Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to Yard Sale Like a Semi-Adult

I held a yard sale about a month ago because I:

  1. Wanted stuff I never used out of my house.
  2. Wanted money for stuff I never used.
This was my first attempt at having a yard sale since becoming an adult. I had "worked" garage sales in my childhood with my parents, aunts, and uncles but actually hosting one myself was different.  I actually had to do ALL of the work.  

So I researched how to do yard sales.  That's right ... I broke out the nerd in me and actually researched it.  I mainly used Pinterest to get ideas and read blogs of people who had "been there, done that".  

In case you want to do your own garage/yard sale and need some tips, here are mine:
  • Know the objective of your sale in advance of preparing for it.  My number one goal was to get stuff out of my house.  When people wanted to haggle with me on prices I had to remember that if they didn't buy it I might have to find a place for it in my house again. And that wasn't going to happen.
  • Have a game plan.  I created a calendar to help me go through the rooms in my house looking for items I wanted to get rid of. The calendar also included reminders to get a city permit for the sale, when to do social media posts, when to create signs, when I was traveling leading up to the sale, etc.  It helped keep my sanity in check without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Know what to price stuff. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of what I was going to price things. Some stuff I had to research on Craigslist or Ebay to know what people were charging for used items.  I didn't want to over (or under) price things.
  • Make your sale an event.  I promoted my yard sale on because the site was free, easy to use, and there were a bunch of other sales in my area on the site.  I looked at the other postings and they were pretty much the same thing (garage sale on date with time) ... BORING.  So I labeled my event "Shopaholic Turned Minimalist" and listed items that were for sale with descriptions. For example, "Treadmill ... or clothes hanger. You decide!" I was marketing to a young professional crowd. The traditional garage sale shoppers will come whether you are savvy with marketing or not. However, the inexperienced garage sale shopper isn't keen to haggling and they will usually pay pretty close to asking price.
  • Signs need to stand out.  I created signs that would get me to go to a yard sale whether I needed something or not.  And my signs definitely got the "looky loos" to the event.  I had several patrons say they stopped by because they loved the signs.
  • The magic of the "free" box.  On my second day of the yard sale I put stuff that I didn't think would bring in any money into a box and labeled it FREE.  I placed the box on the curb.  Everyone who took stuff out of the box also bought something at the yard sale.  
  • Carry your money on you at all times.  I read in different places to have a lock box for money.  Well, those can easily be carried off if you aren't watching it all the time.  And when you have a yard sale going on you aren't going to be watching it all the time.  I used a fanny pack ... yes, shut up, I have a fanny pack.  And it worked great to keep my mind sane while I had several people rummaging through my stuff.  I also had counterfeit markers so I could check bills to make sure they were legit.  Again, peace of mind stuff.  (Also, make sure you have plenty of change BEFORE your sale. Know how much seed money you started with so you know how much you made at the end.)
  • Everyone wants a good shopping experience.  I am thankful for my short lived stint in retail.  If you are pleasant with the customers they are more likely to buy stuff.  Also, if you have "music to shop by" playing people tend to be in a better mood.  I played a Songza playlist labeled "Rock of the 70s" and people definitely had a bounce in their step while shopping.  It also helped that I played music out of the electronics I was trying to sell.  Showed that they worked!
  • Put the merchandise at eye level.  The only items I had laying on the ground were shoes (had a chair by the shoes so people could try them on), furniture, and luggage.  Everything else was displayed on tables or clothes were hanging on hangers.  The easier shoppers can see stuff the easier they will want to purchase it. I also rearranged items on the tables as stuff was being sold. It helped me keep inventory as well as better display stuff for the next shopper.  Just like an actual store.
Again, my number one goal was to get everything out of my house.  I definitely completed that goal!  The few items I had left over went straight to Goodwill that afternoon.  My number two goal was to make some money.  That happened as well!  And that went straight to my bank right after the event was over.

Having a proper sale is a lot of work.  However, I got rid of so much clutter that I don't anticipate doing it again for another 30 years.