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How to Hold a Yard Sale

How to Hold a Yard Sale
Category: Saving Money
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Yard sales can be a lot of work, but sometimes it is the only way to go.

At Enkore Kids, we strive to make decluttering your home of all things kid-related as painless and profitable for you as possible, but there are times when the hassle of a good ol' fashioned yard sale can't be avoided. Here are some tips for making it a little less troublesome:

  1. Decide on a date: A deadline will motivate you.
  2. Cut through the clutter: Sort to keep, trash or sell.
  3. Price to sell: Avoid bringing back inside later.
  4. Advertise: Use newspaper, Craigslist, and online community calendars.
  5. Signage: Be consistent and be bold!

1. Deciding on the right date is crucial for a good yard sale turnout. After the long, hard winter, folks will be anxiously awaiting a good yard sale. If you live in a community that has an annual or semi-annual yard sale, it’s easiest to wait until it is held. That way, most of your promotion work and signage to the community will be taken care of for you. However, if your neighborhood doesn’t hold a mass sale or you don’t want to wait, schedule as early in the season as possible. By holding ours the first weekend of March last year, many folks found us simply because there wasn’t much competition. The 45 degrees temperature that day didn’t seem to matter, but rain will definitely put a damper on things. Plan a rain date and include it in your ads.

2. Going through your things is more fun — and productive — with a friend or spouse not emotionally attached to the items up for consideration. What you use often, or means too much to you to part with, put in the “keep” category. If broken, stained or recalled, you should “trash” or recycle. Shred any unneeded sensitive paperwork. Outgrown or otherwise no longer needed items which are still useful, go in the “sell” category. Deciding whether to sell on eBay, consign or yard sale, depends on the next step — pricing.

3. Yard salers are looking for deals. Unless you are willing to let everything go for a dollar or less, you will need to spend some time researching current retail or secondary market values for your treasures. This allows you to price them to your advantage, while still offering too-good-to-pass-up values for your visitors. For items still being sold at retail stores, use a price comparison website like shopping.com or a big online retailer like Walmart.com. You should price items that are in excellent condition at no more than a quarter to a third of new value. Even if you are offering a never-opened item, you can’t offer a return policy or a warranty, so do not expect to get anywhere near retail prices.

For vintage or other discontinued items, compare to completed auctions on eBay.com. Identify items that deserve some special attention. What routinely sells on eBay for more than half of what it was new, consider trying to sell there. Or, you can consign with a shop that specializes in those particular items. If you want to try to sell these items at your yard sale first, remember selling through eBay or a consignment shop will have additional costs. Be willing to negotiate lower than what your research showed, and you will still come out ahead.

4. Promote your yard sale effectively using your area’s "goto" classified section as well as free online classifieds. The newspaper is costly, so be brief, but hit all the key information including: address (w/ cross street or community name), date (and rain date), a few applicable keywords (tools, antiques, toys are always popular) and contact info (phone number, email or, even better, a website). Post a list of your best items, including pictures, using Craigslist.com and other websites.

5. Poor signage can sabotage the hard work you have invested, so allot enough time to do it right. Make your signs using a bold, black magic marker and thick poster board or cardboard. All signs should look similar, so people following them will know they are on the right trail. The signs are NOT for details. A simple “Yard Sale MM/DD” and an arrow pointing the way is all most drivers will be able to read in passing. Put them out up to five days before your event. If it rains, check to make sure the signs are still legible the day before. Be sure to collect them right after the sale is over.

On the day of your big event, be sure to have enough change and some recycled plastic bags to hold purchases. Be willing to negotiate. Too low an offer first thing in the morning? Ask for a phone number in case you don’t get closer to your asking price by the end of the sale. Remember, you want to sell the stuff, not bring it back into the house.

What to do with the inevitable leftovers? Donate — some charities will even pickup! For the more valuable items only, set up an appointment with your favorite resale/consignment shop. Call Enkore Kids at 301-668-0837 and review our page on How to Turn Your Kids' Stuff into Cash.

A version of this post was originally printed in Child Guide

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