Summer Money-Making Scenarios: Part Four

Look, there’s some dilemmas I can fix for you, there’s some dilemmas that my sister Juli can totally blow out of the water.  One of those is Yard Sales.  So let’s cut out the middleman (uh, that would be me) and go straight to THE Source when it comes to a successful Yard Sale.

THE TRIED & TRUE — Host a Yard Sale  by Juli Ulvestad

Let’s face it:  yard sales are a lot of work.  If you’re going to put in that much effort, you’d better make some money from it, get rid of a lot of stuff, and have some fun while doing it.  Pick a date that works for your area—stay away from holiday weekends when people will be out of town, coordinate with nearby events such as festivals or races, and think about neighborhood specifics such as students returning in the fall to university neighborhoods and annual neighborhood clean-up dates.

Invite friends, family & neighbors to participate to increase size of sale (and make it more fun…).  Ask everyone to price their own items using color-coded stickers, and when the item sells put the sticker on a sheet of paper to keep track of each person’s sales.  Pricing is typically 10-25% of what the item costs new, but some items sell better than others and you can ask more.  Unused or lightly used items still in the packaging can fetch 50% of the new price.  Look around at other yard sales in the weeks before yours to get an idea of pricing in your area.  Start saving boxes, bags, newspapers or other packing material & hangers.

Choose a location with good traffic and visibility—if your home is out of the way, ask to host at someone else’s home or even your school or church.  Good signage is extremely important, since a large percentage of buyers find you by noticing and following your signs.  For some great ideas, check out this source. Advertise online on sites like craigslist, in your local newspaper, via social media like facebook and twitter, and don’t forget about word of mouth.

Spend the time to clean up your items to present them at their best.  Some people love to rummage through junk but most do not, and you’ll get top dollar for items in good condition.  Start a large box labeled ‘FREE’ with junkier items and move things to it periodically as you realize it’s not moving.   Put together furniture such as cribs—it’s a pain, but it will sell much faster and for more money.  Borrow lots of folding tables, lay out items in groups with signs (e.g., dishes, books, kid clothes, etc.), package smaller similar items together in ziploc bags, and hang clothes on racks if you have some or can borrow them, or make one with two ladders and a pole. Stash lots of boxes under tables and offer them to people as they’re picking up items to use as a ‘shopping cart.’  Have at the ready some quarters, ones and fives to make change in fanny pack or apron, extension cord, batteries and lightbulbs to test electric items, and a tape measure to help your customers decide to buy your stuff.  *Tip: larger pieces should get the best location and larger price signage.  Add ideas for what you can do with the item such as pages from Martha Stewart magazine, listings from eBay to show what item sells for online, etc.

Create a fun atmosphere by playing music, having food and drinks to sell and maybe balloons.  You deserve to have a good time while working so hard, and buyers will stick around longer and may buy more if the environment is pleasant.  *Tip:  beware of spending too much money on the sale since the objective is to make money while clearing out clutter.  Consider how much you really want to spend on newspaper advertising, signs, etc.  Think creatively about items to sell such as unwanted houseplants or divided plants from your landscape, bouquets of flowers from your garden, unfinished craft projects, home-baked items, home-sewn items, etc.

As the day wears on, reduce your prices and/or offer volume discounts like ‘Fill a bag for $5’ and be more open to haggling .  Be present and available, but don’t hover.  No one wants to hear how much you loved something or how much you paid for it, but details about its brand and features can be helpful if you’re asked.  At the end of the day, pack up the leftovers and drop it immediately at your nearest charity shop, leave it on the curb with a free sign or post it on freecycle.  Ahhhhhhh. Done.  Turn on the sprinklers to revive your poor lawn, put up your feet and have a cocktail.

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