Tuesday, July 22, 2008

organize a yard sale

Where I live, and I assume in most parts of the country, it is inevitable that the first signs of spring are street corners littered with "Yard Sale" advertisements. The signs persist until late September, or possibly beyond, depending on the weather. Each seller has high hopes of bringing in some extra income by selling items he or she no long want, need, or use.

As a professional organizer, I applaud their effort to purge their homes and lives of needless clutter. I do, however, questions the amount of preparation needed to put on such an event and am often asked by clients what they can do to make their sale more profitable. So... I've put together a five-step plan that should make your yard sale more enjoyable and more importantly, more profitable!

STEP 1: Plan The Event

  • Pick the date for your sale. Try to avoid holiday weekends as more people will be out of town. Also, it is a good idea to span your sale over 3 days (Thursday-Saturday) so people with different work schedules can attend.
  • Start accumulating merchandise several months in advance(as if this is a problem for anyone). Have a designated spot in your basement or spare room that is only for yard sale items. The more you have to sell, the more appealing your sale will be to shoppers.
  • Go through pockets of coats, pants, shirts, and purses to check for money and other belongings...you wouldn't want to sell something for $5.00 not knowing there was a $20.00 bill in the pocket!
STEP 2: Advertise
  • Starting a week before your sale, call the newspaper and purchase a classified ad. Run the ad the day before and the day of the sale. Make sure you include your address, date and hours of the sale, plus any important items for sale.
  • Mention your yard sale to neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, and others you come into contact with. The power of word-of-mouth advertising is amazing!
  • Advertise on free websites such as Craigstlist.com
STEP 3: Get Ready
  • Plan the location for your sale...usually in the garage or drive way. However, you could set up a tent if you have a large enough yard or you could have it in a pole barn on your property. Make sure people can easily access this spot from the road.
  • Have a plan-B in case the weather does not cooperate. Your sale should not be canceled due to poor weather conditions...and you would be surprised how many people will still come during a rain storm!
  • Stock your display tables the night before and keep them in a secure storage area. Presentation is important so make sure your displays are visually appealing and have like items together.
  • Remove or cover any items that are not for sale.
  • Make sure your lawn is cut, any animal traps are removed, and any hazardous items in your garage are disposed of or removed for the days of the sale. If you have dogs, you should walk through the area to look for any thing they may have left behind (if you know what I mean!)
  • Make sure all items are clearly priced (at a reasonable price), and that you have plenty of change and small bills handy. You will also want to have a secure storage box for the money, a pocket calculator, and plenty of bags for your customers to put their new treasures in.
  • Have electrical outlets available for people to try out any electrical devices.

  • Make arrangements with a local thrift store to come the day after your sale and take anything that is left over.
STEP 4: Advertise Part 2
  • Post signs around your neighborhood and on main cross streets the day before your sale. Make sure you check that they are still their on the morning of your sale.
  • You will want to make signs that are attractive, easy to read, sturdy, and weather proof. Wooden garden stakes make a very study anchor and broad-tip permanent markers or paint are good weather proof options. Consider laminating your signs for future use.
  • If you live in a subdivision, make sure you have a sign at every corner, directing people which way to turn.
  • Remember to take down all your advertisements after the sale is over.
STEP 5: Sell!
  • Get up early, eat a good breakfast, and get your display tables into position before you are scheduled to open (people will always come early).
  • Put any interesting or high profile items near the end of the driveway to lure people into your sale.
  • Keep small, valuable items near the cash box so you have a constant eye on them.
  • Create a pleasant atmosphere. Have music playing, offer lemonade or water, have trash cans in place and make a point to welcome everyone who comes up the driveway.
  • If items aren't selling after the first day, feel free to lower the prices or make a sign advertising "everything 50% off" for the last day.
  • Don't take personal checks unless you are confident that they won't bounce.
  • Be prepared for shoppers to barter with you over a price they think it too high. Don't feel pressured to take their lower offer, especially if it is near the beginning of your sale. It might be a different story on the last day when you are trying to get rid of everything that is left over.
  • Be firm about your closing time and put things away at the scheduled time.
  • Have fun!
Hopefully this will help you the next time you need to put on a yard sale. Although it is a lot of work, there is potential to make a lot of money on things you and your family are no longer using.

For more organizing tips, visit my website: http://www.andreadekker.com/

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