Are you thinking of having a yard sale this summer?
Here are 10 of my tips for hosting a successful yard sale...from someone who is a yard sale junkie!
1. ADVERTISE - to generate good traffic to your sale you definitely need to advertise. If you are going to advertise your sale in print - like in a local newspaper or in the Pennysaver - you will need to do this about 2 weeks in advance due to printing lead times. My favorite way to advertise for a yard sale is on Craigslist. It is free and it attracts a large audience. About a week before the sale date begin posting ads. Take some pictures of some of the things you will be selling and include these in the ad. If you have some antiques to sell, mention these in your description. If you have toys and baby clothes, mention it. This helps the buyer to know if your sale is for them. Don't forget to include your complete address so that people can program it into their GPS. I can't tell you how many ads I've seen on line where the address was incomplete or missing. Treat your yard sale like a business and list it accordingly. You may also want to include your phone number or email address so that potential shoppers can contact you with questions.
2. PRICE THINGS - I know this seems like a lot of work, but I truly believe that this helps your bottom line. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I go to a sale and nothing is priced. If I am interested in an item I have to find the seller and then inquire as to how much an item costs. Sometimes I will pass on buying something because the seller is busy with other customers and I don't want to wait around. Take the work from the buyer and put a price on things. This gives the buyer a general idea how much you want for something and then they can decide if they want to buy it or make an offer. Another reason this is good for you is that you are prepared when buyers come. You don't want to be put on the spot about a price and then sell a $30 item for a dollar because you weren't prepared. Buyers will bargain with you. Be prepared for that. It is expected behavior at this type of sale. Don't be offended or take it personally when they low-ball you. Price your items in advance and be prepared. When they come at you with an offer you will be ready by knowing in advance how much you were expecting to get. It is ok to counteroffer or to just say "no" if you think a buyer's offer is too low.
3. START EARLY - Have you ever heard the saying "The early bird gets the worm"? Well it applies to yard sales too. Serious collectors and yard salers start early. A reasonable time to start a yard sale is 8:00 a.m. If you start later than that you may miss potential customers who have moved on to other sales in the area that begin before yours did. Remember that people only have so much money and time to devote to shopping so be available to them when they are ready to buy.
4. SIGNS - Make sure your yard sale is easy to find by placing signs on major roadways leading people to your sale. Use arrows and make your signs easy to read. I love those signs printed on bright paper that I can see from a distance down the road. You don't need to do anything fancy. Buy some bright or florescent poster board and a black marker from the dollar store. Make it easy on the driver by thinking like they think and post arrow signs as if you are from out of town and don't know where you are going. I have followed arrow signs for miles looking for a potential yard sale. When your sale is over, be a good neighbor and go back and remove your old signs :)
5. OFFER A "FREE" BOX. If you have "dead" merchandise or small items that aren't worth any money, put them in a box marked "free". You can get rid of a lot of unwanted stuff this way and you will make people happy in the process. Everyone loves a good deal or getting something for free. At my sales I like to put out a box of old magazines for free. People love rummaging through the box and I get rid of clutter in the process. If you are hosting a sale where you are selling a lot of kid's merchandise, consider putting out a "free" box for the kids to look through while the parents are shopping. This gives the moms and dads some time to look and it makes the kids happy in the process. As a mom I know my kids have a ton of fast-food toys and dollar store items sitting around that could easily fill a box. Also, I think that when you are generous and kind to people it always comes back to you in some form or another!
6. CHOOSE A WEEKEND CLOSE TO PAYDAY - when deciding which weekend to host your sale consider one after a payday. It is common sense that people will spend more when they have more to spend. Many people get paid the 1st and 15th of the month so consider having your yard sale on the Friday or Saturday following these days. Holidays are also good times to host yard sales. Memorial Day is one of the best yard sale weekends of the year. Also consider events happening in your town. If lots of people are expected in your area for an event and you live on the road leading there, you may consider having your sale on this day when you will get lots of out-of-town traffic.
7. INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS - If you are considering having a yard sale think about making it a "neighborhood sale". The more sales there are, the more people will come. Yard sale junkies like myself look for a group of sales in one area. This will sometimes be the deciding factor for me as to whether or not I will make the drive to a particular area. As a buyer I figure I will have more of a chance to find something I like if there are more sales to hit. This can also be a great way to save advertising money. If a group of people on your street do a sale together you can share the cost of advertising. Your advertising budget will go farther when more people participate.
8. NO EBAY TALK - This is one of my husband Mark's biggest pet peeves...people who think they are going to get the same price for their item that they would possibly get on ebay. Be realistic in your expectations about how much you can charge for your items. A yard sale is a place to sell things reasonably and inexpensive, not to get rich selling your Grandma's rare antiques. If you have something rare and valuable, don't sell it at your yard sale! You will not get the price you want. Yard sale shoppers are looking for a deal and typically won't pay retail for anything. I have been to several yard sales lately where people go to ebay and print out a copy of an auction for the same thing they are selling at their yard sale. They place the paper copy on top of the item for sale to show the buyer what price this item is selling for online. This is tacky in my opinion and when I see this I keep walking - no matter how much I may want to buy an item. Ebay is a global market place with millions of shoppers daily. When selling online sellers can command a higher price. If your item can sell for that much on ebay, why not sell it there! Enough said.
9. NICE DISPLAYS - Think like a customer. If you would buy it, then they will too. You will get more money for an item that is clean and displayed nicely than you will if your items look like they are headed for the trash heap. Set up your sale like a department store and watch people spend money. Would you want to buy something if it was dirty and stained? If your items are dirty, you will need to mark them very cheap - so that people won't mind cleaning them up when they get home. Think like a shopper and put things out that have been wiped clean, priced and are easy to look at. Group like items together. Putting a group of linens or purses in a box and then pricing the box - $1.00 each - is a great way to sell. I also like to use tables with table cloths covering them to display breakables and other items. Some funeral homes and churches will lend out tables, so consider contacting these businesses in your area to borrow tables for a day if you don't own any. If you just can't use tables, spread a blanket or sheet on the ground and put your items on display this way.
10. BE FRIENDLY - You won't get rich from having a yard sale, but you can make some extra cash, so have a good attitude or stay home! When people come to your sale, say "hello" and greet them. Don't be grumpy or you should just pack up your items and donate them to charity. Hosting a yard sale is a great way to meet people and have fun. Make it a social event by selling coffee and cookies too. When I host a sale I always enjoy talking with people and observing what they buy and what they are interested in. Have fun with it! If it isn't fun for you, don't do it.
Hope you enjoyed all of my tips. Let me know your personal tips and thoughts by leaving me a comment.
Happy Yard Saleing!