Posts Tagged ‘Advertise’

Apr 07 2011

Team Work at the Family Yard Sale

Yard Sale Sign - Jake put the arrow on when he staked them on Saturday morning.

We recently did a Yard Sale at our house.   It was a  success, we even had to thin out the cash box twice during the sale because we were getting so many $1 bills.  I was shocked when we counted up the total at the end of the day, it was the best sale we have had yet!  I am not sure if it was just a great day, beautiful weather, we had the right people, right items, luck, answer to prayer, or a combination.  No matter what it was we were blessed with a great sale.  Our Yard Sale was a one day sale starting at 7 AM (although we always have those early birds which is fine with me) and we ended at 1 PM.  This year it was just our family doing the sale and we made almost $700.  Jake and I sold over $650 and the girls brought in over $15 selling drinks, cookies, and candy.

It was a lot of work and I am very thankful it is now done so I can get my house back in order again.  Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and we had a steady amount of traffic the whole time.  One time when traffic started slowing down my husband checked the signs and one of them had fallen down, immediately after setting it up again the crowds starting coming again.  Our first customers arrived before we even finished setting up. As soon as the signs were up there were people were outside with their flashlights going through the items.

Our family always enjoys seeing what the first item that sells will be……this year it was a cord for 25 cents.  My husband had a box of electronic power cords for 25 cents each.  The guy later came back and purchased the entire box of cords along with a few other items.  It makes me smile seeing people leave the yard with full bags of goodies and knowing that I don’t have to bring it all back inside!  Not to mention it is wonderful being able to put the extra towards your goals and to have a more uncluttered home.  I haven’t quite master that completely yet but I am getting closer!

The more Yard Sales we do the more I learn what do to or better yet what not to do.  I grew up in a very rural area in Kansas and my family never had or went to a Yard Sale / Garage Sale / Tag Sale or whatever you call it in your area.  Here are some quick and easy tips that work for us and have made our Yard Sales successful:

  • Get Organized Early – clean out your closets and rooms in advance.  I typically collect items throughout the year and place them in bins marked for “yard sale” so it makes it easier once the time gets near.  After getting out the bins I go through a room a day and collect any items that we are no longer using.  If I have more time I will do another sweep of the house.  As I am collecting the items I go ahead and price them then put them in the room next to the front door so they are ready to take out the day of the sale.
  • Clearly Mark & Price All Items to Sell – we had only a couple items in the $10 to $20 range.  The majority of our items were marked from 2 cents to $1.00 each.  Many of people that come to your sale will want to negotiate so it is important to know in advance what items you are willing to negotiate and how much.  Typically, I will do up to half off the price unless it is one I have specified in advance that I will not do additional discounts (like brand new items from our stockpile).  Mark all items!  One exception to this rule is if you have a bin of similar items to sell you can mark the amount per item on the outside of the container.  A lot of people will pass up the opportunity to buy something they want because they don’t want to ask for the price.  I would rather the items sell then have to drag everything back into the house, to Goodwill or somewhere else afterwards.  If you have a lot of specific items to sell (candles, clothes, gift bags, stuffed animals, etc….) you can sell them for 50 cents each or they can stuff a bag as full as they want $5.  I had a lady buy my entire bin of stuffed animals by stuffing bags for $5 each (you can fit a lot of clothes and stuffed animals into a shopping bag).
  • Plan of Action – having a plan mapped out of where you want items and how it will look.  This will help make the whole Yard Sale run more smoothly and in the end be a success.Group like items together as you are preparing them and know in advance which items you want on the tables, in the front to draw in the crowd, which ones are okay to put on the tarp or hang on the fence.
  • Answer the Important Questions in Advance – Who is in charge of what? What are the kids selling?  Who is putting out the signs?  When are you putting out the signs?   Who will be collecting the cash?
  • How much cash / change do you need to start? We did $70 cash this time and it was a great amount (we had 2 – $10, 4 – $5, 20 – $1, and a roll of quarters).  We used $3 in loose change we had around the house to buff up the cash box a little bit more.
  • Pick a Good LOCATION – we usually do our Yard Sale at our house because we live right off a busy road.  Also, our road is a small half circle and no matter which direction a person comes down it they will drive past our house.  You want it close to a road that gets a lot of steady traffic so you get a continual flow of people.
  • Do a Multiple Family Sale – this is the first year we have not done a multiple family yard sale.  We have had up to 7 families do the yard sale with us at one time.  We even have a software program that tracks how much each family is making and then we divide up the cash at the end of the sale.  If you do it this way and use 1 cash box make sure whoever is entering the amounts knows the program and during the busy times it is wise to have a couple people helping check out.  Otherwise you can do separate cash box per family.  You can share the cost of signs, materials, work, etc…when you do a joint sell as well.
  • Select a Date / Time – pick a good date and time to do your sale.  For example, if it is freezing or raining it will be much harder to have a successful sale.  Consider the benefits of doing a 1 or 2 day sale.  We have typically only done a 1 day sale on Saturday because we don’t have a garage that faces the street where we can leave everything set up for the next day.  Plus, we don’t have to take time off work to have since we only do it on Saturday.
  • SIGNS – the signage is very important!  We make big, bold, simple signs with arrows on them.  The signs are placed at either end of our street with two additional signs one on the highway next to us and another at a busy intersection up the street from us.  Half of the signs are to get their attention and the two at the ends of our street are the most valuable because those are the ones that will get the people onto your street.  Add just enough information to get them to your house, keep it big and simple.  We purchased our signs for 50 cents at the Dollar Tree and I had the girls help me color them with crayons.  Since we already advertised in a variety of other places (see below) we typically put up our signs early the day of the sale as we are setting up (we have done it as early at 4:30 AM and had people at our house within minutes).
  • Advertise – having a number people planning to come before the day of the sell is very beneficial.  Many times these people will be the first ones there and more people are likely to stop if there are a lot of cars at your house (there must be great deals). Here are a couple places to advertise:
  1. Your local Craigslist –  we have great success listing our Yard Sales on Craigslist.  People have driven from over an hour away to attend our Yard Sale because they saw it on Craigslist.  We typically get between 5 to 20 emails a day from people requesting more information on what we are selling so make sure you are ready to respond politely and timely to those requesting information.  I always include a bullet list of items that we are selling to catch the attention of those looking for specific things (for example – Infant Clothes Newborn & Up, NEW Health & Beauty Items, CD’s / DVDs, Furniture, Kitchen Appliances, Books, Computers, Game Systems, Electronics, etc…. and MUCH MORE).  Be honest yet specific to draw the attention of those interested in your items.  Craigslist will allow you to post multiple times the week of the sale – I usually post information about it on Monday, Wednesday, and follow up with one final one on Friday that has our address and directions included.
  2. Newspapers – many newspapers will allow you to list your Yard Sale in the paper for free.  Check with your local newspapers for the details.  Make sure to check out the smaller ones as well because they often will give you more promotional space plus they are in your local community homes and stores.
  3. Hang Fliers – in gas stations or a variety of businesses or community boards in your area.  Many of these places allow you do it for free and it generates additional interest.  Make sure your signs are bright, colorful, and easy to read.
  • Large / Popular Items Catch the Buyers Attention – put large or popular and colorful items out in front (children’s clothes, furniture, exercise equipment, etc….) so people will see them and stop to shop.  Many times if they stop to look they will buy something in addition to the items that first got their attention.
  • Sell Ad-Ons – we have our girls sell drinks, small toys, cookies (see picture below), candy, and re-usable bags.  Here’s what we did:
  1. Candy – 2 cents
  2. Small Toys – 2 cents
  3. Re-usable Shopping Bags – 10 cents (or they can choose the free bags – plastic bags we collected from a variety of stores)
  4. Lemonade – 25 cents
  5. Cookies – 25 cents
  6. Soda Pop – 50 cents
  7. Bottled Water – $1.00
  • Thin Out Your Stockpile – if you shop the sales and use coupons take a moment to put together a bin or table full of items.  We had a variety of new Health & Beauty items, Household items, School Supplies, Crafts Supplies, and more for people to buy.  The largest benefit to having a table with brand new items is that it really attracts attention and brings in the crowd plus it gets people excited about getting a great deal.  Also, pack a basket full of those samples you got in the mail and sell them.  We were selling our samples for 2 cents each and a lady came back to our yard sale to purchase more items for her parents and bought the entire basket full of samples.  We sold the majority of the items on those tables plus people purchased other items at the sale because they were so thrilled to find a terrific deal.  This year we even sold a box full of non-expired food from our pantry, I had duplicates of several items that I didn’t think we would eat in time so I put them out and they were a huge hit as well.

These are some of the things I have learned over the course of the past few years.  Several people have asked us email them when we have our yard sales because they don’t want to miss it and other people have gone to get extra money or called friends to come buy items.  The repeat customers know what you typically have available and look for it, a couple ladies asked where all my samples were after someone had purchased them all.  It is a lot of work, but with a little extra effort and planning it can be a successful event.   I am thankful for my family because each member pitched in to help make it a great day.  I wish you the best as you plan for your upcoming sale.  Please leave any comments below on ways you have made your Garage / Yard Sale successful.