After everything is priced up, set it aside someplace that won’t be in your way. DO make sure to price every item. If it is something a customer is interested in, they might just pass it up because they don’t want to ask. If you have a garage, great. I envy you! The garage means you can set up ahead of time and just close the door when you are done! So convenient! My sale stuff takes residence just inside my living room door. However, my sale was Friday, May 25th and Saturday May 26th, so that was okay with me for a short amount of time. Don’t forget to continue to look through the house to see if you can cull anything else that you might have missed. I always end up forgetting something!
Decide what days and times you will be having the sale. I usually go for Friday and Saturday. I will say 9a to 3p, but we are usually out until at least 5p or 6p, or whenever people stop coming. It just figures that about the time you start packing up, another wave of people comes by. I will invite them to browse, or ask if they are looking for something specific!
I rarely have a sale on Sunday. We just don’t get enough traffic to warrant setting up for three days, plus it is nice to have a day of rest before most people’s work week starts.
A few things I like to make sure I do before sale time:
Mow the lawn! It just looks nicer and more presentable to have some freshly cut grass for your salers! I mowed mine the day before my sale.
Put an ad in your local paper ahead of time! I usually call on Wednesday. This way, the paper will post the ad for three days: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you have a lot of stuff, it will help to put some key items in the ad. Antiques, collectibles, jewelry, coins, fishing equipment, and musical instruments are some things that are routinely asked for at my sales. If you aren’t prepared for “early birds”, specify “NO EARLIES!”. Otherwise you are at the mercy of the early shoppers.
Put an ad on Craigslist and/or Swidjit! It’s free! I would recommend posting an ad for a bigger sale maybe a week in advance, and then update it Thursday night (if your sale starts Friday). This gives you an opportunity to detail more of the items you have available. You don’t have to list every little thing, but furniture, comic books, glassware, books, kids stuff, baby stuff are a few suggestions. I would specifically go to a sale that advertised any antiques or collectibles, comics, action figures, etc… but if it is a sale that pinpoints baby or kid stuff, and household items only, I would not be inclined to go. I also update the ad Friday night or Saturday morning, highlighting things that are still available, and deleting items that have sold.
As with the newspaper ad, if you aren’t prepared for early shoppers, emphasize “NO EARLY BIRDS!”. A favourite of some Craigslisters was when I posted an ad for my sister’s sale out of town, and added, “Early birds will be made to pick up dog poop in the back yard until the start of the sale.” That got a few chuckles.
Get some change! I grabbed about $100 worth, $25 in ones, $35 in fives, $30 in tens, $8 in quarters, $1.50 in dimes, and 50 cents in nickels. By the end of the day you may have an abundance of ones, but if you aren’t prepared… Murphy’s Law says your first sales will pay with $20 bills… so make sure you have change!
Check the forecast! I have a 10’ x 20’ canopy that I have put up in the event of rain in the forecast. In Upstate New York rain is practically inevitable! It’s best to be prepared, one way or the other. Before I had the canopy, I bought a bunch of tarps and/or painters drop cloths. Ranging in price from $1.50 to $3 at your local Big Lots... Well worth the investment! In case it rains, you can just throw tarps and drop cloths over everything!
Make some signs! A clear, bold, bright sign will make all the difference at your sale! I usually make about 4 big bright signs (you can buy poster board just about anywhere… the grocery store, office supply store, or probably Target). I usually get green, yellow, pink, and/or orange. I cut these in half, and put only pertinent information on it. Date, time, address. If you put too much information on your sign, it will be too “busy”, and too much for any passerby (or driver by) to read. I put these at the busier intersections near my house.
I also print up some smaller flyers to put around the neighborhood… around 20. Make sure you know how many signs you have put up and where, so that you can go back after the sale and take them all down. Be respectful! Put these up the night before the sale, so you don’t have to rush around in the morning.
Make sure you have enough table space! I have a bunch of various sized tables I have accumulated over the years. If necessary, you can rent buffet tables from the local party rental store. I think last time I checked, they rent them for about $8 per table. You can also get creative and use sawhorses and a door, upside down plastic totes (or totes with a lid), or even cardboard boxes if they are sturdy enough!
Make sure you have enough help! I have a core couple of people I can always count on to help me with my sales. They are polite and attentive, and a pleasure to work with. I have to remember, though, that one of the two is 87 years old and can’t lift anything heavy, and the other spends a great deal of money to have her manicure looking tip top (no pun intended), so she won’t lift anything heavy. I then have to ensure that I have a couple other people at the ready to help me slog the big stuff. These guys are invaluable!
Also, I make a special trip to the grocery store. While these people absolutely refuse to take a dime from me as payment, I like to make sure that I have plenty of drinks and snacks for them… coffee, milk, bagels, fruit, maybe some macaroni or potato salad, a nice loaf of bread with some deli cold meat and cheese and some ice cold lemonade or tea is priceless to them. It really is the least I can do for all their help!
I also make baked goods to sell at my sales. I have a mongo roll of plastic wrap, so if I make quick bread I will individually wrap slices of bread, or if I make cookies I will put them in snack bags, 3 or 4 per bag. I usually ask for $1 per slice or snack bag. You can make coffee or iced tea if that is to your liking. This time around I just offered complimentary ice water! My helpers enjoyed it as much as my customers did!
Next week: The Big Event