Recently, I embarked on the seemingly innocent task of holding a yard sale. After moving countless times, I ended up with boxes of stuff that I hadn’t seen in years (including three irons). My loving husband kindly informed me that if I did not scale down some, he was going to be making multiple trips to the dump. After doing a quick once-over, I realized that I have lots of brand-stinkin’ new stuff just lying around (thanks to multiple budding businesses that never took off). There was no way I was letting this stuff go to the dump, so yard sale it was.
I began searching the Internet (what project doesn’t start this way?) for the secret weapon to make my sale a huge success and bring in lots of money. And what did I find? Nothing. It turns out there is no secret weapon to yard sale success. Well, okay, hard work, but that is such a cliché. I did, however, discover a lot of tips that can’t hurt and some big “no, no’s” that I never would have thought of. The following are the top 10 tips that I think anyone having a yard sale should follow.
1. Sort and clean everything.
In my yard sale research, I went to several local yard sales to conduct some in-person research. At one of the yard sales, there was dust on several of the items and clothes lying in piles and bins. I was afraid to touch anything. Take a baby wipe and at least wipe everything down before you try to sell it.
2. Price everything individually.
At the same yard sale (herein referred to as the disaster yard sale), there was a big box of medium to large toys that said “make an offer.” This was frustrating because I had no clue what range they were looking for. It just came off as lazy to me. They did accept my 9-year-old daughter’s offer of $.75 on one of the toys, so I guess they really did mean it. If you want people to buy your stuff, let them know what you want for it. If they want to haggle further from there, then so be it. Big boxes with one price written on the outside just confuses things, especially if you have multiple of these and people want to carry the items around before deciding to buy.
3. Hang clothes!
This is a big one. At the disaster yard sale there were piles and bins of baby and adult clothes. No matter how much they were asking for them (I didn’t even look), I wasn’t going to go digging through the clothes like they were a pile of garbage. Even bargain hunters want to be treated with a little respect. Make your yard sale feel like a boutique and I promise you will sell a lot more.
4. Offer something unique.
At one of the other yard sales, the ad said free coffee — there was none — but I thought this is a novel idea. People get up early to go to yard sales, so a cup of coffee would be a nice touch. It doesn’t have to be free, $.25 a cup would go over just as well. I’ve seen many sites suggesting a “free” box. I know the kids in my neighborhood and the “free” items would be gone in two minutes to just a couple of kids. However, a $.05 for three small items would serve the same purpose. It would ensure no one leaves your yard sale empty handed.
5. Even if you have a garage, have a yard sale.
Both of the yard sales I went to on one particular Saturday were in a garage. I know this is easier because you can set up ahead of time, but going into some stranger’s cave is weird. Plus, you have to determine what is for sale and what isn’t. Bringing the stuff out into the driveway makes the sale much more inviting.
6. Add some color.
Many of the yard sales I went to were very drab. Like the family just threw out a bunch of stuff they no longer wanted and expected people to go crazy over it. Make your yard sale festive and people will be more inclined to buy. Add some balloons, colorful signs, music, and refreshments. Suddenly your yard sale goes from drab to a festive event. Make it fun and people will want to stop by to see what all the fuss is about.
7. Display, display, display.
I’ve said it a number of times before, but it bears repeating. Display your stuff like you have a fancy outdoor boutique. Clean everything up and display it neatly, grouped by like times and people will be more inclined to browse longer. You wouldn’t want to go rummaging through some stranger’s trash, so why would you set your yard sale up that way? Borrow or rent tables and use a curtain rod or rope to hang clothes.
8. Be inviting.
You don’t want to scare your potential customers off by being right in their face the whole time, but you also don’t want to sit back in the corner reading a book the whole time. Welcome new customers, point out the $.05 box and refreshments, and let them know you are available if they have any questions. This will make them much more inclined to ask you about a potential purchase, which you can then sale them on.
9. Be realistic about pricing.
As much as you would like to make thousands of dollars off your yard sale, this just isn’t realistic. People go to yard sales looking for deals, so give them that. Price most items between $.25 and $3 with a couple of high dollar pieces. The more small cheap things you have, the more money you will make. Chances of selling the cheap items are much higher than selling the high dollar items. And leave the antiques for auctions, unless you really want them gone.
10. Have fun.
Include your kids and have fun! Most yard sales don’t last more than a couple of hours, so have fun with it. If you are having fun, so will your customers. This will bring in the money more than anything else.