I am a huge fan of yard sales – both organizing my own and attending other people’s. As soon as the snow quits flying in Minnesota, the women in my family set a date for our annual yard sale and start compiling our list of citywide sales we don’t want to miss. We are hardcore, crack-of-dawn, bargain-hunting addicts. Now I know not everyone loves yard saling as much as we do. But here is what IS true of many of us: We have lots of stuff we don’t need — closets and sheds and garages bursting at the seams. I have often heard people say, “Oh, I don’t have yard sales. It takes too much TIME!” This makes me very sad, my friends, because yard sales are indeed a fabulous way to make money and have fun IF you prepare wisely and organize for success. By following a few simple tips, you can be assured a nice pile of cash and also that your CMI (closet mass index) will decrease to a healthy level.
- Keep the best and ditch the rest. Go through each room in your home and purge what you don’t use. How many times do you really watch all those DVDs? And when are you EVER going to wear that bridesmaid dress again? Remember, the more you sell, the more you make!
- Make it big. Hosting a multi-family sale with friends or organizing a neighborhood sale can really drive traffic to your area. Also consider having a multiple-day sale. I have found a Wednesday evening preview sale for just an hour or two can be a big money-maker. Thursday is the day when professional yard salers are out with fanny packs in full force. And if things are priced right, Saturday scavengers will swoop in and scoop up the rest.
- Advertise. Gone are the days of having to pay big bucks for a newspaper ad for your sale. Advertise for free on social media and local online garage sale sites. Include pictures of your big ticket items. You might be surprised at what is sold before your sale even begins!
- Get organized. You won’t sell much if you throw out a few boxes of clothes and expect people to rummage through. Believe me, it is worth your while to scrounge up some makeshift tables (think closet doors and some 5-gallon buckets) or borrow from neighbors. Organize items by type and size, stacked no more than 3 items deep. Save table space by organizing shoes and toys on blankets. Price items clearly, have plenty of change and plastic grocery bags, and a helper or two lined up.
- Price to SELL. Yes, I know those CDs from your younger days hold a million dollars’ worth of memories to you, but they don’t to other people. Price to sell, not based on sentimentality. If it is the final day of your sale, slash prices and be willing to haggle. You don’t need to bring that stuff back inside and fill up your closets again! Don’t price small items based on the most you think someone might be willing to pay. Yard sales are about finding and giving great deals!
- Create good signage. If people can’t find your sale, they can’t buy things at your sale. Investing a few minutes in good sign construction will be worth your while. Big brightly colored signs with large arrows are best. Make sure they are well secured so they won’t blow over or become obstructed on a windy day.
- Promote your business. If you sell crafts, candles, or own some other type of home-based business, a yard sale can be a great time to showcase your products or handiwork and land some new customers. Just keep it laid back. This is not the time to scare people away with a high-pressure sales pitch.
- Have a free box. Don’t be afraid to put out your junk. Some people frequent yard sales simply for the free items. Just separate stained clothing and other subpar items and place in boxes closer to the end of the driveway or lawn so people can grab and go. What is that man going to do with your Spice Girls concert T-shirt from 1996? Some things are better left unknown, and people don’t want to have to explain themselves anyway. What happens at the free box stays at the free box.
- Make it fun! Crank up your favorite feel-good tunes and soak up the sun with a few friends or get the family involved. Older kids can help count change and carry items to people’s cars. Younger kids love setting up their own little table and selling small glasses of lemonade. I have even been to sales with hot dogs fresh off the grill and homemade desserts at lunchtime. Get creative! When everyone is having a blast, cleaning out and cashing in doesn’t feel like work at all.
Have any tried and true yard sale tips of your own? Share them with me!