Thursday, June 19, 2008

Planning the perfect Yard Sale

This Saturday we are having a neighborhood yard sale. If you need directions email me! I thought it would be wise to do some research on how to plan the "semi" perfect yard sale. I'm trying to get rid of a lot of clutter before Matilda gets here and just for my piece of mind. I HATE clutter but somehow it just seems to keep creepin' around me. I hold on to things because I don't want to hurt people's feelings, because I think I might use them one day, and I'm just sick of seeing piles of junk.

I went to Organized for some helpful advice...

Gather Your Inventory

Your yard sale inventory is living right under your nose. The first step is to find it. In the weeks before your sale, scour closets and cupboards, bookcases and basement for yard sale finds.

How to decide? Some home managers ask these questions: "Have I cooked with it, worn it, displayed it, used it or read it within the last year?" Others apply a percentage rule: a firm 10 to 20 percent of all books, videos, clothing, or bric-a-brac must go.

Consider finding a clutter buddy. When it comes to culling clutter, two heads are better than one--and a two-family yard sale will get twice the traffic. Back one another up, and dare to clear your clutter to the bone.

Once an item's marked for sale, be stern! Store your yard sale inventory in black plastic garbage bags or boxes with lids. No fair reading, looking or cooking; there is no appeal, no mercy and no second chance. Give that wedding-gift sandwich squasher an emotional divorce. It's no longer junk or stuff, it's inventory!

Do Your Homework

Yard sales have their own etiquette and economy. It's smart to bone up on both. Read the yard sale ads, and spend a morning or two visiting neighborhood sales. Note price ranges on clothing, kitchenware and books. There's no sense labeling two boxes of kitchen utensils at 50 cents if a quarter is the going rate.

Check with your municipality and homeowners' association. Some jurisdictions require a permit, or limit the number and timing of yard sales. Know the rules!

Set The Date

Choose your day, and plan a one-day sale, maximum. In yard sales, as in life, there is a point of diminishing returns. Sitting around at 4:00 p.m. watching the last few pieces of mismatched food storage containers stare down the '70's era macramé hanging isn't worth the last few pennies that may--or may not--come your way.

Have a strategy for sale's end. Many charities will pick up all unsold items. Call and schedule a 3 p.m. pickup for sale day, or be prepared to box the leftovers for delivery to a thrift store donation site. Whatever you do, don't let the survivors back in the house! If you can't sell this stuff at a garage sale, what do you want with it, anyway?

Make Like Madison Avenue: Advertise!

You've sorted your stuff and scoped out the field. Now it's time to play retailer. First rule: advertise, advertise, advertise.

The secret to a successful yard sale is foot traffic. The more folks who walk through your sale, the more you'll sell. Lots of cars parked on your street tell yard-sale cruisers where to find you. If business is brisk, buyers won't leave your premises without that lighted beer sign, for fear that someone else will snatch it right up. The more, the merrier; your muffin-tin change sorter will overflow.

Do spring a few dollars for a newspaper ad. Many local papers offer special garage sale rates, or free signs to yard sale advertisers. Watch your wording! Mention furniture, baby items, garden tools or other desirable items you have to offer, but don't waste ad dollars on "miscellaneous". "Miscellaneous" is every yard sale's middle name.

If you want to keep pre-dawn bargain hunters from banging on your door at 5 a.m., include the phrase "No earlybirds!" in your ad. A creative use of "Earlybirds pay double!" will discourage all but the most fanatic yard salers--and make them pay for the privilege.

Use your computer (or your kids) to make signs, lots of signs. Use neon posterboard and deep-black markers. Make the directions BIG. If you can't see your signs from a block away, neither can your customers. If you live tucked deep in a twisted spiral of subdivision streets, place sign at each and every corner between your house and the nearest main road. Make it easy for buyers to find you.

Prep and Price

Assess your inventory. Does it look garage-sale drab? A little elbow grease can yield big bucks. Run dusty dishes and filmy glassware through the dishwasher. A quick spritz of automotive vinyl protectant makes small appliances and plastic items shine like new. Clean, fresh-smelling clothing hung on hangers commands a higher price than stained and rumpled items tossed into boxes.

Pay attention to packaging. Plastic food storage bags group children's game pieces, display jewelry, and hold hardware bits and pieces.

To price, or not to price? Experience comes down in favor of pricing every item. Yes, haggling is part of the yard sale scene, but for those with shyer natures, a price sticker saves a lot of energy. Buyers are more apt to buy when they know the price is in their ballpark. As for you, the middle of a crowded carport is no place to have to come up with a price for every spoon and trivet.

Use masking tape or small adhesive stickers to label your wares. Be creative! Bundling is an old retailer's trick, and one well suited to the yard-sale seller. One tag end of shelf paper won't bring a nickel, but bundle all 12 or 14 roll ends from your last kitchen clean-out, and the whole box will go for $1.50. Got five small bookcases to sell? Price them at $10 each, but offer the whole lot for $40 and watch them waddle out the door.

Abide by your area's yard sale price guidelines. Yes, I know what you paid for that shiatsu massage wand (the one that leaves big, round, black-and-blue bruises), and I know what Macy's sells them for. Yard sales have their own economy. The goal is to get rid of stuff. Your shoppers know the going prices as well as you do.

Set Up Shop

Where will you hold your sale? Yard, garage or driveway, make sure your site can be seen from the road, and plan to haul a few big items out front, for good measure. It's best to work from a stripped site, so remove everything that's not for sale from the driveway, garage or carport. If you can't, drape the not-for-sale items with sheets or tarps. That way, you won't have to explain that the garden tools are not for sale for a full seven hundred and thirty-two times.

Set out your wares. Tables, even a slab of plywood board resting on sawhorse, make it easy to browse. Hang clothing from ropes or chains attached to the ceiling. Display books, spines up, in shallow boxes for easy shopping. When possible, use signs to identify merchandise: full-size sheets, infants' clothing. Lay a heavy-duty extension cord to operate radios and television, and test electrical appliances.

Prepare your yard as if it were Halloween night. Remove anything that can be tripped over, including the dog, who should live elsewhere for the duration of the sale. Check the garage floor and driveway for slippery spots or hidden hazards. Tape down extension cords or cables.

Are you ready to make change? A muffin tin makes a good change holder. Be prepared with at least $20 in small bills and change.

Assess your inventory with an eye to safety. Examine children's toys for breakage and hazards. If in doubt, throw it out. Old lamps with frayed cords or small appliances that give off a burned smell belong in the trash, not on your tables. Protect other families like you protect your own.

Ready, Set, Sell!

It's sale day. You've posted your signs at the crack of dawn and your wares lie waiting. Now's the time to play salesman. Don't sit there like a lump in a lawn chair! Get up and talk to people. Be excited and enthusiastic. Comment on cute children, bumper stickers and T-shirt slogans. Be bubbly and vivacious and share lots of information about that wonderful set of bed linens that you love and adore but no longer match your color scheme. Not only will you create enthusiasm and make sales, you'll meet neighbors you never knew you had, so it's smart to put your best foot forward.

Plan for at least two staffers for every yard sale, and more is better. One person acts as "background", shuffling cash, bringing coffee, keeping an active eye on everything. A cashier sits at the front with muffin tin or cash box. Leave the selling to the most enthusiastic salesperson.

Offer free coffee, and give your children a taste of private enterprise, entrusting them with a donut concession. If people are eating, they're staying--and if they're staying, they're buying. That's the point!

When The Sale Is Over

Wrap up your sale when you said you would. A yard sale is a lot of work, and you're still not finished. Dispose of the leftovers, either to the charity pick-up or by boxing and delivering the items yourself.

Be considerate of your neighbors and next week's yard sale enthusiasts. Remove all signs, and return your sale site to normal.

Then go count your proceeds--and take the family out to dinner. You've earned it!

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