Anyone who knows me, knows I am not the yard sale type. However a few weeks ago when my neighbor sent out an email stating she was having one and wanted to know if anyone else wanted to go in on it, I thought why not? I knew I had a few baby items I wanted to get rid of, but certainly not enough to host a yard sale all on my own. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to clean out my attic as I’ve been meaning to do … you may remember from my Smarty Yard Sale post, I have an attic brimming with everything ranging from old baby stuff to Christmas items we no longer use to clothes from 10 years ago to … well, you get the picture. So the endeavor of “finding a few items to supplement a yard sale” turned into a massive obsession of purging my house, and garage, of anything we no longer needed nor wanted.
Having never hosted a yard sale, I totally felt like a fish out of water. But with the help of some friends, we figured it out … and learned TON in the process! In true smarty fashion, we thought we’d share our tips with you:
First of all, let me just say, hosting or even co-hosting a yard sale is a LOT of work!! And for not really a lot of cash in return. I think you need to think of the reward not only in terms of dollars, but in the satisfaction of knowing you cleaned out your attic, garage, closets, toy chests, etc and cleansed your house of things you no longer need. And remember … one person’s “junk” is another persons treasure!
Multi-family is the way to go!
By listing our yard sale as “multi-family”, it not only provided a bigger range of items and allowed us to share in promotional costs, but it drew a bigger crowd – we had several people pull up and ask “is this the multi-family sale?” Plus it was way more fun to host with friends!
Utilize free services such as Craig’s List and our very own Smart E-place to list your sale. Best to just do it the week before since the die-hards map out their course one Saturday at a time. We also listed in the Observer and opted for the premium package – only $25 bucks for 3 days, both print and online (not bad when split 4-ways … another advantage to multi-family). That also included rain insurance – if it rains on the day of your sale, they will rerun your ad within 14 days at no charge.
Make signs to direct people to your house. An easy way to do this is print out your info with a big bold Sharpie on brightly colored poster board. Then staple that to some cardboard that you probably have lying around your house to make them a little more sturdy and VOILA! – the perfect yard sale sign! Just be sure to take the signs down immediately following your sale.
List your big ticket items and a sampling of other things you’ll be selling. This also helps draw a bigger crowd. I had a set of grandparents that were looking for a highchair to keep at their house. They showed up specifically for that based on our ad and ended up walking away with a host of other baby items to boot! If possible, include pictures or at least have some handy to email eager inquirers. We had a lot of early responders to our Craig’s list ad.
Plan to start early and be prepared for the rush! We advertised our sale to start at 7 but got people coming by as early as 6:20 and it was full on mad house by 6:30!!! We were still trying to set up tables and pull our stuff out of the garage and literally had people standing there to see what we’d bring out next. A special thanks to Laura’s hubby for helping us get everything out so quickly!
This might also be a good time to mention this – consider options for your kids, especially if you have little ones. Since the yard sale was down the street, my husband stayed home with ours (plus it was 6 a.m. and they were all still sleeping!) Laura was able to ship her girls off to Grandmas which freed both her and her husband up for the sale. Since there were several of us there, we could help each other out, but if you’re doing it on your own, you might want to arrange alternate care for your kids that morning. Plus, you don’t necessarily want them to see which long forgotten toys you’re selling and try and make a case why they belong back in the toy box and not the chopping block! 🙂
Set up items for easy browsing
If you’re selling a lot of adult clothes, rig up a broom stick across 2 ladders to serve as great place to hang items. My neighbor who did this sold WAY more than I did of my husbands old shirts and sweaters piled in one big box. Lay out baby clothes by gender and size rather than making people root through everything.
Make sure you have plenty of tables to display items and lots of room for people to walk between them. I think you can rent tables but that eats into profits, so I would suggest borrowing from friends if you can.
Maximize appeal by dusting off items you’ve surfaced from the garage or filling the tires of an old bike with air. I think I could have doubled what I got for an old toddler bike had I done both those things. Hard to ask much for a dusty old bike with no air in the tires!
Have a stash of HT grocery bags on hand for shoppers that buy a lot.
Manage your money … and expectations
Make sure you hit the bank the day before and have lots of small bills on hand. I couldn’t believe how many people would give me a $20 for a $2 item. I quickly ran out of 5’s… thank goodness for my fellow yard sellers who came to my rescue!
Have something on your body to keep all your money in. I used an over the shoulder and across the chest bag with 2 pockets, one for big bills and one with smaller ones and coins. Another girl wore a cute little apron with multiple pockets for sorting and another had a small Lowe’s apron around her waist. I had also gotten the suggestion to use a fanny pack, but I don’t own one of those …
Since we had 4 families combined, we each had a section for our items and each managed our own money. I think it was much easier that way rather than keeping track of who sold what. Plus, it allowed each of us to negotiate our own items as we wished.
On that note … be prepared for lots of bargaining! Apparently my stuff was not worth nearly as much as I thought it was … memories and nostalgia are not included with the sweet little clothes my son once wore or the favorite toys that donned our family room floor for years. It doesn’t matter if something “has never been used” or “is worth x amount if you buy it new” – people are looking for DEALS at yard sales! My biggest struggle was on how to price things. Having never done a yard sale before, I felt a lot of it was a shot in the dark and ended up not even tagging many items. This actually worked out fine in the long run because it was all a negotiation anyway. Clothes went for about $1 an item … even my husband’s old Ralph Lauren button downs that were still in great shape. If you do have bigger ticket items, do some research on e-bay or Craig’s List to get an idea of what they’re going for.
Have you hosted a yard sale recently? Share your super smarty tips as well! And if you still aren’t one for hosting a yard sale, remember there are lots of places that appreciate donations such as The Assistance League of Charlotte, an organization near and dear to our Smarty hearts!
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