In this series, we are taking a look at how to have a great yard sale. Items have cleaned, priced and stored. You have also made sure to advertise as much as possible. Now it is time for the next step.
The day before the sale, make sure you have enough change. For my own sales, I keep about 25 -$1 dollar bills, 4 -$5bills, maybe a $10 bill and about three to four dollars in quarters. Keep track of your petty cash in order to determine your profit after the sale. Go ahead and put up your signs to take advantage of the evening rush hour traffic. If possible, put all items necessary in a centralized location. Sometime the day before (or possibly earlier in the week) I remove all boxes from the attic and put them in my dining room. Make sure the tables you will be using are in good working order, clean and ready to use. If you are using any table covers, place those with the tables. The key is to prepare everything now so tomorrow morning, the set up will go quickly. If this is your first sale, you will be shocked at how early people show up. A final step is to clear out the trunk of your vehicle. I'll explain that later.
The day of the sale is finally here. Set your clock to wake up early. Really early. My own sales start at 7 and I've been seen dragging boxes outside at 5! Give a quick drive by to make sure your signs are still up and make sure they remain secure. How you display your items is second in importance only to the pricing. The way you show off your items will affect how buyers view what you are selling. Much the way a seller stages their home for potential buyers, you will also be staging your items because there are those who cannot see past the heaps and piles to appreciate the hidden potential. I am like that. Show me a piece of furniture that is damaged and avocado green and all I see is a really old 1970s has-been dresser far past it's prime. Let my husband see the same piece, and he can envision a classic refinished dresser perfect for a guestroom. Like me, most people will only it's present form. Take the two minutes and dust it off. This is also why you need to treat your items with respect. For example, throw all the clothes on a sheet on the ground and people will walk by, maybe a few will touch a piece or two. Fold those same clothes and place them on a table in same-size piles and they will be gone in minutes. It is all perception. I think buyers get the impression 'I want nice things and look how these are folded and so neat. Somebody must have taken good care of them.' You don't need to look like a boutique, just place things together in a way that is pleasing to the eye. I like to place eye catchers right next to the street to lure the buyers. Bicycles, strollers, lawn mowers, larger toys or nice chairs will do the trick. Also make sure to put some of the known sellers toward the back of your sale. This forces the crowd to move through the space pretty much the way you walk through a grocery store to the back to acquire the loss leaders. You are hoping something else will catch the buyers' eye.
It's important to be be very polite without being overbearing. There is no need to be a sales person but if your buyer wants to know if the drill works or not, have an extention cord ready for them.
Don't be insulted by the haggling. Think of it this way. It's a two dollar shirt and the lady is buying every Lego that isn't nailed down. It's okay to let her have the shirt for a dollar (or even free). But be warned there are those buyers who will wait until the last minute and say 'You don't want to drag that tiller back to the shed, do you? The tag says $20, I'll give you $5.' Obviously, it's your call and you can politely say no if you choose. Just always remember your goal. I am usually motivated by needing the space, so I would probably counter with trying to make it a $10 tiller.
Sometime after lunch, the crowd will have a natural tendency to thin out or cease completely. Now it's time for the next step. Box up all the leftover bits and pieces and put them in the newly emptied trunk. As soon as possible--right now would be great--drop them off at your favorite donation site. It is very tempting to take the leftovers back inside, but don't you dare. You've enjoyed these things all you can and now it's time to let someone else have them. You get to keep your cash, enjoy your cleared out space and have the satisfaction of knowing all your treasures are now treasured by others.
I used to get overwhelmed when I thought of having a yard sale. I had so much stuff that, despite being boxed and labeled, I felt crowded and cluttered. Even the thought of dragging it all outside and talking to strangers just wigged me out. I got over all that as soon as I saw how quickly the dollars were adding up. With each yard sale I put under my belt, I got a little more savvy and earned a little more money. I actually look forward to them.