Friday 11 July 2014

Turn Your Clutter Into Cash: Host a (Successful) Yard Sale

I’m getting ready for a yard sale.  I haven’t had one in a couple of years, and my house is starting to get a bit cluttery.  Holding a yard sale can be a lot of work, but it can also be worthwhile.  It’s a great way to make some extra cash for the summer.  Over the years, I’ve had many successful yard sales, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for a money-maker yard sale.

1) Collect early: I usually have a box in my house that is dedicated to a yard sale.  Throughout the year, I toss things into the box. It may be some dishes that I’ve upgraded, a movie that we never watch, a knickknack or decoration that doesn’t match anymore, or <gasp!> a gift I’ve received that I know I won’t use. This box can also come in handy if you have people ask for donations for different sales throughout the year.

2) Gather the Goods:  Yard-salers will often drive by to see if a yard sale is worth stopping for.  No one is going to stop for an old lawn chair and your collection of VHS tapes.  You want a good selection, so go through your house and gather all that "stuff" you haven’t used in years (and probably won’t use again.)  Don’t think you have enough for a sale? Join forces with family and friends.  Yard-salers love a multi-family yard sale, and you’ll love the company!  Sometimes, family members don’t know what to do with their cast-offs and don’t want the hassle of organizing a sale, so they may just give you a box or two to add to your sale.  Instant bonus!

3) Set a Date: Right now, I know I’ll be having a yard sale. It’s not going to be this weekend, but it may be next weekend.  I have to play it by ear, depending on weather, and when I can get everything together.  Don’t be stuck on a date, because you want it to be a nice day.  Be flexible enough to change it if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

4) Price Your Items: Yard-salers appreciate having a price already on your item.  Buy a package of stickers and a sharpie from the dollar store. I don’t price anything less than 25 cents, and try to keep everything under $5. Buyers will still haggle, but they will know what you think your item is worth.  Not sure what something is worth? Books, CDs, DVDs, will sell relatively low, compared to the original price.  If an item is in very good condition, you may be able to price it at a third or half of the original price.  Just remember that the items are used, so set a reasonable price.

5) Organize Your Items:  While some people love to dig through piles of stuff, many don’t.  For this reason, try to organize the items you’re selling.  I usually start going through my boxes a few weeks before. I put all the books, movies, and CDs together in one box. Kitchen stuff goes in another box. Toys will go together, etc.  Think ahead to what you’re going to physically put your items on for the sale.  Make use of any table or table-like surfaces you have. Bring out your kitchen table, coffee table, bench - even two chairs and a piece of wood can become a table. Set up can take a while, so plan for it.  If you have a garage, you can have your tables completely ready to go the day before.  Drag them out in the morning, or make it a garage sale!

6) Advertise.  You need buyers!   Put up a few brightly coloured, simple signs in the neighbourhood, near main intersections.  Post on your Facebook page, and invite your friends to share.  (Make sure the privacy setting on the post is set to public, so non-friends can see it.) The best tool I use is Kijiji. There are lots of online classified sites that would work, including Facebook groups.  In your ad, make sure that you include some key words – is it a multi-family sale? Moving sale? Do you have baby items? Toys? Camping gear? Video games? Retro/vintage/antique  items? Collectables? Tools? If you have something that you think will be a good seller, advertise it! Some buyers are looking for those keywords.
8) Day of Sale Tips: Have a small stash of change (quarters, toonies, loonies, and some $5 bills) and have a plan for your money. Make sure you keep it safe. You don’t want all of your hard work to be for nothing.  Also, that big collection of plastic grocery bags could finally be of use to you too. While some people bring bags with them when they go to yard sales, most don’t, and they’ll appreciate the offer of a bag.   

9) Leftovers: Once your sale is over, you’ll inevitably have some leftovers.  Don’t let them back in your house to re-clutter it!  Look for opportunities to pay it forward.  I set out boxes when I’m packing up. The best items go in the Hospice box.  Hospice sells the items in their shop and gives me a tax receipt.  Clothing goes to the clothing depot, who give clothing to those in need. Everything else goes to Value Village. They also donate to charity.  There are also organizations that will pick up leftovers.  Look for opportunities in your community.  You’d be surprised what you can find. It’s a great way to give back after a successful yard sale!  

Right now, I’m still gathering, organizing and pricing items for my yard sale.  Hopefully these tips will help me again this year. What do you do to make sure you have a successful yard sale?

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