Episode 297: December 25, 2012
by Laura Adams
If your closets are overflowing, you have no idea what’s stored under your bed, or the thought of trying to find something in your attic is frightening, it’s time for a yard sale! I’ll give you some great tips to organize a sale that makes people want to spend money and leaves a wad of cash in your pocket.
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After making the decision to relocate from central Florida to the San Francisco Bay area by the end of 2012, my husband and I knew it was the perfect time to have a huge yard sale and get rid of lots of stuff. Although I can’t say having a garage sale is easy, it can really pay off.
Yard Sale Tips to Earn More Money
When you’re ready to get rid of unused items, downsize to a smaller place, or just raise some cash, follow these 8 tips to get the most out your next yard sale:
Tip #1: Deliver Notices
At least 2 weeks before your sale, create a letter or flyer to notify everyone in your neighborhood, building, or workplace about your upcoming sale. List the sale dates, times, and categories of items that you’ll be selling—like china, glassware, sporting equipment, or antiques. If you have any special or high-end items, include a short description of each one.
Tip #2: Have a Pre-Sale
The notification you send out serves a couple of purposes—one is to invite people to a pre-sale. On your flyer, include one or more days and times that you’ll be available, before the real sale, to let people see what you have.
I was shocked at how much stuff our neighbors and friends purchased right out of our overloaded, dusty garage several days before the real sale. Having a pre-sale allows people to get the good stuff early and leaves fewer items to price and haul out on sale day.
Tip #3: Collaborate With Neighbors
Having a pre-sale allows people to get the good stuff early and leaves fewer items to price and haul out on sale day.
Another reason to spread the word about your yard sale to friends and neighbors ahead of time is that they might want to participate in the sale with you.
One of our neighbors decided to have a yard sale on the same day as ours. That brought in more traffic because both of us advertised and put out directional signs. You could also share the cost of ads and signage to reduce expenses.
Tip #4: Make Good Signs
Signs are another reason to notify friends and neighbors about your plans because they might have signs from their previous garage sales to loan you.
However, remember that signs portray an image about quality of your sale, so only use signs that are in good condition and are written in big, bold print. I spent a lot of time creating large, sturdy signs that would hold up to wind and rain in case of bad weather.
Also, create signs to show people where to park or rope off areas where they shouldn’t park. Even if your neighbors don’t want to have a group sale, they’ll appreciate early notification from you so they’re prepared for additional traffic on your street on sale day.
Tip #5 Advertise Off and Online
The copy you write for a garage sale ad should list the dates, times, address, and categories of merchandise. If you have lots of sporting equipment, for instance, list out sub-categories, like fishing, hunting, biking, or surfing.
Advertise your yard sale in offline newspapers and local penny-saver publications as well as online sites like craigslist.com. There’s a diverse crowd of people who shop yard sales so you want to reach as many of them as possible.
Tip #6: Merchandise Like a Pro
The key to any successful sale is good merchandising. My biggest tip is to have plenty of long tables to properly display what you’re selling, so you don’t have to put too many items on the ground. I rented 5 tables that were delivered the day before the sale and picked up the day after, for a total cost of $60.
It’s best to price items ahead of time and group like items together, so people who are into gardening, house wares, or artwork can see everything you have in that category in one place. But if you have a lot of small items that you want to move quickly, put them all on one table and make a sign that says “Everything on this table is $1.”
Retail giants always play music, so I recommend that you do it too. It can make the atmosphere more fun and lively and put customers at ease. Choose an upbeat playlist that will appeal to a wide audience, like Rock or Country.
Tip #7: Use a Belt Pack
The currency of yard sales is cold, hard cash. So make sure you have enough bills to make change. Instead of keeping your money in a change box, use a zippered belt pack. Having money on your body is much safer and allows you to make change quickly.
Tip #8: Talk to People
People attend yard sales for many different reasons. Talk to each person to find out what they’re looking for. They might be buying for their business, just browsing for fun, or trying to furnish a new home on the cheap.
When a potential customer touches something, spends a lot of time looking at it, or asks for your best price, tell them more about the item. You might say, “I bought that wetsuit 3 years ago and only wore it one time. Did you also see the snorkeling mask for sale? I’ll throw that in for free.”
Know Your Yard Sale Mission
Before you decide to have a yard sale, be clear about what you want to accomplish. If you simply want to get rid of unused items, price them to sell. Try bundling items like gardening supplies or tools in a container that’s marked $10 for the whole thing.
And if your goal is to make money, price your items a little high so you have room to negotiate. People never want to pay full price at a garage sale.
If you prepare for a yard sale by notifying people you know, advertising in multiple places, having good signs, and then creating a friendly, organized atmosphere on sale day, you’ll make customers happy and bank a lot of cash.
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Yard sale image courtesy of Shutterstock.