Spring cleaning can be a big task. One of the best ways to get rid of old stuff, enjoy a day outdoors and make a little extra cash is to host a yard sale.
Here are a few tips that can help you make the most out of your yard sale, bring more people to your yard, and squeeze the most money possible out of that old stuff.
1. Sell stuff, not trash.
Catheters, opened bag of rice, dirty underwear… This is a short list of items that have been found at yard sales. Gross, right? Seeing these items at a sale can quickly turn off a yard saler even if they’ve already found something they want to buy.
Before putting that price sticker on anything, think about the way you would feel if you saw it at somebody’s yard sale. Although your primary goal is to get rid of stuff you don’t need, you don’t want to make anybody feel like they need a shower after they leave.
2. Price to sell, not to profit.
On the other end of the spectrum from number one is the $30 old stereo, $200 table set, or $5 hardcover bestseller. These kind of yard sales can make you feel like the sellers aren’t trying to clear stuff out so much as turn a profit on their unused junk.
Seeing even one or two items priced just under the cost of a new one makes you feel like you shouldn’t even bother trying to make a deal, or even continue looking for that matter.
Items that you feel may still be at optimal quality and worthy of a low markdown should instead be placed on Craigslist, in a classified ad or set up for auction on eBay. Your solid cherry dining set may still be worth $600, but the average yard saler probably has about $40 in their pockets.
3. Provide refreshments.
If you are having your sale during the summer, a great way to make some extra cash is to set up a table with lemonade for sale. Shoppers have likely been walking around a lot and the acceptable markup on a small cup of lemonade could give movie theater popcorn a run for its buttery money.
This tactic is especially effective if you have young kids to let take charge of the project. Not only will they be excited to feel involved, but there’s something about the idea of the child entrepreneur that makes it even harder to say no to a .50 glass of cool refreshment.
4. Be willing to negotiate.
Negotiation and haggling are important territories in the yard sale world. Not only do they allow you to move an item you might not have been able to, but they communicate to yard salers that your interest is in selling your items and not making a pile of cash.
If it’s something you know you are going to sell (especially a reasonably higher-priced item), you may want to wait to accept counter offers until about midday when the second rush begins. A good rule for haggling is to accept ⅔ of your price for anything under $20.00 and ¾ of your price for anything above.
5. Open the best shop in your neighborhood.
Although most yard sales see sections of certain items (books, furniture, etc) placed by each other, often very little thought is paid to the aesthetic of these groups.
One tactic that can really make your sale memorable is to arrange a store – placing like items and groups next to each other, keeping larger items to the outside with smaller items on the inside, and putting a separate price tag on everything, for instance.
Further, spruce up the appearance up by using seasonal tablecloths for holiday items, or placing featured items as a centerpiece on a table to create a great, thought-out look that adds to these items’ perceived value.
Take your sale to the next level by providing bulk discounts and sales that have definite end points. Make these sales and deals a part of your online pre-sale advertising.
6. Give some stuff away.
A “free bin” is not a new concept to seasoned yard sale hosts, but its not always done well. Even your free bin shouldn’t have anything gross or broken in it. So then why give it away if it’s good enough to sell?
Maybe it’s not complete, or maybe it’s an item that’s obscure and isn’t likely to sell on its own. One of the best yard sales I ever went to left me walking away with an iPod dock that was free simply because it didn’t have a power cable.
I was impressed! Before heading off to the next destination, I Instagrammed my finds and tweeted the sale’s address.
I also found a matching power cable a few sales down for less than two dollars.
7. Electrify your sale!
You can tell somebody over and over again about the benefits of something you’re selling but people love to try things out for themselves, so let them!
If you’re selling an electric guitar, for instance, having it hooked up to an amplifier and letting yard salers see that it’s functional really boosts the chance of it selling.
Items like TVs, computers or stereos can be playing movies, slideshows, or music respectively.
Have extension cords connected to power handy for items like vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances or power tools that can’t run constantly but yard salers may still want to test.
8. Invite others to the madness.
One way to avoid the yard sale death trap of not having enough stuff is to invite other people in your neighborhood to put their unused stuff out.
This can be great to add to both the amount and diversity of items for sale and is a great way to build bridges with your neighbors.
Use masking tape or put a coded initial on a price tag to keep track of who sold what. If your neighbor has enough stuff, you might even be able to convince them to watch the sale for a half hour while you grab lunch.
9. Sign up.
Probably the most important element to your yard sale is the advertisement. While using sites like Craigslist (make sure to have photos) and YardSaleSearch will get you in front of people who are looking for sales, getting the passers by is another story.
Make sure your sign is quality. For yard sale signs, this means a few different things. First, you want to make sure it is a durable sign that’s not going to be destroyed by rain, carried away by wind, or be invisible if the sun hits it. Going with a corrugated or plastic sign is a good way to ensure staying power even in poor weather conditions.
It also means using a direct message on the sign that has the words “yard sale (garage sale, rummage sale, etc),” the address of the sale with an arrow, and the phone number to be reached if somebody can not find the sale.
Placing 5 – 10 of these signs at key intersections (no more than ¾ a mile away) will ensure that they are being seen and yard salers aren’t driving frustrating miles to find your event.