Spring has sprung! Everything is getting beautiful and lush. The garden is shaping up nicely. The weather couldn’t be better. You know what this means? It’s time for a yard sale! Don’t worry faithful readers… even the least experienced person can have a successful yard sale!
If you have other dwellers in your home, be fair. Do not keep everything of your own and get rid of everything of your roommate, spouse/partner, or kids’! Get them in on the deciding process. Help each other be the voice of reason in regards to what can stay and what needs be sold. Gather all items to be sold into one space. I recommend starting this process a few weeks in advance of the sale, so you can revisit certain areas and re-decide on any items that may have been left behind.
I suggest (if you don’t have them already) going out and procuring a few yard sale necessities: Price stickers (I just bought 1008 bright green stickers at the local office supply store for $7.99… my neighbor bought a few hundred plain white square stickers at the local grocery store for $1.69), scotch and packing tape, coloured paper, maybe strung marking tags, markers (Sharpie permanent markers are best), scissors, and maybe safety pins. Oh, and don’t forget the paper or plastic bags for your customers!
The next question might be: How do I price things? I guess that depends on what your goal is. If you just want to get rid of stuff, mark things reasonably low. I don’t bother pricing anything at a nickel, and I rarely price things at a dime. Most all is 25 cents and up. I don’t recommend pricing things so low that you will regret it later. If you aren’t sure, do some research! I frequently check the “completed listings” of a popular online auction site. Or you can check Craigslist or other local resource to see what other people are charging for like items. One tip I have is to price things slightly higher than you may be thinking, with the idea that people will almost always try to talk you down on prices at a yard sale.
A few instances for me are: Coffee mugs… 10 to 25 cents (unless it is something particularly kitschy or cute, or new in box). Plates, cups, bowls, etc… 25 cents to $1 each, or if you have a matching set, feel free to put a price for the set instead of per piece. Towels, washcloths, hand towels… 25 cents to $1 a piece (or you can safety pin them together and price them at 4/$1, for example). Little toys, plastic kids’ jewelry, hair effects, etc… 10 cents to $1. However this is another example of where “bundling” items together will help you get rid of stuff. I have taken plastic sandwich bags and put may items in them, and marked them at 50 cents or $1. This helps to avoid you nickel and dime-ing every little item. Umbrellas… $1. Sunglasses… $1 to $2. Cds… $1 to $2. DVDs… $1 to $3. VHS tapes… 25 cents to $1 (Disney… $2). Cassettes… 50 cents to $1. This is just a guideline, but you get the idea.
Bigger ticket items can be tricky. Again, this can vary depending what the goal is. Are you just looking to get rid of things? Do you have a deadline situation (like moving)? Or are you looking to make some money? My neighbor, as an example, is looking to fund a trip at the end of the summer. If you want to get top dollar (or even fair price) for certain items, my encouragement is to pre-list the item on Craigslist or Swidjit a few weeks ahead of time. Also, if you post an ad for the sale, you can say something like, “Email or call me for viewing of bigger items ahead of the sale.” That could save you having to drag that big heavy dresser outside!
If you do end up putting these things outside, there are a few tips to help the sale. Make a bigger sign for bigger items. If someone is driving by, and they see a great chair, they may say, “Hey, that’s a cool chair.”… and keep driving. If they drive by and see a great chair with a big sign on it that says, “AWESOME CHAIR! Only $15!” you will hear more screeching tires than the monster truck races! Okay, maybe not quite like that… but still!
I have also (if I hadn’t mentioned) worked retail for 20 years. Key words like, “ONLY”, or “WOW!” have a tendency to draw people’s attention. “Chair- $15” might sell, but “AWESOME CHAIR! ONLY $15!” will at least turn some heads. If you are feeling saucy, you could say “magic chair!” or “mystery chair!”. If this is your flavour, have fun with it… but DO NOT LIE! I am a very good salesperson, but I am also an HONEST salesperson, and falsifying furniture may make me a sale, but it will not get me a return customer. In yard sale terms, word of mouth (at least in this town) is key. If people are at an awesome sale, they will call / text / tweet / email / snail mail / Pony Express their new found yard sale scores to anyone that will listen! If someone walks away feeling hornswaggled, that effect will work in completely the opposite direction.
Keep in mind you can’t make everyone happy. All you can do is try to be helpful and polite, and keep it at that. I have had people argue, whine, sneer, and try to cajole their way into something for nothing. If this is the case, don’t argue. Yard sales are supposed to be fun! State your case, respectfully decline, and then step away. I actually had someone post a negative comment online once about one of my sales. Anyone who read the post could plainly see that the poster contradicted themselves, complaining about “high prices”, then stating that they “only looked around for about 3 seconds”. That being said, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t stick in my craw.
I pride myself in my sales. I have had them referred to as “notorious”. I have had people stop just to tell me how well organized everything looks. I have had some model their sales after mine. I have also been hired to help other people with their sales (which is also an option if you live local, or if you are willing to pay for my plane ticket round trip from me to you. It has been done.)
Next week: After everything is priced up...