On average, there are 165,000 yard sales each week in the US. That adds up to over $4 million in weekly revenue. If you want to compete with other yard sales and get in on that success, you need to plan ahead. This article covers the best tips you need to know to have a successful yard sale.
Choose a theme.
Sometimes yard sales scream, “Here’s a bunch of random junk I’ll probably throw out but want to see if people will buy first.” That’s bad. But you can make your offerings appear more deliberate and valuable if you give them a theme. A theme can also help you target a niche market, which is always a powerful way to increase sales. Keep your yard sale to one theme, such as art supplies, or exercise equipment or power tools. Even if you have an array of different items you can make a theme work. You could make your theme “college dorm starter kit” or “new homeowner essentials.”
Once you select your theme, you’ll know how and where to advertise. For example, if your theme is “gardening” then you’ll want to post flyers near gardening shops. State your theme on all advertising materials. Choose a few high ticket items you’ll be selling that complement your theme and put photos and prices on your ads. Choose fonts and colors that are often used for the covers of popular gardening magazines to design your ads. This will help reinforce your theme with potential customers. Ask owners of the shops if it would be alright for you to put flyers on their store counter for a limited time. If the total value of the goods you’re selling is worth several thousand dollars, consider taking out paid advertising. You can contact local gardening magazines and put a small add for your yard sale. Try to only spend 1/10 to 2/10 of your potential yard sale value in advertising.
One of the best accommodations you can offer at your yard sale is shade. Set up lawn chairs and sale items under natural shade from trees or houses. If you are lacking natural shade, you can always put up umbrellas or event tents. Keep a cooler stocked with bottles of water at your sales desk. You can also sell food and drinks. Consider selling baked goods and homemade lemonade or firing up your grill and selling made-to-order burgers and hot dogs for patrons.
Everyone has heard the stories of city officials shutting down kids’ lemonade stands for bureaucratic reasons. Make sure this doesn’t happen to your yard sale. Check with your town hall to make sure that nothing you’re doing will be shut down. Let them know about the advertising you will be doing and accommodations you’ll be offering. These may change the scope of your yard sale and require you to fill out different forms or maybe even pay small fees.
Set your prices too high and you may seem unreasonable. Go too low and you’ll miss out on money. Your best option is to look on Amazon or eBay for used versions of the items you’re selling. Set your prices just slightly lower than those of the Amazon or eBay prices. This will help you compete with online retailers and get the most money for your items. Expect that shoppers will want to bargain. It’s your call if you want to accept best offers on items. If someone is haggling in a big-ticket item, you can always ask for their email or phone number and offer to contact them at the end of the day to take them up on their offer.
Get curb appeal.
Put a few high-value, high-visibility items on the edge of your property. This will help catch the eyes of people driving and walking by. It will also make your yard sale easier to spot for people who are looking for it.
Rock a Fanny back.
The only thing more uncool than wearing a Fanny pack is not being able to quickly make change for a $20 at your own yard sale. You should definitely set up a sales table where you handle most transactions. But, it doesn’t hurt to wear a Fanny pack filled with spare change. This way, you can accept payment and make change anywhere at your yard sale. You don’t need to walk with a customer back to your sales table to handle smaller purchases. This is similar to how Apple handles transactions in its retail stores – except you’ll be wearing a Fanny pack.
Test it out.
Don’t try to sell electronics if you can’t plug them in for customers to try out. Plug a few extension cords into safe electrical sources and have the socket ends nearby. Put signs on your electronics saying that customers can test them out if they’re interested. Better yet, keep the electronics plugged in and on display if you can do so safely. This will make them more eye-catching and increase your yard sale’s curb appeal.
Don’t sell trash.
Ask yourself, “Does this look like it belongs in the trash?” If the answer is yes, don’t put that item out on sale. Shoppers might see junk items and be turned off by your sale. Junk items might also decrease the perceived value of high-quality items. If you have one pair of mint condition dress shoes in the mix of four pairs of ratty tennis shoes, all the shoes together may look like a pile of junk.
Accept credit cards.
You don’t need a traditional credit card kiosk to accept payments anymore. Thanks to apps like Square, you can use your smart phone or tablet to accept credit card payments using a card reader that plugs into your device.
Know what’s hot and what’s not.
Items that sell well are:
- Newer appliances and electronics
- Power tools
- Newer exercise equipment
- Complete bicycles
- Gardening or lawn equipment
Items that do not so well are:
- Shoes and clothing
- Old children’s toys and stuffed animals
- Books that are not recent bestsellers
- Opened perfumes and cosmetics
Yard sales are great way to make a little extra money and clean out your house. But you can’t expect the items to sell themselves. Follow this advice to organize and optimize your yard sale. This will make a more enjoyable experience for you and your customers, and hopefully put a little extra cash in your pocket by the end of the day.
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