Saturday, 24 March 2012

Yard Sale-ing!

Someone asked me yesterday how the renovations were coming, to which I had to reply..."They're NOT." It's been one financial pitfall after another these past couple of months. If it's not a $1200 vet bill, it's needing to replace my Mac. Those two unexpected expenditures plus the regular bills, mortgage, etc. have put most of my projects on hold. Ah, well, easy come, easy go...surely more money will somehow fall into my lap, right? ;)  I did just agree to work an extra day at the shop each week, which means more money, but less time to work on the house. I'm so glad I didn't try to get the house fixed up for this spring.  I considered it, but for once chose the reasonable path! But I've got to do something at home, or I'll lose all momentum, so I've decided to start weeding through my copious amount of stuff and start packing up some of the unnecessary (but special!) tchotkes and dishes and what have you. Time consuming and monotonous...but free!

The other big thing I'll be doing is sorting through everything for my next yard sale. (Which could be a couple of months in the future. The weather is pretty sweet right now, but if we make it to May without a blizzard I'll eat my hat. As long as my hat is made out of guacamole.) Yard sales can be a real pain in the argus and for a lot of people aren't worth it, but I usually make around $1000 at my bi-annual(ish) yard sale, so for me, it's worth the aggravation. As my sister A mentioned the other day, I could pay the movers with what I make at one yard sale. Lots of people have asked me why my yard sales are so successful and how it's possible to make as much as I do at them. The short answer is that they're pretty awesome. There are a lot of things I'm bad at, but hosting a yard sale a'int one of 'em! The long answer follows, so if you don't want a litany of yard sale tips I suggest you stop reading here! 'Cuz here we go:

  • Be crazy organized. Start gathering stuff and planning for your sale about a month before you want to have it. If you don't have enough stuff to fill at least 4 tables, get your neighbours and friends involved. Almost everyone has stuff they can get rid of. Many people will see a piddly yard sale and simply drive past it, so the bigger the better. 
  • You'll need supplies: price stickers, markers, signs or poster board and stakes for advertising, tables, tablecloths (actually important!), a box of handy-wipes is a plus, a float of about $50-100 in change, plastic ziplock baggies in a couple of different sizes (good for jewelry and other small items and keeps everything neat) change rollers for after the sale, a cash box or a money belt of some kind (Wear a fanny pack! For me? Please?) You can buy all of this stuff at any dollar store.
  • Dust/clean everything you're including in the sale.
  • Price EVERYTHING, ideally well before you're setting up your tables. You will 100% NOT have time to price stuff as you put it out. Yes, it takes some work, but most people won't ask the price and you've just lost a ton of sales. I often invite some friends over to help me price stuff about a week before I host the sale. They get wine and munchies and first dibs on stuff, I get much appreciated help! It's okay to have cheaper items thrown in bins marked with a price (ie. everything in this box 25 cents each!) If you're about to price something for a nickel, consider putting it in a free bin. 
  • As you price stuff, try to keep like items together. Dishes in one box, books in another, etc. This will make set up day much easier.
  • Arrange for tables. Borrow what you need to. You can set boards across chairs, use your patio furniture, sawhorses and boards, the kitchen table, crates, tv tables, card tables...gather as many display surfaces as you can. Buy cheap, solid colour vinyl table cloths from a dollar store (preferred) or white sheets at a thrift store to cover the tables. The cohesion really makes a HUGE difference in displaying the items, which makes people buy more stuff.
  • Be ruthless in your pricing. This is stuff you don't need anymore, so aim to get rid of it. People will buy way more of your stuff if the prices are great. If you have some really rare or unusual items for sale, check to see if you can find similar items online, and price a little lower. Occasionally I'll have an item still unused and in its box, and when I do, I find the item online, print out the ad/price for it and stick it on the box. Then I'll price whatever I'm getting rid of at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of new.
  • Leave a little leeway in your pricing so that you can wheel and deal. 
  • I usually make a sign for items like books (ie. 25 cents for small paperbacks, $1 trade paperbacks, $2 hardcovers or as priced!) Then I price any rare, recent or huge books individually, and try to keep those in an accessible spot near the other books. CDs and DVDs I usually price in the same manner. Very new/recent dvds I'll price up to $8, but most dvds I'll price at $3-$5. CDs I usually do between $1-5. 
  • Make big, bright signs! I use neon poster board with huge black block letters. I make about 6-8 double sided signs (One piece of poster board folded in half makes a decent, visible size plus folding it over makes it sturdier.) I put these at either end of my street and then at the main thoroughfares on the busiest street near my house. 
  • Your sign should read "Yard Sale!" followed by the address, date and time. Add arrows as necessary. 
  • Don't let your kids make the signs, unless they have unbelievable penmanship. A crappy sign done on a piece of cardboard in illegible crayon-scrawl is not doing you any favours. Get kids to help by having them make signs for their own sale table, where they call sell their own stuff. (Help them with pricing.) Kids can also sell lemonade or freezies. It'll make 'em happy, they'll make a few bucks and it'll lend to the atmosphere of your sale.
  • While you're sign-making, make one that says "Early birds pay double. I'm serious." Or if you're feeling generous tell them they can help set up tables or do some other work for you.
  • Post about your yard sale on free sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. 
  • I always create an open event listing on facebook, and invite friends. I also encourage them to invite their friends. I will link to this on my own facebook page every couple of days leading up to the sale. 
  • I always create a few posters on the computer talking up the sale. Include the address, date and time of the sale, and list the types of items for sale. I always include something goofy on the posters; "Shopaholic is Downsizing! Come take advantage of amazing prices on...blah blah yadda yadda." I get the posters (about 25) printed at my local copy shop on brightly coloured paper, then I post 'em in my neighbourhood and in nearby neighbourhoods. This helps get people pumped for the sale.
  • I always like to say on my posters and on any online advertising that it's cancelled if raining, and will be rescheduled. I don't write it on my poster board signs, cuz if it there's rain in the forecast, I'm not gonna put those up anyway. I'll just fix 'em for next time.
  • The evening before, make some wraps or sandwiches for you and your helpers. You'll be busy, and you'll need lunch the next day!
  • Have your boxes of sale items plus any larger items in one are of your house ready to go in the morning.
  • If your sale starts at 9, plan to start setting up at 7 at the latest. It always takes longer than you think. Get help from friends or loved ones!
  • Set up your "Early Birds Pay Double!" sign. Some jerks will still start opening boxes of your stuff. Accept that they were raised in a barn. 
  • Set up your tables! (I usually sketch out a layout for the tables before hand. Look, I'm incredibly organized, okay?)
  • Cover your tables in the vinyl tablecloths or the white sheets you've purchased. This seems like a crazy step, but this makes all the difference. It adds a sense of cohesion and a well thought-out feel to your sale. Looks matter! You will get more sales when you follow this tip.
  • Try to keep like items together. Dishes all in one spot, books in another, board games in another, etc. I keep small items like jewelry in individual ziplock bags and small, expensive items on a table near the "cash zone" (ie. my front stoop.) If you have a friend or two helping you, try to have one stick close to this table at all times. People do sometimes steal from yard sales, so be aware. 
  • If you have any small signage (ie. "All CDs $2!) tape those up.
  • Put eye catching, larger items close to the front. (I put that kind of stuff on the boulevard between the street and the sidewalk that passes my house.)
  • Make it an event! Be cheerful, play music in the background if you wish (not too loud, and not too crazy. 50's and 60's stuff works, cuz people get happy when they can hum along to stuff. Really.) Sell coffee and donuts in the a.m. or lemonade or freezies later in the day. I like to make my yard sales seem like a party!
Hope this list helps! If I've missed anything or you have any questions, click on the "comments" below!

And sell that damn dollhouse while you're at it! 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post!
    Will be there to help if you need me.

    Your sales are a blast.