While hosting a yard sale may seem pretty easy, some simple organization, marketing, and display tricks can make the difference between a successful sale and a total bust.
Whether you want to downsize or are looking to get rid of some old items after a spring clean, here are 10 foolproof tips for throwing a sale that keeps the crowds coming.
Make it worthwhile
When it comes to yard sales, size does matter—in fact, the bigger, the better. Avid yard sale–goers and early risers know that a good yard sale has more than just a few items, and scavenging is half the fun. No one is going to be encouraged pull over and get out of the car if they don’t immediately spot some big items. If you don’t think you have enough stuff to make it worth people’s while, ask neighbours or family members to pitch in and host a joint sale. This way, you can also pick the location that’s most likely to see serious foot traffic. To keep things organized, give each group separate coloured price-tag stickers.
Don’t forget to market
Start off by picking a date (ideally a Saturday), and send an email to your friends, relatives, neighbours, and other contacts to get word of mouth flowing. These days, your best bet is to place a free ad on Craigslist or Kijiji and create an event on Facebook. It is definitely worthwhile advertising in local newspapers as well, but it will likely cost you. If you live in a smaller community, posting flyers in local grocery stores and coffee shops could have just as big of an impact anyway.
The most important thing to remember when promoting your sale is to make sure every flyer and ad has the essential information: address, date, time, directions and any other eye-catching details you want to add (Will you only take cash? Are you selling any special interest items?). The key to success for your yard sale all comes down to how well you market it.
Use effective signs
A huge part of your promotion is your signage. A great yard sale sign is one that is bold, bright, and has big, easy-to-read letters. Adding balloons at major intersections never hurts and make sure you have arrows pointing in the direction of your sale. Just don’t forget to be a good neighbour and collect all of your signage and directional cues afterward.
Draw people in
When it comes to setting up on yard sale day, imagine your lawn as one giant storefront window. Like any department store or mall, displays and product placement is important when trying to urge people to purchase (or at least look at) your goods. The first step is to group similar items together and arrange them accordingly (glassware and kitchen appliances in one place, children’s stuff in another, clothing in another, etc.) Create cute displays with the furniture and items you are selling that make them covetable, not just left empty or thrown into cardboard boxes. If you are selling clothes, hang them on a wardrobe rack or tie a piece of string between two trees—it’s much easier to picture yourself wearing something when it’s hanging up.
Put your best sales near the road
A box labeled free is really hard to pass by, no matter who you are or how much you hate clutter. Placing one of these by the front curb is a sure way to get a few extra people to stop. You also want to display large or eye-catching items near the front, which are typically more expensive items like sports equipment, record players or large furniture.
Use a simple pricing system
This is the number one key to success. A great idea that works well for some people is to use a sticker system with well-displayed signs that show the relationship between sticker and price. (For example, everything with a red sticker is $5 while everything blue is $10.) Nothing turns people away more quickly than having to ask how much everything is. If you aren’t into the sticker system, make sure to use clearly labeled tags. Chipped, worn or cracked items should be marked “as is” so buyers know that the price is somewhat final. Most importantly, price accordingly. If you’re looking to get rid of it, price it low—don’t hold on to the idea that you will get one more dollar if it means you will lose the whole sale.
Be sale savvy
At the beginning of a yard sale, it can sometimes be hard to get rid of those memorable possessions. Of course, this is all over once you feel the cold hard cash filling your pockets and you remember you’re getting rid of items you never used anyways. At this step, it’s time to think of your yard sale like a business and see where you can add sales. Toward the end of the day, bring the prices down to half, $1 each or advertise free giveaways with purchase. In summary, be prepared to haggle.
Offer snacks (for a fee)
It’s very easy to make a profit on things that people will need on a hot day and it never hurts to make your guests more comfortable. Depending on how much effort you want to put into it (and how many young things of your own you have to entertain) you can go one of two ways. The simplest is to buy a case of bottled water, and some easy grab snacks and sell them for $1 each. Alternatively, you could get your own kids occupied with a homemade lemonade and cookie stand.
Have plenty of change on hand
Because nothing would be worse than someone changing their mind while you go to break a twenty. Keep the cash on hand in a fanny pack, pocketed apron or cash box.
Give it away at the end of the day
At the end of a yard sale, don’t bring anything back inside your house that initially left with the intent to never be seen again. This is a dangerous way to hang onto things even longer and you’ll feel much better about your accomplishments if you donate or trash the remaining items.
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