Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to Have a Yard Sale: Tips From a Former Pro.

I have done a quite a few yard sales in my lifetime.  In fact we used to make much of our income doing them. 
We purchased repossessed storage sheds many years ago and would just yard sale much of the things we found in them. 
The past two yard sales I had were with my own things.  It is MUCH harder to sale your own things that it is tip sale someone else’s.
This post is not going to tell you how to collect things for a yard sale but rather once that is done how to sell it. I will give you a few quick tips as to gathering items.
You will want a place to store them, a box or corner somewhere. I do not pre-price stuff, I will explain that below. Just clean out and start gathering.

With that being said here are a few tips to help you out.

You usually want to do a yard sale in the Spring, Summer, or even Early Fall.  Make sure the weather is predicted to be decent. 

Yard Sale’s tend to do best on Saturday mornings, and yes quite early.  I usually start setting up at 6 am with plans to be fully set up by 7 am.  I usually clean up about 1 or 2, unless, people are still coming by.  You can start out on a Friday afternoon as those are often paydays for people.  You won’t usually want a holiday weekend as people are often out of town, and the beginning of the month is usually easier for those on a fixed income, financial assistance or those that get paid once a month at the beginning.

You will also need to start out with change, I get $20 in fives, $30 in ones and $10 in quarters.   I like to carry my money around in an over the shoulder cross body bag or a fanny pack with me.  If you have multiple people helping you, such as once our storage shed business got so big my brother helped us out, so there were 3 of us running the yard sale, we had a cashier station, which was always manned, or we each carried our own change.

Put signs up at various intersections near where you will be holding your yard sale.  Do this the night before it is very important to have directional arrows big enough that people can tell which way to go.  It is less important to have the words Yard Sale big, usually people know what a sign on a street post means.  One thing we do is buy bright colored poster board and cut in in half or even in fourths. Then use a giant sharpie marker to draw the arrows.  You can even get creative with your signs, I have seen people create a lowercase t with 2x4’s so that one side going across is longer than the other then put an old yard sale shirt on it with a yard sale sign and an arrow on the end of one of the “arms”.  P1020368I like to put a sign out in front of the yard sale, or if I am doing it in a cult-a-sac then at the entrance, I use a saw horse and tape entire sheets of poster board to it that say “Yard Sale” and stick in out in the road, not to block traffic, just as far out as a car would take up if it was parked on the road.  When I didn’t have a saw horse available I have just used a box that I was storing yard sale items in.P1020367 

My daughter wanted to help color the sign.  It works, people understand what it means.  Smile

We also look for ways to advertise for free, such as Craigslist or we have something known as KSL classifieds, which is much more popular here than Craigslist.  Also put an ad in the local paper if you can afford it.  If your really up to it, you can even organize a community yard sale!
Post on Facebook to your local friends and let them know. 

Setting up and organizing and Pricing.
I carry around the price stickers and a marker and price things as I bring them out. Unless they are a bigger ticket item in which I researched first (see below).
I like to keep my yard sales simple as far as pricing goes, so I have to deal with less change.  I usually have a 25¢ and a $1.00 pile or area. P1020356
I also do a 25¢ box with toys and random stuff in it, kids and some adults like to dig.
Sometimes I am usually willing to accept a dime for an item, if the buyer has a dime or I will do two for a quarter, but as far as getting change I only deal with quarters and bills.
If I have a bunch of one type of item, for instance jewelry or makeup (I used to sale AVON).  I sort those into grab bags using Zip-Loc bags.  (I could seriously go on about my love for Zip-Loc’s but this post serves another purpose.)
I price each bag usually a few dollars each. I almost always have them on a table or in a tote by themselves. 

Tables help the more expensive items sale.  Items are more apt to catch people eyes as they drive by if they are up off the ground and they are also more likely to pick it up if they don’t have to bend down. 
I like to have like items together, such as kitchen, decorations, etc.
Make tables longer by putting a board or old door between two tables.  You can even create tables by putting a board across some totes or boxes, or even saw horses.

P1020365Clothes are also going to sale better if they are clean and not wrinkly as well as either displayed on hangers or folded as they would as the department store.  Here I used the back of a camping chair to hang a few items on.  I know a lady that used colored hangers to color code her pricing of clothes, such as pink hangers are 25¢, green $1.00, etc. I never have had that many clothes to sale.

Have prices clearly marked. I do not like going to or holding yard sales where nothing in priced.  If you have to ask if you are interested in an item it puts people off.  It’s one of those things, keep it easy on the buyer.

Some ways to determine prices are to think about if you were the buyer, price it at what would be reasonable to you.  I usually price to move, so I go a little lower than I would be willing to pay.  On bigger ticket items check what they are listed for in the classifieds, craigslist, KSL (mentioned above) and even e-bay.

What to do with the kids all day?
I like to involve my children.  They like to do lemonade stands during Yard Sales.  They usually charge 50¢ a glass and have a tip jar.   After the yard sale I take them to a movie and they use some of their money to purchase treats at the theater.
If your children are playing outside with toys that are not for sale, put a not for sale sign on them.  If your children are having a hard time with you selling their things, you can do a few things, either offer them the money that the item brings in, offer them to keep the item if they go in and choose another to sale, or even just let them “shop” at the yard sale, where they can “purchase” one or two items.  I also have chalk and bubbles outside for my younger children.

Finally be ready to negotiate.
You may over price a few items as well as under price a few, don’t let a few cents or dollars get in the way of making a sale. I am not always willing to negotiate on a few items that I know are priced appropriately or items that I may give to someone I know or the very few items that I plan on keeping if they don’t sale. 

Now that yard sales are not a part of my actual income we do fun things with the yard sale money, such as redecorate a room, go to an amusement/water park, go camping, go out to eat at a nice restaurant, or even pay down a debt with it.

After I clean out my house and have a yard sale I feel so free, so organized, and much less overwhelmed. It is rare that I look back and think “I wish I didn’t sale that” though it has happened, I usually just make do with what I have. 

This post is linked up to Works For Me Wednesday over at We are that family.

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