You guys are well aware I am in the midst of having a yard sale. I must disclose a tiny bit of information with you...I hate having a yard sale.
I have a friend, three emails from some readers, and a direct message off of Twitter that have been asking some questions on yard sales. This post is for you (and the rest of you who want a smug joke here and there)...
My Yard Sale Past:
I think I have been involved in yard sales since I was unable to move about on my own. Both sets of grandparents live on a really busy highway that gets tons of traffic both into and out of the town I call home. I remember sitting in the kitchen and watching the final count of the day's profit. One time my aunt got close to $200 because she had sold all her baby items and clothes from when she was so incredibly thin she probably had to shop the children's section for herself.
When I was a small chappy I loved New Kids On The Block. They were coming to Greensboro to do a concert and I just had to go! We had a yard sale, I made the loot necessary for my ticket. I think I was seven. We headed to the concert only for me to come down with the flu in the midst of it. I was able to see Perfect Gentlemen but not NKOTB. Major bummer. The lesson is at the tender age of seven I was making money to do what I wanted to and it was a yard sale that allowed that. (Tearing up yet?)
I have totally seen the yard sale evolve from the 1980's to the 20teens. Prices used to be a quarter to fifty cents for an item. Now they go for upwards of $5 for an item. I guess I'm
stuck in the 80s and really want to get rid of things so I try to keep my prices on the lower end. The whole point of having a yard sale is getting rid not rich, right? Right.
Why have a yard sale?
To get rid of things and get a little cash - that is why you have a yard sale. Sure you can just load it up and donate it to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity or Salvation Army or the guy who lives in the van down by the river. Realistically though I think we could all use a couple extra twenties in our pocket so why not do the sale...in your yard.
Step One - get the box.
Step Two - open the box.
Step Three - put your junk in the box.
Who would have ever thought Timberlake and ole Andy were onto something with that song
Step One: Make a decision or fifteen.
What to chunk into the yard sale box - follow this guide I made for myself for items you need to rid yourself of:
a) Do not fit any longer
b) Are no longer played with
c) Make me question what possessed me to buy such a contraption
d) Have grown distant from
The best way to do this for me is to clean up the house and then go room by room with a box, bag, plastic tote and start filling it up with stuff that doesn't need to belong to us anymore.
I started in my nursery. I'm done having children. I need not keep anything. For you sentimental types I do have a 8x15 box that some little things went in for him to see and care less about when he's 18. The baby tote filled up fast and easy. It included: outfits, onesies, socks, bibs, multipurpose pads and cloths, some toys, a easy seat for babies (I believe Bumbo is appropriate for descriptive purposes), a stroller, a load of bottles and everything that goes with them, a monitor that we never really used, blankets, etc.
Next up the diva's room. She has slowed down on the hurricane of changing sizes six times a year. We are in a 6 or 7 and stuck there which is wonderful. However, she has TONS of clothes and she is gaining height so we went through all her summer, fall, and winter attire and picked what worked and what made her look like a flood-prepared child. Her feet are growing too so we had shoes galore to throw in.
Linen closets need attention when you are cleaning out to yard sale. It is amazing what you can find in that one closet. A Lady Remington that I think I used one time maybe (on my legs, you needed that info because I know how minds can run rampant). Storage containers that made no sense sitting totally empty. Bedding that we do not have an appropriate size bed for. Sheets that I didn't like the material they were made from (I am a picky sleeper). Table cloths need your attention, why are you saving them?
Our coat closet housed some coats we are too small and too large for. It also held a multitude of various bags that need new homes in a bad way. I think I am a bag junkie.
The playroom/office was next. I always realize my kids don't have an insane amount of toys when I see what they have and mentally compare it to others. I weeded through the baby's stash and got a few out that he has surpassed. The kid and her Barbie collection <sigh> we'll keep those for a few more years I do believe.
The kitchen - ahhh the kitchen the room I cannot wait to be remodeled. I went through it with a fine tooth comb and am selling a tiered cupcake stand I used twice - I had high hopes for that piece of work. A set of ice cream dishes that I received as a bad Christmas present that I decided I could put to use...but never did. Various baby kitchen accessories are no longer needed - we are in toddler stage. I went through all my bake ware and decided to hold on to most of it - it gets good use. I may have to set up for another sale after renovating if we have some money in the kitty to get some new pieces. I did have too many saute pans for one kitchen and could admit to it. I have dishes I want to rid myself of but for whatever reason I kept them.
Bathrooms hold some interesting stuff that believe it or not you can let go of. Some people have excess hair dryers, flat irons, crimpers, hot rollers, etc.
Our holiday closet was so fun to go through (that was sarcasm). DVDs stuffed away to never be watched again - in the tote! Winter decor that I don't use anymore - in the tote! Crap I don't know why I bought it - in the tote! I must have had some good ideas when I received or purchased that right?
Last was my bedroom. Having given birth a year ago I had plenty of clothing to try on and keep or chunk. Needless to say my hard work has paid off and the larger sizes of post pregnancy and six months post pregnancy are all up for grabs for good prices. As are some pieces of jewelry, shoes, etc. The hubby had basically separated all the clothing he wanted and didn't want months ago and he didn't even realize it. I had already bagged the pieces he didn't like away. I still need him to check his closet again. I see tons he doesn't wear anymore in there.
I thought that was the last room - the bedroom - boy was I wrong. We have a laundry room and I will call it Amanda's Hidden Store. All the stuff we have crammed in that room is unbelievable. I spent two hours going through and chunking into the tote.
Check your attics, basements, outbuildings, and garages.
While chunking you need to pay attention to the details.
As you chunk items actually LOOK at them.
Is it stained? Then it needs to go away and not into someone elses hands.
Do they want your stained crap? No.
Is it Gorilla Glued back together? File 13 or recycle that - no one wants broken.
Is it missing pieces or does it work? Um do not be a liar to someone else to make a buck, recycle or file 13 it too.
While in the chunking process keep things in some type of order - like for the nursery I put all the items together. That makes it easier when you set up for your sale. You can easily unload all the items at one time in one space. You'll appreciate it immensely.
Bacon, lettuce, dough, bread, scrilla, moola, dirty paper, the root of all evil - lets price!
The biggest headache of yard selling is pricing. I recommend you price everything you want to sale.
Here's my logic -
if you are out at a store shopping and you pick something up and there's no price on it nine times out of ten you'll put it back.
It is a headache to not know what the seller's price is and a lot of people are shy and not going to ask. I want it priced so there is no question about how much I want for the item.
Pricing is a pain in the buttocks but so worth it.
You aren't put on the spot when someone says - "how much?" - you can say - "Whats on the sticker?"
This is so critical.
Also, if you are setting up shop with a friend and nature calls your friend isn't stuck guessing what you want for items.
Overshot and low balling are not our friends!
Pricing takes time but time will get you more money in your change purse. So how do we price?
Well one thing you must drill in your brain is what you are doing...you are having a YARD SALE.
A yard sale is not a Gap Clearance sale, its not MegaMart, its not a rented space beside Macy's and Ann Taylor in the strip mall.
A yard sale is a cheap way to get some stuff (consumer) and a fast way to get rid of things (you).
If you want to sale for a higher price then you need to go to a consignment shop with a good reputation.
No clothing item should be over $5.
That price tag should be reserved for dresses, coats, and heavy apparel that is well worth it and in incredible shape. That means no stains, tears, rips, messed up zippers, or do it yourself stitch work (unless being a sweat shop employee is on your resume.)
T-shirts are not fine clothing.
I get so griped when I see a t-shirt overpriced. If you paid some ungodly sum for a t-shirt then shame on you. T-shirts are so cheap to make and so foolish to spend tons of money on. Max on a t-shirt that is in good shape whether it be AE, A&F, or Atlanta Braves is $2. It should be stain free and not so washed that you can see through it. Any embroidery or screen print should be in good shape.
This is key with kids clothes - keep outfits together. Good condition sets can go for $3-$4 while those "play clothes" need to be appropriately priced between 50 cents for separates and $1. Baby items can and need to be bundled. Put those bibs and same size onesies all together and price them within reason ($1 for the bag). Remember to throw out the bibs that look like they were used by fifteen babies during a spaghetti dinner. Good items to bundle: cups, dinnerware for kids and regular dinnerware, socks (baby ones, don't sale your old socks), crafting items such as ribbon spools/glues/scrapbook stuff, toys (put all the Barbie clothes together, put all the rattles and smaller baby toys together in a bag and sale for a reasonable price. I bundled rattles and teethers (that were re-sale worthy because they weren't used) and priced them at $2.)
Shoes are tricky.
Actually they aren't. If they are your muddy gardening tennis shoes then you need to chunk them to the trash. Shoes need to be in good condition with no worn soles or holes or nasty shoe strings and Velcro needs to be clean. If you spent $200 on a pair of boots do not plan on selling them in a yard sale for $50 take them to a consignment shop or take $5 for them. If the shoes are a good brand and in good condition then price them between $2 and $4. I'm selling all shoes for $2 - $3 a pair and many are brand new.
Jeans are expensive.
But not at a yard sale. If they are in good condition $2-$3 per pair. If they are ratty looking and weren't purchased looking ratty then chunk them.
Underwear oh no.
Seeing panties at a yard sale turns my stomach. However, bras in good condition can be sold. How many of us have bought an adorable or nice bra only for it to not fit all that great? If its clean and in good shape sale it. (.50-1.50)
Kitchens are expensive rooms.
But this isn't Crate and Barrel.
Your kitchenware should start at .25 for gadgets and never exceed $5 for a full service for four - eight place setting.
Utility & Technology is a good seller.
Strollers, car seats, tools, electronics are all expensive brand new but if its been used and it is ten years old you cannot expect someone to pay you half of what you paid for it now. I have a flat screen tv that is just that - a flat screen. The TV is remarkable however its not a skinny tv - its got a flat screen and a bulging back. I am asking $10. I have a DVD/VCR combo that works great and I am selling it for $5.
I'm not out to play Best Buy in my garage.
I am out to get rid of this stuff.
A good rule of thumb is to be cheaper than the Goodwill.
Here's the ugly truth - Goodwill has some good stuff if you have time to go through it. You shouldn't try to out price them because you think you're some type of special person who has vintage A&F or Ann Taylor clothing - they do too.
Take some time and walk through the old GW and look at their prices. Most kids clothes are $1.50-$2.00. Adult clothes go from $3-$5.
There are a lot of people that think like me out there (scary huh?) when they go to a yard sale they say in the back of their head: "Well I'm not paying that because Goodwill is cheaper."
Prep for the people.
Advertise it. This doesn't mean take out a page in the weekly paper it means use social media, craigslist.com, the local paper's classified section (many times free for a few lines), and post on community boards.
Be basic. Put the location, date, start and end time, and a brief listing of items on hand.
Put your sign up when you are ready to have strangers going through your items - not before! It is annoying to have your sign up and then start unloading. They don't get to see the full monty and you have some dude in your way.
If you are having your sale in a garage or covered area you could set up the day before the sale and cover it or close it up. If you are having your sale in the elements then you may want to wait until the day of the sale to get up at the crack of dawn and set up. It is 2013 people are on bath salts I wouldn't recommend you decorating your yard with stuff only to have a random clepto raid your sale while you are snoring.
Ideally you would hang clothing and display everything as well as you can. Unfortunately, we do not all have racks to hang clothing on so I suggest you fold it pretty nice and put it on tables.
Never leave it in totes, never just dump totes on tables, never use the ground for clothes.
Who wants dirt, bugs, and feet on potential purchases?
You can get creative with clothing line if you have the time and willpower.
The deal is this: make it looking appealing and make more money.
I say keep $20 in change on yourself for the sale. Make sure you have plenty of quarters and singles and at least one ten because there's always some person who only carries the $20 they got out of the ATM to the sale (me). And they always only buy $2 worth of stuff. You have to wipe out all your change on them (sorry).
Have another person hang out with you during the sale. Bad people exist even in your yard. I read about an idiot robbing a yard sale for the money box. There will be a time when you need to pee or feed the baby and you need another adult to be there to assist you.
At the end of your sale take advantage of programs that come and take away what is left and give you a receipt. Habitat for Humanity does this and it eliminates your headache of packing it up and taking it to wherever (or setting your yard on fire because you said you didn't want to deal with it anymore).
You need to be prepared for your various shoppers.
All kinds of people make this world go round and round. Many of those people are annoying when it comes to yard sales.
People will ask you the price of an item even after they've looked at the sticker fifteen times.
Best response when they ask how much? "How much does it say?"
When they play dumb just point the sticker out to them again. When they try to haggle just say
"The price is right there we've both looked at it three times now. It hasn't changed."
Some people will try to steal. They are sad people. Always watch your stuff and keep small items close to you at all times. If it is super valuable do not sale it in a yard sale. I would hope that is common sense but....
Discount seekers are always on the yard sale road. As if a quarter was too much to ask they want to work out a deal with you. Perhaps it is: If they buy those boots for $5 can they get the $3 sweater for $1.50. The answer is no. I like the idea of responding: How about $8 for both. If they can't do math then they'll think its a discount.
Children come with adults to yard sales. They think yard sales are play dates. Don't let the kids play too much with the toys or they will destruct them.
I always try to keep toys in a bin and close to me - the scary lady who has the eye ball on everyone. Try to have your sale away from any play equipment in your yard.
You don't need some brat breaking an arm on your swing set.
If kids are too unruly ask their adult to put the leash on them or tell them you have a new tranquilizer gun you'd like to test on their child if they could wait a second while you get it.
Keep your own kids inside or occupied. Nothing is worse than them seeing that toy they got three years ago for their birthday that they never played with on the for sale table.
Keep your dogs away if they are tempted to nip, growl or bite. Everyone wants to pet a pooch but strangers can make dogs uneasy.
Smile - a lot. People are more apt to spend a lot of loot if they feel welcomed and you seem to be super friendly towards them. Compliment them and they'll repay you....in quarters.
Share your tips in the comments section!