Major companies spend millions of dollars analyzing the buying patterns of their customers. Perhaps my observations of the shopping patterns of my neighbors and other attendees at my yardsales over the last 20 years might help some of you make a few extra bucks. The changes I made over the years since I have noticed these patterns, increased my ability to sell my used items. I have actually had several people comment on how they preferred my yardsales to others they had attended because my stuff was clean, easy to look though and reasonably priced.
The biggest, common mistake made at yardsales relates to pricing. Most yardsales last 1 to 3 days. Items should be priced for a “quick” sale. This is especially true on the last day of your event or if the sale is for only one day. Your sentimental feelings of an object have no place in the decision of what to charge. Think of how much you would honestly pay for a similar item, with no fond memories attached, at someone else’s yardsale. Getting some money for your stuff is better than wasting your time having the sale and then putting it all back into storage. Why would someone pay you for a used item, when they can get a new one at a discount store with a guarantee for the same price?
Try to notice the actions of your customers. Their behavior will let you know if you have overpriced any of your articles for sale. If a few customers seem interested in a certain object but walk away, the price is probably too high. You can call out to the customer as they are leaving and suggest a lower price or try to negotiate. If that doesn’t work, wait until that person has left your sale, then re-label the item for the next interested party.
Some items are too small or are not worth much on their own to be put out for sale. Packaging and pricing things together, can make you more money. Small toys are a good example. For instance, you can put 5 small items in a plastic sandwich bag and label it “50 cents.” Or, just put a bunch of small items in an open box for display and attach a sign stating “Any 5 for 50 cents.” This is a better method than asking for 10 cents a piece. You will sell more and you will not have to deal with so much small change.
Putting up signs that advertise combo deals is another way to sell more. Offer your customers “Buy One, Get One 1/2 Off” or “Buy One At $2 OR Get 2 For $3” type deals. People go to yardsales to find great deals. These signs will be very appealing.
The price of every article should be obvious. Put a label on each thing for sale or display a simple, easy-to-read sign that states the price of a group of items. You might have a table of unique objects that each cost $1. Making one sign, just takes a few minutes and will compel more people to buy. Many people will not buy if they do not know the price. For some reason, they are often too shy to ask and they walk away.
Signs and labels are a very important part of a successful yardsale. Not only can they state the price of an item, they can also can include information that is not obvious, such as the different uses or the condition such as “really works”. People are generally intimidated by sellers and do not want to ask questions. The more pertinent information you can provide to your customers about what they are interested in buying, the more likely they are to buy.
Just as you would not want to shop in a store where items are jammed into boxes on the ground or piled on top of each other, most yardsale attendees do not want to dig through your stuff to see what is for sale. Items should be displayed on tables in such a way that each piece can be easily seen and reached. A customer who is not willing to dig, will not buy what they cannot see.
Dirty items usually don’t sell. Taking a few minutes to wipe off the dust or grime will increase your chances of making a sale. I have been to yardsales where people have put out dirty clothes crammed into a box on the ground without a price. Why would anyone want to get on their knees to paw through a bunch of your dirty clothes only to find out that you want more for them than they are willing to pay? If they are clean, priced and hung up or folded neatly on a table, more people will want to look through them and buy.
People like to know if what they are buying actually works. Have an extension cord set up to plug in electrical appliances, etc. Also, have appropriate sized batteries available to test battery operated objects. Do not forget, however, to take your batteries back out again. You are probably not charging enough to include them in the sale.
The combination of location and advertising is very important. If people are not aware that you are having a yardsale, you will be disappointed by the turnout. If you are not lucky enough to live on a property that has access to a heavily traveled road where signs may be enough to get people to come to your yardsale, you may need to consider spending a little money on an ad in your local money saving publication. The alternative is to put up enough signs to guide people to your more remote location. Or perhaps you have a friend that has a better location and the two of you can have a sale together. At any rate, signs to guide your potential customers to your event are key. The signs must be able to be read by someone in a moving car.
Unfortunately, many yardsale signs contain too much information, are written in letters that are too small or in an ink not dark enough to be read by people driving by.
A yardsale is no different from any other money making activity. The more thought and effort you put into it, the better chance you have to succeed. Good Luck with your next sale!