Yard sales are a great way to eliminate clutter and get quick cash. To generate the highest profits with the least amount of hassle, follow these tips to prepare for your next yard sale.
The key to a successful yard sale is professionalism. First of all, sell only items that are in good condition. Think about whether you’d want to pay the asking price for that old stereo or bedside table-if you wouldn’t, then why should anyone else? All items should be clean and in good working condition. For less saleable items (or whatever is left over afterward), consider donating to a charity such as Goodwill Industries or Vietnam Veterans of America.
It’s essential to advertise your sale to let buyers know when and where to show up. If you live in or near a high-traffic area, you may be able to get away with relying solely on putting up signs in your neighborhood. However, you will generate the highest number of visitors by placing an ad in your local newspaper. This may cost you a small fee, but it will be well worth it because a higher number of visitors to the sale will mean more cash in your pocket. You can also place a free notice on your local Craigslist to draw in more visitors. Place a newspaper ad up to a week before the date of the sale, and post to Craigslist 1-2 days ahead.
You will also need to have cash on hand in order to give change to buyers. The day before the sale, make a stop at your bank. It’s best to have at least one roll of quarters and $20 in dollar bills.
Use stickers or tags to price items in advance. You will still have to deal with people bargaining down the sticker price, but it’s easier than trying to come up with prices for individual items off the top of your head. When pricing, go slightly higher than what you want in order to provide a cushion for bargaining, but don’t go too high or you’ll scare off potential buyers. Keep most small items in the $2-$4 category, with smallest or least unique items $1 or less, but nothing lower than 50 cents. That way you can be bargained down to 25 cents. This system makes giving change much easier, and quarters will add up faster than dimes in the long run.
Highly visible and legible signs are extremely important for bringing in neighborhood traffic. Use brightly-colored posterboard, preferably neon green or bright pink, and black magic marker or black paint for the lettering. Keep signs simple! You could simply write “YARD SALE” in large bold letters followed by an arrow to indicate which direction to follow. Or, if you wish, you can add the time of the sale-for example, “Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.” But keep text to a minimum. The purpose of the sign is to attract attention, and you need only provide several arrow signs in a row in order to get buyers to the right location. Place a sign at each major road near the sale, attaching to telephone poles or road signs in a prominent spot, and place one sign at each new turn leading to the sale. Indicate the yard sale itself with one final sign or with an eye-catcher such as balloons. Whether you put up signs the morning of the sale or days ahead of time, please be respectful to your neighbors by taking down signs after the sale!
Plan to officially begin your sale at 7 a.m. (or 8 a.m. at the latest) and stay open until at least 1 p.m., to catch both early and late crowds. Allow at least half an hour for setting up tables and merchandise before the official start of the sale, and make sure to have change already on hand before you begin. If you have placed an ad, it’s likely that early birds will show up while you are still setting up, and you don’t want to miss out on a sale because you were unprepared.
Give some thought to arrangement of tables. You want to give people enough room to walk around and see what you’re selling, but within your available space (driveway, front yard, carport area) you want to set a clear boundary to prevent people from entering your private living space. Use tables to create a U-shape to contain the yard sale activity. Place larger items, such as furniture, nearest to the street in order to catch the eye of people driving past and draw them into the U.
Make items look as appealing as possible through good presentation. No one likes having to poke through cardboard boxes to see what’s available, and you want passers-by to be able to see at a glance what types of items you’re selling. Organize items by type; for example, all craft-related items on one table, all children’s items at another. If you have a large selection of items related to a particular topic or hobby, such as photography, group them together. Clothing should be neatly folded or placed on hangers. Use bookends on a table or shelf to present books, or make neat stacks with titles clearly visible. For electronic items, such as a TV, plug them into an extension cord so that you can easily demonstrate that they are in working condition.
Have a friend help out with set-up and keep you company during the sale. That way, you can take bathroom breaks or grab a snack while your friend keeps an eye on buyers.
Have music playing, audibly but not too loudly. Choose something energetic that will be inoffensive to most visitors.
Remember that people will avoid a sale that looks empty but will flock to one that is filled with other visitors. During lulls in activity, get up and straighten merchandise so that passers-by will see someone walking around and be inclined to stop to investigate.
Let your neighbors know you’re having a yard sale, so that they aren’t surprised by the increased early morning traffic through the neighborhood.