DIY Projects

Yard Sale 101

I’ve heard of people who dread having yard sales. Who feel like they have to do it to get rid of their overload of stuff, but really don’t like holding them.

This does not compute.

Yard Sale Day legitimately ranks up there with my Favorite Days Of The Year, somewhere alongside Christmas morning. I’m totally serious: on Saturday morning I practically leaped out of bed and was busy making Kendrick crazy with all the running around and dictating and coffee consuming within seconds.

I love yard sales SO MUCH. It’s like a perfect storm of everything that makes me happy: getting rid of stuff, making some money while I’m at it, and hanging out on my lawn all day eating pizza that I paid for with money earned by selling stuff I didn’t want, anyway.

And because I love yard sales so much, I have put a bizarre amount of thought into how to make them run smoothly. Because a yard sale is not the place to go all ramshackle (see what I did there?); a little organization and forethought makes it a much, much, much better (and more profitable) experience. I put up a list of tips after our sale last year, but learned a few more things this go-round (and once again SLAYED IT ifIdosaysomyself), so I thought it was worth revisiting in case you’ve got a sale in your future.

yard sale 1

1. Gather supplies in advance. Prior to the yard sale, I bought sticker labels and hanging labels in bulk on Amazon, and then rented two small tables and two clothing racks for a total of $58 (absolutely worth it; people are much more likely to buy if the merchandise is clearly displayed). More must-haves: pens, cheap hangers, a money-holder (fanny pack-type thing or large wallet), at least $60 in ones and fives for change, and a tarp to lay out the ground so you can set things on the grass without getting them dirty.

2. Be ready early. Try to have stuff labeled and set out at least an hour before your official start time…because that’s about when people trying to get a jump on the good stuff will start showing up (you’ll need to post someone outside to handle the early rush while you continue carrying items out).

3. Arrange items in a way that makes sense. I cannot tell you the amount of husband eye-roll I got when I directed Kendrick to “please create visually coherent spaces” while he was setting out old bangle bracelets, but really: it helps if people aren’t just sifting through loads of stuff and can go right to the areas that hold the most interest for them. It double-helps if you label these areas – just a simple sign saying “Beauty Products” or “Jewelry” stuck to a table can help direct people to what they’re looking for.

4. Price for a yard sale. Remember who your audience is: people who are just swinging by to see if anything catches their fancy. They’re not going to spend big bucks; they’re going to make small impulse purchases. Even if a piece is technically “worth” a substantial amount of money, you’re probably not going to get it…so bring your nicer stuff to a consignment store and keep your yard sale prices good and low.

5. Keep an eye out. The not-so-fun part of yard sales: thefts happen. I’ve only had small items stolen, but I’ve heard stories of people having full-scale grand larcenies take place during yard sales. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth a reminder: lock your doors, have someone watching the sale at all times, and keep your items in as small (and thus manageable) a space as possible.

6. Call in a helper. You need at least two people to run a yard sale, in case one has to go inside for some reason. Also, it’s more fun that way.

7. Set out a mirror. If you’re selling things like jackets and sunglasses that people might want to try on, it’s considerate to pull out a mirror so they can check out what they look like in their potential new acquisition.

8. Create curb appeal. Make passers-by want to stop and take a closer look by setting more visually appealing pieces (cool furniture, stylish jackets, et cetera) right up there by the curb. And if you have any awesome big-ticket items that you don’t want to drag out of your house unless you’re sure it’ll get sold (air conditioners, large pieces of furniture, et cetera), put up a prominent sign saying “INQUIRE ABOUT…” so that people can tell what’s available from their cars.

yard sale dollar box

9. Set up a dollar (or 25-cent) box. Some things don’t require their own labels: go ahead and pile all the inexpensive odds-and-ends into one big box and let people sift through them on their own.

10. Divide clothing by price. Place fancier items on a rack and label them individually, but don’t bother labeling all the less expensive stuff – it’ll take you forever. Sort your clothing by type (tops, bottoms, jackets, et cetera) and then put them out in bins or piles, labeling each bin or pile with a single price (I do $2 for tops, $3 for bottoms and sweaters, $4 for jackets). Some stuff will be worth more and some stuff will be worth less, but it’ll all come out in the wash and save you a ton of time and hassle.

11. Make a kid’s day. I put a bunch of little toys in a box and let each child who stops by choose something for free; it keeps them happy and entertained while their parents shop – and makes me happy, too.

12. Prioritize getting rid of stuff over making tons of money (because you probably won’t make tons of money). Remember: whatever doesn’t get sold has to go somewhere, whether that’s to the local donation center or right back into your house. To minimize what you’re left with, start knocking down prices when your sale is about half over…and for the last hour or two items should be sold on a “what’s-your-best-offer?” basis.

13. Allocate time for cleanup. It’ll take you at least an hour or two to break everything down, so keep that in mind when planning out your day. Bring toys to a local daycare or children’s center (call ahead first to make sure they’ll accept them), clothing and tchotchkes (and possibly furniture, depending on the location) to Goodwill, and books to your local library (again, call ahead to make sure they’re accepting donations). And if there’s anything you simply can’t seem to get rid of, give your town’s Public Works Department a ring and arrange for a bulk pickup.

14. Have a contingency plan. Rain happens. Know what you’re going to do if it happens to you.

15. Keep your own shopping to a minimum. You may be tempted to swing by a neighbor’s yard sale “just to see what they have” (I was)…but remember: the point of the day is to declutter, not acquire, so don’t go nuts. Exceptions can be made for classic children’s books (I bought a copy of Charlotte’s Web for Indy)…

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