Tips for a Successful Yard Sale
The official start of Spring is in March but in Maine Spring begins for most with the first yard sale. Yard sales are a favorite hobby of the avid bargain hunter. Hosting a successful yard sale is a lucrative event. Successful yard sales take planning and organization, so having a clear plan of action can greatly reduce the stress and extra work associated with a yard sale. There is a huge difference between a well planned yard sale and one thrown together at the last minute. It’s evident the second you walk into the yard. Rows of neatly laid out items, clearly marked with prices as opposed to piles of things heaped on the lawn with no tags. It’s definitely worth the time and effort to plan and organize your sale. Most people will walk away from the heaps of items piled on the lawn. Tips for planning a successful yard sale are below.
If this is your first time hosting a yard sale take a little time and think about the yard sales you have been to. Were the items displayed in a pleasing manner, how were things tagged, what did the signage look like. These clues can help you plan your yard sale with a few extra tips listed below.
Plan far in advance. Choose a date and stick to it. Decide if it’s going to be a one day deal or a two day event, typically 2 day events are more successful. This will help you break down the list of things that need to be done in a timeline. The timeline will help you keep on track and make sure you aren’t rushing at the last minute to complete tasks that could have been done weeks or months ago for a smoother sale. This is what a typical timeline could look like.
January/February: Declutter the house and sort sale items, donation items into bins. Throw out the other things that no longer have a use. Arrange to donate the items sorted to appropriate organizations.
March: Clean, wash and repair all the items for the yard sale. Organize them into boxes or totes to keep them organized. Price the items that need to be priced. PRO TIP: Sort into categories to make set up at your sale easier. Label the totes with the category. The Dollar Store is a great place to find inexpensive price tags or masking tape and permanent markers for pricing your yard sale goodies!
April: Research expensive items or old items for their current value. You wouldn’t want to put Aunt Betty’s 1890 painting she had hanging in her living room for $5.00 to find out it’s worth $5000.00 to a collector. Those items will require a different kind of sale to gain the best value from them. PRO TIP: Pricing can be tricky too high and no one will be interested so remember yard sales are for bargain hunters and price accordingly. It is best to keep sentimental value out of the equation when deciding on a price. For new or larger items like furniture, the best rule is 25 to 30% of the original value. For example, you purchased a table for 100.00 ten years ago and it’s still in great shape, at your yard sale the price tag should be 25 to 30 dollars and be prepared to haggle.
May: Make signs that are easy to read. Plan out your advertising. Keep it simple to gain the biggest return on your sale. Plan how your yard sale will be laid out, keeping in mind the successful yard sales you have been to before. Gather the items you need for the day of the sale: tables, chairs, cash box, cooler with lunch etc. Have an exit plan for the yard sale: a bag full for 1.00 so you have less to take down or nothing special because you plan on having another yard sale in the next weeks or months. Know ahead of time what you want so you can plan accordingly. PRO TIP: Keep your signs simple and easy to read, choose fluorescent colors to catch the eye. Keep the sign to three lines: YARD SALE, Date & Time, Location remember people will be in their cars driving by so the larger the letters the better. Also choose a stop sign or location where people will have to be going slow so they have time to read it all. If you need extra tables consider using boards and boxes to create tables. Plan on donating the left over items from your yard sale? Make arrangements now to drop off or arrange to have someone pick up your donations.
Week to several days before sale: set up tables and put up the signs in strategic locations to make people aware your sale is happening. PRO TIP: Plan the layout of your sale and have it on paper so when it’s time to set up you have a clear idea of where things will go.
2 days to the sale: start putting out things that can be protected from night time dew or rain. You can hide sealed totes under the tables making the day of the yard sale an easier set up. Have help moving big furniture pieces into place and cover them with plastic for protection. PRO TIP: This would be a great time to verify everything is clearly marked with a price. If you like to haggle you can make your yard sale a “name your price” sale but have in mind a fair price for someone who doesn’t want to haggle. Use the Dollar Store again for inexpensive plastic tablecloths or coverings.
1 day away: get balloons to add at the end of the driveway with your sign to catch people’s attention. Put out as much stuff as you feel will be protected from night time moisture to help you be more prepared for the day of the sale. Make sure you have change for sales and bags to help people take home their treasures. If you need to make signs for the fill a bag for the last hour of your sale have them ready. PRO TIP: Have help lined up to help you set up and take down the sale at the end. Set up your check out area in the shade or have a popup canopy for your protection from the sun.
Day of the sale: Make sure you have enough time before the sale starts to have everything set up. Have your cooler packed the night before with your water and lunch to save time. Place your attention-getting sale sign with the waving balloons early. Lock your house for your protection while the sale is going on. You wouldn’t want strangers wandering into your home while you were occupied with the sale. Another safety tip is to keep your coins for making change in a money box but the bills on your person. PRO TIP: Have someone lined up to come give you a quick break to use the restroom throughout the day.
This is a basic outline, it can be changed to suit your needs. Clearly planning helps keep your sale moving along and eliminating the last minute rush and stress. Ultimately the success of your yard sale rests a lot on the items you have available, the prices you have set and what your bargain hunter is looking for. Having a wide variety of items helps you appeal to a broader range of shoppers! Good Luck and Happy Yard Sale!