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Neighborhood Sale Tips
Why a neighborhood sale?
Neighborhood sales have some major advantages over individual yard sales. You're more likely to sell your stuff, because people see the phrase "Neighborhood sale" and they know there are several sales they can hit with just one stop. People who love going to yard sales know this can take their gas money further. People will come from across town for the right neighborhood's annual or biannual sales. More customers results in more eyes on your items, and more potential sales!
Thus, the neighborhood sale is an essential part of yard sale culture. The potential for a great sale is great, but so is the potential for failure. The right knowledge will empower you to succeed.
Planning Your Neighborhood Sale!
This should probably be done at an HOA meeting or at a neighborhood meeting, but it could also be done on Facebook or via e-mails. Set a date a month or so out. Collect money from participants to pay for the newspaper advertisement and the banner.
Be sure to put a large banner up starting the Monday before the sale to make sure people in the neighborhood know they're having a sale. The banner should say something like "Neighborhood Sale This Saturday!" If you print the dates on it, the banner can't be as easily reused next year. High participation helps encourage people to come to future neighborhood sales.
Some neighborhoods provide participants with balloons to put on the mailbox, but that's not really necessary. People should be able to make their own signs and put them on their mailboxes, and that serves basically the same purpose.
Neighborhood sales attract a lot of people, and those people come driving cars. Not all of them will be great drivers. In light of those simple truths, here are some things you should know even if you're not having a sale with your neighbors.
The neighborhood sale date is not a safe time to turn the kids loose on their bicycles, roller blades, or scooters. Kids have this strange tendency to run out into traffic without looking where they're going, particularly the very young ones.
It's all well and good to say, "Well, people should watch where they're going, we live here, my kids should get to play in the street!" But nobody wants kids to get hurt, whether the kids have the right of way or not. And neighborhood sales provide a lot of traffic situations that could prove disastrous if a kid ends up in somebody's blind spot. People are driving tall vehicles, like SUVs and trucks, that make it hard to see what's directly in front of them. People are putting their vehicles in reverse, backing out of driveways and trying to get out of a parallel parking space. It's very hard to get any statistics about this, I doubt it's occurred to anybody to keep track. But people do occasionally get hit by cars at neighborhood sales, and those people sometimes die.
So, even though pedestrians have the right of way and people should watch where they're going, I urge you to consider the safety of your children before they decide to go to garage sales by themselves or ride their bicycles in the street, at least until the traffic has died down. No one wants to see a kid get hurt.
Also traffic related, your driveway is very likely to be blocked by people parking at the foot of it. Traffic can get heinous. So, if you have to go to work on the day of the neighborhood sale, plan to leave much earlier than you normally would. Maybe you could try going out for breakfast before work and leave an hour early to facilitate that, that way if someone is parked behind your car when you get up that morning you have time to figure out who it is and ask them to move without being late for work.
If you get claustrophobic driving through tight traffic, you might consider staying home the day of the sale until the afternoon hours.
10 Things to Expect
- People will ask to look at your stuff before the start time. It doesn't matter what time the ad says the sale starts or what time your neighbor says the sale starts. People shop at neighborhood sales early, and there are good reasons for that. They're trying to find good stuff and beat the crowds. Traffic will get bad, they won't want to deal with it, and they'll leave. Your best strategy is to have all your stuff in your garage ready to start when you open your garage door, which you can do at any time after about 6:30. Your earliest customers are likely some of the best sales, because that's when the dealers are out.
- People will ask you if you'll take less for things. You don't have to take what they offer you. Be prepared to haggle a little, and try not to let haggling bother you.
- People will drive past your house and look in your garage. If they see certain indications your sale is mostly stuff they wouldn't buy, they won't stop. For example, a man looking for tools might look at a garage full of baby stuff and keep going.
- People will park in terrible spots, like in front of your mailbox or driveway.
- You will have a lot of people sometimes, and other times it'll be dead. So, sometimes you'll be so busy it'll be hard to keep track of things, and other times you'll be staring at your phone wishing you could go in and watch TV.
- People don't like paying high prices at yard sales. You might sell a few things for what they're worth, but most people go to yard sales to get a bargain. If they wanted to pay top dollar, they'd go to an antique store with more selection. You're welcome to try selling things for whatever amount you think they should go for, but don't expect much.
- Expect a diverse crowd of people to come to your yard sale, including people who may need assistance getting heavy items to their cars, such as disabled people or senior citizens.
- Some people will see that you have lots of things they want, and start a pile of stuff they're going to buy. Other people will just cherry pick. It really depends on what you have and who comes by.
- People don't consistently pay with exact change. Many people may hand you a $10 or $20 bill to pay for something that costs much less, because they didn't think to get change.
- People who buy fragile things would prefer to have the items wrapped in newspaper and placed in a box for protection.
Annual sales build on the excitement of the previous year's neighborhood sale. People who came the year before may return if they enjoyed attending the sale.
You can save money on future sales by saving the neighborhood sale banner and reusing it from one year to the next, so be sure to store that in a safe place.
You could set a google calendar alert to remind you to start a discussion about having another neighborhood sale about 11 months after the first one.
As for your leftovers, some may be worth saving for a future sale, but it's a good idea to donate some of the leftovers to charity to prevent them from taking up needed space in your home in the meantime.