’Tis the season for driving around looking for yard sale treasures.
And could this be the year you decide to throw your own sale?
Not only will it help you declutter and organize your home, but you can make a tidy profit.
Here are some tips for staying organized, pulling off a successful yard sale – and having a healthy wad of cash in your pocket at the end of the day.
1. Set the date
If at all possible, you want to avoid having your yard sale on a holiday weekend. Way too many people will be out of town, which means you’re limiting your customer base before you even get started.
Sunday yard sales typically have a lower attendance rate because people are in church. So a Saturday morning is your best bet if you want to make a decent profit.
2. Join forces
Neighbourhood yard sales are far more popular than single-home efforts because people are more likely to come to a bigger sale – especially in the time crunch of trying to hit as many sales as possible before the best stuff has been snapped up.
Try to convince your neighbours to partner up so you can advertise it as a multi-family yard sale.
3. Build your bank
Nothing kills a sale faster than not being able to make proper change.
It’s better to have too much than not enough. And it’s not like you’re losing money. You’ll be able to put it all back in your account – plus more, hopefully – after the sale.
Go to the bank and take out plenty of small bills ($5 and $10) as well as some twenties in case someone pays with a $50 or $100 bill. You’ll want plenty of loonies and toonies and a couple of rolls of quarters for the less expensive items.
4. Set up your “store”
Organization is key. Whether you’re running the sale alone or with a small group of helpers.
Designate one person to be in charge of the money. And give them an apron with pockets if they’re going to be walking around. Cash boxes are only a good idea if the person will be positively glued to a table at all times so no one walks off with it.
Have a supply of plastic grocery bags for purchases, as well as a stack of old newspapers or fliers for wrapping up breakables. If you want to use price stickers, make sure they’re easy to read and everyone working the sale understands which prices – if any – are firm.
5. Spread the word
Be sure to list your sale on free sites like Kijiji, and take care to make the ad attractive and noticeable.
Your local newspaper may also have a free online section for advertising yard sales.
Use the description to sell shoppers on exactly the kinds of items they can expect to see for sale – whether it’s a vintage camera collection or a ton of baby gear and 0-12 month clothing.
Use photos of some of the best-looking items to make the ad stand out. And include a map to your house if it’s difficult to find.
6. Build your brand
Digital marketing is great…
But yard sales still need good old-fashioned paper signage to get people to the right house – on the right day. Two quick tips:
- Consistent color. The trick is to stick to one consistent colour, like neon yellow or sky blue, rather than making signs in all different colours and styles. Whether your signs are printed on coloured paper or written with markers on sheets of bristol board, they need to all look the same.
- Big letters, with just enough info. Common mistakes include making your lettering too small. Or adding too many details. Because no one driving by is going to be able to read them – although you’ll likely do fine with the walking crowd. “YARD SALE, 123 Slate St., Saturday 8-2” is plenty of info.
The purpose of these signs is not for people to remember your exact street address or the time of the sale – those details will come later…
Right now you’re just looking to plant the seed in their minds that you’ll be hosting a sale on a particular day.
Sell, sell, sell!
7. Stand out
First thing in the morning – or the night before, if you’re not an early riser – you’ll want to zoom around the neighbourhood with directional signs that point shoppers to your sale.
Using the same colour paper as your fliers, make them as simple as possible, for example:
“YARD SALE Saturday 8-2”.
Include a big arrow pointing in the direction they need to go.
The address isn’t necessary because of the arrows. Keep putting up the signs, spacing them close together, to create clear paths straight to your house.
8. Conquer those early birds
Shrewd yard-salers are the ones showing up at 8 a.m. if a sale is advertised as starting at 9 a.m.
They want the “pick of the litter” and they’re not abashed about strolling down your driveway as you’re rushing around setting up.
The trick is not to offend these early shoppers because they’re also the ones who will be hitting sales all over town. And if yours is good, they will likely mention it to the friends they meet along the way, potentially bringing you more customers.
If you’re firm about starting the sale at 8 a.m., add this to your signage:
“No early-birds, please”.
Better yet, stage the sale inside your garage so you don’t need to open the door until you’re ready to begin.
9. Keep your eyes on the prize
Resist the urge to argue much if a shopper is haggling over the price. After all, you wouldn’t have put the item in your yard sale if it was especially important to you.
If the item doesn’t sell by the end of the sale, you’re likely going to donate it anyway, right?
Try to sell everything so you don’t have to lug anything back inside with you. Make it a rule to donate anything left over at the end of the sale. And you might find yourself hustling even harder to seal those deals.
Keep reminding yourself that every sale, no matter how small, is going to increase your final total. At the end of the day, isn’t the goal is to add up your profits?
Back To You
Have you done your own yard sale? Share your tips and tricks below.