My husband and I joined our community yard sale for the first time this year, and I must say, it was quite successful!
Below are some very helpful tips that I've gathered from friends and family who seem to have mastered the art of the yard sale. I've also added some of my own from our experience this past weekend.
Pre-Planning for Your Yard Sale:
- Choose your yard sale date wisely. Popular months for yard sales are April, May, June and September. Saturdays seem to be the most profitable days for a sale- pick one that falls after the 1st or the 15th of the month when most people get paid.
- Make an inventory list of everything that you want to sell in advance.
- Give yourself plenty of time to gather and price your sale items. You don't want to pull an all-nighter right before your sale. Save your energy! You'll need it.
- Advertise your sale. Post it to Craigslist for free or put an ad in the local paper along with a highlight of the things you'll be selling. List the timeframe of your sale. Ours went from 8am-3pm, however even after stating "no early birds" on our flyers, we had people on our property at 7am, so just be prepared.
- Use signage to direct traffic. Brightly colored posters with large, bold text will show up a lot better than ballpoint pen on a piece of brown card board. Make sure you can clearly read your signs.
Pricing Your Items:
- When pricing your items, keep two things in mind. 1) Are you looking to get top dollar for your merchandise or 2) Are you looking to just get rid of it? Identify items that are non-negotiable in terms of price because if they don't happen to sell at your yard sale, you can try posting them on eBay or Craigslist. If you dread the idea of packing up your items and storing them back in your house or garage, price them on the lower end so that they're likely to sell.
- Do your research. When pricing items, be sure to know what the going rate is for that particular toy, appliance, piece of furniture, etc. For instance, I had a customer try to offer me $15 for a never-been-used item that currently retails for over $100. No thanks!
- Most yard sellers price their items at 20-30% of what they originally paid for it. Price your items slightly above what you'd accept for them. For example, if you'd take $20 for something, list it at $25. The majority of your customers will likely try to haggle you down anyways.
- Keep math to a minimum. Don't price items for $1.50 or $0.45. We keep everything at whole dollar amounts ($1, $2, $3....) so that no calculators are necessary.
Setting Up, Organizing, and Displaying Sale Items:
- Make sure to have enough table space to display your sale items. We used large pieces of plywood sitting on top of saw horses and then covered them with old sheets or fabric.
- Keep as many items as possible off of the ground. Customers don't want to be on their hands and knees rummaging through piles of clothes or other items. You'll sell a lot more if people can access it more easily.
- Be organized. One re-occuring compliment that we kept hearing from our "customers" was how organized we were. We had kids clothes laid out by size with clearly marked signs (i.e., Size Newborn, Size 0-3 Months, Size 6-9 Months, Size 12-18 Months, etc.). It directed people to the proper area and stopped them from tearing apart our nicely folded piles.
- Take your items out of the box. People are visual creatures- if they can't see what you're selling then they're going to pass you up. Display items such as books in a bookshelf (if the shelf isn't for sale, clearly mark that on a sticker so that you don't get people asking how much you want for it).
- Lay out shoes so that people can easily try them on. Just like the tip above, don't just set out a giant box of old shoes. Neatly pair them together and set out in your driveway or on a sturdy surface-- especially if you're selling high heels.
- Entice male buyers by setting out tools, electronics, and yard equipment near the front half of your property. Most times husbands wait in the car while their wives peruse the sale. If they see stuff that interests them, they're more likely to park and get out.
The Day of Your Sale:
- Have enough change on hand. We took out $25 in ones, $25 in fives, and $20 in tens which worked out great. Most people are looking to break their larger bills early in the morning.
- Make sure to have at least two people running the sale at all times. That way when one person is handling a sale, the other can keep an eye on everything else. Not only do yard sales bring out shoppers but they also bring out shoplifters.
- Keep your money on you. Refrain from using a cash box if possible. Use a wearable pack, small purse across your chest, or keep it in your pockets (just make sure you have deep pockets so that bills won't fall out). That way your money will never be left unattended.
- Every so often, pull out large bills like $20's and $10's from your earnings and stash them away in your house. You really only need to have $5's and $1's on hand for change.
- Play a little background music. This helps eliminate that awkward silence and makes people more comfortable cruising your yard.
- Make sure to have extra grocery bags and empty boxes on hand for people to pack their purchased goods. I learned this the hard way when a couple wanted to buy a whole set of dishes and had no way of carrying them to their car. I had to scramble through the garage looking for a box to empty out.
- As you near the end of your day, consider slashing prices, offering two-for-one deals, or marking some items that you never want to see again as "free". That way you're not stuck repacking and storing your leftover items.
Other Tips to Remember:
- Wear sunscreen. Even if it's overcast outside, chances are that you'll be outside for the entire day so keep your skin protected with SPF or a hat.
- Drink lots of water and keep snacks handy. Just when you think that it's safe to take a lunch break, a mass of shoppers will pull up.
- When in doubt, just set it out! You never know what people are looking to buy. I had a large box that had what I considered to be really funky, old, in poor condition shoes and clothes in it. Too embarassed to set these items out, I left them in the large box on the side of our house. Well sure enough, people started plowing through that box and making me offers. I was surprised that there's truth behind the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure!"