Easy Yard Sale Basics
Yard sales can be a quick and easy way to make some extra money and get rid of unwanted stuff at the same time. They can also be a lot of hard work so you want to make sure you get enough potential customers to make that hard work pay off.
Having a great location is key to a successful yard sale. If your neighborhood doesn't have a lot of traffic, it can be hard to draw people in. If you see yard sales in your neighborhood often and people stopping by them, it is probably a good sign that your neighborhood gets enough traffic. Sometimes, you just have to give it a shot to see if it would be worth your time.
Advertising Your Yard Sale
If you live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of traffic, putting out directional signs may be the only advertising you need.
If you need to drive additional traffic to your yard sale, you can advertise for free by making and distributing flyers in the neighborhood, and posting a free ad on craigslist.
Most newspapers have low-cost yard sale classifieds and in some areas, this may be worth it to get a good crowd.
You can also advertise on your Facebook pages and on Twitter. If you have a lot of local friends online, this can be a great low-cost way to promote your yard sale. You can even post pictures of your big-ticket items before the sale.
Yard Sale Signs
Yard Sale Signs can be your best traffic generator. To be most effective, they need to be pretty big so that drivers can see them. Black (or dark) letters on a white background are easily read.
You can make a good set of reusable signs with black adhesive letters (or black tape for the letters) on foam board. This type of sign won't be ruined if it rains.
Hint: After an election, go pick up a few political signs you see laying around and use those wire frames for your yard sale signs. Just stick them into your foam board or signboard.
Don't try to put a lot of info on there. Signs with "Yard Sale" and an arrow pointing drivers in the right direction can be very helpful. Signs that try to list the address and various items usually cannot be easily read and typically won't pull in a lot more traffic anyway. If you do have a few big items or popular items that you want to promote, make smaller signs to attach to your main signs or to post adjacent to them.
If you live a few blocks from a busy street, make a series of directional signs guiding drivers right to your yard. (Be sure to test your signs by following your own arrows--you don't want to send potential customers down the wrong road!)
Yard Sale Guides
Pricing things for a yard sale can be tricky for a beginner. It's a yard sale and people expect real bargains. If you have no idea what "typical" yard sale prices are, go to a few in your area beforehand so you can see what people charge and what people pay (they can be two totally different things!)
It's a good idea to price things in 25-cent increments. That way, you don't have to worry about having dimes, pennies & nickels available.
Putting price tags on things helps. You can get a sticker-type pricing kit at most discount stores for just a couple of dollars. For "bulk" items like books or clothes or coffee mugs, big signs that read "Mugs $1" or "T-shirts $1" can make things easier for you.
In some areas, clothing may sell well and be priced accordingly. In other areas, clothing only sells if it's dirt cheap, like $1 to $2 per item. Also, seasonally-matched clothing typically sells best--winter coats in the fall; tank tops in the summer.
You will also not make a fortune selling your books at yard sales. Typically, paperbacks are 25 to 50 cents and hardbacks are one dollar. It can be a great way to get rid of your book clutter, though!
Try not to be emotionally attached to the items you are selling. Your objective is to get rid of stuff and make some extra cash.
Many people expect to be able to "bargain" at yard sales. Don't be terribly offended by this--it's a common practice. Just because someone asks if you will take less does not mean you have to, but being ready to negotiate can be a big help.
If someone asks "Will you take $10 for this?", you can counter with "I will take $12." If your price is "firm", then just stick to it. You do not have to lower your prices, but it's a good idea to leave a little wiggle room in your pricing for most items.
Offering volume discounts can help, too. For instance, you can price your paperbacks at 50 cents each or five for $2. This can work well for anything you have multiples of--clothes, books, dvds, etc.
Start Early, End Early
Morning is typically when you will see your most traffic, so be ready to start selling early, at 7 or 8 am. If you advertise, you may find earlybirds there before you even get set up. That is annoying but there's not much you can do unless you want to turn them away.
If you don't advertise a starting time, I recommend getting most everything set up and then sending someone to put up your signs. That way, you're ready before people start finding their way to you.
Once your sales slow down to a trickle, start to pack it up and call it a day. There's no reason to sit out for three extra hours to make another five dollars.
Displaying your Items
Folding tables are great to have for yard sales. You can often borrow extras from friends and family if you don't have them yourself or if you need a few extras. Also, if your office has some, ask your boss if you can borrow them for the weekend. Another possible source for tables is your church.
If you don't have and can't get tables, you can "create" some. Putting a board between two chairs or sawhorses is one way. You can also turn big cardboard boxes upside down to hold lighter items. Make sure any "makeshift" table is sturdy.
Make sure everything looks clean. Dust off things that have been in the attic for awhile.
Hang clothes if possible. They are easier to see and browse that way. A rope tied between two trees will work as a hanging rod. You might have to be creative to figure out how to best create a hanging space. Don't forget to "borrow" -- one of your friends might have a portable clothes rack!
Keep expensive items closer to your "cash register area". People do "shoplift" from yard sales.
Have change available
You will need a "bank" for making change. If you price in 25-cent increments, you'll only need quarters, dollars, fives and maybe a few tens. Fifty dollars in change is probably enough for most garage sales.
Periodically take bigger bills and put them in the house in a safe place.
Shopping bags: It's nice to have a stash of plastic bags available to "bag" your customer's purchases. Grocery store bags are great for this. (If you don't ever forget to take your reusable shopping bags to the grocery and therefore do not have any plastic bags on hand, it's not a big deal.)
If you are selling anything electrical, people will want to make sure it works. An extension cord plugged in somewhere in your garage will work.
If you have school-age children, give them jobs to help. They can help bag the merchandise for your customers or keep things tidied up. Or, let them run their own soda or lemonade stand to make a little extra cash. This works really well at a big neighborhood yard sale. (Check with your local laws to make sure this is legal in your area.)
Freebies: If you have things you want to get rid of but can't even see charging 25 cents for them, put out a box of "Freebies". Put a sign on it that says "FREE".
When it's Over. . .
When your yard sale is over, I highly recommend taking your leftovers or unsold items to your local charity shop. Don't even take it back into the house. Once it's inside, it's harder to get it back out.
if you enjoyed your yard sale and want to have another one, keep a few items that you really think might sell next time, but for decluttering purposes, try to bite the bullet and get rid of most of it now.
Don't forget to collect your signs. If you made good, reusable signs, tuck them away for your next sale, but even if they are temporary, be a good neighbor and properly and promptly remove them when your sale is done.
Then, put your feet up, count your money and relax. You will be tired and you deserve a bit of downtime now.