Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Host a Successful Yard Sale (and free yard sale sign printable!)

Word has gotten out pretty quickly that Bryan and I have decided to move with only what will fit in our car.  Everybody has different reactions to this news, but a lot of you have asked about how exactly we plan to do this.  So I'll try and post about the process a little at a time, but today I thought I'd focus on how to successfully host a yard sale.

Edited to add: Be sure to check out the new post too!  Yard Sale Tips From A Seasoned Pro

I'm certainly no expert, but I have participated in several yard sales over the past few years and I've learned a lot along the way!  Ready?  Let's jump right in!

The best thing you can do to ensure yard sale success is to let people know you're having one! 

Like any kind of business, nobody is going to buy your stuff if they don't know it's available.  Where should you advertise?  Here are a few ideas...

Actual posters: 
  • around your neighborhood
  • community news boards (like at the grocery store or city buildings)
  • local laundry facilities
  • places you've seen other yard sale signs around town 
Of course, always be sure to get permission before putting up your posters.

  • Craigslist (they have a "yard sale" section you can post under)
  • online classifieds (the large news station in our area has free online classifieds that we've found useful)
  • Facebook (Don't be shy about telling your friends.  It's a great chance to visit and pass your stuff on to people you know and like!)
Of course, always be careful about posting your address online.  I personally feel okay about posting an address in the "yard sale" sections in online classifieds, but I wouldn't put my address on Facebook.  Just my personal preference.

Direct People to the Sale
Make sure the people who want to buy your stuff can get to it!

We've all had it happen.  You see a yard sale sign out on a main road and think, "Sweet!"  So you head off in the direction the arrow is pointing... only to find there are no more signs directing you there.  Bummer, right?

Make sure this doesn't happen to your potential customers by clearly directing them to your yard sale.  Put your address and the date and time of the yard sale on every sign and--if possible--put up a new sign at every turn so your customers don't get lost.

Then, when the sale is over, be sure to go around town and take down ALL of the signs you put up.  It's no fun to go looking for a yard sale that's already over.

Make Time for Price Tags
Yes, it does take a loooong time, but putting price tags on every item will be well worth your time.

Some people are great at haggling prices... but most aren't.  The majority of the people who come to yard sales love a good deal, but they're shy about asking how much something is and they don't want to make an offer without knowing how much you want for it first.  Not to mention the fact that it takes forever to have to walk up to the owner and ask, "How much for this?" about every single item.

So take a day (or two or three) before the big sale to tag every item with the price you'd hope to sell it for.  A lot of people will just pay sticker price which means both you and your customer are satisfied with the sale.  And if someone does want to negotiate prices, they at least have a starting point.

A note about the actual price tag sticker:
Be thoughtful about how you're marking your items.  I personally think that those typical circle florescent-colored "price tag" stickers you can buy at the grocery store are terrible.  They never come off!  It's not nice to sell stuff to people with a big ugly sticker permanently stuck to it.

I prefer using brightly-colored sticky notes, cut into smaller strips.  This method is cheap, sticks to the items, but still comes off without leaving a mark.  Be sure to use a black marker to write the prices on your sticky notes.  A regular ball point pen or pencil won't attract buyers to your items.

Sort Your Stuff
Looking through stuff at a yard sale can be a bit of a process.  Make it easy for your customers to find what they're looking for by organizing the things you're selling based on categories and price range.

Here's a list of categories to start from as you do your sorting:
  • kitchen
  • living room
  • bedroom
  • bathroom
  • kid stuff
  • books
  • clothes
  • camping supplies
  • hobby supplies
  • misc.
When you're setting up your yard sale, designate an area for each category.  Within categories, group like-items together.  Where applicable, you can save yourself a lot of time by labeling boxes something like, "Kitchen Utensils--50 cents per item unless otherwise marked."  This will save your shoppers from having to look at ten million price tags... and it will save you from having to write them!

This method also works well for clothes.  For instance, when pricing baby clothes I label the boxes by size and price by saying something like, "0-3 months--50 cents each unless otherwise marked."  This keeps the pricing simple and lets shoppers easily find the size of clothes that will actually fit their kid.  On the items you do feel are worth a little more, just write the price on a tag and keep it in place with a straight pin.

Be A Good Salesperson
The goal here is to be available, helpful, and friendly.

The majority of people who come to yard sales do it as much as a hobby or a fun shopping experience as a way to buy things at bargain prices.  So be sure to let your customers feel comfortable taking their time as they peruse your goods.

Help your customers feel welcome to browse by playing some fun background music and by keeping yourself busy.  I personally don't recommend reading a book while customers are actually there looking at things since this can deter customers from asking whatever questions they may have.  Greet your guests when they arrive and let them know if there are any general announcements you need to pass on (such as, "Feel free to make an offer if you see something you like!") and then back off and let them look.

Some good ways to keep yourself occupied are to re-sort items that other customers have mixed up, tidy up piles, or catch a quick drink of water.  Little "errands" like these will keep you available to your customers while giving them their space while they shop.  And--again--if you're feeling the weight of that awkward silence when there are only one or two customers around, remember to turn on some fun background music!

Oh, and I just have to add this last note about being a good salesperson: make sure to have change!  The amount of change you should have on hand depends on how much you're selling and what price you're selling things for, but it's generally a good idea to have lots of $5 and $1 bills as well as a roll of quarters.  And, when in doubt, go for having too much change rather than not enough.

Printable Yard Sale Posters (FREE!)
Download and print some of these fill-in-the-blank yard sale posters to help make your own yard sale a smashing success!

Just click on the image below to download the free Yard Sale posters!
  • Page 1 is a full-page poster
  • Page 2 is 4 smaller posters that are great for putting up around an apartment complex or handing out to family and friends.

Terms of use:  For personal use only.  Thanks!

Yard Sale Printable Copyright Katie Lewis Notes From a Very Red Kitchen 2011

Best of luck selling all of your treasures!

Have more great yard sale advice to add?  Leave it in the comments so everyone can see it!


Anonymous said...

We like to use painter's tape for price tags. It is blue or green, so it is easy to find on an item and it comes off of items pretty easy.

Katie Lewis said...

Thanks Denise! That's a great idea!

Lisa Lou said...

These are so fun! I wish I could come. Maybe when I'm up there in a couple weeks, I'll make you some offers... hehe. <3 (meow to Alison)

Kathy Haynie said...

I'm glad your recent "indoor" yard sale was so successful!

Unknown said...

Amen! I would come to your yard sale... if we lived in the same state. But, since that isn't the case, I just hope that all of the yard sale hosts in my area are reading this!

Oh, and one other way to advertise: many cities have a special page for advertising yard sales in that city. My city does and that's the first place I go to check for sales. It's awesome!

Rach said...

hey what state do you live in? I would love to come!

Amanda said...

Love this! I featured it today on Today's Top 20!