Throwing a Fabulous Yard Sale
- The first step in throwing a fabulous yard sale is to de-clutter your entire house. Get rid of everything you can, including any pieces of furniture, putting them into your garage. If people drive by your yard sale and don’t see much, they won’t bother to stop. So if you don’t have enough stuff, ask relatives and friends if they would like to get rid of some stuff. My mother contributed to my yard sale, for example.
- The signs need to be clear, written with the thickest marker that exists. Find light-colored construction paper, and use your thick black marker to write “Yard Sale” with an arrow underneath. Do this on 12 large pieces of construction paper, all the same color. When someone is looking for your yard sale and they see the same color on the signs, they know that they are on the right track. Tape the construction paper to the side of a box. You will need 6 boxes, which you can get at Costco or any store that stacks boxes to the side. I forgot to say that your arrows should be 6 to the right, and 6 to the left. When taping the papers to both sides of the box, make sure the arrow points to the same location (opposite arrows).
- You will put a brick inside each box to make sure your boxes don’t fly away when you put them on the corners of major streets, leading the cars to your house. You might need more signs depending on how far you are from a big road.
- Borrow lots of card tables from neighbors and friends. Label the tables on the bottom to make sure you get them back to the right people. The more tables, the better. No one likes having to crouch down to the ground to see your stuff. You will sell more if the items are on tables.
- A free-standing iron bar for hanging clothes is ideal, but I didn’t have one, so I improvised. I hung shirts from a long bush along the side of my driveway. Throw away any clothing with stains, because stained clothing causes people to see your clothes as pieces of garbage, and they won’t buy the good ones either. If everything you display looks nice, people will walk up to it and buy some. I sold lots of clothing for $1 each. Most yard sales can’t sell their clothing because they are heaped up on a table, and who wants to weed through a mound of garbage? Not me. If each garment is hanging individually, people will go up and grab them. Put kids’ clothes together, women’s clothes together, and men’s clothes together.
- Several days before the yard sale, put up the card tables in your garage. Divide the stuff into sections. Put toys on one (or two) tables, housewares on another table, sheets and blankets on another table. I was selling a lot of sports equipment this time, so one table had sports stuff. (Unfortunately my driveway is a steep incline, so when people picked up the baseball mitts, an avalanche of balls fell down the driveway, and my customers were alarmed. Then they started laughing and running across the street to see who could grab the most balls before they slammed into the front door of the neighbor’s house across the street.)
- Now that you’ve sectioned off the categories on different tables, label the tables with the prices. Paperback books should be 50 cents, hard cover $1. If you charge too much for books, nobody will buy them. DVD’s should be $1; CD’s 50 cents. For my sports table, I put “Balls $1, mitts $4 each.” Toys should be marked individually. I hate those sticker labels that ruin stuff and won’t come off the items. I prefer to write the price with a normal Sharpie marker on white strips of paper, taping them to the item with clear Scotch tape. They always come off without ruining the object.
- If you have kids, consider having a bake sale, too. When I’m out yard saling with my mother, I always find it charming to buy a cookie or brownie for 50 cents from a kid. My kids baked the previous day, and we sold out of brownies quickly. My kids felt successful. Banana bread can be sold as a loaf for a higher price, $4.
- I don’t pay for newspaper advertising, because I don’t want to be forced to have a yard sale if it’s raining, or if I have no energy that day, or if the kids are barfing or sneezing with snot. Nope. Just put up signs the day you feel like doing it. I made over $200 last Saturday at our yard sale and had a steady stream of people. I only had one piece of furniture. I don’t think I would have had more traffic if I had advertised, and feeling trapped by the date is not a feeling I enjoy.
- Only have the sale one day. You make the bulk of the money on the morning of the first day. During the afternoon, you are lucky if you make $20. The whole next day, you are lucky if you make $20. For this reason, I always throw my yard sales from 8am to 1pm on a Saturday. This maximizes your time investment. Take the leftovers to Goodwill immediately after the yard sale. Then sit back and count your money in an air-conditioned house, whooping for joy with your children, who realize that they can now go on a short family vacation.
Tags: frugal living, garage sale, summer, yard sale