by Shannon Ables
Eastern Oregon writer
The Simply Luxurious Life
Some of the best items in my home at this very moment were discovered at yard sales (a dining table, kitchenette table, unique vases as well as a buffet table). Understandably, my budget is very thankful for the relief, and I felt the thrill of finding a bargain and enjoying the hunt. After all, you never know what you will find.
The excitement is certainly in the hunt when yard sale season begins (typically in the spring, although I love early fall sales as they too have treasures to find) as people begin clearing out their homes and garages and itching to get outside and see their neighbors.
Last June I had my first yard sale, and while it was a lot of work, it was also quite enjoyable and well worth the effort for many different reasons. These are just a few:
- Eliminated unnecessary clutter and excess from my home
- Made some extra cash for a trip to Europe
- Provided affordable items to people who will use them
- Created an opportunity to meet people in my community that I might not have otherwise had a conversation with
As spring officially arrives today, why not organize your own yard sale? Whether you have it at your home or coordinate with others, yard sales are a wonderful way of allowing us to go through our homes and assess what we use and what we love (the main criteria for keeping anything you have already paid good money for).
Today I’ve organized a checklist for organizing your next yard sale. While it may initially seem that yard sales are easy to pull together, the best and most successful sales are those orchestrated with quite a bit of pre-planning. Have a look, and please share any tips that have worked for you as I would love to hear and I know other readers would as well.
A few months in advance
- Decide on a date
- If you can only do one day on the weekend, choose Saturday over Sunday. Ideally, a two day sale is best (Friday and Saturday). Why? On Friday, dealers are hunting for bargains and will arrive early, as well as parents without children as their children are most likely in school. Also, by having it on Friday, those who would be out of town are able to stop by on the last day of the week. Saturday is a wonderful follow-up day to assess your prices or have a 1/2 price on everything sale. (However, every community is different, so keep the unique characteristics of the local tendencies in mind.)
- Choose a time of year that is pleasant outside (typically Spring, Early Summer or Early Fall)
- Begin collecting and organizing items that will be placed in the yard sale.
- I usually am collecting items year round, and have a place in my basement that is dedicated to the “future yard sale”. My goal is always to clear the space because I know how good it will feel after the sale is complete.
- Notify friends and family so that they can be include items as well.
1-2 Weeks in Advance
- Begin advertising (local newspaper, bulletin boards, Craigslist, Facebook, etc)
- Choose a catchy title and be consistent.
- List the big ticket items (furniture, home appliances, etc) as well as general terms – glassware, bedding, clothing, etc
- If selling only a certain size of clothing and a large amount, list the sizes if you are comfortable (for example: shoes 9-10, sizes 8-12) as it will attract a target audience that knows they will find something and is wanting to bargain shop.
- If you include the phrase “No early sales”, abide by it to promote drive-by buzz on the day of the sale and prompt potential bidding on hot ticket items – ensuring a sale.
- Fix or clean any items that you are going to sell (furniture, clothing, etc)
A Few Days Before
- Locate enough tables and clothing racks to display all of items in an organized manner.
- If you don’t have access to clothing racks, get creative. Purchase a long wooden pole at the lumber yard for $5 and hang between two trees/ladders/etc
- Tables can often be loaned from local community centers or schools if you know who to talk to.
- Organize and group together all of the items that will be in the sale.
- Include magazines that are in good condition. Place 25 cents on each issue. I love picking up back issues of decor magazines as it doesn’t matter if its even a few years old. If nobody buys them, just recycle.
- Determine prices for all the items
- If you don’t want to label every item of clothing, create signs (neat & printed) that inform the bargain hunters of the price.
- Remember, you are organizing a yard sale, not establishing a consignment or antique display.
- Go to the bank and get cash and change.
- Print/Create signs that will be placed around the area to help direct drivers to your yard sale.
- Stick to a color theme or phrase that helps the drivers know when they see your sign, they are going in the right directions.
- Include large, visible arrows.
- Include the address, time, dates
The Day/Night Before
- Place the signs around your community and take a test run to make sure the signs are visible and easy to understand.
- If you can place the tables in your yard, organize all of the table tops. If you won’t be placing the tables out until the morning, organize everything into groups so they are easy to grab and situate when the time comes.
- Create a cashier’s box
- Locate a calculator
- Check the weather report
The Day of the Sale
- Wake up early
- Plan on having everything set up at least an hour before you are to be open to the public.
- Prevent early birds
- Create a barrier with chairs and rope.
- Place a friendly sign as to not discourage shoppers, but thank them for their interest and patience. Example: “Thanks for waiting. The sale will begin at 8 am sharp!”
- Often people just want to make sure you are sticking to what you’ve shared in your ad. And once they know you are indeed going to wait, they’ll scout out other sales and then return.
- Be clear about your goal. Are you wanting to get rid of the stuff you are selling or make a certain profit. My goal is to clean out my house, so I am willing to negotiate with bargain hunters; however, if you want a certain price and if you don’t get it, you know you will sell it on eBay, make sure those that are helping you know where you stand.
- Place a large sign by the opening of your sale on the street to alert shoppers that they have found a yard sale that is not to be missed.
- Have extra bags and boxes available for people carry their treasures home in.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Try to avoid piling clothes so that each item can be seen. Create neat displays.
- Make sure all prices are clear and every item has a price (individually or as a group).
- Make it inviting
- Last summer, I played music and also made sure I had a place for shoppers to try clothes on as my sale was advertised as “A Fashion Lover’s Yard Sale”.
Reassess Prices & Reorganize
- At the end of the day (if you are having a two day sale) or by midday (if the sale will only be one day), go through your prices and see what is working and which prices to change.
- Move items around for the best display.
- Eliminate tables to allow for better navigation as more items are sold.
Immediately After the Sale is Over
- Take the remaining items to Goodwill or a local donation entity.
- Take down all of your signs.
- Return the tables and clothing racks if they were borrowed.
- Deposit the money.
While this may seem like a long checklist, trust me, the heavy work you do ahead of time will make the day of the sale more enjoyable and less stressful as you will see more of your items find new homes.
After the recent kitchen facelift and continual edits of my wardrobe, I am already planning yet another yard sale to be held in May. So if you are in the area, stay tuned and be sure to stop by.