If your annual spring cleaning ritual has produced a mountain of unused and unwanted items, you may want to think twice before you simply toss them out. How about a yard sale to turn some of that “junk” into someone else’s “treasure?”
Each weekend in spring and summer you’ll find yard sales popping up in neighborhoods everywhere. And, where there are yard sales, there are yard sale “junkies.” For many people, scouring yard sales for a bargain on a Saturday morning is an art. Why not take advantage of that fact to make some cash off your cast-offs and have fun while you’re at it.
The Ontario Real Estate Association and your local Realtor offer the following tips to host a successful yard sale:
First, settle on a date and time for your sale. Weekends are virtually universal for yard sales, and most run from 8 or 9 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m. You’ll also need to set a rain date, usually the next day if your sale is on a Saturday, or the following weekend if your date is Sunday.
Most sellers advertise by posting signs on lamp posts and hydro poles. This is a more effective way of letting people know you’re open for business than you might suspect. Veteran buyers (see below for more) will scout a neighborhood during the week looking for telltale flyers. Many of your customers will use this method.
Have someone present at all times. Theft is unlikely, but many sellers have learned the hard way that it does happen. Placing valuable items closer to your sales desk is a good idea.
COVID-19 Update: This next section isn’t currently advised, as cash/change increases spread of germs. Trying giving away items unless they are of a bit higher value and can be paid for electronically.
*Running out of change is also a problem that plagues many sales. As most of your transactions will involve small amounts, it never hurts to have $50 or more in small bills and loonies and twoonies at hand. Buyers will often stop at a bank machine before they come, so expect to get a lot of tens and twenties early in the day.*
Think like a yard sale buyer. The ability to deliver the kind of goods and service that buyers want is perhaps the most important factor in the success of your sale. There are a number of items that are always in high demand: art, antiques (even distressed pieces), furniture, appliances, electronic equipment, tools, and lately, computer games and accessories. If you have goods in any of these categories, mention them in your flyer or ad.
Surprisingly, many veteran yard salers are not interested in old clothing. Unless you’ve got something special to offer, you can expect to turn much of your old wardrobe over to charity.
As to pricing your goods, nothing turns away a potential buyer more than a price that is too high. You can always expect to haggle, but most won’t even bother if you price an old lamp at $20 when similar items can be had for $5. The best plan of action is to attend a few sales the week before and find out the going prices.
How you physically place your goods can also make a big difference. Don’t clutter up your yard, and make sure your items are separated by category. This is a great opportunity to be creative. For example, there is a mini-boom in memorabilia from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Believe it or not, the old Lava Lamp you consider the trash, might be exactly what someone else is looking for.
Another good tip that will help make a sale is to offer free coffee to your visitors. A friendly face and a free cup of java can do wonders. Or if you want to get the kids involved, have them set up an old-fashioned lemonade stand and charge five cents a cup.
Depending on the type of items you’re selling, you can expect to make as little as $20 or as much as a couple of hundred.
Finally, the success of a yard sale is measured by the amount of additional space you have in your house after the yard sale is over, and the amount of money you make. Now you may be tempted to run out and purchase more items that will likely end up in your next yard sale. But, why not celebrate your success by spending the money on dinner at a nice restaurant for the family and whoever helped at the sale.
Hosting a Successful Yard Sale
Whether you are moving, de-cluttering, or just looking to make some extra cash. Yard sales are a great way to get rid of all of the unwanted things that are cluttering up your house. Though they take a fair amount of leg work, hosting a yard sale can help you to get rid of the things which you no longer need, while earning a little bit of extra cash and saving you from hauling all of it to your local charity or dump. Here are a few tips to help keep you going strong as you prepare to host your own spring sale.
- Prepare in advance
A few weeks before your yard sale go through your house and collect all of the things which you want to get rid of. Keep everything in a box, until the day of your yard sale. If you are planning to host a yard sale with someone else, suggest that they do the same so that you have a reasonable amount of things to display on the day of your sale. It is also a good idea to head down to the bank and prepare to change a few days in advance of your sale date. Make sure to have plenty of plastic bags and boxes on hand at the sale for people to put their purchases in.
- Price it all out
When people are looking through your items they don’t want to be constantly asking what the price is. Sit down a few days before your yard sale to decide how much you want to price all of your items for. Then, clearly label each item with a price sticker or masking tape. For smaller items, or books and cd’s you may want to arrange them all on a table with a sign saying “everything here for a dollar”. Create a “Free box” for anything broken or damaged that you don’t think will sell.
Tip: Keep a ledger or list of the prices on your larger items in case the price tags get swapped or lost.
Taking time before your yard sale to spread the word can have a big impact on how successful you are at drawing in a crowd. Make sure to tell your friends via Facebook and email. As well as a local Kijiji listing with some details about your sale, if you are able to put up flyers on a local community board you should do so in advance of the sale. Bright, clear, signs should also be on display around your neighbourhood, a few days in advance of your sale. When creating any type of signage be sure to include the date, time, and location of your yard sale.
- Display your items well
It’s difficult to convince people to buy things when everything you have for sale is laid out on the ground or buried in boxes. Borrow tables from a friend, or nearby organization so that you can lay your things out nicely and organize them according to their categories. Make sure to clean up all of your items beforehand so they aren’t grimy or dirty, and have an extension cord available for people to test out electronics before they purchase them.
- Create an atmosphere
Just because you are selling things on your lawn doesn’t mean that it can’t feel classy for your shoppers. Put on some nice music so that people have something to listen to while they browse through your tables. If you want to, you can set the kids up selling lemonade or snacks to give them some entrepreneurial skills and keep them entertained. Setting up a “kids zone” with crayons, paper, and small toys might be helpful for your shoppers with children. You can surround this zone with all of the children’s stuff you have for sale so they can browse while their parents are shopping.
- Leave everything on the lawn
The point of a garage sale is to get rid of the stuff you no longer use. If you are lugging everything back into your house at the end of the day, then it is a waste of time to hold the sale in the first place. If you find that you have a lot of things left over at the end of the day, consider continuing the yard sale for a second day in a row, or dropping the price for the last hour. You can even leave the bigger things out for free if you don’t want them anymore, and deliver the rest to your nearest charity drop off.
- Cleanup Afterwards
Take all of the stuff off your lawn, divide the money, and return any borrowed tables. Don’t forget to take down the signs that you have put up around the town( you don’t want people showing up at your house looking for the yard sale you had two weeks ago). Lastly, make sure to stress that all sales are final.
Yard sales can be a fun and rewarding way to de-clutter your house, make some money and connect with your community. However, they do require some work and planning in advance. I hope that I have made your life a little bit easier with these suggestions. Below is a list of websites I used in putting this article together. Feel free to check them out if you want more information on hosting a successful yard sale. Lastly, I wish you the best of luck with your sales, hopefully, you have a good turn out and an excellent day on your lawn!