There’s money in your closet… and your garage… and your attic… and your basement… and in that storage unit on which you pay rent every month to hold on to things that could be making money for you instead of costing you.
While there are a number of ways to get that cash, the good old-fashioned yard sale is one of the most effective. We’ve all seen them, but how many of us know what goes into making one a success?
Here’s how to conduct a yard sale that makes money.
The More the Merrier
Your first instinct might be to limit your competition by holding your sale on a day when nobody else in your area has one. That’s a mistake. Organizing a neighborhood sale draws more traffic.
Yes, that traffic will be diluted somewhat by a larger number of sellers. However, more people show up for neighborhood sales than individual yard sales. Plus, you can better afford to advertise on the ‘net and in your local newspaper if you get the neighbors together and form a coalition.
This, in turn, will draw an even deeper pool of shoppers.
Choose the Right Time for a Yard Sale
A warm day is better than a cold one and precipitation should be avoided entirely. Weather apps are quite accurate now, so choosing a date a few weeks in advance should be fine. Set it to coincide with when most people get paid, the first of the month or the 15th.
Weekends typically work best, though you could get a jump on things and offer “special low pricing” on Friday from 6p to sundown — assuming of course you’re holding the sale during warmer months when days are longer. You might catch some folks on their way home from work that way.
Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Craigslist is where a lot of yard sale shoppers turn to find sales. The classifieds in the local newspaper still draw folks as well. Still though, your best form of advertising is a huge sign at each of the busiest intersections surrounding your neighborhood with arrows directing traffic in your direction.
Use slightly smaller signs at each turn to help shoppers home in on your location. Have the person who put them up go around and check on them every couple of hours or so to make sure they’re still in place and looking good. That same person should go back out to take them all down when the sale is done.
Think Like a Department Store
Group items by type — clothing, toys, household goods, sporting goods, lawn care items and the like.
Clothes should be hung according to gender, size and type. This makes things easier to find, more attractive to buyers and easier to keep organized. Invest in some racks if you have a lot of clothes for a nicer presentation.
Use paper plates to designate sizing on the racks and police them as the day progresses to keep things as organized as possible. Sell the racks on the last day of the sale when their work is done.
Clean Everything Up
Yes, people know they’re buying used items, however, they feel better about doing so when the items are clean. Launder all clothing before offering it for sale. Wash all dishes and dust items off that have been sitting around gathering dust for years. The nicer your offerings look, the more of them you’ll sell.
Price Prominently — and Reasonably
Place price tags on everything, but include signs on the tables and racks announcing your willingness to bargain. Set your prices to give you room to go down a bit when someone asks for a deal, but don’t try to charge retail prices; you’ll only drive people away. Visit a few other yard sales in the weeks leading up to yours to get an idea of what things go for in your area.
You’ll need to be prepared to make change— start with $100 in ones, fives, and quarters. Set your pricing to end in .25 ($1.25, $5.25, $9.25 and etc…) so you won’t have to deal with pennies, nickels and dimes.
Keep the cash in a fanny pack around your waist and never have more than $100 in that pack at any time. Designate one of your helpers to take the excess cash into the house — making sure it’s the same person every time.
Accept cash only; taking checks is a good way to give your items away for free.
Speaking of your house, do not grant admission to anyone you do not know personally under any circumstances. Keep it locked during the sale. The same goes for your cars, storage sheds and any other areas on your property into which people might wander.
Be prepared to encounter shoplifters — it happens. Ultimately you’ll have to decide how vigorously you’ll want to confront them. However, your safety and the safety of everyone there should be your foremost concern. Why jeopardize everyone’s well-being over a plate for which you’re charging $1.50?
Don’t Blow the Money You Earn at a Rummage Sale
Use your earnings to beef up your emergency fund, shore up some investments or to pay down your bills. As the testimonials contained within these Freedom Debt Relief reviews illustrate, debt can be very difficult to escape from once you’re in it — so any extra income helps in this department, especially if you owe balances on credit cards. Using this “side hustle” to strengthen your financial situation will pay off in the long run — especially compared to buying more stuff to populate your next eventual yard sale.
Donate the Leftovers
Gather everything that doesn’t sell and donate it to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or some other local organization that resells items and donates profits to a charity. This will get you a tax-deductible charitable donation if you itemize.
Yes, there’s more to how to conduct a yard sale that makes money than just putting up some signs and putting out some stuff for sale. However, following these tips will get you started in the right direction.