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