Friday, October 6, 2017

Yard Sale How To's #6-10

It's been a while. Sorry! I have only one word for you...summer.

I really do regret though not finishing this post about the rest of the steps to throwing a great yard sale before my hiatus began. Again...sorry. Hopefully it can help someone or lots of someones NEXT year when yard sale season comes around again. But I can't just not complete the list, right? So let's finish it up here and now.

In case you need a refresher, you can go here to possibly be convinced that going through the work of having a yard sale is worth it.

And, just in case you want an easy link, the first 5 steps of throwing a great yard sale can be found here.

Now, where were we?

6. Create Price Signs and Labels for Groups of Items or Larger Pieces
Simple, easy to read signs and large labels are a great way to lead people around your yard sale and give them lots of helpful information. They can be hand-printed or typed out on the computer; either is fine. The larger the print and more clear the printing, though, the easier the sign is to read and follow. Something like this, for example, works really well.

Signs work especially well for the selling of clothes. Labeling each article of clothing is just too much work in my opinion. I have been to yard sales before where clothes are individually marked but usually it's because the seller wants a higher price for their things (like $10+ for a dress or $8+ for a jacket). There is a lot of merit in the argument that if you ask higher prices you can make more money. I mean, duh. BUT, what I would argue is that a the biggest purpose of having a yard sale is to get rid of as much stuff as possible. When you price things higher, you won't sell as much. Granted, the other huge part of having a yard sale is making money. So, you will have to choose on that one. There's probably not a real right or wrong answer. All I know is I have found a lot of success in pricing things consistently low. Usually I have a lot to get rid of and it helps to price it low so that it gets hauled off easily.
The other thing that helps get rid of things easier, especially clothing items, is if you take time the night before the yard sale and put like items and sizes together. So if someone comes along and is looking for young girls' clothes, for example, they could stumble across this table above and go to town! This might seem really obvious to the point of stupidity that I even mention it but you would be shocked at how many yard sales I have been to where there are just boxes of random sized clothing placed about all over the driveway or yard. As in I can pull out of the exact same box a men's size XL shirt, then a girls size 8 pair of pants, then a baby size 9-12 months sleeper. I'm sorry people...that is too frustrating. So instead of shopping at a yard sale like that, I turn around and walk away. My advice: In preparing for your yard sale take the time to organize the clothes and other items for that matter into like categories, sizes and sexes. 

Another thing you can do when labeling items and pricing is instead of labeling each item individually put them all together in one bunch and sell them as a set. This makes pricing easier and helps shoppers understand what exactly is being sold and how it can be used to it's fullest potential. Like you can see here for example...
and here 
And can you see how something as simple as masking tape can be used to label groups of items and give them a general price? Pricing at yard sales does not have to be an overwhelming job.

And even though I had the clothing prices hung up around the sale that doesn't mean I can't hang up specific, easy to read signs in other places to help my shoppers really understand what they are buying and what the prices are. I think it's safe to say, in fact, that the more signs you have and the more information you give the better.
$4 for hanging items might seem high to some? What I found is that the nicer clothes being mixed in with the tee shirts and sweat pants did not seem fair to me. Nicer quality clothing that you usually hang up in your closet as opposed to stuffing it in your drawers IS worth more. What I have done is hang and label them this way and then especially on the second day of the sale, I am willing to negotiate and take less.  Most of the clothing here was at least in the $15-20 range when it was purchased so a price of $4 or basically 25% is more than fair.

7.  Advertise your sale on the internet and via neighborhood signs
One of the best ways to have a successful yard sale is to make sure you get lots of customers there. Not every customer will buy something at your yard sale so you need a lot in order to get rid of all that stuff! The methods for advertising for a yard sale have changed a lot over the years so if you haven't had a yard sale before or if it's been a while, you might want to ask a few friends you know that either shop at yard sales or have put on their own recently what they think is most effective. In my area of the world, the best way to let others know you are having a yard sale are temporary signs out on the roads or sidewalks with simple arrows that lead them to your yard sale as they drive down the main roads.

 Several years ago I discovered that the sturdy apple boxes I used to hold my junk until it was time for a yard sale performs great double-duty work as a yard sale sign too. Now I just keep those boxes with signs on them from year to year but they are easy to re-make too if somehow they get destroyed. I like to print out large font signs with my home computer and printer like this

or you can use pre-made yard sale signs you buy at Wal-Mart or hardware stores by simply filling in the information in the space provided and then taping them to the boxes. Once you get the boxes in place on the street or sidewalk, I have found it is a good idea to put a few large rocks in them to hold everything in place, especially against the wind. That way your arrows aren't pointing the wrong way and leading your customers down other streets. 

Another way to advertise these days is on the internet. 

Image result for facebook logo
You can always mention your yard sale on your Facebook or Instagram account so friends and friends of friends can come by and shop. There are also specific Facebook groups in most areas that allow you to advertise specific items on their page and this is usually a great place to mention your sale. 

Another option is
Image result for Craigslist logohas is a specific yard sale category that helps shoppers find yard sales with specific items they might be looking for. This is especially helpful for both the buyer and seller if you list large items like specific pieces of furniture or more unusual or specific items that people might be searching or. Some examples from my own years of advertising yard sales are:
1) I had acquired several large street signs (through completely legal means I assure you) that I was hoping to use in decorating my sons' bedroom. It didn't work out so I put "large street signs" in the Craigslist ad for my yard sale and had several people there as I opened the garage door on the first day anxious to see the street signs. They were gone within an hour.

2) I was selling two white wicker chairs that had been on my front porch for a few years and I was planning on replacing with something else. I didn't know wicker chairs were in that high of demand but I advertised my yard sale and specifically mentioned them and again I had several people at the yard sale at 7:00 am to look at and possibly buy the chairs. Just as a side note--there was so much interest in the wicker chairs that I actually had someone offer me DOUBLE what I was asking for them. Yeah, that was a good day.

3) I have been looking for the older-style Bosch Mixers over the last few years so each of my children can have one as they get married. Several times as I have gone to Craigslist to search under Bosch Mixer, they will pop up under the Yard Sale category where someone is wanting to sell a Bosch mixer and just includes a higher priced item like that at their yard sale rather than selling it individually.

So when you advertise your yard sale on Craigslist or any other form of advertising online, try to mention as many specific items (especially the larger or more expensive ones) as best you can. It will draw specific buyers to your sale. 

8.  Gather small bills for change

One of the frustrations with having a yard sale is that lots of people stop by to shop and buy $1-$3 worth of stuff and then hand you a $20 bill. It happens though and the best thing to do is to be prepared for it. On the day before your sale just stop by the bank and get $50 worth of 1's and 5's so that you are prepared for the early large-bill shoppers. Eventually you will end up with a pile of cash and have plenty of change but at the beginning it can be stressful if you aren't prepared in that way.

9.  Consider hosting a bake sale at the same time
Introducing you to my niece Riley and my daughter Carly. Riley was in town visiting us on the weekend our yard sale was scheduled and since she is awesome and a good sport she jumped right in and helped. Both Riley and Carly LOVE to bake so one of their jobs was making cookies, cupcakes and lemonade for the sale...and it was a hit. 

Wrapping cookies individually helps customers grab, pay and go and feel better about buying something while they head off to the next yard sale. And making labels with specific information about each flavor or type of treat is another way to make customers want to buy.

When you include a bake sale in your yard sale, it is a really easy way to make an extra $50-$75 and it gives a homey, yummy vibe to your sale. I can't prove it scientifically but it seems to me that people stay a little longer at yard sales that feed them. Subconsciously they just don't want to leave! But we mostly we include a bake sale with our yard sale so the kids have a job on the morning of and help make some of the money.  

By the way, after our sale was over this year, Riley, Carly and I went out to lunch and a movie with the proceeds from our bake sale and still had money left over. They were totally happy with that!

10. Be up early and ready for the shoppers to arrive

Every city has a different vibe and culture. Recently I was visiting family in the Portland Oregon area and they were not going out to shop at yard sales until at least 8:30-9:00 am. Where I live in southeastern Washington, that is way too late! If you want to find the really good stuff as a yard sale shopper you have to be out at 7:15 am at the latest! Some people think that's way too early but it's just the way it is. I have run across a few yard sales in my day where the people throwing the sale won't open their garage doors or let anyone on their property until a specific time, like 8:30 or 9:00 am. Those people will never know it but most people that are there earlier will see that they aren't opening and just leave and not come back. It might not be what they are intending to say but to a lot of people it propels a very arrogant attitude of "My junk is SO wonderful and valuable that people will just have to wait to buy it until I am good and ready to sell it to them." Nobody's junk is worth enough or awesome enough to sit around and wait for the opportunity to buy it. So as a general rule, if you are throwing a yard sale, plan on getting up early and being available to sell as soon as the sun comes up or at least by 7:00 am. (the times might be different depending on your area of the country so, again, ask around a bit if you are new at this.)

There you go. Now you have all the tools you need to throw a truly successful yard sale. As people arrive to buy your stuff, greet them with a smile and be willing to take a lower price. The whole goal is to get rid of it so don't be stingy now! After all, in a few hours it will be hauled off to charity without getting you any cash at all. Use the yard sale power to catapult your desires to get rid of things in your home that you aren't needing but someone else could really appreciate and use.

In my post last year about the reasons I like having yard sales I shared some of the items I had been able to purchase with my yard sale money. This year my yard sale was a huge success and I was able to buy all of the items on my want list no problem. Here they are:

new rocking chairs for my front porch....

new bedding and decor for the master bedroom

and a new Shark Vacuum (cannot tell you how much I love this thing!)

So, in the end, it's worth it to me to put the time and effort in to putting together and holding a yard sale once a year. When you accumulate a lot of stuff, it's important to get rid of a lot of stuff (after all, that is basically what this blog is about.)  A yard sale is a great way to do it AND make money for fun new stuff you can really use and enjoy. So go for it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yard Sale How To's #1-5

On my last blog post I wrote about why I think it's worth it to put together and hold your own yard sale but said that it can be a BIG job. The best way to approach it is 1 small step at a time. So I have come up with 10 simple steps that, if followed, will help make for a successful and less-overwhelming-to-put-on yard sale. Here are the first five.


One of the most important elements to a successful yard sale is the day on which you choose to have your sale. I recommend having your sale on a warm summer weekend (you never know for sure about the weather but you have a much better chance for warm weather in June or July instead of April :) I have found it works better to hold my yard sale closer to the end of the school year before everyone leaves on vacations. Also, another key to having a more lucrative yard sale is holding it on TWO days instead of just one. In my area of the world, Friday yard sales are really successful and then finishing them off on Saturday works well to get rid of the rest of the stuff. (I have even advertised that all prices will be slashed in half on the second day which brings out a lot of bargain shoppers who aren't looking for specifics but just love a good bargain.)

I also like to pick the date for my yard sale in conjunction with my neighbors Lisa and Holly. We have found that yard sale shoppers appreciate having a "1-stop shop" kind of opportunity and will stop more readily when they see three yard sales instead of just one. Lisa, Holly and I start looking at our calendars in May and find it pretty easy to find a weekend that works for all of us. Every once in a while, one of our schedules doesn't jive with the other two's and we have to hold our yard sale on our own, which isn't the end of the world either.  It's just more ideal to have them all on the same day if we can.

Another important tip is to be a little flexible with your dates in case of inclement weather. Yard Sales are a lot more successful if the the weather is good so if you see in the weather forecast that rain is highly possible on the day you were originally planning on holding your sale, consider rescheduling for one of the next weekends. Even if you have a cleaned out garage or shop to hold your sale in so it's out of the rain, a lot of yard sale shoppers will simply stay inside if it's a cold or rainy day and wait til the next weekend to go out shopping.

To have a successful yard sale you need TABLES, lots of them. Tables are a total necessity when it comes to having a successful yard sale because it allows the "treasures" you are trying to sell to be easily seen by your customers and allows you to spread things out and organize them into similar categories. Your yard sale is like your own little store and we all know how unpleasant and even discouraging it can be to try to shop and find things in a disorganized store. The same is true for a yard sale and tables help so much in that department. The more tables you have, the better. My friends and I all know this and each of us own a few tables that we use for various occasions and then when one of us has a yard sale (or a really big family dinner) we know we can call on each other to borrow theirs. I would almost go as far as to say you can't have too many tables. So borrow as many as you can.
If you don't have access to a lot of tables, I would suggest that you do a little looking around your house and yard for extras (for example, we have a patio table I pull around to the driveway to use) as well as get creative with flat pieces of wood you might have with stands of some kind...maybe something like these:

You can see the difference here between a yard sale that has enough tables and one that doesn't. Which one would you rather spend your time and money at?

Can you see how many tables this yard sale is "missing?"  It makes a difference.

Why is a clothes rack important? For the same reason that hanging clothes in stores sell so much better than folded ones do. When clothes are hung up they look nicer and are easier to glance at. Your shoppers can see the article of clothing clearly and also see it's size better and how it hangs. Also, hanging an item gives it the appearance of being worth more than something that is just folded. The only exception to this I have found is pants. Pants tend to do better being folded rather than hung.

You can make a yard sale clothes rack in lots of different ways and on all kinds of budgets. Every year for my yard sale I ask my husband and sons to hang our big ladder in the garage with rope from the rafters like this:
It is really sturdy and can hold about 60 articles of clothing at a time. If I have more than that that needs to be hung, I tend to wait and let a few items get sold and then hang up more things that start out folded on one of the tables.

Another way you can use ladders to make a yard sale cloths rack is something like this:

or this:

Or, if you have access to wood and are handy with tools at all, the internet is full of ideas for simple hanging racks that don't cost much and are easy to store afterwards.

Clothes racks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but, as a warning, I have seen one kind specifically that completely fails--and probably isn't worth the effort to put up--and that is when people string or tie a rope up to any two items (thus making a long straight string) and think that it's going to work to hold hanging clothes. The clothes and hangers are always too heavy and they fall together into the middle of the rope thus making it impossible for your customers to see much of anything that's there.

Besides tables and clothes racks, boxes of all sorts, shapes and sizes can really help organize things at your yard sale and make it easier to group like items together for easy looking and shopping.  

There are a lot of things you can display well in boxes but a few of them are:


 Specific types of clothing

Small tools and supplies for crafts or an office

Things that go together as as set

 Small items like CD's or audiotapes

and don't forget a "Free" Box

In an effort to be a responsible citizen who cares about our planet, instead of throwing anything in the garbage as I'm preparing for a yard sale, I like to instead throw it all in a box and label it "Free."  This box gets placed at the very edge of the yard sale and periodically I'll see someone rummaging around in there and even take a thing or two which pleases me to no end. After all, it was going to go in the local landfill and instead it's going to possibly help fill a need in someone's home.

When you have gathered a lot of tables and boxes and made a hanging clothes rack, the next thing to do is set up those tables, racks and boxes and start putting out your "junk" to sell into organized categories.  Here are some suggestions:
Tools/Home Repair
Toys and Games
Household Decor
Kitchen Stuff
Office Supplies
Camping/Outdoor Equip
Adult Clothes
Kids Clothes
and so on...

When you put together your yard sale tables, remember that less on each table is better.  The more you can spread things out and let the shoppers really see what is available, the better chance they will see something they need/want to buy and buy it from you. It's called a Win-Win.

Next blog post will be the Yard Sale How To's #6-10 so stay tuned!  and
Happy Yard Sale-ing

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why go to the trouble of putting on a yard sale?

Having a Yard Sale is NOT for everyone. I have talked to a lot of people who, rightfully so, say they can make more money by donating their dejunked items to a charity and writing off the donation on their taxes. My husband and I actually donate a lot of items to charity as well and we write off quite a bit. However, what I love about having a yard sale is the $700-800 cash that immediately enters into my pocket on the weekend of my sale that I then can use to buy something we otherwise wouldn't buy. I don't know why that gives me so much joy but it does.

Some examples of things I have bought with my yard sale money over the last few years are:

 a Nikon camera with extra lenses, battery and case, just like this one. I love it!

a large popcorn popper and candy machine that we keep in our basement to enjoy during family movies and TV time. The popcorn popper makes popcorn that tastes just like you buy at a movie theater! And the candy machine has been a big hit with big as well as little visitors at our house who come to play. Not only do the big kids like to put their own quarters in and get a sweet taste of something but I offer little kids a quarter for the candy machine in exchange for cleaning up the toys they got out and they are usually happy to oblige.
And last year I bought a bimini top for our boat tower so we can enjoy some shade when we are out on the water.
Being able to purchase these items is a treat for me. I love putting some time into the yard sale project and then reaping the rewards immediately. When we donate items to a charity and then use the tax deduction it never feels like the money makes it back to me. I guess you could say I'm an "instant gratification" kind of gal :)

So, if you're game and want to give a yard sale a try, I have a few tips for how to be successful. One of the biggest obstacles in having a yard sale, which I can understand, is the overall magnitude of just taking your piles of junk and making them available for others to come and buy. So jump in but do it slowly and take it one step at a time--just like eating an elephant, right?

Here are 10 steps to prepare for a successful yard sale. In my future posts I will be expanding on each of them and explaining the specifics. So stay tuned....

1.  Pick a good date to hold your sale on
2.  Collect as many tables as you can
3.  Create a clothes hanging rack
4.  Gather a few boxes for small things
5.  Spread out "junk" into general but organized categories
6.  Create price signs and a few labels for larger items
7.  Advertise your sale on the internet and via neighborhood signs
8.  Gather small bills for change
9.  Consider hosting a bake sale at the same time
10. Be up early and ready for the shoppers to arrive

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The "Blessing" of Inheriting

In the last few blog posts we have been exploring various reasons why it's hard for us to get rid of things. One of them is it's hard to admit that we bought something that is not wonderful, necessary or's hard to admit we have paid stupid tax. The second reason we discussed was we worry that after we get rid of something we might seriously regret that decision and desperately want the item back....we fear regret.  The third and final reason we are going discuss as to why it's hard to get rid of things is we inherited an item (or LOTS of items) that belonged to someone we loved but is now gone and it feels as though getting rid of their things is like getting rid of them all over again.

The feelings are real people. This is not easy stuff.

This problem first came to light for me when I was teaching a Dejunking class for our local community school several years ago. After I gave my presentation I opened the class up for questions and answers and one woman (I'll call her Mary) raised her hand right away. The conversation went something like this:

Mary:  Recently my mother passed away and as her only child it was my responsibility to take care of her house and belongings. I sold her house and the things in it that didn't mean anything to my parents or me. However, everything of any significance, including furniture, photo albums, books, costume jewelry, record albums, dishes and tools that once belonged to my parents are now stacked in my garage. They've been there for 2 years. I have a few of their items in my house that I especially loved but I feel like if I just get rid of everything else out there I would be disrespecting my parents and how hard they worked to acquire all of these things. What should I do?

Kim:  This is a really hard question to answer because the feelings are deep. I completely acknowledge your grief and am so sorry for your loss. However, while you loved your parents tremendously, and they loved you, the thing you need to realize is this: your parents are now in a place where THINGS DO NO MATTER. When they lived here on earth, acquiring possessions was kind of what they did. It's what we all do. But, the reality is, we can't take any of it with us. Your stuff all stays here after we leave this life. It is my belief that your parents, in the realm they now exist in, realize this and they would be horribly sad to know that their possessions were giving you, their beautiful child, any amount of worry, angst, or concern.  If they could communicate with you, I really believe they would say "Mary it's just stuff. Please let it go."

As I said these words, there was a truly peaceful and serene feeling that came over the room. We all knew it was true. Sometimes you have to stop and pause in life and realize what life is about and what it isn't about. And guess what? It turns out it isn't about stuff. It turns out that you can acquire and get and stockpile and collect...and in the end, no mater what, you can't take it with you. It all stays here
and becomes mostly a bother for your children and grandchildren.  
It's true.

So, if you have inherited boxes, bags and piles of things from your parents or grandparents, here is my advice.

1) Realize that they are not going to be offended if you get rid of it. I actually believe it pains them to see you suffering with and trying to deal with their earthly possessions.

2) Pick one or two amazing things of theirs that bring back memories and fit into your lifestyle that you can keep and remember them by and then let the rest GO.  

An example or two from my life:
My Grammee's noodle bowl. 
My Grammee made homemade noodles every Sunday in this bowl. It has some genuine scuff marks and a little crack in it and I love it. 
Every time I see it, I think of my Grammee and how much I love and miss her.

My Grandpa Ross' safety glasses. 
My Grandpa Ross was a hard worker--maybe the hardest I've ever known and I loved that about him. Up until a few years ago when "reader glasses" came into our lives, neither my husband or I wore glasses. But safety glasses are important and these ones are cool. We keep these in my husband's shop and when he needs eye protection, often time he wears these.
Every time I see them I think of my Grandpa Ross and how much I love and miss him.

Silver platter from my husband's Grandma Ogle. 
Grandma Ogle wasn't a super fancy person. She was a farm wife in the green hills of Moscow Idaho. But she was an amazing homemaker and an even more amazing human being. She was kind, happy and completely content with life. I never heard her say a negative thing about anyone or anything.  Every time I see this platter I think of her and how much we love and miss her.

 When Grandma and Grandpa Ogle passed away, her daughter (my mother-in-law) had a brilliant idea. She and her siblings came to the farmhouse in Idaho and cleaned out and took some things that meant something to them personally. Then they placed other nice things in boxes and brought them to our family reunion at the lake. Grandma and Grandpa Ogle's things were laid out carefully on a large table and first, each grandchild/spouse was invited in to choose one or two things from their belongings (Craig and I chose the silver platter). Then, each great-grandchild was invited to come in and take one or two things to remember their Great Grandparents by. 
To say this was a treat would be a huge understatement. 
Each of my six children came through the line and carefully selected one or two things that belonged to Grandpa or Grandma Ogle and they were immediately treasures to them. 

 "Shopping with Cousins"

Of course the girls were excited about the jewelry.

 My ever-practical son Brad chose Great Grandpa's battery powered alarm clock.

 Niece Cassidy chose one of Grandma's sweatshirts.

 Alyse chose a baby item for her hope chest and some jewelry.

Ashley picked a kitchen apron of Great Grandma Ogle's and some green earrings.

And little Carter, who was only 7 at the time, chose Grandpa Ogle's pocket knife...which was carefully tucked away until just recently when we felt like he was old enough to handle it.

This is just one way of handling inherited items that may mean something to us. It worked really well for our family and helped my mother-in-law feel better about not keeping all of her parents' things but instead sharing them with her posterity who also loved her parents. 

The purpose of this blog is to help inspire and motivate you in your quest to keep your home and spaces cleaned out and clutter free so that you can really enjoy and get the most out of life. If you are someone who is bogged down with boxes and piles of things that once belonged to your extended family members, I am begging you to reconsider keeping it all. Instead, choose one or two wonderfully special and valuable-to-you items and let the rest go. Stuff is an earthly thing. You can't take it with you. So don't let it bring you down here and now. Your parents and grandparents would NOT want that for you and neither do I.  Enjoying life today is important. Let stuff go, possess and worry and stumble over less, and you will be happier. I promise.

Special Update

My son Brad is currently serving a mission for our church and sent me this email and picture after I posted this latest article.

So idk if you know but I get your blog posts sent to me via email as
soon as you post them. They are great by the way. And I just read the
latest and i thought it might interest you that the alarm clock is
still sitting by my bed side table.

Love you

Yeah, I'm one happy Mama.