Saturday, March 19, 2011

Clutter into Cash: Easy Yard Sale, Part One

This series is about taking your 'treasures' and transforming them into cash. The art of the yard sale did not come naturally to me. I didn't even know what one was until I was in college and would not have gone near one even if my life depended on it. For some unknown reason, I thought they held a certain 'ick factor.' That all changed after I got married and started a family.  I was certain the attic would collapse under the weight of all that accumulating stuff. As luck would have it, I have a darling neighbor who likes to hold a sale about twice a year and we have become quite good at it. We aren't pros but we enjoy ourselves and certainly appreciate the newly found space we end up with. Part One of this series is all about the prep work.  This is going to be the foundation to your success. 

Note: Our yard sales occur twice a year; one in the spring and one in the fall. We treat them as 'Neighborhood Sales.' Although we benefit from the traffic generated by multiple participants, we are each responsible for our own items and money. We keep everything in our own yards. Sometimes, it's just the two of us and then there are times when we've had four or five families participating. This information will also work for those doing an individual sale.

As soon as one yard sale is over, I am preparing for the next. I have several (okay, more than several) 66 quart, clear storage boxes that I press into use for this purpose.  I prefer clear because I want to see what's inside at all times. I put a box on my closet floor (you could put one in every closet if you chose), along with some price stickers nearby. As I come across something I want to sell, I do several things. Every item is cleaned, then priced before going in the box. Clothes are free of damage and neatly folded.  Toys have all pieces accounted for as well as directions.  Household items are bright and shiny.  I try to make sure everything is as ''showroom new' as possible before it is priced and placed in the box. It doesn't have to be perfect but the better the presentation, the better the price, the better the profit. This whole process takes mere minutes and adds temendously to your bottom line.  Once the box is full, label it YARD SALE  and store it. If space permits, set up individual boxes in a spare room or garage, each with a different purpose (clothes, books, gadgets). The more organized now, the smoother it will be later.

Pricing is what causes a lot of potential customers to walk away. Your items aren't treasures anymore. If they were, they would not be on a table in your driveway. You can't expect a person to pay $20 for some soup bowls when they can go to the nearest store and pay that for brand new ones. You have to put away the pride and sentiment and be reasonable. A fair rule of thumb is usually about 10 percent of the retail price. Also, take into account the season. A surfboard may fetch a little more in spring than fall. A word of caution: Know your items and their value. This is where I made my biggest 'uh oh.' I was trying to sell some inherited pieces I could not use. I placed a $3 sticker on what I thought was a less than desirable map in a plastic faux gilt frame. When the buyer asked to open the brand new SEALED box I realized it was a gorgeous map in a cherry frame. That night I did some checking and learned it retailed for $250. Gulp. I bet I could have gotten more than three Georges for it. If you are unsure of an item's value, then save it until you've done your research.

Advertising is a must for a successful sale. You can do this with very little or no money. My neighbor and I rotate placing an advertisement in our local newspaper. One of us pays and one of us places the ad. Any additional neighbors that join in benefit from the free advertising.  Carefully word it to attract buyers. Use phrases such as 'Multi Family' or 'Neighborhood Sale'. Buyers love one stop shopping. Some crowd pleasers  that could be listed are tools, kids items, baby things, furniture, bicycles and anything that may be seasonal or school related. Some of my biggest sales included a new homeowner  and parents going on summer vacation.  We always hold our sale on the first Saturday of any given month and place our ad the previous Thursday so people have time to map out their destinations. Other forms of advertisement include using the bulletin board at work, church, the daycare or gym. Be sure to take advantage of social networking sites. Tell everyone and ask them to spread the word. Put up a simple sign at your neighborhood entrance on the evening before your sale and  plant the seed in the minds of the going home traffic.

The thing I love about yard sale preparation is how easy it it. There isn't any hard choices to make: take an item, clean it up, put a price sticker on it, put it in a box. Make a sign and tell some folks. By game day you are good to go. There is no rush and whether your sale is in two weeks or two months, these steps will make it easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment