Helpful Tips For Writing a Great Yard Sale Ad
Why is it important to write a good yard sale ad?
A successful yard sale will leave you with less clutter and more money. An unsuccessful yard sale is a waste of valuable time. While there are lots of factors for a yard sale's success (things like competition and location), writing the right ad helps improve your odds. Here are some useful tips on how to write the right ad for the sale you're planning.
What kind of sale is it?
As you're writing the title to your Craigslist or newspaper ad, be sure to include what type of sale you're hosting.
Yard sales are held in the yard. Garage sales are held at least partially in the garage. This is important, because if it's raining, a reader may assume that your yard sale is cancelled, but a garage sale might still be on.
An estate sale is usually held after a death, or if someone is no longer able to live in their home due to moving into assisted care. There could be other causes for having an estate sale, but the gist of it is that a major portion of someone's possessions is being sold. Estate sales are usually held inside the home, and are frequently (but not always) held by professionals.
A moving sale could be a garage sale or a yard sale, and it implies that the items need to move quickly.
A multi family sale is a single sale held by a group of friends at one person's house.
A consignment sale includes items owned by lots of different people at one sale.
A neighborhood sale is a group of yard sales together. Ideally there are at least four houses involved. A community sale can be the same as a neighborhood sale, or it could be held flea market style at a community center or clubhouse.
A "man sale" sells mostly tools, fishing gear, exercise equipment, and other items people tend to wrongly assume are the sole domain of men. You will not likely find housewares or dolls at a "man sale." Whether you agree with gender roles or not, this is a title I see in my area every few weeks, and it is fairly helpful and descriptive. Buyers looking for a chainsaw or fishing lures might pay special attention to this title. Buyers looking for a baby bouncer probably will skip it.
A couponing sale is a sale where an extreme couponer sells items they bought at retail stores for a profit. Buyers who need bargains on fabric softener, toothpaste, shampoo, or other such products will know they can get those items at your sale.
There are also church sales, adoption sales, charity fundraisers, and similar, but those should be pretty straightforward. Mention what you're raising money for in the title.
There are other types of sales, but these seem to be the most commonly used titles.
Using the type of sale in the title helps customers decide where to come first or even which sales to go to at all, so this is useful information.
Make sure the address is accurate.
If the address of the sale is inaccurate or missing, it doesn't matter how good your ad is, nobody's coming to your yard sale. Make sure the yard sale will show up easily on Google Maps.
If you're having a neighborhood sale, don't just give the name of the subdivision, give an exact address from one of the participants so that buyers can easily plug the sale into their GPS and get to their destination.
Never assume a landmark like "Behind the McDonald's" will do.
Do not confuse Rd. with Dr.. There may be more than one road named Peachtree in your city. It makes a big difference whether you live on Peachtree Lane or Peachtree Drive.
Dates and Times
Be sure to make the dates and times of the sale clear. Yard sales are typically a weekend thing, specifically Friday and Saturday, but if you need to have your yard sale on, for example, Wednesday, be sure to make that clear in your ad.
Try to avoid advertising a sale more than a week in advance. If a sale is on the 30th, don't advertise it on or before the 23rd. Confused buyers will drive by your house on the wrong weekend.
Typically, yard sales start at 8 AM, but yard sale browsers tend to be out earlier than that. You can start your yard sale at 6:30 or 7 if you'd like. This could play to your advantage, because it gives buyers more time to shop before the yard sale day is over. Many people quit going to yard sales at or before noon, when it starts getting hot.
If your sale starts at an unusual time, like for example 10 AM or 1 PM, put that in the title. This will prevent buyers from coming to a sale that doesn't start for several hours.
If you're willing to accept purchases before your official start time, you need add nothing more. People will just show up. People may even come by the day before, especially if you're outside working on your sale and they see that's what you're doing.
If, however, you are a stickler for precise scheduling, be sure to specify no early sales. You can do it in all caps just to be sure, like this: NO EARLY SALES. If you really want to be sure no one shows up before you're ready, wait to put your ad up until the last minute. Maybe you'll get fewer customers, but if what's important to you is sticking to your schedule to the extent you're turning people away from your sale, that probably wouldn't matter much. Also, it helps if you wait to put your sign up until you're ready. If you're having the sale in your garage, don't open the garage door until you're ready to start. If this is of paramount importance and you absolutely must put the ad up days in advance, put it in the title.
The Costs and Benefits of Opening Early
When you open
Exactly when I say I do!
More time to drink your coffee.
Turning away potential customers.
After turning some people away, but before my start time!
You have ultimate control over the lives of others, and you have proven it!
You have irritated a few people, who will definitely notice the slight if they come back.
When somebody comes by.
You make some sales you might otherwise have missed.
You might not be ready to start. You may not have tags on some items, you may not have all the items you plan to sell on display.
What are you selling?
Your shoppers may seem to be purchasing things at random, but you can be sure that most of them were looking for something in particular and there were some items they definitely did not want or need. It can get frustrating to have several customers come in, look around, and leave without buying anything. Or worse, when the day passes and no one was interested in that item you wanted to sell the most.
This is where writing your ad is critically important. If state in your ad that your sale is nothing but baby stuff, you can skip all those customers who are out looking for antiques, tools, or collectibles. Instead, your ad will (hopefully) bring out people looking for the items you have.
If you have lots of items available, come up with some categories of things you're trying to sell. Words like housewares, books, home decor, collectibles, toys, games, and craft supplies give potential buyers an idea of what to expect. Many buyers search for specific words, like "dolls" or "Barbies," but keep that list manageable.
Does this lamp count as an antique?
Is it an antique? Generally an item is considered an antique if it is at least a hundred years old. There is some wiggle room there, it's okay to say you have antiques and just mean really old stuff. Depression glass and Occupied Japan stuff is borderline. It's not quite old enough to be considered antiques, but it's getting closer to the extent that I'd consider it splitting hairs to argue about it. One hundred years is a good guideline, seventy is probably close enough. Much less than that and you don't have antiques, you have vintage items.
If you have items that are strongly evocative of a certain decade, you could say you have retro items. For example, if you have a bunch of harvest gold appliances and furniture from the 70's, you could mention that you have retro 70's items. Retro tends to be nostalgic of recent decades, so don't use it to describe antiques. Also, don't use it to describe items that are not tied to a particular time period. A telephone table is retro. Most coffee tables aren't.
Don't write a novel about your yard sale.
Keep it short. If you write an enormous wall of text, people will miss important details. If you write important instructions in your ad, but your ad takes a long time to read while people are in their cars looking for yard sales, those important details might be missed or forgotten.
Keep in mind that your buyers are reading your ad. If the ad is rude, threatening, patronizing, or political, buyers may be tempted to skip. However, if you plan on being rude, threatening, patronizing, or political in person, I personally appreciate the opportunity to skip out on a bad experience. Even if buyers miss a detail in your ad, please try to be polite to us. We're just other people going about our day. Generally a gentle, "Sorry, we're not opening until eight," or "No, I think it's worth the $10, I'm not interested in taking less," will produce good results.
Also, it is mannerly not to change your ad from Friday and Saturday to just Saturday after the sale has already been held on Friday. It's deceptive to lure customers into a sale that might be a little picked over by making it look like a new sale.
If you are a local business that advertises as though it were a yard sale every week throughout the summer, it is very irritating to have the title of that ad change every week.
Assume most of your customers go to lots of yard sales and know the basic rules of going to yard sales. You don't need to remind them to watch their kids in your ad, for example. There are some good rules to mention, like where you would like buyers to park, or whether you're willing to take methods of payment other than cash. Just keep that list short and be pleasant about it.
Write a fun ad!
If your ad is funny, people will flock over to meet you and see what you have. A theme helps! Avoid cliches and words that are so general they've become meaningless. A huge yard sale is common, but a GINORMOUS yard sale is something interesting. "Everything you will ever need," is a misleading and vague thing to offer, but "Junk I didn't even know we had," is a humorous side note. Keep it short, but definitely make it unique if you can.