Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yard Sale Tips

All summer I’ve been piling stuff in my garage and now the time has finally come…I’m having a yard sale. I am not looking forward to this. This is the weekend that my neighborhood has a community garage sale so I can’t back out. To find motivation I’ve research tips on successful yard sales. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Advertising—it’s important. I could have registered for our community sale for free and gotten my address on the map, but I was lazy and didn’t. Still I’ll get drive-by traffic as a result of the other advertising. But, I’m not going to leave it to chance. I’m also going to post my sale on Craig’s List.

SIGNS!!! They are so important. Why do some people make signs that look like they used pencil or had their kindergartner write them? Many municipalities have rules against posting signs on light posts or traffic posts (like stop signs). Some even prohibit signs on parked cars. Don’t leave your signs to chance. Get a large paper bag, fill the bottom with rocks, stuff it with paper, staple the top and write or attach your sign to the side. Post another sign on your garage w/time opening. Some people may come knocking on your door at 7a.m. asking to buy early. These are early birds. They are looking to snatch the good stuff before anyone else. Personally I am adding “no early birds” to my garage sign and my door. My sale won’t start until 11 am because my daughter has a soccer game that morning. I don’t want any early birds interrupting my morning.
Get enough change. If you have lots of low priced items make sure you have lots of quarters, dimes and nickels. If your sale included high priced items, be sure you have enough change for $100. Don’t take checks, too risky.

When giving change be sure to leave the original bill in site. Make the change then put the bill away after. It’s so easy for someone to forget that they gave you a $10 instead of $20.

Here’s a tip I learned from the Yard Sale Queen: wear your money in a fanny pack or carpenters apron. Not sure how I’m going to do this yet, but it’s a great idea. I don’t want to leave a box of money on a table while someone calls me over with questions. Even if this box is locked it could be picked up.

Speaking of thieves… Some neighbors and I once had a combined garage sale that was very busy. An older couple asked about a set of end tables. She said she was hot or something and was going to the car. He continued to chat about the tables and children, the weather, and all sorts of stuff. Then he said goodbye and returned to his car. As soon as he was gone the tables were too.

The goods
Do start gathering stuff for the sale in advance. I’ve known about this sale since June so I’ve been loading up the garage and making mental lists of things to go for awhile. Avoid adding things on the same day as the sale. I call this sale frenzy and warn the dog and the kids that they might get a price tag on them. While we are on the subject…

Use masking tape, stickers or pieces of paper to clearly mark prices. A timid shopper may not even ask how much something is, while another make offer you much less than you’d like.

When pricing items, keep in mind that "a third of what it costs new" is only a guideline consider how old the item is, how desperately you want to be rid of it and its condition.

Make a list of your items and asking price. Also note the lowest you will go on an item. It’s good to think about this ahead of time because many people will try to bargain. My last yard sale was themed “Everything’s $1”. I was amazed that people still tried to bargain. Really, you think that $1 is too much for that frame Picasso print? After just a few hours I couldn’t take it anymore. I crossed out $1 and wrote FREE. Then I packed the kids and went to a local fair which was way more fun.

Include as much as possible original boxes and instruction manuals for an item.
Examine everything before you put it out. I’ve heard stories of people finding valuables in clothing pockets, money stuffed in books, very personal notes or letters in books, etc.

At the sale
Make yourself a nice shady spot where you can be near your items. Don’t go inside and leave instructions for shoppers to ring your doorbell for service. Whenever I see this I just leave.

Have a calculator on hand. My math skills are good, but under pressure I make mistakes.

I’ll be closing my garage door and putting all the items in the driveway. Last year I couldn’t believe how many people wandered into my garage and picked up my son’s snowboard or my bike even though I had tables set up as a barrier.

Wish me luck! It will be good to make some cash, but more importantly I just need to get rid of stuff.

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