Wednesday, September 14

The Other Side of Yard Sales - Some Advice

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we had a yard sale of our own so I thought I'd share some of the details and a little bit of advice for anyone else who wants to brave the world of yard-selling. I was inspired by this post by The Nester to purge our house of the "things we like but don't need" in hopes of achieving a less cluttered & simpler home. 

Following her advice, I went through the house and sorted out all the stuff we didn't actually have a use for or a space for. I went through every area of the house to find items - clothes in the closet I don't wear, movies we don't watch, knick knacks that are just cluttering my shelves -and I piled it all in the basement. Then I waited a while to see what I still needed...and it wasn't much! I pulled out the few things I really wanted to keep, and the rest got a price tag and a trip to the garage! It felt so good to see such a big pile of stuff leave the house. I will definitely use this method again, but I'm also keeping a running "yard sale box" in the basement so I can throw in things to sell as I find them.

If you want to clear some clutter and make a little moolah (does anyone else use that word?) of your own, I would definitely recommend checking out that article. And if you're new to the yard sale world, here are my tips for having a successful sale (warning - this is a lot of words with no pictures! Sorry!):

1. Post good signs. Your signs should be readable by someone driving by and should clearly indicate the direction to the sale. Put one at each corner along the route to keep shoppers headed in the right direction. I made my signs with cardboard stapled to wooden stakes. Then I painted the info on in nice BIG letters. You want it to grab attention so people will come! Mine usually include the words "yard sale," a big arrow pointing the way, the distance to my house, the time of the sale, and my address.

2. Advertise. This is especially important if you live off the beaten path. (if you live near a main road, like me, you may be fine with just signs) I always start shopping with advertised sales and only follow signs I pass on the way. But first weigh the cost! It's great to list in free places like Craigslist, but here it would have cost $45 to get in the paper (I didn't know if I would even make that much!) so take that into consideration.

3. Bring a friend. By involving more people, you can advertise yourself as a milti-family sale which will increase your traffic. People come where there is more likely to be lots of stuff. On that note, make sure you have enough stuff for a worthwhile sale. It may be better to postpone until you have a good offering of merchandise.

4. Put attention-getters out front. Big ticket merchandise, like furniture and large baby items, should be placed front and center to draw people in. I put them near the end of the driveway so they are the first thing shoppers see. Then my less eye-catching items can be put further back on the driveway or in the garage. (If you have space to spread out down the driveway, use it! You want your sale to look big from the road so people will stop.) This is a sketch or the layout of our garage & driveway on sale day:

5. Clearly mark prices. People are much more likely to consider purchasing something if they know they price. Some would rather walk away than ask and you don't want to lose a sale! I use a combination of individual sticker and group signs (like "all shirts $0.50) and on larger items I put a large tag like a sticky note or even a sheet of paper.

6. Barter. Most people expect to barter at yard sales (and I think it's half the fun!) so it can be a big turn off when sellers won't negotiate. It's important to consider the cost of not bartering...would you rather drag something back in the house than sell it for less? Anything I don't sell goes to the thrift store, so I'd rather get something for it than nothing. Remember, your main goal is to get rid of stuff you don't need.

7. Be on time. Open when you say you'll open, and close when you say you'll close. If you advertise to start at 8:00, people will probably show up at 7:45. If you aren't set up yet they'll move on to the next sale and probably won't come back. The same goes for closing. If you're supposed to be open until 2:00, don't pack up until at LEAST 2:00. I've gone to sales at 1:30 and seen people boxing things up. I just kept driving. Sale lost! It's a good idea to check around and see what times are popular in your area and try to match them.

8. Have plenty of change. You don't want to lose a sale just because you can't break a bill. I have found it helpful to work in quarters when pricing, and mark everything in increments of $0.25. That way I only need quarters for change! For cheaper items, like small toys, I will group them together in a ziploc bag and ask $0.25 for the whole thing.

9. Be honest. Always. Whether you are advertising (don't call it a multi-family sale unless it really is) or trying to make a sale (Is there a stain on the curtain? Let them know!) it's best to be honest with buyers.

10. Price reasonably. No one cares how much you love it/payed for it/used it. All they know is they want to get it for an awesome price. I always consider what I would want to pay for an item, and price it that way. It's like returning the favor to everyone who sells me things for the price I want to pay. In the last few hours of a sale, I will go half price on everything. Remember, it's better to sell it for a low price than throw it away and get nothing!
    So that's my two cents. Or ten cents, I guess. There is plenty of other info out there two if you want more advice. Here are a few of my favorite resources:

    The Nester's Advice
    Young House Love's Advice
    Money Saving Mom's Advice

    Remember to have fun, and enjoy the freeing feeling of getting that clutter out of your home!


    1. Nice post and good advice! Did you really need a whole table for the baby, and did you get a good price for him? :-p