neighborhood and along the nearest busy road (see above) to attract traffic to your sale. Use bright colored paper or poster board and add some balloons for attention.

3. Advertise Online
This was the first year our neighborhood didn't pay for a classified ad in the newspaper, but we did place free ads online. We placed ads on Craigslist several days in a row before the sale. Make sure your headline on Craigslist is very descriptive. An example of our ad placed on Craisglist: Willis Pointe Community Yard Sale, Sat. June 1, 8am-1 (Off Wilson Drive in Town's Name).

I see many ads on Craigslist that are very vague and just say, "community yard sale". There are tons of garage sale ads placed on Craigslist, so the more descriptive you are of your location, the better chance that the reader will head to your sale first. Also, include a description of what is being offered in the details, such as sizes of clothing, particular furniture, collectibles, etc.

4. Merchandise Your Stuff by Category
Separate your stuff and organize it by category: toys, kids' clothes, adult clothes, household items, books, etc. It's so easy to do and makes shopping easier and less overwhelming for the customer.

5. Price Your Stuff
If you want to get rid of your stuff then clearly mark it with the price. If I stop by a yard sale and nothing is marked, I usually walk away. Just tell me what you want for the item and I'll decide if it's the right price or not for me.

Pricing doesn't have to be time consuming. I make and print signs from our computer for just about everything, except for a few big ticket items and for that stuff I use stickers.

I found the plexi-glass sign holders at a yard sale!

6. Be Ready to Haggle
This presents fear to many, but here's an easy tip. If you have a price on a particular item that you are firm on, mark the item a little higher than that number. Don't mark it at your firm price. That way when someone asks if you'll go lower, simply offer your firm price. I've found most people accept that price.

For example, that pesky Handy Manny tool bench was a ridiculously expensive toy that my kids played with, but were quite gentle with and we had still had most of the pieces. I wanted to get at least $15-$18 for the toy, so I marked the bench at $20. I know--a crazy price for a yard sale, but it really was in excellent condition and I knew that there would be parents that would realize that the price was actually quite fair. Sure enough, a woman asked, "would you take $15?"  I countered that I "would take $18." The woman said, "OK." Done! We were both happy. She got a reduced price and I got the price I wanted.

7. Remember: One Person's Junk is Another Person's Treasure
If you can't read the signs taped to those antiques in the below picture, they say "FREE--It Works!" And they do work, but they are very old TVs that nobody wants anymore. The TVs became quite a joke at our yard sale. One man told me he'd take them if I gave HIM $5, so we decide to mark them free and we would help cart them to the buyer's car. I did NOT want those TVs back in our house when the yard sale was over and it was very clear that nobody was interested in them...until I marked them FREE.

Someone became quite interested in FREE. Another man was pretty excited about the find and he had a use for them. Hasta la vista!

If your goal is to reduce a lot of stuff that is lying around your house and make a little spending money in the process then follow these tips to have a successful yard sale.

Are you having a yard sale this summer? What tips do you have to make it successful? Let us know in the comments.

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