By Michele from Bangor, PA
Think outside the box in your advertising. Newspaper, etc, is good, but don't stop there. A school chum has had great success using Facebook to advertise "clothing swap parties."
Present well. Pretend you're setting up department store displays, which in a manner of speaking, is exactly what you're doing. Be sure your items are conveniently placed so your customers don't have to sort through piles to find what they want.
If you don't already have a supply of plastic and paper grocery sacks (free from most stores,) you might have problems. Most folk don't think to bring their own shopping bags.
Last but not least, especially if more than one person's items are for sale, keep a ledger of sales. You don't have to write "war and Peace." Just maybe "infant dress, $0.50" on the line.
Hope this helps!
You've received some excellent information here. Be sure to advertise. Around here most people check the weekly paper (Pennysaver) for sales. Also, take advantage of free advertising sites. Check on-line for TV and radio stations, and "things to do" sites in and around your neighborhood. There's no substitute for good advertising.
Make sure all your stuff is clean and neatly displayed. I agree with putting stuff up on a table or box or even on sawhorses with boards across them and draped with a cloth.
You can make an excellent clothing display by threading a clothes line through a piece of pipe and tying it off between trees or a tree and your vehicle (It's moveable so you can make it any length you need). The pipe can be any size or type as long as the hangers will fit over it; it keeps the line from sagging. Clothes are heavy and most people won't go through them unless they are easily accessible.
Plan to be ready early. Even if you say "no earlybirds", there will always be some. It's just easier to let them shop. If you send them away they probably will not return.
If you advertise "new stuff everyday" people will come back again the next day, but be sure to have new items for them. Rearranging items also helps returning customers to see things they may not have noticed the day before.
Be upbeat and happy. Sometimes you sell things just because the buyer likes you!
Have fun and good luck!
Since you've asked on here, I can tell you'll be motivated enough to have a good sale. You've gotten some great advice here! I would disagree with the comment about skipping the newspapers and advertising on Craigslist, though... if you live in a smallish town then Craigslist isn't going to be of much use to you.
The sign advice is right on! I am always frustrated by signs on a sheet of notebook paper written in pencil, or signs with no directional arrow!
Here is a tip for hanging baby clothes (or any clothing): use chains stretched between trees, posts, porch rails or whatever you can. A chain will make it so your clothes won't slip down (if you hang each hanger in a link), and it is much easier to tighten it so it won't swag too low. If you use quick links, nylon zip ties, or dog leash style snaps you can attach a few chains together without messing them up. Dividing the baby clothes up by size selections is a great idea, just make clear dividers between each size if you only have one clothesline. I've used swingset frames and even a hammock frame for yard sales clotheracks, using chains, with great success. Hang all the clothing you possibly can! The only baby clothes I wouldn't bother hanging would be the ones in not-as-great shape, or plain onesies and the like. Have everything priced so there is no confusion and you don't have to be constantly answering questions about pricing. Put all the stickers in a consistent spot so they'll be easy to find.
Look around your home for anything that can be sold. They say if you haven't used something in over a year, get rid of it. I can't seem to follow that rule myself! Generally, the more variety of stuff you have the more people will stop, as long as it is displayed well and not just laying around jumbled in boxes. If I've already been at several sales that day, I won't even bother to stop at a sale that is just clothing, or that looks junky because items aren't set out on tables. If you don't have enough tables, large boxes or plastic totes turned upside down (especially with a piece of plywood or something laid on top) can work in a pinch. Just as long as the items are off the ground, dry and clean, and not in a pile the customer has to dig through. For kids' toys we have had good luck with a tarp on the ground with the large toys like riding toys on it and low benches with the smaller toys bagged up neatly in gallon bags and marked, instead of loose in a box. Make sure any kids' toys are within clear sight of and very nearby the clothing items, so mothers can look at clothes while their kids look at toys. I'm much more likely to browse the clothing at length if I can keep an eye on my daughter as she looks at toys.
At our own sales, we set up the tables, benches, clothesline and everything else the night before so it is ready to go the next morning... all you have to do is wipe off any moisture (or add a table cloth) and then add the items! Just certainly don't put your items out the night before or they'll get all dewey.
If you have friends or family joining you, try to get their items ahead of time (the night before at least) so you won't have to wait around to put them out that morning. Make sure their stuff is also clearly marked. This will give you time also to estimate what sort of table space you'll need. If your friends are inconsistent or prone to lateness or laziness, try to make sure they're actually on board with all the hassle of a sale. We used to have yearly yard sales with my sister, mother, sister-in-law, and we'd put in a scant few items in from friends who couldn't come... but generally we wanted everyone who had items in the sale to be present to answer questions. I can't count the times I've gone to a sale just because it had a certain item advertised, only to arrive at or after sale time and hear that "Oh, my cousin said she'd put it in the sale, but she's not here yet." Sigh. Or often I will ask about a certain item, how it works, etcetera, but no one there knows a thing about it. With a combined yard sale work out ahead of time how to differentiate between each seller, such as their initials on price stickers. We mark a notepad with columns for each seller and then stick on the price tag or write in the sale price as we total the items, then we add up everybody's total at the end.
We set up a table with money box, calculator, note pad for tallying up who gets which money, lots and lots of plastic grocery bags nearby, a few big garbage bags, and a stack of small boxes for people's purchases. I also keep one small box with a few sheets of blank price stickers, a pen and marker, some index cards for larger items, clothespins and tape. I carry this around with me as I straighten between customers, to change prices if I must or to replace a missing price sticker. As long as I'm not the one checking people out, I am straightening the items, spreading them out as they sell down so it won't look gappy, re-hanging clothes that were dropped, consolidating items to tables rather than improvised surfaces like up-ended boxes, helping customers that need it, and the like. As a bonus it seems like more people stop if it looks like there is already someone at the sale!
We also keep an extension cord out there by our check-out table so folks can try electronics without going in the house. The house, by the way, is strictly off-limits, including the bathroom. This wasn't always our rule, as we know how it is when youre out at yard sales all morning and need a bathroom, but... there was an incident with a customer who left a very disgusting mess in the bathroom one time and the house is now off-limits. I won't go into details.... but my sister says never again will she let a stranger in her bathroom!
As the day wears on, keep an eye on how much stuff you have left and start making deals, such as fill a bag for $1 and the like. If you keep straightening up as you go it won't be as big of a mess at the end of the day when you're hot, worn out and have a headache! We give our leftover stuff to the Salvation Army, but even so I still go through and fold it up and take off the price stickers as I box it up to go there. Less hassle for the workers that way.
All that said, if you mostly have baby clothes, some of them never worn and most in good shape... have you considered consigning? We don't have our annual yard sale any more, we just have it every three or four years or so. This is because we now consign most of our stuff to get half price (which is still at least triple yard sale price) and we give what we can't consign (cause it's out of season or whatever) to a crisis pregnancy center that sells the items for proceeds out of a thrift shop. The consigment shop I use even takes good used household items, books and toys, so I just pack everything up neatly and take it there, then collect my money a month or so later (or get it in store credit). Anything they don't sell within 90 days gets taken to the Salvation Army. Not trying to sway you from having a yard sale, but I find consigning it much easier... although a lot less fun! There is something satisfying about putting in all that work and then sitting inside at the end of the day, in the cool air conditioning, counting out your money from all the stuff you didn't need any more!
Skip the newspaper advertising, go to craig's list and other free places. I would place the ad with your baby clothes and other things that would be interesting to pull people into your sale. Place signs from the main road in, brightly colored cardboard is best with thick black marker and large letters, 3 lines: GARAGE SALE, 123 West Av, Fri-Sat 8-2. Always place large arrows at the bottom of the sign showing which way to turn. If you live a mile down, add signs every 1/4 mi or so. My son sold ice water in bottles for $1--it was really hot, he made about $25 in one day! Good luck. :)
1. Good Advertising
2. Proper pricing -- a yard sale is not an opportunity to get your money back on items. Think of it as charity for the proud. People will pay a little so that they don't feel like they are taking a hand out, but if they wanted to shell out the big bucks they would buy brand new.
3. Clear pricing -- use the neon round price stickers that have prices printed right on them.
4. Clothing items should not be priced above a $1 and they will go like hot cakes at a quarter.
5. You need to sell more than just baby clothes. People will purchase appliances, furniture, antique/retro items, memorabilia, CDs, DVDs, Games, Game Systems, Kitchen items are very popular amongst yard salers, towels, anything housewares, rugs, pictures, anything can go into this sale. Think of it as an opportunity to unload all the stuff you haven't been using or you are tired of looking at.
6. Separate the 10 bags of baby clothes according to size i.e. newborn to 3 mo -- 3-6 mo. etc, then string up some rope between fence and tree or two trees or house and fence, you get my drift (homemade clothesline), get some clips from the dollar store or the hardware store (cheap) and clip the clothes up on the line or lines with price stickers on them. Easy quick viewing, and no mess will be made out of needless confusing piles of clothes.
7. The day before the yard sale get a roll of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies and break a $20 into two 5's and ten 1's so that you will be prepared to give change.
8. Offering food cheaply is attractive to prospective yard sale lookers. Selling hot dogs with a bag of chips and a can of soda for $1 dollar attracts customers and gives you a side profit. You can add a cookie or two for 25 more cents. Go to Costco or Sam's Club (whatever it is where you live) and get hot dogs, buns, ketchup, mustard, relish, large box of individual bags of chips, and a case or two of canned soda. Grab some inexpensive cookies to go with and sell all at a profit. Boil or grill the hot dogs, then keep them warm in your crock pot outside. (Run an extension cord from inside.)
9. Be attentive to customers as if it were a store, do not ignore them, but do not crowd them out.
10. Make a free box and clearly mark it. At the end of the day tell customers they can fill a bag and buy the whole bag for $1.
The best bet would be to have racks to hang the clothes on. Most people don't like to dig through piles of clothes to look at them. Also in my area people have to have some larger items listed to attract more people. People here also aren't real anxious to pay much for any type of clothing unless you live in a ritzy neighborhood. Advertise in your daily newspaper and if you have a free weekly paper that is mainly classifieds and ads and is delivered to almost everybody advertise in that too. Starting at the busiest street closest to your house on the day of the sale use orange poster board and black markers to make signs and post them about every two blocks to your house. Mark each item individually for the convenience of the customer. Arrange the largest items closer to the street to attract customers. If you know somebody that has experience in having yard sales ask them to go in on it with you and maybe try to have a neighborhood sale, with each family having it in their own yard. All-in-all you should have somebody else go in on it with you, because you will have to take an occasional break.
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