family is story

How to Make Bank at Your Yard Sale

83590559Because each of us was living on our own previous to getting married, my husband and I had tons of duplicate household items. Sometimes we had more than two sets. Like four sets of dishes, innumerable sets and non-sets of cups and glasses. And then, let’s face it, I just had a bunch of stuff that needed to go.

So, we had a mega yard sale. And we did pretty well at it, netting about $1,000. I thought I’d share some of our tips for getting rid of the stuff clogging our lives.

  • Choose dates and times wisely. May and June are good times, but not around holidays. Should you decide to host a yard sale on a Friday, extend your sale hours to around 6 p.m., when people are arriving home from work.
  • Talk your neighbors into joining you, that way you can advertise the yard sale as multi-family. Establish with them if they are going to display things in their own yard or in your yard. If they merge items with yours, make sure their items are marked clearly and that one of their family will be at the yard sale to answer any questions customers may have about their stuff.
  • Have plenty of well written, large signs in bright colors. You’ve got to have a sign at every turn to your house from the major roads in your area. If there’s more than one way to get in and out of your house, put signs along both routes. Pro tip: The black/red signs from hardware stores are too small and will require you to attach a balloon or streamers to catch the eye of passersby. Instead, use white or bright pink plain signs that you can write on with a Sharpie. They’re large and won’t require the extra cost of balloons.
  • Yard sale signs should be neat and well written: Multi-Family Yard Sale, [street number and street name], Fri & Sat, 8-3.
  • When setting out the yard sale signs, work from your house outward. This insure that when the last sign is posted at the major streets, people who see the sign—as you’re struggling to put it in the ground—will have a path to follow.
  • Have plenty of cash for change and keep it out of sight. Having 30 ones, four 5s, three 10s and a 20 should be enough. Find a box or Tupperware to keep your money in, inside the closest door to your house. For quick change, keep a few bills in your pockets and regularly exchange them out with the cash box during crowd lulls.
  • Know that some people will show up at 7:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. yard sale. Let them come and look over what you’ve already got set out. Welcome them and keep working, letting them know you don’t have everything out yet. Pro tip: Buy a box of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and have cups, sugar packets and creamer available for the early birds.
  • Always make your attendees feel welcome, talk to them, volunteer information about items they’re considering, tell them that all prices are negotiable. Let them know you’re friendly and ready to sell!
  • Be mindful of the crowd. Sometimes, you may get 15+ people—parents and kids—milling about at your yard sale. Have your husband stand on one side of the crowd talking to people while you stand on the other side of the crowd talking to people. This is just a good way to make sure people aren’t walking away with your stuff, and it give you an opportunity to mingle with neighbors.
  • Price everything. It takes a lot of time and it’s tedious, and people are going to ask for a discount and haggle. But pricing everything will give you a place to start when someone brings you a pile of “treasures” and asks what you’ll take for the whole pile. Pro tip: When someone brings you a pile of items, say the prices as you add everything up and tell them the total price of their pile. Based on the total of their pile, you can then give them a price that’s maybe $5 less than that: “So, all of that comes to $35; I’ll take $30 for it.” Bonus pro tip: People are going to ask if you’ll take 25 cents for an item that you’ve marked 50 cents. If that’s all they’re buying, politely say no.
  • Give things away—especially to children. All those Beanie Babies you’ve got priced at $2? Ask parents if their child can pick out a Beanie Baby to take home. Likely, your yard sale attendees are your neighbors and they’ll think well of the neighbors who gave their child a free gift. Pro tip: Give stuff away to adults too. Who doesn’t love a bonus? If someone is buying $30 of your discards, then you can “afford” to give them that pocketbook they put back on the rack. Bonus pro tip: If a child approaches you with an item and extends money to you to pay for it, take it. Allow the child the experience of paying for an item. Resist the urge to just let them have it (within reason).
  • Have enough tables to display items without having to use the furniture you’re trying to sell. When the furniture sells that was displaying your Precious Moments figurines, where are you going to display them then? Pro tip: Display breakables on tables, not down low on shelves or on the ground where feet and knees can knock into them.
  • Display large items in groupings. Arrange available furniture as if it were decorating your home—two chairs on either side of a coffee table with a standing lamp. Maybe place a book on the table.
  • Arrange books, CDs, DVDs, and videos with the spines out and readable. Some buyers won’t rummage through stacks or piles. Make it easy for them to see what you have.
  • Have an extension cord easily accessible to show off any electronics. People want to know if it works. Show them it does! Pro tip: Have batteries available to show off battery-operated items.
  • String a line between trees or between posts of the garage or porch in order to display clothing. Make sure everything has a tag showing the size.
  • Wipe off, clean and vacuum things. Before you sell that sofa, vacuum it. Before you sell the chairs that were in your basement, wipe the spider webs off. Make things look as presentable as possible and remove any possible obstacle a customer could have to buying your stuff.
  • Be open to selling things you own that aren’t necessarily in your yard sale. Should a customer walk around, hands in pockets, scanning your items, ask them what type of items they’re looking for. If they’re looking for a hammer and you’ve got three in your tool shed, consider selling one. Pro tip: If you have an abundance of any type of plant, like hostas, consider separating them and potting them into cheap plastic containers. Easy money!
  • Have chairs for yourself and hubby to sit in during lulls. Also establish one family member who will run to get lunch or coffee refills!
  • Consider having two yard sales, a month apart. Bring in all the leftover items from the first yard sale, then schedule your next yard sale for a month later. In the weeks between, do a second sweep of your home and add items to your yard sale pile. Then haul everything out the next month. Last month’s customers may see something in a new light and want to buy it after passing over it last month.
  • When you are “all done, yard sale,” as you pack up your leftovers, make a list of all the items with approximate value. Then schedule a local charity to pick up your leftovers. You don’t want these things, right? So, don’t let them get back in your house. When the driver comes to pick up your stuff, he’ll give you a donation slip to use for your taxes. Even if you don’t sell it all and you donate the items, you can still gain financially from it.

What did I miss? Are there any other tips or tricks you’ve used for a successful yard sale?

©2013 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.