5 Tips For A Successful Yard Sale

You've got the junk. Now what?

Hosting a garage or yard sale can be both a fun and daunting task. Fun that you meet new people, chat with your neighbors and yet you spend the prior days pricing and then an entire day(s) waiting for people to come and buy everything so you can make money. Anyone will tell you it's a lot of work and they did 'ok' making money, but they didn't sell as much as they thought they would.

Is it worth your time and effort?

Whether you're in it for the fun or the money, here are some tips for making the day enjoyable for you and your customers.

Marketing Your Yard Sale - Yes, take out a classified ad in your local newspaper. You may be thinking, "but it costs money!"  Trust me that you will more than get your money back. There are lots of people that plan their yard sale routes, myself included. The day before, I map out my route and then if I see more as I drive around, I'll stop at those as well. Planning a route is much more efficient for time and gas. If your sale isn't in the paper you will be missed by many. Keep in mind lots of consignment and second-hand store owners hit the sales early to snatch up kids items for their stores.

Warning signs - I can't tell you the number of times I've driven past a sale because of poor signage. As described in this post, signs are important for safety and marketing. Put lots of signs out so the customers and potential customers can see your sale.

Low Prices - Pricing is always a hot-button issue. If you mark an item as $1, people will offer you 50cents. Or they may just walk away empty handed. Before your sale, you really must ask yourself what is the point of this sale? To try and get top dollar for every item or to not let anything back into the house? Two very different ideas and approaches to your sale. If you want nothing to go back in your house, then you must price accordingly. Low. I've seen more people trying to get retail prices for their used items! "But it's practically new!" you may say. Again, do you want it back in your house? Here's my guideline for pricing typical items:  kids clothing: .25-.50c each piece, kids toys: under $1 (big car garages & plastic doll houses $1; small trucks & toys 25-50c), books: kids-.10-adult - .25c, Little Tykes slides & climbers $2 - $5, household knick-knacks: .50-$1. Call me cheap but if kids clothing is $1-$2 I will not buy any; if it's all 25-50c, I'll buy an armfull. Speaking of arms full.....

Offer A Discount - A few times, and yes, in my many years of going to yard sales it's only been a few times, the seller has approached me to say she'll make a better deal since I'm getting a lot. You know what I did? I went back for more! There have been several times that I would have bought more if the seller had offered a better deal. Remember, if your point is to empty the house, you want to make incentives for the customer to buy more. It really doesn't matter if you end up getting .35c less for an item. But if you can send most customers away with another bag of kids clothes, that's less you have to deal with at the end of the day!

No Baggies - Another stopper to buying is putting items into baggies. Clothing outfits and jewelry seem to be to most common getting bagged. This is a stopper. I know some want to keep things nice and neat but putting things into a baggy screams "Don't touch me, you'll make me dirty, I am pristine!" And I don't touch these. Therefore I don't buy them. Baggies put a barrier between the customer and the item - look, but don't touch. Jewelry laid out on a table will be fine. Clothing stacked in piles will be fine and both will sell faster if the customers feel they can pick it up and hold it.

Another approach - Last weekend our community had a neighborhood-wide yard sale and many people put things out. They sat out all day for 6-8 hours trying to get rid of items and make some money. We had large household items: ceiling fan, mirrored bi-fold doors, storm door w/ broken latch, ceiling light, plastic shutters, red dishes. I could have sat out all day trying to get $5 - $20 average for each item. I may have sold some but probably not all. However, we did put them out and before we were finished unloading them we had takers! These items were all gone less than an hour. That was our point. I did not want to sit out all day bickering with people on what they thought my bi-fold doors were worth. Everything was free. 

So as we come to a close on summer and the opportunity for yard sales is diminishing, ask yourself if you really want to store all those things again for the winter. Good luck and have fun! 

If you can think of more tips for hosting a successful yard sale, please let me know in your comment. 

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