How to Have a Blow Out Yard Sale
by Katherine E. Tapley
Yard sales pop up in the spring and summer like mushrooms, but there is a knack to having a successful one. The reasons you may want to have a yard sale are numerous. Despite the hard work involved in getting the sale together, it is a chance to have fun, meet your neighbors, make money, lose money, get skunked, recycle, and clean out the clutter that has been accumulating.
The first order of business is to get a pad of paper and a pen and start going through the rooms in your house. What room has the most junk? Is it the kitchen, bedroom, garage? Check every corner of the closet, the shelves, etc. and evaluate everything honestly. Don't get overly sentimental. If you haven't used the thing in 10 years, why keep it around collecting dust? When listing your "inventory," make notes like "Must go," "Takes up too much room," or "Can't part with it." This will help you organize what items will go in the yard sale. The greater assortment of goods, the larger your profit will be.
How your organize your merchandise is important. Items that are heaped together on a table tend to repell customers. You should measure the width and length of your table space and take a sheet of paper and draw a plan of how you are going to lay your stuff out. Organizing things by price is a good idea. You could have a 50 cent section that will be attractive to kids, a dollar section, two dollar section, etc.
How to price items is an essential yard sale art. Generally, there shouldn't too many items over $10. The junk you really want to move should be under $2, depending on the item. Expensive items such as antiques, big household appliances, etc. would be better off advertised in a newspaper or taken to a second hand store.
If you have electronics like televisions, radios, record players and tape recorders, the yard sale price should be one third of the original sale price. Paperback books should sell at a quarter, and hardbacks can go at $1. Records such as 45s will go for a quarter, cassettes at $1, and CDs at $3. Clothing can be 50 cents up to $5 and knicknacks like vases, ash trays, and novelties can fetch $2 or less. Don't be insulted if the customers dicker about the price. It is part of yard sale culture. People enjoy trying to bargain with the proprietor.
Advertising your yard sale is essential if you want to pull in the customers. An ad in the local paper with an attractive hook does the trick. For example, you could claim that your yard sale is a "bargain hunters paradise" or mention some attractive or unusal items that you have for sale. Be creative in your ad. But don't say things like "Early birds will be shot on sight!" Signs with easy to see printing and arrows are good. You could even get your kids to wear placards on them and go around the neighborhood advertising your sale.
At the yard sale, you will want to have lots of change in you money box. A selection of coins, lower denomination bills, etc. will do. If it's a big sale, you might need up to $50 on hand to make change. Wearing a wrap around purse with a zipper is a good idea, since your money box could get pinched. If a customer offers you a check, you have to make a quick decision about whether or not you are going to take it. If you do take the check, you should have the customer's driver's license on the back of the check. Otherwise, you could accept a deposit of money and hold the item for a time limit of three hours.
If you have left over items after the yard sale and you don't want them back to clutter up your life again, arrange to have the Salvation Army truck to come after your sale. You can also give to local centers for the homeless, Goodwill, etc. Leftover books can be donated to hospitals, nursing homes, women's shelters, or the public library. If you have some high priced things left, you can put advertisements for them on bulletin boards or in the penny saver papers. To get rid of some of the excess stuff, you can also leave a box at the end of your driveway saying "Help Youself." Now all you have left to do put your feet up and count the profit!
Katherine Tapley-Milton lives with her husband, Dave, and four cats in Atlantic Canada. She graduated from Mount Allison University with a B.A. in the areas of psychology, sociology, and history and then got a two year Master of Theolgogical Studies degree from Tyndale Seminary in Willowdale, Ontario in 1981. Katherine has been a freelance writer for the last 25 years and has been published in over 80 periodicals. In May of 2005, she graduated from the BUILT's Customer Service Representative Course, and in 2006, her autobiographical book Mind Full of Scorpions was published on Amazon. Her hobbies include cooking, organic gardening, writing, reading historical romances, doing crafts, and researching diets and fitness.
Take the Next Step: Get out a pad of paper and a pen and start going through the rooms in your house. As you go through each room, make a list of the inventory that you intend on putting in the yard sale. It'll be easier to organize your sale if you know exactly what you're putting into it.
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