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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To Have A Successful Yard Sale

It takes a lot of preparation to have a good yard sale.   Here's my step by step plan for making your yard sale a success.

STEP 1.
Realizing you have so much unwanted, unused, outgrown stuff that you could have a yard sale. 

Our basement had become a dumping ground for the kids' outgrown clothing and unwanted toys.  The pile just kept getting bigger and bigger.  We weren't going to use this stuff again so I needed to get rid of it.  I could donate it, but I thought I'd have a yard sale first and see if I could make a little money off my unwanted stuff.  What's left over will be donated so that it doesn't end up in my basement again.
Here is a picture of all the stuff after I lugged it upstairs.  I didn't realize how much there was.  Yes, definitely time for a yard sale.  




STEP 2.
Plan the day, time and location of your yard sale.

This was an easy one for me.  My friend's neighborhood was having their annual community yard sale last Friday and Saturday.  Neighborhood yard sales bring in a lot of traffic.  With more people coming through, I'd have a better chance at selling off all my unwanted stuff.  Since my neighborhood is sort of out in the country, I don't get a lot of traffic and yard sales are very successful.  The day, time and location of my yard sale was all set for me.

STEP 3.
Advertise

There are 3 main ways to advertise a yard sale.
1.  Put an ad in the local newspaper
2.  Post an ad on craigslist (free)
3.  Put up signs and posters directing traffic to your neighborhood and to your specific house

We don't get the newspaper so I don't know if it was advertised in there or not.  Someone in the neighborhood did a great job of having signs out on the main road so those driving by would know there is a yard sale.  Signs should be simple, large and boldly written on sturdy material such as card board.  The words 'yard sale' along with the dates, times and an arrow are informative.  Once in the neighborhood, signs with just an arrow leading to your home are all that is needed to get more traffic.  Balloons at cross roads also draw attention and attract buyers.

STEP 4.
Sort, Label, and Price.

Once I had all my stuff upstairs, I went through everything.  I sorted clothing by size and labeled each bin with the size and price.  For example I had a bin of Girls 12 month clothing for .25 each piece.  I didn't just sort the clothing, I also made a $1 bin of kids/baby toys.  Other items such as household decor or cooking, I kept together in a bin with price stickers on each item.  This would make it easier the day of the sale when it came time to set out my stuff.


STEP 5.
Store your stuff till the day of the sale.

Most people probably do this sorting, labeling, and pricing the day before.  But if you have a lot of stuff, or don't have a large chunk of time to devote to sorting and labeling, you can start this process days ahead of time.  After you have everything labeled you need to store it (hopefully out of your living area) till the day of the sale.   If you have room, you can put your ready to go bins and boxes in the garage so on the day of the sale you can open the garage and set out your things.  And because everything is sorted and labeled you can quickly set up your sale and be ready to sell to all those early birds that come a half hour before your sale is supposed to start.


Since my sale wasn't going to be at my house, I had to take the extra step of loading it all into my car.
I had sorted, labeled, priced everything and moved it into the garage while the Babes took her nap.  Luckily she took a long nap that day.  After the kids all went to bed, I began the process of loading up the van.  At this point I was wondering if everything would fit.  It took some maneuvering, but I eventually got it all in.  No one else but the Babes and I could fit into the van, and I couldn't see out the back, but everything was in none the less.  Here is a picture of what it looked like before I left for the sale.


STEP 6.
Setting up

I had to send my kids off to school before heading out to the yard sale, so I got there about 20 minutes after the scheduled start time of 8am.  My friend was kind enough to already have their cars out of the driveway so I could set up my stuff there.  I lined both sides of the driveway with the bins of clothing, baby stuff and household items.  I also set out two different colored sheets on the grass.  I had a pink sheet with all my .25 cent toys on it and a blue sheet with the $1.00 toys.  Because everything was already sorted and labeled, I was quickly able to set up my stuff and the customers could easily see what I was selling and what the prices were.   I forgot to take my camera, otherwise I'd have a picture of how I set up my sale.

Other items to consider when setting up your yard sale:
 -Have some attention grabbers at the front of your yard sale to draw in customers.  An attention grabber could be something colorful like a large kid's toy, or something unique like an old guitar.
-Items that came in boxes, should be taken out so people could see what they are.
-As things sell, rearrange your items.

STEP 7.
Selling

Be prepared for people to bargain and be willing to take less for your stuff.  My goal was to get rid of my stuff so I was more than willing to take a lower offer.  Sometimes I'd negotiate such as when someone offered $20 for an item I priced at $40.  We met in the middle at $30.  A couple of times I refused an offer (if it was for a higher priced item) knowing I could get more for it by selling it on craigslist.   And often if someone didn't agree to buy it when they found out the price, I'd ask them to make an offer.   Or when they'd ask how much, I'd say "I'm asking $25", so they'd know I am flexible on the price.


Other things to consider when having a yard sale:

Have plenty of change on hand such as quarters and ones.  I had to make change for a $20. when someone bought something for $2.  Don't assume customers will have exact change.

Keep track of how much money you started with so you know how much money you made.  If you started with $75 in smaller bills, anything more than that would have been profit from the yard sale.

Never leave your money unguarded.  I kept my money in a pouch in my coat or pants pocket.

Have lots of bags for the customers to put their purchases in.  My bags were stored in a closed box.  That way when it got windy, and it did, I didn't have to worry about my bags blowing all over the place.


This was a two day yard sale and although I didn't get as much traffic on Friday as I did on Saturday, I still sold roughly the same dollar amount each day.  I actually sold fewer, but more higher priced items on Saturday.  Overall, I made around $300, not to mention all the stuff I was able to get rid of.  My van was not nearly as packed, and I could see out the back window, when I returned home Saturday afternoon.  I'd say this yard sale was a success.


My goal was to get rid of my unwanted stuff and make a little money in the process.  I am planning to take my unsold items to a donation center, but not before having another yard sale.  I found out the town (not a neighborhood, but the whole town - it's a small town and there really isn't any neighborhoods in it) next to ours is having a community sale this coming Friday and Saturday.  So I've made up fliers and distributed them to the houses in my neighborhood (there is only about 20), so we can have our own neighborhood yard sale  and get the traffic from the community yard sale down the road.  Since I have all my stuff ready to go, just waiting in the garage, it won't be any trouble to set up again.  And because it'll be in my own driveway, it should be even easier.  I'm in a clearing out mood so I'm going to go through the house and find more unwanted stuff to sell.



Anyone else have some great yard sale tips?