How To Hold A Successful Yard Sale

The yard sales will soon be in bloom and you can make some extra cash by selling your unwanted items right in your front yard. But holding a yard sale and holding a successful yard sale can be quite different. Organization is the key to success. A well-organized sale will result in more money for your goods. Here are some tips on how to hold a successful yard sale.

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  1. Get the items you need to actually hold the sale organized. You’ll need tables, some kind of price sticker, plenty of change (both bills and coins), a cash box of some type, and a clothes rack of some kind to hang items that look better hanging than folded. It’s also important to have bags and newspapers. You can wrap breakable items and offer bags to anyone who has already picked up a few items. With hands free, they’re more likely to buy more.
  1. Check local ordinances about signs. Be certain your signs are easy to read from the road and are designed in a way that people can follow them. Don’t paint arrows on the signs until after you have them placed so you know they’ll face the correct direction. And remove signs after the sale so you’re not confusing people who think the sale is still on.
  1. Advertise your sale in the most effective way. Take time to really think your signs and flyers through. Signs should be big and bold with bright colors that can easily be read. Flyers should include all relevant information such as dates, times, address, the types of items on sale, and any other pertinent information. Use Craigslist to advertise as well. Even if people aren’t searching for garage sales a well-written description of key items may bring them in.
  1. Enlist help. It’s impossible, if your sale is busy, to keep an eye on everything and to help customers. The more you have to sell the more help you’ll need. And that leads to #3.
  1. Team up with a friend or two. This arrangement means you have a greater variety of items to draw customers in and you have others there to help run the sale. And it’s a lot more fun to share the work with friends. Use a different color price sticker for each person and keep a running tally of each person’s sales.
  1. Gather everything you want to sell. Hopefully you’ve been gathering your unwanted items throughout the year and need only make a final sweep, about a week before the sale, to check for anything you want to sell.
  1. Wash everything that can be washed before the sale. Dusty kitchen items or wrinkled clothing will not make a good impression. People don’t want to buy things they feel have been neglected.
  1. Several days before the sale go through and price everything. You can use little adhesive dots or pieces of opaque tape to mark the items. Just be sure that the price is easily readable and won’t damage the item when it’s removed. Remember that yard sale customers are bargain hunters. It’s better to sell something priced on the low side than have a lot of people look at it and pass it up. Think of what you’d really want to pay for each item if you were a customer. Having plenty of items priced at .25¢ or less may encourage people to take a look at higher priced items.
  1. Never sell items that aren’t yours to sell. Don’t make decisions about what your husband, kids, or parents don’t need. There’s nothing more upsetting for a customer than to buy toys or tools only to have an upset family member start arguing about the sale.
  1. Offer customers coffee, tea, water, and cookies or muffins. They’ll feel welcome and maybe even a little obligated to look longer and buy more. It’s also a good idea to have a supervised area for little ones who are with their parents. It keeps them away from breakables, and allows their parents to shop without being nagged by bored kids. Have coloring books and crayons and some fruit juice available.
  1. Design your yard sale as if you were a retailer. Group like items together; all kitchen items in one area and toys in another. It’s always a good idea to have a “guy area” for tools and other items that catch a man’s eye. A man may never stop for a yard sale but if he sees a weight bench and a lawnmower in a slightly separate area he may decide to take a closer look. Never lay items on the ground! Even if you have to use boxes with plywood for tables be sure to arrange items in the most appealing way. Once you’ve arranged everything walk to the street and view it from there. If something doesn’t look right take the time to fix it. Instead of putting out stacks of dishes or vases, create vignettes so people can imagine the items in their homes. Adding a note to some items can help them sell; “My grand kids loved having these books read to them at bedtime.”
  1. Space is crucial. Buyers want room to browse without feeling cramped. If someone can’t make it down an aisle between tables because of another person he/she may simply leave. And don’t hover. People want to look at items without feeling pressured. A friendly greeting, an offer of coffee or tea, and some distance will do a lot to make customers feel comfortable.
  1. Timing counts. Regional differences do matter in yard sale hours. The most popular start time is 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings in many areas but in the south it’s earlier and in upstate New York it’s later. Around here yard sales run all weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Check the local paper to determine what the typical hours are for sales in your area.
  1. Dealing with early birds. If you don’t want people showing up early don’t advertise in the paper and don’t put the arrows on your signs until you’re ready to begin. If people do show up while you’re setting up consider their offers. You don’t want to sell a collectible for half your asking price because someone comes early but you don’t want to let someone walk away from the sale because you’re not ready to take their cash. A good rule of thumb is to not dicker with the early birds. Plan on the actual start time being at least 30 minutes prior to the advertised one.
  1. Keep track of your sales and money. If you’re doing a joint sale make sure that you have a way to track of the money earned by each seller. And be sure to keep money close. A fanny pack or apron is a safe way to keep the cash with you. If you do use a cash box make sure it is never left unattended.
  1. You’re running a short business when you have a yard sale so act that way. Pull in more sales by giving a deal. If someone is buying 15 baby outfits at $2.00 each throw in a couple more for $.50 or $1.00.
  1. Be ready to haggle. Yard sale buyers are looking for the best price possible so don’t resist a slight cut of 20% – 30% on items. You can even figure that in when you’re pricing things so you can readily agree to a discount.
  1. Offer a free gift. One way to drive sales is to wrap a small gift and display a sign saying that anyone who purchases $20 (or whatever you choose) gets a free gift. You can easily pick up items from the dollar store to give away, especially if it helps you take in more than you would have.
  1. On the last day of the sale mark items down. Unless you’re willing to put things you wanted to get rid of back in the house taking a lower price is best. You can try a gimmick like “Fill a Bag for a Buck” in which any items that fit in the bag can all be bought for a dollar.
  1. At the very end of your sale you can also mark things as free. It’s a way to let others clean up the leftovers of your sale.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “How To Hold A Successful Yard Sale

  • April 26, 2016 at 12:52 am
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    Impressive SOP for anyone ever having a yard sale!! Great idea to open 30 minutes early, offer free gifts, and I love the coffee and muffins idea!! The fanny pack is brilliant and ensures that you’re not showing large amounts of cash in your hand either. Great ideas and my new SOP for yard sales!!

    Reply
    • April 26, 2016 at 10:11 am
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      I had a friend who made a bundle every summer on yard sales. She took her family to Disney World on the profits one year. And most of the stuff she sold came from yard sales she attended. She could sell for higher than she bought because she was so good at “hosting” yard sales.

      Reply

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