January was all about starting 2012 off right — we cleaned and rearranged and organized the heck out of our home. Most of all, for my fiance and I, there was purging. We've spent weeks culling out the unnecessary and curating our collections, and we have a ton of stuff to get rid of! Before we donate our belongings to charitable causes, we're going to have a yard sale! Here are some tips we've learned about throwing a successful yard sale!
While much of the country is still enjoying the wintertime, here in Austin we're having some gorgeous days. (LA, you know what I'm talking about.) We're taking advantage of the early spring like weather with a yard sale this weekend. Here's some of the things we've got in mind as we try to make it successful:
- Team Up: Invite friends that have some things they'd like to get rid of to come join in. More items draw more traffic to your sale. They can help with the setup and sell some of their items along the way. It makes the day less tedious, and more merchandise will give your sale greater interest. Plus, someone might bring breakfast tacos!
- Price Items Well: Pricing things well involves setting a fair amount as well as clearly marking that amount. A good rule of thumb is to price most everything at 10% of its original price. There are exceptions, but if you don't know what to charge, this is a good starting point. The cost of every item should be easy to find, and if there is no negotiating, mark it as "Firm." Consider offering quantity discounts for items that you have a lot of. Avoid creating a pricing chart or color-dictated price tags---just put the amount on the item. It saves a lot of hassle for everyone!
- Merchandise Your Stuff: Sure, there's bound to be a ton of seemingly unrelated items in your sale. But try to group like things together, and create some pleasing vignettes. Just because it's a yard sale doesn't mean people don't respond to nice styling. Group things of similar colors. Display clothing in outfits. Set a little table for sale with a place setting. One of my favorite tips? Bring a bookcase out in which to display books. Even if it's not for sale, it will get those books you want to move out of the boxes and more frequently into the hands of your customers. Get creative with it---if nothing else, have a little fun with your items instead of just dumping and piling.
- Be Descriptive: If you have items of particular interest, take the time the day before to create tags for them that indicate what is special about them. Even just a descriptive title can mean the difference between someone who's interested and someone who passes an item by. An unmarked camera in a box of other electronics is not as exciting as a well displayed camera with a tag that reads "Vintage 1964 Kodak Brownie! Takes 120 film and works like a charm!" In the same vein, if there is anything wrong with the way an item functions, indicate it on the tag. The buyer wants to know what they're getting.
- Demonstrate Items: If you have a record player or a radio for sale, put some music on! Show that it works! Make sure you've got power supplies for folks to test out any appliances for sale. Have batteries available for people to try out electronics. People will be less apprehensive if you can readily show them that your item still works. Make it easy!
- Have a "Free!" Box: There's some junk that you're trying to get rid of that you know you won't get much of anything for, so put out a box of free items! Include toys and trinkets for kids, and throw in a few paperbacks. If you mark it with a fun sign, it adds some happiness and fun to your sale.
- Make Good Signs: You don't have to be an artist to make a sign that will catch people's attention. However, it's worth the $5 you will spend on sturdy poster board or foam core and markers to get people to your sale. Yard Sale Queen offers a some visual reminders of what not to do with your yard sale sign! Keep it clear, concise, and correct---make sure folks can read your sign, don't include more information that people can read when they drive by, and make sure the sign is spelled correctly and pointing in the right direction!
- Advertise: Running an ad in the local paper is still a great option, but craigslist is a no-brainer by now. Here is an opportunity to list all of your major items, include photos, and conjure up some interest in your sale before the day of. There are also other sites out there devoted solely to listing yard and garage sales---take advantage of these. Yard Sale Search is my favorite...anyone else have some tried and true sites?
- Negotiate: Pricing your items well is important, but also expect to have some wiggle room in there. Customers are the happiest when the feel like they've gotten a good deal, or talked you down a little in your price. Play the game a bit! But don't do this too soon---save the bargaining for a little later in the sale. You can be less flexible at the beginning of the day.
- Start Early: It seems basic, but getting as much prepared the night before so that you can start as early as possible can really pay off. Early birds are serious shoppers. If you've advertised your special items, folks may show up bright and early to purchase them. This is a good thing---your goal is to sell! But don't be afraid to stick to your guns a little with pricing---it is, after all, only 7:45am. There will be more customers!
- Have Fun!: Since we've teamed up with friends, spent time doing the legwork of pricing and being descriptive the night before, and advertised our sale well, we plan on sitting back and enjoying the day! If we're swamped and spend the whole time helping customers, that's fantastic. But we are hoping to have some fun sitting outside, having a beer or two, and playing some bocce ball with our friends, as well. That sounds like a win-win to us.
What are your best tips for a successful sale?
(Image 1: Larry Page on Flickr, Image 2: sigckgc on Flickr, Image 3: Intangible Arts on Flickr, Image 4: Yard Sale Queen)