Buyer / Seller Learning Center
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Setting Up a Yard Sale
The most important step to having a successful yard sale is planning, planning and more planning! By following the steps that I have outlined for you, you are sure to have a safe and profitable sale!
You must start planning at least a month in advance.
For starters, pick a Saturday. Sundays are generally not good days for yard sales as many people are away at church, and families tend to spend this day together. Be sure that your date does not fall on a holiday such as Memorial Day or Labor Day as most folks will be out of town or participating in family celebrations. You’ll want to look at the Farmer’s Almanac to be sure that there is there are no clouds, or rainstorms predicted. You also do not want a sale on a day when the temperature is 105 degrees!
Now comes the tough part, deciding what to get rid of.
Grab a box and start with one room at a time. A good rule is to discard anything that you haven’t used in more than 6 months. Also, included are items that you have put into storage because you didn’t want to display them in your home. So, that set of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of dice that you bought in Vegas would be a good candidate! Never overlook items because you think that they will not sell. This includes broken costume jewelry, tarnished utensils, broken furniture, jars of nuts and bolts, your old pairs of bellbottoms, or even half-burned candles.
Remember, what is your junk is someone else’s treasure.
People dissemble broke jewelry and use the beads, stones and hooks for arts and crafts. Folks collect the strangest things, such as oddball salt and pepper shakers, handy people can repair broken furniture and appliances, and teenagers love the look of outdated clothing! The worst that can happen is that you won’t sell it, so you have nothing to lose!
The crucial component is the cataloging of your items.
Get a notebook and a package of string tags. Take each item, decide a price and write it down on the string tag. Attach the string tag to the item. String tags are best as sticky tags always leave a residue that may not come off. Shoppers will try to bargain the price of an object if they think that the sticky tag has left a residue. Next, in the notebook, you’ll want to list each item and the price that is recorded on the string tag. This will save you many headaches as tags get lost, or someone maliciously switches the tags. Each time you sell an item, crosscheck it with your notebook entry; making sure that the price matches the item. You can cross off each item as you sell it. This way at the end of the yard sale, you will know exactly what you have sold and how much money you have made. (download our helpful sale inventory list)
Many people have garage sales vs. yard sales.
I caution against this simply because your garage is a private place. You probably store all your lawn equipment; painting supplies, car supplies, and tools in the garage. Shoppers will try to buy your lawn mower, rakes, shovels, and just about anything else that is in sight. So to alleviate this hassle, stick to the front yard. A few days before the sale be sure that the yard is free of debris. You wouldn’t want a shopper to trip on sticks or stones. Mow the lawn. Open the space as much as possible. Be sure that all bikes, toys, and pets are removed from the yard area.
A few days notice is all that is adequate for advertising a yard sale.
If you place signs or flyers up a week in advance, most people will look at the flyer and then forget about it by the time Saturday arrives, or the weather will blow away any posted outdoor flyers. For a Saturday sale, start advertising on a Wednesday. It rarely makes sense to pay for newspaper advertising unless you’ve got a tremendous amount of goods; such as a moving sale, or quite a few pricey pieces such as antique furniture. The least expensive way to get the word out is to let alert neighbors, print up a stack of flyers on a copy machine and place them on local community bulletin boards. You can find the bulletin boards at churches, libraries, and supermarkets. You may also make your own mini-signposts by attaching the flyers to a sturdy piece of cardboard, and stapling the cardboard to a discarded piece of lumber, wooden stake or stick. You can then put your signposts into the ground alongside of the curbs. Never staple or hammer signs to trees; this is against the law in most states. Likewise, never attach a sign to a public street pole as this is also against the law in most states. Place the signs in a traveling path that traces the route to your home. The closer the signs get to your home; you may attach balloons to the signs to let the driver know that she/he is nearing the site of the yard sale. Most importantly, make sure you list your sale for FREE on Rummage Wisconsin.com! 🙂
You must be aware of the “Early Birds.”
Early Birds are yard salers who get up at the crack of dawn and show up at your property as early as 6:00 am. Your sign may state that your sale is between the hours of 9-3. This makes no difference to Early Birds. The aim is to get to the sale before anyone else in order to purchase the cream of the crop. Quite often Early Birds are dealers, owners of thrift shops, avid memorabilia collectors and so forth. In any case, it is a breech of etiquette. You may find that Early Birds can be hostile and rude. They may rummage through the boxes of goods before you have had time to display them, and they make ridiculous, if not insulting bids on your items. It is in your better interest to tell (don’t ask) the Early Birds to leave and come back at 9 when the sale begins. Many will continue to persist, so you must be firm.
When you begin to display your items be sure that you have enough table space.
You may use card tables, break down banquet tables, or in a lurch, an old door supported by buckets or chairs. Cover the tables with brightly covered sheets or tablecloths with busy patterns. This will give the eye the illusion that there are more goods than there actually are. Group like items together: Christmas decorations, clothing, tools, books, toys, etc. Be sure to have on hand an extension cord, audio tapes, VCR tapes and CDs if you are selling anything electrical items, VCRs, tape decks and CD players. You want to be able to prove to the shopper that the items actually work. You can use the outlets located on the exterior of your home to plug in items for demonstration. If the items do not work, be sure to include “Not Working” on the string ticket. Don’t be embarrassed to display broken electronics. For every broken electronic device, there is always someone who thinks that they can fix it.
The day before the sale be sure to go to the bank and secure at least $100.00 in small change.
It will quickly become a burden if you constantly have to change a $20 dollar bill for a 25 cents item. Keep your money in a fanny pouch that is attached to your waist at all times! When you accumulate large sum of bills, go inside of your home and secure the money in a safe place. Never let anyone see you pulling out a large wad of bills to make change. Likewise, keep your home locked at all times. Do not let a shopper enter your home, attended or unattended to use the bathroom, try on clothes or to plug something in. Tell them that you have a large unfriendly dog inside.
You will have to decide if you want your set prices to remain firm or if you are willing to negotiate.
If you are not willing to negotiate, then post a sign that displays “Prices are firm.” When shoppers attempt to negotiate, just point to the sign and say, “I’m sorry, but all prices are firm.” If you accept negotiations, you will have to make the price change in your logbook each time you sell an item for less than what you originally recorded. You may want to add a bit of hospitality to the sale. Give out free lemonade and cookies. This adds a nice touch, and shoppers are more likely to purchase an item as gratitude. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you add up the day’s earnings! And who would have ever thought that someone would have paid $2.00 for that crocheted frog toilet paper holder! Have fun! And make a few dollars at the same time!