Now, let’s address one of my favorite summertime things (even though it’s fall) – yard sales! It is such a great way to declutter and get a few extra dollars in your pocket! It requires preparation and effort, but it will definitely be worth your while if it is done correctly. The best time of year to have a yard sale is typically in the summer, when people are outside in the mornings. The weekend is obviously the best time do it, with Saturday being the ideal day. Early Sunday mornings are spent at church for a lot of people, and you do not want to shrink your potential customer base.
So, you have chosen your date, and now you need to choose the time. Mornings are best, as this is when most yard sales happen. People are up and ready to go to yard sales surprisingly early, like 7:30 in the morning early. 8-12 is a standard time, but you should be prepared for people to come by earlier. After all, the early bird gets the worm!
If possible, try to organize a multi-family yard sale event in the neighborhood, as this will help to increase foot traffic. People will be more likely to stop if they see a community yard sale instead of a single home yard sale. If you do not know your neighbors well, try connecting with a neighborhood Facebook group or Nextdoor App, as this is an easy way to ask other people to participate.
Now it’s time for the fun part: advertising! This can be done so many different ways, such as through craigslist, Facebook, or with signs and posters. I am personally a fan of the outdoor signs, as it seems more tangible than the other forms of advertising (weird, I know), but we will talk about that in a minute.
While using online advertising will certainly attract more people, you may want to be careful of what information you put out there, just saying. I personally have not advertised online for my yard sales, but I am sure it would be very effective.
Old school advertising is just more fun to me. You get to make the signs and then figure out where to place them for maximum effectiveness; it’s almost like fishing or hunting! I don’t do either, but you get the point. When making the signs:
- Choose a poster board that is a very bright color. You will have only a few brief seconds to catch the eye of a driver, so you need to make it count.
- Use cardboard or another firm material to help the poster board maintain its form – there is nothing worse than having your nice sign flop over so no one can see it.
- Tape this to a “H” frame that can be stuck into the ground. It’s usually frowned upon to put signs on public property (stop signs, etc), so it’s better to just buy the “H” frames. They can be purchased at Home Depot for less than $2 each.
- Write your information (type of sale, time, address, and directional arrow) clearly, legibly, and succinctly. Again, you have just a few seconds to catch the eye of the people driving past your sign. Use a bold Sharpie and make your letters big.
- Be very thoughtful when placing your signs. Consider angles and speed of the cars that you will be targeting. Stop signs and traffic lights are great places to put them. I like to leave a “bread trail” of signs with arrows pointing towards the location. Even if they can’t read your address quickly enough while driving, they can follow an arrow. Place a sign with the information and an arrow at each intersection leading towards your house. If possible, make all the signs the same color for continuity.
- Have someone drive you to put out and take back your signs. It is so much easier to just get into and out of the car instead of parking and walking everywhere. This will save you a good bit of time.
- Do not put your signs up too early or too late. If I have a yard sale on a Saturday am, I like to put my signs up Friday afternoon before the evening traffic rush. That way, people will see them and plan ahead for the next day. If you put them up too early, people may forget and/or not notice the signs because they have driven by them a few times. If you put them up too late, you minimize your potential customer base.
Have about $30-$50 in small bills, but mostly dollar bills, on hand prior to the yard sale. These will be needed to make change for your customers. Your don’t want to end up giving away stuff because you were not able to make the correct change. The pricing of the items also needs to be considered. If your items are priced for $0.25 or $0.50, you may want to have quarters on hand too. You could also just round down to the nearest whole dollar per transaction if you don’t want to bother with change.
A fanny pack or crossbody bag will be very useful during the yard sale, as you will want to have your cash on you at all times because 1) it makes it difficult for someone to steal your money, and 2) it makes the payment process go quicker because customers can just walk up to you and pay immediately.
Set up and organization of items will be very important, as it directly translates to more sales! If your customers can easily see what you are selling, it will only help your cause. After all, who likes to have to sort through a jumbled mess when they are shopping? Not me, unless it is the clearance rack (ha!).
Organize items by category, and make sure customers can easily get to each item. Tables are great, and if you have a clothing rack, that would be great for displaying clothes. When it comes to kid’s clothes, think about putting outfits together in a bag and selling the outfit as a whole. I’ve never sold any kid’s clothes (that is the one thing I hoard), but I think it’s a great idea. It also saves you and the customers the hassle of trying to keep outfits together. Win, win.
Speaking of kid’s clothes, you many want to spend a little bit of time finding out what sells in your area. Usually, kid stuff is a great seller no matter where you are. In my area, clothes and shoes go very quickly in addition to the kid stuff. However, clothing and shoes do not sell well where my parents live; it is all about the kiddie gear. Talk to a few people around your area (usually young moms) and find out what sells. That way, you can set yourself up for success when planning your yard sale.
Pricing is a sticky area. You will need to decide what your approach will be: will you price your items low to sell a higher volume of stuff, or will you price your items closer to market value to feel better about the selling price? A thing of note, if you price your items higher, be prepared to not sell as much. When people come to yard sales, they want to get a deal. They don’t want to pay nearly the same price they would for a new item. I know of a lady who sells everything at her yard sales for $0.50-$1, and she makes a couple hundred dollars at every yard sale! Another option is to start your pricing out at one point to evaluate customer response, and then you can adjust the pricing as needed.
Make sure everything is priced clearly. It will turn customers away if they have to keep asking the price on every item they are interested in. I like to use the small, brightly colored adhesive dots for my pricing. You can buy them at any Target, Walmart, or office supply store for about $2. The dots also make it easy to change the pricing of an item; just put another dot over the original one!
Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Like I’ve said earlier, people are coming for a bargain. Leave room and patience for negotiation and bargaining. If your goal is to just get rid of stuff, this will be easy. If your goal is to make as much money as possible, don’t look at negotiating as a bad thing. Any sale is better than no sale. After all, you already decided that you didn’t want this stuff, right?
Lastly, be friendly, and have fun with it! You may meet some new neighbors or friends!
What are some of your yard sale tips and tricks?