October 1, 2015

Keys to Yard Sale Success

Every year at church we have the Parkview Annual{ish} Mega Sale... well, almost every year {hence the "ish" in the sale name}.  I've organized the sale for several years and I have many, many years under my belt as a seasoned yard sale shopper.  As Michael and I are preparing for our move, we're trying to pare down our unnecessary "stuff" as much as possible.  I am a big believer that physical messes create mental messes, and vice versa... but I'm a horrible homemaker.  I think it's easier for me to keep my home organized{ish} when I have less of it to worry about.  I don't need the mental stress of so much stuff!  We have lots of things in our home that are still completely useful, but just don't get used/worn/watched enough to keep them around.

As I'm prepping everything for the yard sale, I thought I'd share some of my tips for yard sale selling success with you!  These will help you be a better seller and make the shopping experience easier for buyers {which means more sales!}.

1. BEFORE YOU START: Get your mind right.
Why are you having a yard sale?  Is it just for the extra cash flow?  Are your kids outgrowing clothes and toys?  Are you cleansing your life of a bad decor phase?  It's important to know WHY you're doing what you're doing.  Find your motivation and the whole process will be less painful!  For more, check out this great devotional from Girlfriends in God.  While a sale is an opportunity to make a little cash, it is also a great time to re-evaluate your belongings and re-focus yourself.

2. PURGING: If you don't love it, don't keep it.
Okay, so I know that sounds fairly simple but it can be tough to put into action.  Trust me, I feel you.
---That hideous sweater that you bought for that one ugly sweater party three years ago?  Get rid of it.  Easy peasy.
---That thing that someone gave you that one time that you never use but feel guilty getting rid of? GET RID OF IT.  It's not doing them any favors by collecting dust in your house.  Set it free and let it bring joy to someone else!
---Those clothes that you might wear once upon a time when you get back to the size you were when you were 17?  Yeah, you should get rid of those.  And if you do get back down to a smaller size, you can totally sell your larger items and go buy smaller ones.

You get the point here.  If it isn't bringing purpose or joy to your life, why are you keeping it around?  {I'm looking at you, backup dish drainer rack.  Seriously, who needs a backup dish drainer rack?! Apparently at some point I thought I did.  I'm clearly not doing dishes often enough to go through a dish rack very quickly.  That bad boy is going to the sale!}

3. PURGING: Are you reallllyyyy using that?
Okay, so I know I just talked about purging but we're going to talk about it some more!  One of the most important keys to a successful sale is having plenty of merchandise.

There are some things that I think I should probably get rid of, but I'm just not ready to get rid of yet.  For instance, we have approximately a million plastic storage totes {who doesn't}.  Whatever monster steals socks at some houses steals boxes and lids at ours.  I have a collection of boxes with no lids and a collection of lids without boxes - but they don't match.  How in the world does that happen?!  It's easy to use a box without a lid, but what about those random lids that don't have a box?  Michael and I put all of the homeless lids in a big black garbage bag with a note that said "Get rid of on September 30".  We put said bag in the garage... but then we got busy with the move and all and we haven't gone through the bag to try and find mates.  I went by the other day and added "2017" to the end of the note just for kicks.  We obviously won't be moving these to the new house though!  Setting things aside with a deadline helps us prioritize things we are on the fence about.  Hint: If it sits in the plastic bag for a month or 3 months or whatever your deadline is and you haven't gotten it out to use it, that's probably a good sign you should get rid of it!

4. SORTING: One man's trash is another man's treasure... but some things are really just trash.  
There are always items I come across when purging that I don't need, but I also really don't want to mess with putting in the sale.  When I find 3 random packs of stickers or some old happy meal toys - I mean, yeah there's a chance someone could show up at the sale and want to buy them, but that's a pretty slim chance.  Those little, trinkety items that don't hold much value aren't worth my time and effort to tag {and then un-tag if they don't sell}.  They go straight to the "donate" pile.  Our church collects shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child every November.  These trinkety items and random things are great fillers for the shoebox ministry!  By the same token, I typically don't mess with much clothing anymore because I don't have as much luck with it.  I usually list it on our local buy/sell/trade site or just donate it to a local non-profit.

5. PLANNING THE SALE: Find some friends!
We have found that we get a great turnout at the church with our sale because we get lots of people together.  The more sellers you have, the more the word will spread and the more customers you'll get!  A central location {rather than just at a house} also provides more draw for customers.  Bonus points here if you can work in a way to help a local organization.  Like I said, our sale is at the church.  Sellers pay $20 for a yard sale booth.  All of the booth rental fees go directly to the church's children's and youth ministries {and we all know they can ALWAYS use a little moolah!}.  Also, having a multi-family sale means that you can sell AND buy, all in one spot.  It's a win-win, obviously {except for how sometimes I spend a good chunk of my profit}.

My parents and I always share a booth at our yard sale.  That way, Dad is in charge of the checkout which leaves both mom and me free to help customers or other sellers.  This means Dad's pocket ends up with money for two different families.  We've tried several methods of tagging items, from colored tags to initials on things, you name it.  My favorite method used to be printing my own tags on labels.  We used to stick these labels directly on items - which you certainly can do!  We have found that the address labels don't un-stick very well, though.  Our preference now is to print the prices directly on bright paper or construction paper, then attach to items using masking tape {it removes easily}.  Each person in our booth uses a different color paper {and our names are on our tags too}.  This makes it easy to total each person's money at the end of the day.  These custom tags are super handy - I can print however many I need of each price and I don't have to worry about buying a whole package of pre-printed tags just to get more that say 50 cents.  Click here for free downloads of our yard sale price tag templates!

Okay, so the whole making money at the yard sale thing doesn't really work if no one shows up to shop. Word-of-mouth is the cheapest {uh, free} and best advertising around!  We have customers that come to the sale every year because they know we have a great group of sellers and a vast supply of items for sale.  I also set up a facebook event for the sale.  It's a great way to keep in contact with sellers AND amp up excitement before the sale.  In addition the the facebook event, I post graphics and advertising on my personal page and invite sellers, shoppers and friends to "share" the advertising.  I also post the sale on local buy/sell/trade sites and facebook.  Obviously our main tools are free - word of mouth and internet advertising.  We will sometimes put an ad in the local paper as well.  Make sure to advertise items that people will be interested in - kids items, tools and furniture are all great selling items for us!  Here are some examples of advertisements I've used for the sale:

8. SETTING UP: Organize for your shoppers
One of the main reasons I leave sales are because they don't have items priced or organized.  If it's difficult for shoppers to figure out your pricing, they won't buy as much.  If items aren't priced, people aren't likely to ask for a price.  Make sure EVERYTHING has a price.  If it's an expensive item, print out a description or write out some details and attach those.  An informed shopper is much more likely to purchase items.  For the love of all things holy, please don't use colored stickers with a color coded pricing system.  Maybe this is just me, but I hate those darn things.  My mother will occasionally use the colored pricing system and it drives.me.nuts.  {You know the sales where items have colored stickers then you have to find the "key" hanging somewhere that says yellow stickers are 25 cents, blue stickers are $1, etc?}  Colored stickers with a pricing system are fine, but for the sake of the shoppers - write the prices on each of the stickers {pretty please}!

9. AT THE ACTUAL SALE: Preparation is key!
Go into the sale with a game plan.  Are you willing to wheel and deal?  Is it worth it to take less money but get rid of the item?  How long are you going to be at the sale?  How many snacks will it take to get you through the long day?  It's important to have your priorities here - and by that, I am obviously talking about the snacks.  We usually eat breakfast before the sale, get drive thru lunch and have snacks on hand throughout the day.  It can be tiring wheeling and dealing so make sure you have plenty of nutrition to make it through the day.  Caffeine is your friend here.  The more prepared you are for questions, pricing, dealing, etc - the more smoothly the sale will go.  Make sure you come prepared with plastic bags, change, an apron/change box for your money, etc. {Keep your money on you if possible during the sale.  Not everyone is as honest or nice as you and I.}  Make it easy for buyers to figure out what to do, where to go, what the prices are, etc.

10. POST-SALE: "What you gonna do with all that junk, all that junk up in yo' [sale]?"
My friends from the Black Eyed Peas have clearly experienced the frustration of the post-sale conundrum.  I always go into the sale with the mindset of emotional freedom from the "stuff": it needs to be gone.  After the sale, I will go through and pick out items I want to save.  These may be things I was on the fence about selling, high-value items, or things I think will sell later {either in another venue or at the next sale}.  Probably 90% of the leftover items, though, go away.  Most places have someone who will come pick up your yard sale leftovers for free so you don't have to deal with them!  Goodwill, AMVETS and local non-profits are great places to start if you are looking for someone to pick up donations.  In our small town, we don't have these larger corporations.  We do, however, have a group of boy scouts that have a big sale every year.  They will come pick up and load your leftovers and make them go away.  We love helping them out and it saves us from having to haul the leftover items anywhere!  If I have any high-quality clothing items left, I'll pull those and put them aside for our local clothing ministry.  Most of the rest of the stuff just goes to Goodwill {or a similar store} because it's easy to take it all to one place.  MAKE SURE YOU TRACK WHAT YOU DONATE!  Any items you donate to a non-profit organization are tax deductible!  I like to take pictures of my donation so I can remember better what I sent {I make a list as well}.

AAAANNNND a bonus tip for you from my fabulous mother....
11. Have a drink and an advil before the sale starts!
Actually, come to think of it - that's probably a good idea before you start purging, sorting and pricing items as well.  {This tip is hilarious because it's actually probably fairly useful... but moreso because my mother doesn't touch alcohol, but her advice is to start drinking.  Touche, mama dearest... touche.}



  2. FYI Regarding tax deductions: Not only do you need your list, but you need a price by each item from the IRS accepted value lists. This can be from Goodwill or Salvation Army . Attach whichever source you use to your lists. Without doing this important step, pray you are never audited. Been there, done that. So Louise, your ticker below doesn't allow me to do what I need to so, I'll choose anon. I am sure you know who.


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