‘Tis the season for yard sales (or garage sales, rummage sales, tag sales… Have lots of stuff that you don’t use anymore? Is it just lying around your house or taking up precious garage space? Need some extra cash? Throw your very own garage sale and turn your old “junk” into money!
Each year Kingswood residents should participate in the annual Kingswood Rummage Sales the last full weekend in April. Since there are over 300 homes that join in that event each year, it’s a natural traffic-driver. Having a community or neighborhood-wide sale is a fantastic way to bring traffic to an area that may not normally get very much traffic.
We’d like to offer a few lessons learned and a few tips and tricks discovered along the way. The biggest lesson learned is that a prepared and organized garage sale will result in the most profitability, and if you follow the tips below, you’re sure to bring in more cash at your next garage sale, too!
- Choose your yard sale date wisely. Popular months for yard sales are April, May, June and September. Check newspaper ads to determine the most popular days for rummage sales in your community.
- Make an inventory list of everything that you want to sell in advance. (This will help ensure that you don’t find a bunch of stuff in your garage the weekend following your sale, and say, “Oh darn! I meant to put those out!”)
- Give yourself plenty of time to gather and price your sale items. You don’t want to pull an all-nighter right before your sale. The more merchandise you have, the more attractive your garage sale will be to buyers. Consider asking neighbors, friends and family if they want to participate and bring items for sale. Clean up your merchandise. No one wants to buy items that are dirty or need repair.
- Advertising your sale is a crucial step and will determine your sale’s success. When advertising, be sure to include your address, some of the key items you will be selling, and the day and hours you will be open. For the Kingswood residents joining in the annual Kingswood Rummage Sales, be sure to register your sale. The advertising the Kingswood committee does to promote the event is priceless, so register your sale to gain the most from this advertising.
- Word of mouth can have a great affect. Begin telling everyone – family, friends, co-workers – about your yard sale and ask them to pass on the word.
- At least a week before, start listing the sale on Craigslist and any other online free classifieds in your area. Every couple days, re-list the sale so that it stays near the top listing.
- Place an ad in the local newspaper or shopper advertising flyer.
- Create some posters or flyers. Pin them on bulletin boards in grocery stores, laundromats, and anywhere else there are bulletin boards. Use bright colored paper to make them stand out.
- Make yard signs and place them on nearby street corners directing people to your yard sale using large directional arrows. The writing on the sign must be large and clear enough to read by passing drivers. Don’t forget your address and hours.
- Use Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. You will be amazed at how quickly the news spreads.
Pricing Your Items:
- When pricing your items, keep two things in mind. 1) Are you looking to get top dollar for your merchandise or 2) Are you looking to just get rid of it? Identify prices on items that are non-negotiable (if they don’t sell at your yard sale, you can post them on eBay or Craigslist). If you dread the idea of packing up your items and storing them again, price them to sell! You are more likely to sell an item with a low price, and the lower your prices are, the more that people tend to buy from you!
- Do your research. When pricing items, be sure to know what the going rate is for that particular toy, appliance, piece of furniture, etc. Ask friends and family what they’d be willing to pay, and check out eBay and Craigslist to see what similar items are selling for.
- Most yard sellers price their items at 10-20% of what they originally paid for it. Keep in mind the condition of the item for sale, how much life is left in the item, and how rare/common the item is.
- Keep math to a minimum. Don’t price items for $.10 or $0.75. We stick with $.50 increments so that no calculators are necessary (they just slow down your checkout line!).
- Price EVERY item. Shoppers don’t want to have to ask the price of something.
Setting Up, Organizing, and Displaying Sale Items:
- Make sure to have enough table space to display your sale items. You could make large temporary tables with sheets of plywood and sawhorses and cover them with plastic tablecloths.
- Keep as many items as possible off of the ground! Customers don’t want to get down on their hands and knees to rummage through piles of clothing or other items. Some customers may not be physically able to get down to get a closer look at your items. You will sell a lot more if people can easily access it!
- Be organized. One recurring compliment we always hear from customers is that they like to shop at garage sales that are organized When pricing clothing items, use a small piece of masking tape to write the size and price on the garment. Place the label in the center of each item so that it is highly visible. When displaying items for sale, try to organize the clothing in sections by size as much as possible. This directs people to the proper area, and the prominent size stickers keep them from tearing apart our nicely folded display.
- Take your items out of the box. People are visual creatures – if they can’t see what you’re selling, they’re going to pass you up. Display items so that people can easily see the details. Place books in a bookcase (you can make a temporary “bookcase” with cardboard boxes!), set out shoes so that they can easily be tried on, and package small items in clear plastic zipper bags. If possible, hang clothing items. Hanging clothing makes it much easier to look through vs. everything piled on tables.
- Group Similar Items Together. Treat your garage sale like a store, and set up a pretty display! Group like items together so that shoppers can quickly locate things. After you’ve sold a few things and the tables are beginning to look bare, consolidate items and rearrange them to keep up the “shop appearance” of your sale.
- Entice male buyers by setting out tools, electronics, and yard equipment near the front half of your property. Husbands will often wait in the car while their wives peruse the sale, but if they see stuff that interests them up front and center, they’re more likely to park, get out, and shop, too!
The Day of Your Sale:
- Make sure you are ready for your sale – everything is priced and organized. And make sure you know what your bottom dollar is on larger or more expensive items.
- Expect the bargain hunters and seasoned yard sale shoppers to be out early. Plan on opening around 8:00 am. Open and close at the time you advertised.
- Have lots of change on hand. You will need lots of ones, fives, and tens as well as quarters. It’s better to have too much change than not enough! People are often looking to break their large bills first thing in the morning, and you don’t want to be short if someone wants to purchase $2 worth of items, but they only have a $20 bill.
- Make sure to have at least two people running the sale at all times. That way when one person is handling a sale, the other can keep an eye on everything else and answer any questions that shoppers may have. Unfortunately, not only do yard sales bring out shoppers, but they also bring out shoplifters, so it’s best to have two pairs of eyes on things at all times.
- Keep your money close! If you’re using a cash box, be sure that someone is sitting with it at all times! If that’s not possible, consider wearing the cash on you. Use a waist pack or a small purse across your chest so that your money will never be left unattended.
- As the day goes on, you’ll find yourself accumulating more money than you need to have on-hand for making change. Every so often, pull out large bills like $50’s and $20’s from your earnings and stash them away inside your house.
- Play a little background music. We always have music playing after 8:30 am (once everyone has had a chance to wake up a little bit!). This helps eliminate any awkward silence and makes people feel comfortable cruising through your garage. Classic rock is a good choice because shoppers respond really well to it, but whatever you play, just make sure it’s not offensive or aggressive. You want customers to feel comfortable while they are shopping.
- Make sure to have extra bags and empty boxes on hand for people to pack their purchased goods (remember, your super low prices are going to make them want to buy a lot of things from you!). Re-use your plastic grocery store bags!
- As you near the end of your sale, consider slashing prices, offering two-for-one deals, or marking some items that you never want to see again as “free.” That way you won’t be stuck repacking and re-storing your leftover items later!
Other Tips to Remember:
- Wear sunscreen. Even if it’s overcast outside, you’ll be outside often throughout the day, so keep your skin protected with SPF and a hat.
- Drink lots of water, and keep snacks handy. Just when you think that it’s safe to take a lunch break, a mass of shoppers will pull up! Be prepared with snacks and water, and then take turns with your sale partner for a quick lunch break when there’s a lull in the traffic.
- When in doubt, just set it out! You never know what people are looking to buy! Many items have been sold that you would think would NEVER sell. There’s plenty of truth behind the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”