Alternate title: How to Sell Your Stuff Like a Boss
I had a yard sale yesterday, and it was the most profitable and most enjoyable yard sale I have ever had. I can attribute that simply to preparation. Here is the process I used to plan and execute my sale:
1. Start to notice that you have a large pile of stuff accumulating in your house. Ignore it mostly until it gets so large that you have to walk around it to go about your daily life. At that point start actively scouring your home for more items to contribute to the pile. Some people may be able to accomplish this in a few days or weeks, but I let my pile build for the better part of a year, cause I'm a
2. Pick a date. We prefer to pick dates closer to the beginning of the month. Spring time seems to be a good time for yard sales. Mine had a nice coating of pollen everywhere. Plan your allergy medication accordingly. We had a gorgeous day yesterday. Even though it sprinkled through our Friday sale, Saturday was sunny and the perfect cool-but-not-too-cold spring temperature.
3. Enlist help from someone who can't turn you down, who you can boss around without hurting their feelings, and that works for free: Mom. Seriously, you can't do this by yourself. Husband, sister, BFF, you have to have somebody to help you on the day of. I mean, everybody has to go to the bathroom sometime.
4. Spend MASSIVE amount of time on Pinterest searching for "best sale ever" tips. In the months/weeks leading up to my sale, this motivated me more than anything else. "I can do this!"
5. Two words: Ne. On. Its the only way to go for signs. I made four signs: two for the main highway close to my neighborhood, and two for the entrance of my 'hood. It is easy to get to my house (not too many turns inside the neighborhood), but it is pretty far down the street. People found us. Neon signs are the easiest to see. Use a black marker and keep it simple. "Yard Sale" and an arrow. That's it.
6. Price Everything. It is easier for the customer, so they don't have to guess about it. It is easier for you, so you don't have to remember/make decisions the whole time during your sale. You can always revise your price, but at least you will know what you initially wanted for an item. Also important to note here: don't get too emotionally attached to your items. Remember this is a yard sale. People who shop at yard sales want Bargains. They are looking for a good story to tell (I got this Musical Santa Stocking Holder for $.50!!) It is important to know the value of your items, if you have big things, but keep in mind that these people are doing you a favor by hauling stuff away and paying YOU for the privilege.
For clothes, everything in a box was $.50. I had a few things that I could not let go for that price, and I hung them up with an individual price. I still had lots of boxes left over. Oh well.
6. Get a bunch of change. Send husband to do this task so that the bank teller will think he is going on a strip club bender.
7. Practice cautious optimism. It would be royally crappy to think that you are going to bring in $1,000 and end up with a measly $250. I always prefer to be pleasantly surprised. My low-ball goal was $100, and at the end of the sale, I was SUPER excited with how far beyond that I went!!
8. Pre-sale: make it rain with the change. How many other times are you holding a stack of ones that large? Seriously, though, make note of exactly how much change you have so that you can get an accurate figure later of how much you made. For some reason, we started with the completely random number of $141 in change. We had a couple of rolls of quarters, a whole lot of ones, and a good number of fives and tens. People will need you to break their large bills, especially your first customers of the day. We had one man who bought several items as he saw them (did not pay all at once) and I broke a 5, 10, and 20 for him, even though he could have paid with exact change for the second and third transaction.
9. Speaking of him, here is a Garage Sale Rule of Thumb: People will surely buy the piece-of-crap item that you think to yourself, "Let's put that under the table, cause no one will want that anyway." (Mr. Change bought that item as soon as he saw it. His lady friend bought my nursing bras. She did not need them for their intended purpose, and let me know that she did not care. They were a fun couple, and obviously garage sale professionals. They even gave a quarter each to the neighbor girls who were window shopping.) Second part of this GSRoT is that people will totally NOT buy the things that you think everyone will scoop up. Shoes, even kids shoes that were priced VERY reasonably, did not do well. And my three (extra) hardback Harry Potters (priced at $1) did not sell!! I was certain that someone would get those!
10. Consider doing some hours the day before. A "pre-sale" of sorts. I almost skipped on this, but decided to go with it and have a finite sale time on Friday before "the big sale." I did about $100 worth of business, and got rid of several big items. Not too shabby.
11. Week of: advertise!! I put an ad on Craigslist and on several local Facebook garage sale pages. Completely free. Hint: make sure you follow the guidelines on whatever FB page you post on. Don't anger the admins!! FB generates lots of interest and lots of comments/communication, which you probably don't have time for during your sale. However, some people got clarification on my location, so answering those questions was beneficial. EDITED TO ADD: Make sure you either put the date on your FB posts, or remove them promptly after your sale. I did not have the foresight to do this, and a week later, people are "liking" my week-old post. I reallllly hope no one shows up at my house this afternoon.
12. Completely panic immediately before the sale. Why did I think I had enough to have a garage sale? People are going to think I'm nuts! Nobody will want that piece of crap (um, yes they did)!! My neighbors are going to hate me (they don't). What if no one comes? Let's just start drinking!!
14. Important note: men come to garage sales. With women, with other men, and by themselves. They are good customers. Appreciate your customers and the fun stories you will remember. The college kid that masterfully negotiated the price down, the man in the pith helmet who bought the random metal stake for $1, the lady in the fancy coat who asked "who is the artist?" when thumbing through your (personal) canvases (she didn't buy them). It is a fun experience. I truly enjoyed the people who came to my sale. Many were quick to say "Good Luck" or "I hope you sell all of your stuff!" Nice folks.
15. Obviously, keep your cash on you at all times. Keep some cash inside. Put large bills inside. I got enough twenties the first day that I sent Andy back to the bank for more ones. Hee hee.
16. Mid-morning, realize how much junque you have left and start cutting deals. I sold a whole box of small girls clothes for $4. At that point, it was one less box that I was going to have to pack in my car. And even though you initially thought you would get $10 for that decorative metal plant hanger? At 11:30 your choice is the lady offering $4 or putting it back in your backyard. You do the math. Which leads me to...
17. Don't bring it back inside!! After you are done, box up with a critical eye, and put those boxes in your car to take directly to Goodwill. Once it is back in your house, it is just the starting point for your next yard sale. I had several items that I was not willing to donate (yet), but everything else was immediately boxed up and loaded in the car.
18. For those items you aren't willing to take to the Salvation Army...get back on Facebook!! By the end of the day, I made $50 more by selling those items (toys, kids shoes) by posting them individually on a local sale page. More importantly, it cut down on the amount of stuff I was holding on to.
19. Count your money and make it rain again, this time with twenties!
20. Lay on the floor for quite some time, completely unable to move.
Hopefully you will glean something from these tips. Hosting a yard sale is certainly not something I would want to do on a regular basis, but it can be a great way to clean out your house and make a little money in the process! Good luck and I hope you sell all your stuff!!