Wednesday, September 9, 2009

20 Tips For A Successful Yard Sale!!

A reader asked me about posting some yard sale tips.  Absolutely!  I’ve learned lots over the years, and I’m happy to share what works for me!    P1010331

  1. Set aside a place to store yard sale items throughout the year. This allows you to compile things as you think of them. When you come across something you know you're done with, put it in a box marked yard sale. As your stockpile grows, you'll know when it is time to pick a date.
  2. Choose your date to coincide with community events. We picked our date with our community's Homecoming Festivities and holiday weekend in mind. Yard sales abound this weekend, and turnout is heavy.
  3. Make it a Neighborhood, or Multifamily event, if possible. Sales which are advertised as Community or Multifamily Yard Sales attract more attention. Check to see if neighbors want to participate, or invite friends from your church or extended family to join you and set up a table. Not only will it make your sale more enticing, it is more fun to do with friends!! 
  4. Consider location. If you live in the country, consider having it at a friend's or relative's house who lives closer to town, or on a road with more traffic.
  5. Make simple signs. It is tempting to buy readymade signs. But homemade signs work great and don’t cut into your budget as much!  Also, keep in mind, less is best. Putting too much information on a sign makes it hard to read from a moving car. Find out about signage laws in your area. Stapling/nailing signs to telephone poles are no-no's in most areas. I like to place signs where I can ask the property owner for permission to drive in a stake, or leave a freestanding sign board (pictured above).  To make one, take two similar pieces of plywood, drill two holes in the top of each, and one per board about midway down.  Connect them with wire ties at the top.  Then tie a cord diagonally across the middle to keep the boards from splitting too far apart.  Adding balloons is a great to draw more attention.
  6. Advertise.  If your sale location is far off the beaten trail, consider putting an ad with your address in the paper so people can check a map before setting out.  Craig’s List is also a great place to advertise.  It’s free, easy, and you can draw attention to large items that need that certain buyer to appreciate…like the car we sold this time!! 
  7. Price your items. People like to know up front what you are thinking. Avoid “best offer” tags, if you can.  If you are unsure of how much to ask for something, do a search on EBay of completed listings and see what similar items have sold for there recently. You can also price by group, for example, "This table, .50 ea." Know in advance what your rock bottom price is on key things.
  8. Keep clothes and small items off the ground. It is much easier to look through things on tables. Sheets of plywood on saw horses work just fine. But if you must put things on the ground, place them on a blanket, or on pavement. We sometimes place a length of pipe between two ladders so we can hang dress clothes, quilts, and curtains on hangers. It works very nicely.
  9. Set up the night before.  If your advertising says the sale starts at 8 am, you will likely have people showing up by 7:30.  Be prepared!  You may even have people stopping by the night before and asking to look as you set up.  I’ve learned to put cones in the driveway to keep people out along with a sign indicating Sale TOMORROW! Especially if I’m still pricing things and feeling frazzled.  Be sure to cover tables with tarps to keep heavy dew off things you want to keep dry.  Picnic canopies are also great shelters.  Plus, they draw attention to your yard.
  10. Have plenty of change/small bills on hand along with a tablet and calculator.  Keep a spiral notebook handy if you have more than one family selling.  I make columns with each family’s initial at the top, and as a customer picks things up and lays them on my table, I record the amount in each family’s column and bag it.  Once she’s done shopping, I can quickly add each column, combine them, and give her one total.  We find it easier to divide the money appropriately and make change among ourselves after the customer is taken care of.  Then we draw a line across so we can start fresh with the next customer.
  11. Supply plastic shopping bags to help your shoppers get their treasures to their cars.
  12. Keep batteries and screwdrivers nearby to test items. Have an extension cord available for testing electrical items.
  13. Clean your items. Launder clothes, wipe off toys, and dust furniture. A little bit of care ahead of time will allow you to ask the best prices.
  14. Occupy your children. Older children are great helpers, but little ones can find it traumatic when their outgrown things are sold. Decide what will work best for you. With our family, the older boys are great at keeping our youngest entertained and out of trouble.
  15. Be accessible for questions.
  16. Greet people with a friendly "Hello" and thank them for coming.
  17. Make Cookies.  If time (and your energy)  allow, have the kids bake some cookies to sell during the sale.  We made 4 batches, wrapped them in pairs, and charged .25/pack or 5 packs/$1.  They sold them all and were tickled with the money they made!
  18. Make Lemonade.  Again, if you have older kids, this is a great way for them to make some money.  We made pitchers of lemonade and had ice in a bucket to keep things fresh.  They charged a .25/cup.  Since it was sunny and warm, almost everyone gratefully snagged a cup as they came to look.  Just keep a trash can handy for cups and wrappers.  Having the kids keep track of their own sales and money is great for their money skills, too!
  19. Take Outdoor Pictures of things that don’t sell.  Before you clean up after the sale, take pictures where lighting is best.  You went to all of the trouble cleaning them up to sell, why not go ahead and list the big items on Craig’s List?  We did just that, and were able to sell a few more things very quickly.
  20. Remove your signs promptly.  Don’t let them linger on someone else’s property, or confuse people about the dates.  Tuck them away in the garage or shed for future use.  If you already have simple signs made, it will make it that much easier the next time you want to have a sale!  

Did I miss anything?  If you have something else that works for you, please share it with us!

Check out more Tips at Works For Me Wednesday hosted by We Are That Family!


Paula @ Organizing Tips For Moms said...

Great list of tips! I like #19-thinking ahead!

It Feels Like Chaos said...

This are great tips! I love the idea about doing the cookies and lemonade, too, super way to get the kids involved!

Amy said...

Ohhh.... love me a good yard sale.

Life is Good said...

I am struggling with selling my kids stuff. So far, if I don't want it, I just sneak it into the box, but they are getting old enough to know now. So do you let your kids sell their stuff, and do they get to keep the money, or does it just go to the family?
Just curious.

Sandy@JesusandDark Choc said...

As the Yard Sale Queen, that is a great list and the exact kind of thing I look for. And taking pictures for Craigs List is a great idea!!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the post. You hav kicked me into high gear to get my yard sale going.

Lynn said...

These are great tips. It sound like you are an experienced yard saler :)