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!