Spring and summer is the prime time in our family to clean our our closets, shelves, and garage. And that means YARD SALE! Normally, our neighborhood will have a multi-family sale which usually brings in lots of traffic. We weren’t able to participate this year, but we still decided to hold our own sale. Here are some tips that we have learned from years of organizing and selling at yard sales:
1. Advertisement: Make sure to advertise far and wide. Take out an ad in your paper, put a notice up on Craigslist, talk it up on your local buy/sell groups, and plaster it on Facebook. Then, put up a sign (or a few, depending on where you live) in front of your neighborhood at least 4 days prior to the yard sale, but no more than 6 days (you don’t want them to think that it is a leftover sign from last week’s sales). We created this little ad to post on social media outlets without our address (people sent a message if they needed it), and then we had one with our address for a few select places.
2. Start cleaning out early: Don’t wait until the last minute to get and sort through your things. Sure there will be a lot of piles and boxes for a couple of weeks, but it will make for a successful and much less hectic yard sale. As a rule, anything that isn’t set out in our garage the night before the yard sale (at the latest) doesn’t go into the sale.
3. Organize into categories: We like to organize into the following categories:
- Men Clothes (and type)
- Women Clothes (and type)
- Baby Clothes (and sizes/season)
- DIY and crafts
- Toys and stuffed animals
- …you get the idea
4. Hang up clothes: While it may be a hassle to get everything hung up, it is the ONLY way to sell clothes. If you put clothes on tables (even if you neatly fold them), the first person that visits the sale will mess up your organization, and no one will touch the clothes from then on. I speak from experience.
5. Get things off the ground: The only things that should be on the ground are furniture. Everything else needs to be on tables (tray tables or fold-up tables work great for yard sales). If it’s on the ground, no one will want to bend down to look closely. Put it on a table, and it’s much more convenient to shop.
6. List prices: Either have a poster board with prices or have everything labeled. Sure, people won’t look and will still ask the price, but that way you can refer to it and they know that you didn’t pick the price out of thin air. It also helps you feel more organized and ready to sell.
7. Be willing to sell for cheap: Make sure to see my welcome phrase in #9, but it’s important that you are willing to sell for cheap. If you won’t, be ok with it not selling.
8. Be ok with negotiating: This is my favorite part of yard sales, both from a buyer and seller’s perspective. This is where the fun comes in, and if you negotiate with a smile on your face, your customer will leave feeling like they got a good deal and you will have a little extra cash in your pocket.
9. Have fun: Whenever someone walked up to our yard sale, I greeted them with a big “Hi!” and followed that with saying, “Everything has to go one way or another! If it doesn’t go home with you, then we will be taking it to Goodwill. It doesn’t come back in the house.” Sometimes I would add, “We love to bundle, and the fun of yard sales is haggling. So let’s have some fun!” I always got smiles, and it let them know that we weren’t too set on any prices.
10. Stand up for your stuff: There will be some potential customers that come and either take things (Seriously, you can’t pay $1 for that Polo shirt?), want to be jerks about offering $2 total for 25 items (and pushy when you try to negotiate), or put their hands on EVERYTHING. Know your limits and where you feel comfortable going with this. Here are some stories from the yard sale trenches:
- A man came and wanted to purchase 4 things, which we had $1 listed on each of them. He offered us $0.50. One of the items was a new-in-box wrist guard (that he was trying to hide under his other things), so I told him that I would go to $1.50, but that was it. He said, “No, 50 cents.” But I stood firm and told him that he had quite a lot there, including that wrist guard (which I pulled from the bottom of his pile so he knew that I saw his trickery.” I won out, and he got a great deal at $1.50.
- There was a woman who grabbed about 40items of clothes (I kid you not). We put a flat price of $3 for each item of adult clothes and $5 for each jacket or coat. She had well over $300 of items if they were new. She offered $50, and I told her that according to our prices, it would be $150. We settled on $80. She got a great bargain, and I knew that if I didn’t sell to her, it was late enough in the day that they would go to Goodwill. Win for everyone.
- Our first customers of the day were 2 mothers and 2 kids. The kids (about 8 years old) ran over to the toys and immediately wanted two things on the table and started playing. We settled on a price, and the daughter ran off to the car with the toy in her hand. I called after her, asking her to bring back the toys until they were paid for. One of the women started flailing her arms and complaining and threw the toy on the table and they stormed off. I was sorry for the woman’s reaction, but how did I know that they wouldn’t just leave without paying? Those toys later sold to a very sweet family.
- While I was talking to a very kind family about some baby items and toys (who had a slight Spanish accent), a woman came over to us to look at the table. She started talking in a very loud voice about how they probably didn’t know what a dollar was and couldn’t understand me. How absolutely rude and uncalled for. Needless to say, I didn’t sell her anything (I would rather lose a sale than to acknowledge that type of behavior).
- A young couple arrived at the yard sale about 35 minutes after we opened. They saw our patio set and loved it. We originally had a price of $40 for the table, chairs, and umbrella (what a bargain!). They just stood and stared at it for a good 10 minutes while we helped other customers. When we had a few minutes to chat with them, they told us that they only had $20 on them, but they could run to the bank and get $10 more, but that was as much as they could afford. We knew they wanted it, and we were more than thrilled to give it to them for $30. In fact, we would probably have settled for $10 just because of how much they wanted it (but we didn’t let them know that).
- And although this happened years ago (at our first yard sale), I still think of this young man fondly, so I must include it in this post. When Tim and I were in college, our first “big purchase” together was a Nintendo NES game system and about 20 games. When we bought our house, we hadn’t used this system for 2 or 3 years, so we decided it was time for it to find a new home. A young man about 18 or 19 came by and just was drooling over this system. He couldn’t afford the price we put on it, but he showed us the money he had in his wallet and asked if he could get it for that. One look between Tim and me, and we knew that he was the right owner for this system. For us, yard sales are a great way of making money, but they are an even better way of connecting to people.
So, did we miss any tips that you think are important for yard sales?