If your basement is full of items you’re “going to use someday,” it might be time to do some purging. But instead of putting your wares out with the trash, why not try to make a little cash in the process?
Yes, organizing a yard sale can seem overwhelming, but if you follow these steps and get your neighbors in on the gig, you’ll make some bank and bond with them in the process. (Admit it, you’ve always wondered who lives in the house on the corner with the impeccable landscaping.) Here’s how to get started.
1. Do your due diligence
You don’t want to find out on the day of your event that your city or town has strict rules about yard sales, says Chris Heiska of Lusby, MD, and founder of YardsaleQueen.com.
Swing by your town hall to make sure you don’t need a permit or special signage announcing your sale before you move forward — you can probably find this information on your city’s website too. Also, take a look at the town’s calendar of events. You don’t want to host your sale on the same day as a parade or fair.
2. Put the word out
Let your neighbors know that you’re planning a sale. Create a flier to put in their mailboxes or, if you have their email addresses, send out a group note asking who wants to participate. Once you know who’s in, you can figure out the best date and location (maybe the guy with the biggest front yard will offer to have the sale at his house).
3. Then put the word out again
This time, spread the word to the community at large. Find out if there’s a Facebook group for yard sales in your area, says Heiska. If not, start one.
If you have a Twitter account, start tweeting about your sale a few days before. Put an ad on the local section of Craigslist, and if your neighborhood is home to an older population (one that still reads the morning paper), consider placing an ad in print.
4. Say it with signs
Once you know the local rules on signage, feel free to start hanging them around town. Bulletin boards at grocery stores, churches, or the neighborhood bagel place are excellent spots.
The more professional your sign looks and the easier it is to read, the more people it will attract, says Heiska, who also recommends driving by your signs after you’ve posted them to make sure they’re readable. If you’re not artsy, chances are, one of your neighbors is. (No luck? Sassy Signs offers inexpensive preprinted signs.)
The night before, hang signs in both directions at the entrance to your street with arrows pointing customers in the right direction, and if allowed, post one at the closest intersection or cross streets too.
5. Price it right
That old rule of thumb about pricing an item for “a third of what it would cost new” is a good starting point, but also consider how appealing an item will be to your customer. A barely used designer handbag will probably fetch more money than a stack of old textbooks, even if they did cost roughly the same amount.
Come up with some general ground rules, but let everyone price their own items and negotiate with potential buyers. You don’t want any hard feelings because you sold their favorite poster for pennies.
6. Make it easy for buyers to browse
You know that saying “One man’s trash is another’s treasure?” Well, that won’t hold true if the “trash” actually looks that way.
Make your wares look as attractive as possible. Organize CDs, books, DVDs, etc. by artist or author. (Better yet, display them on a bookshelf.)
If you’re selling furniture, set it up on the lawn so people can try it out. Display dishes or tabletop items instead of leaving them in boxes. Walk through your sale as a buyer and think about what appeals to you and what you’d pass by.
7. Have plenty of cash
Make a trip to the bank a few days before the sale and get a couple of rolls of quarters, a stack of dollar bills, and a handful of fives. (And keep your money on you at all times in a pouch or fanny pack. Yes, I just said “fanny pack.”)
You don’t want to lose out on a sale or lower your price because you can’t make correct change.
Have you planned a neighborhood yard sale? Share your best tips in the comments below!