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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Having A Yard Sale

It's Yard Sale time! Or maybe you call it a Garage Sale, a Rummage Sale, Moving Sale, Estate Sale, etc. I love yard sales and I love the money I can save and the bargains I can find. But I also have held a lot of yard sales. If your neighborhood allows you to have a yard sale, then don't pass up the opportunity. It's a great way to declutter your house and make a little of your cash back.

Of course, some people don't have the time to hold a yard sale. If you have a job or a busy family life and hectic schedule then it's probably not worth doing a yard sale. You can donate your items and take it off your taxes for more money than you will make on a yard sale. But I enjoy it. Here are my tips

Try to choose a day when it's not too hot and check your forecast for rain. If you can still have a yard sale (having it in a garage), then be sure to put in your advertisements, "Rain or Shine".
I start the week before. I declutter the closets and drawers and make passes throughout the house, garage or basement looking for items to put up for sale. If I don't use it, haven't worn it, it didn't work like I thought it would, have grown out of it, etc. then it's going in the yard sale. There is very little that I wouldn't put out for a yard sale. I am always amazed at stuff I would have thought of as trash but someone will buy it. On the other hand I don't put out filthy and ripped clothes, items that are missing parts such as puzzles missing pieces or anything that would be trash like one shoe, a short length of rope, an empty can. There are things that are just plain trash. Things I have sold that surprised me were a handful of used pencils (lots of life left and bundled with a rubber band), a stained cushion (for a dog bed), old mattress pads (the quilted pad was used to line fleece dog coats), mismatched coffee mugs, etc.

Be sure your household items are clean.

Price everything. It's so confusing when there are no prices on items and people are having to ask. It will drive you crazy and the buyer crazy. And be sure to price everything with yard sale prices. If you have expensive items, try selling them on Craig's List, ebay, newspaper ad or consignment shop. Don't try to get what you want and need from a yard sale. A yard sale is for junk and everyone expects the prices to be cheap. You might have a gorgeous antique cherry buffet and you know it's worth $350. But yard salers don't come with $350 in their pocket and aren't looking to make big purchases like that. We are talking about quarter, dime, dollar purchases. It's junk to you and would normally go to the dump or to a charity so price it accordingly. You are through with it so anything you make is better than nothing.

Put your ads in the newspaper or on Craig's List the week of your yard sale. You want to get their attention by saying something like "Huge yard sale!" or "Multi family yard sale" or "Neighborhood yard sale" .Be sure to include the full address (for those of us who use our GPS), the general area (like "east side of town", "Inman area", "next to such and such high school"), the date and time. If you want to add a list of some items, that's up to you. If you have a concentration of items be sure to list that. For instance, "Lots of clothes", "Women's size 16", "children's toys", "lot of baby items", "tools".

Be sure to make signs that are easy to read. I can't tell you how aggravating some signage is. Make them big enough. Make them bright and easy to see. Use large letters and arrows. Don't put too much on the sign (too busy) but include the arrow, date and address. Some people leave their yard sale signs up and don't take them down. This means you might see that bedraggled signs for weeks. So put the date on it.

This sign is beautiful but there is something missing. An arrow! Make that arrow BIG so I can see if I need to turn right or left before I get to the intersection.




This sign has the arrow and the date. It's bright. But it's not big enough. For safety's sake make sure it's big enough to see and the arrow is large enough to indicate direction.




This sign has got just what you need on it.

Also, poster board gets damp from dew and will flop over and curl up. That means that your sign is unreadable. And be sure your signs are safely placed as not to obstruct a driver's view of the road.

I saved some house "For Sale" signs. I have 4. I tape the neon posterboard over the original sign. I have used these for years and it works great. I DID NOT STEAL THEM FROM THE REALTY COMPANIES. They were given to me because they were outdated. Be sure to put signs on both sides of the road and at every turn. And put them out the day before. I like to put my signs out on Friday about mid morning. That way I get the advertisment. People going home from work will see it.

Make sure everything is ready to be set out first thing. Have it by the door and the tables ready to set up. Because once you open your door, people will run over you trying to see what you have. Have your strategy in place and be ready to set your stuff out as quickly as you can. If you are going to have help, this is the time for that help to be there! Get the stuff out and set up as quick as possible. And if everything is priced then you don't have to worry about your husband selling something too cheap or driving off a customer by quoting too high a price while he helps you set out. You've priced it ahead of time!

Don't even turn on your outside lights or a light on the front of the house until you are ready to go. Some people have no manners and will clump up to your front door and ring the doorbell wanting to go through your stuff before you even hit the yard. (If that's YOU, don't do that, it's so rude!)

Make sure you have a breakfast and coffee that you can carry around with you. For instance an egg sandwich or a sausage biscuit. You will be very busy for the first couple of hours.

It's best to keep your pets inside away from all the excitement. Having a lot of strangers in their yard and making a lot of noise will stress them. Your own nerves will alert them and stress them. So it's probably best to keep them inside in their secure zone and keep a white noisemaker going. My dogs are used to the TV so I leave the TV running to help cover up the strange noises. You might try running a fan in the room. You don't want someone to get bitten or trip over a pet and you don't want your pet stressed and traumatized so keep the pets and yard sale separate unless you have a dog that is used to being around strangers and you have total control over them.

I would suggest the same for your children. You know your own situation but take it into consideration. Some children get overly excited. Some don't like seeing "their stuff" for sale. Some just get tired, cranky or rough and rowdy. On the other hand, older children and teens can be great helps. Some children like to try to sell canned drinks/donuts and get a kick out of selling their stuff. You might even think of having them help the first hour or two but have a friend or family member come get them to take them for a playdate mid morning so they don't get bored and troublesome. Depending on your family situation be sure to arrange for your children's care for that morning. You will be overwhelmingly busy.

If more than one person in your neighborhood or on your street is having a yard sale, be ready to point the buyers to the next yard sale. If the first neighbor on your street is having a yard sale then buyers may go to their house and then think that was the only yard sale on the street and turn around and leave. They miss your yard sale. So be sure to have signage indicating there is another yard sale further down the street. I can't tell you how important good signage is.

There are a few ways you can set your stuff out. Using tables is the nicest way. But if you don't have enough tables, then use shallow boxes or sheets to lay out on the yard or the driveway.







Keep in mind that no one wants to have to plunder through deep boxes of stuff. You want people to be able to walk by and see what you've got without having to waste time rummaging through big boxes. A good portion of buyers are in a hurry. They aren't just in it for the enjoyment but have an agenda and are on a schedule. If they have to rummage and sort through a big box or pile, they are losing time and they may not do it. They will be on to the next better organized sale.

For me, I can't hold up all day to that kind of excitement and work. So I start at 7:00am and I start putting my stuff away at 11:00am. That way I'm not out there in the hottest part of the day and I've got enough reserved energy to put stuff away.

Your yard sale is NOT finished until you have taken down your signs. Please don't leave your signs out. This trash makes your neighborhood look cluttered and neighbors won't be happy with you.

Box your stuff up and go ahead and make the trip to the dump and to the charity of your choice. Don't take the stuff back to your garage or house because it will tend to stay there. Part of spring cleaning and decluttering is removing the stuff from your house. Just putting it in a box and changing where you store it doesn't actually do anything. You need to put it in the car/truck and take it where it's going to go.

If you are taking it to a charity, take a couple of snapshots of the items your taking and be sure to get a receipt for your records. Once you get home you can pull up those digital photos and make a list of the stuff you took to the charity.

Last, but not least, count out your money and see how much you made. Over the years I have made as little as $50 and as much as $300. If you only make $50 then it may not be worth your time. By the time I collect, clean and price my stuff and then take a whole Saturday morning to sell it and clean up after it... I have to wonder if it pays me to do it. If I only make $50 then I might have only made $2/hour! On the other hand, if I'm going to be culling and purging anyway and have a free Saturday morning, why not? If it's something you really hate to do, don't do it. You will have more return for your money donating it and taking it off your taxes. But, if everything goes right, I get a kick out of it. (Remember, I prepare ahead of time which makes it less stressful and I stop at 11:00am. That's my limit and makes it more comfortable for me.) Usually a friend or family member does it with me so that I can take bathroom breaks and we can laugh and talk during the sell.

* As a note. If you are the one going to the yard sales, please be considerate of other people and the neighbors. DON'T BLOCK THEIR DRIVEWAYS. Be very careful in driving and parking. That's one of the biggest problems to yard saling. People get excited and don't pay enough attention. Carelessness can end up in a car accident or someone getting run over. I accidentally backed into a car behind me at a yard sale. They had parked so close to me that I couldn't get out. I tried backing easily, inch by inch, to get out of the trap. But I ended up tapping the car behind me. I should have just been patient and waited for them to come back to their car to let me out. As it was they were sure I had totalled their car and came on in a raging hissy fit. I tried to stay calm and they finally calmed down when they realized it wasn't that bad. We got the situation taken care of but it was enough for me to hope that it never happens again. You don't want to hurt someone. And you don't need the trouble of even a minor accident. People get so hysterical these days. And then there are those who will take advantage of a simple accident and take you to the cleaners over it. So be careful, courteous, alert and patient.

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