By: Leah Prescott
It’s yard sale season! It’s time to drag out your whatchamacallit collection and finally say goodbye to the box of heirloom thingamabobs. Although I’ve only hosted yard sales a couple of times, I’ve shopped at hundreds. Here are my tips for a smooth, simple, successful sale!
- Plan ahead. The best sales are going to require some planning. Start making lists of large items you will be selling. Go through your garage, attic, and closets to drag out those hidden “gems” that eager Saturday morning shoppers will be seeking. Consider the date of your sale and start monitoring the weather. Decide whether you will re-schedule in case of bad weather or go forward “rain or shine.” Also, begin to ponder if your goal will skew towards turning a significant profit or clearing out the junk.
- Advertise. Make a brief ad for your yard sale and start posting on Craigslist and Facebook groups for sale or trade groups. This will increase your traffic significantly. You’ll want to mention some of your items or categories of items (“TONS of kids stuff, great prices!”) as well as your neighborhood or street name (Forest Acres, close to downtown) and the date. Don’t put your address unless you want folks coming ridiculously early or even the day before. The night before your sale, post an ad with your exact address, or simply, “Main Street, look for our huge green signs.”
- Gather Supplies. You are going to need SIGNS, STICKERS and CHANGE (along with a safe space for storing your cash). I can’t tell you how many folks fail at this crucial step. People make their signs absolutely inscrutable or open up for sales without any change at all. Don’t make this mistake! I recommend the Dollar Tree for signs and price stickers. Also, half a dozen helium-filled balloons divided between your signs will draw people in. Use arrows and large bold text. Pretend an out-of-towner is looking for your sale; could they find it? A sign for every turn is ideal. Don’t forget the change. You can find recommended guidelines online.
- Make your “store” appealing. Every yard sale is different, but you can do a few things to create a more welcoming environment for shoppers. If possible, use tables and surfaces to display the products. If items are filthy, either clean them ahead of time or give them away. Everything doesn’t have to be priced, but at the very least hang a sign with some ranges (Clothing $1-$3). It’s nice to have old grocery bags for people to carry their items home. Use an extension cord so customers can test electrical items. Sort by type of item and put large items closer to the street to catch the eye of travelers. Also, a box of free items will free up some selling space and appeal to some shoppers.
- Be courteous. Above all, be friendly and kind to your customers. If I approach a yard sale and the sellers look like they just ate a lemon or they won’t even greet or make eye contact, I will probably leave. On the other hand, don’t act like a car salesman and hound your customers, begging them to “make an offer” or touting the merits of your wares like an infomercial. Both are a turn off! Just be nice and be willing to take reasonable offers.
- Don’t over-value your cast-offs. In general, keep your prices firm at first, then start to negotiate as the day goes on. When pricing items, remember: your front yard is not ebay or the mall, so don’t expect to charge ebay or mall prices! Be creative with pricing. If none of your clothing is selling, offer a grocery bag full for $5 or Buy One Get One Free.
- Wrap up your day. The last yard sale I hosted was slow in the morning and sped up towards lunchtime. I stayed open until 3 pm because folks kept coming. I won’t ever put an end time on my signs in the future, since you just don’t know what will happen. When you are finished selling, what do you plan to do with your remaining items? Palmetto Thrift Store on Fernandina Rd. will pick up donations! And whatever you do, please, please take down all of your signs.
Good luck with your yard sale! If you are a yard sale shopper, check out the Yard Sale Treasures app. It’s connected to Craigslist yard sales ads and gives you a mapped out route guiding you from sale to sale.