by Cesca Janece Waterfield
As spring makes its welcoming way, the urge to clean closets and tidy up the garage can take over. Perhaps you’d like to score some cash for a warm weather get-away. Yard sales are great ways to make a little money and clean up the clutter. And by turning your trash into someone’s treasure, you help the environment by keeping those items out of landfills. Make your yard sale a breeze with these savvy tips.
Begin with the Basics
Contact your town government to find out if there are any restrictions regarding yard sales and garage sales. Some areas require a permit.
You may want to consider a multi-family yard sale. Most often, group sales are very successful since more items and additional word-of-mouth attract shoppers.
Consider if you have adequate parking to handle additional cars of shoppers. If not, suggest to a friend who has more parking if she’d like to have a yard sale with you at her house.
Find out when the major employers in your area schedule payday and have your yard sale around that day.
Determine why you want to have a yard sale. Is your goal to make a tidy profit or clear out clutter? Your purpose will determine how you’ll price items and whether or not you’ll be willing to haggle.
Promote your sale in the newspaper. List big ticket items in your ad, like children’s furniture, washer/dryer, etc. But to attract a broad range of shoppers, list general categories of items as well.
Post online notices on Craigslist and community blogs, and on traditional bulletin boards in grocery stores, community and daycare centers, etc.
Many areas have laws regarding the placement of outdoor signs so check with your neighborhood association or county government.
Use sturdy cardboard for signs and write with clear bold text. Use large arrows to direct traffic. After posting signs, drive past and make sure they are legible and noticeable.
If your family or friends are helping, establish some basic rules. If you’re going to be flexible on prices with “hagglers,” make sure everybody’s on the same page.
Expect early birds. If you don’t want them, consider putting “No Early Birds” in your ad. Or add, “Prices doubled before 8 am.”
Expect some shoppers to barter. If you’re willing to bargain, be less flexible at the start.
Have plenty of grocery bags! They’re a must for your customers’ purchases.
Have plenty of change. Get a roll of quarters, a stack of $1 bills, and a few $5 and $10 bills. If you’re selling primarily low-priced items, have $100 worth of change. For mostly higher-priced items, you’ll need more bills. For instance, if you have many $10 items, most people will pay with a $20 bill.
Get plenty of newspaper available to wrap fragile items.
Have an electrical outlet handy so shoppers can test electronic items.
A calculator is helpful to total purchases.
Cut the grass before the big day.
Price for Profit
Price items about a quarter of what they would cost new. There are exceptions: Gently-used children’s clothing usually commands a better price while adult clothing generally sells less briskly.
Label and mark items clearly with even prices, like 50 cents, $1, $5, etc.
With some items, one sign will do, for example: “Books 50 cents each” or “Each item of clothing, $1”; “Items on this table $2″ or “Bag of clothing, $3.”
Do not use a cash box! Keep money on you at all times either in pockets, or with the use of a fanny pack. If others are helping sell, make sure they all know not to part from the money.
Keep records. Have a notebook or ledger where anyone selling during the day can write down item descriptions and sales prices.
Display especially interesting items at the end of the driveway to lure passersby.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Play music most people will enjoy in the background. Shoppers may feel a bit awkward browsing in total silence.
Be friendly and greet people when they arrive.
Do not bad-mouth anything. Your potential buyer doesn’t need to know that you hate the alarm clock she’s eyeing.
Promote expensive items. If the food processor has fancy attachments, gather them together on the table alongside a printout of the item from manufacturer’s website. Cut out sales ads or print out Ebay listings and tape them to items, clearly showing the shopper what a bargain he’s holding.
Make items attractive and functional. If you’re selling a TV, turn it on. Keep batteries on hand so that shoppers can test battery operated items. Arrange CDs and books so the titles can be easily read.
Count Your Money
Remove all the signs you posted.
Donate items that didn’t sell to a local charity.