How to have an Awesome & Profitable Yard Sale, Part 2 (Think like a Retailer)
First, I’d like to apologize for being late on Part 2. Honestly, my own yard sale took much more time than I had planned (I was selling a sizable vintage collection for a neighbor, in addition to my own things, and 3 other friends joining the sale) and frankly, I wanted to take a day or two off to recover 😉 As I said in Part 1, hosting a yard sale is a lot of work! So without further ado, here is Part 2.
This is your most time-consuming task, but well worth taking your time to do well. Whenever possible, do it the day before your sale (or earlier) Helpful Hint: However long you think it will take you to set up, triple the estimate. I’ve been doing this for years, and it still almost always takes longer than I think it will.
1. Use tables and furniture to display your wares. Nothing looks worse (and sells less) than items thrown on the ground. Even the nicest things look cheap and crappy on the ground. Don’t do it. Borrow tables if you need to. The same goes with clothing racks. Clothes look best on racks. Hang everything you can on hangers.
2. Cover tables with tablecloths, old sheets, etc., anything to make them look a little nicer.
3. Organize your wares by category. Put kitchen with kitchen, clothes with clothes, etc.
4. Merchandising. Think like a retail store and display things neatly and place like with like. Use risers (these can simply be stacked boxes, anything to add different height levels to place your items on) Plug in and turn on tvs, computers, and lamps. Make it look like a place you’d like to shop.
5. Atmosphere. A little background music sets the mood, just be sure and play something with wide appeal. (no Death Metal or Gansta Rap 😉
6. If you are doing the sale in your garage, remove or hide anything that is not for sale. If you can’t, then at least put a sign up that reads “Not For Sale”. If you don’t that will be the one thing everyone wants to buy.
The Night & Morning Before your Sale
Be sure you have all your ducks in a row. This is probably when you’ll be putting up your signs, be sure and give yourself plenty of time to do this (see Part 1) Remember to put up your “All Sales Final” & “Cash Only” signs where you will be completing sales. Have your change, (and fanny pack) ready; your calculator, pens, ledger, bags and boxes good to go, and do a final walk-through of your sale to make sure everything is priced and looks good. I usually prep my coffee and breakfast before I go to bed as well, so I don’t have to get up too early. Then, on the morning of, you can relax knowing everything is done, grab your coffee, and open your sale when you are ready.
Talking to People
You may think this goes without saying, but be nice. Smile. Engage people and say hello, but don’t be pushy. There’s nothing worse than going to a yard sale and having the hosts telling you the history of every item (without being asked), or telling you why their stuff is so great, etc. I usually leave those sales quickly. No one likes a pushy salesperson! When people arrive at your sale, just smile and say something like “Hello, thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any questions”. On the flip-side, if people are rude to you (believe me, this happens) remember, it’s your home, and you can ask them to leave.
Most of the people who come to your sale are great, but unfortunately you will need to be concerned about safety. (I have been ripped off more than once at my own sales) Here are a few things to be aware of:
1. Do not host a yard sale alone. You will need help, and like the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers. Thieves will target people alone. (besides, it’s a lot more fun with friends 😉
2. Keep the money ON YOUR PERSON at all times. Do not use a cash box, or anything that can easily be separated from you. When you build up some cash, go lock it up in your house or in your car. Don’t count the money or take it out in public.
3. Never Ever Ever let anyone in your house. “Can I use your bathroom?”(or “can my kid use your bathroom”) is an old trick to get in your house to “case” it or pocket valuables. Politely point them to the nearest public restroom. I don’t care if they are acting like they’re about to pee on your lawn, don’t fall for it. Ever. For any reason. Got it?
4. Don’t let people “help” you add up their purchases, or rush you. One scam that I have fallen victim to was a group of “shoppers” (thieves) that come to your sale, one person buys something small with a $100 bill, while you are trying to get the change, he is changing his mind or trying to add or subtract something while his partners are distracting you by asking questions in the middle of it. Don’t let this happen. Firmly say “one person at a time” or “wait” and do not allow yourself to be rushed. This is another instance where not being alone at your sale is key (when this happened to me years ago, I was alone at the sale. They made off with most of my money and some merchandise) Take your time, do not allow people to push or rush you. Also, when someone hands you a bill and you are making change, keep their bill in view (but in your hand or on your person) until the transaction is complete, so they can’t say “I gave you a $20” when they really gave you a $10. And finally, don’t take checks.
5. Watch the little stuff. Keep all small and/or valuable items (like jewelry) near you so you can keep an eye on them. Thieves like to pocket small things. Also, watch people’s bags, and if someone buys purses or bags of yours, always check inside the bags. It is a very common trick to place other items in the bag and “forget” to tell you about it when they pay. (This happens at MOST of my sales).
Your sale is over, you’ve got a pocket full of cash, and you’re probably more than a little tired. There are sale left-overs strewn across your lawn. What now? Time to clean up. First step, lock up your cash in the house. Most people donate their items to a charity such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. (this is what I usually do). If this is your choice, you’ll need to box it all up and drive it to their donation center (check online for the center nearest you) Some people will box up their leftovers and save them till the next sale (I always think I’ll do this, but by the time the sale is done I’m over it, and just want everything the frick out of my garage! 😉 or you may want to give some of the items to friends. Some people will just put their leftovers out by the dumpster for anyone to take, but if you do this, be sure and take care of any mess left behind. And finally, your last task, take down all your signs. Be responsible, don’t contribute to litter and urban blight. I know you’re tired, just get it done. (This is honestly my most hated task. At this point in the day usually all I want is to relax with a cocktail or take a nap, but I kick myself in the butt and do it)
OK, if I haven’t scared you too much, you are now fully prepped to have your own Awesome & Profitable Yard Sale. Go forth, de-clutter, have fun, and make some cash. Still have questions? Ask me in the comments section below.