Thanks for stopping by the Ultimate Yard Sale! In this article, I’ll share some nifty tricks and ideas to optimize your yard sale and increase that cash flow!
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The Ultimate Yard Sale
One of the fastest ways to earn some cash–and de-clutter–is by having a yard sale. It takes a little bit of prep work, but it’s so worth it! With the right tools and methods, you can earn a nice chunk of cash in short order! Beware: successful yard selling gets addicting!
My last yard sale was a happy success. I sorted through items in the garage that I knew I was planning on selling, and then I took an afternoon to go through my house and find other things that I didn’t use or want anymore. I added those to the pile. It took me a solid three days to totally prepare for the yard sale, but it was organized, planned and profitable.
I earned over $250 in a little over 5 hours. That’s $50 an hour! Not too shabby! Doing 1 yard sale every so often throughout the year can easily bring in around $1000. That’s pretty amazing to think about.
Now, this all sounds great, and it’s so easy to run, full speed ahead, with the best intentions. But how often do we get caught in the trap of planning that elusive yard sale that actually never happens? Well, all that stuff that’s sitting in your garage, waiting to be sold, becomes a pile of dusty good intentions. And it’s money just sitting there. So, why do we do that?
Reasons Why That Ultimate Yard Sale Never Happens
- Procrastination: Ugh. We all do it. Some of us are worse than others. I think I got an extra large dose of it in my DNA. We have the best ideas ever… but we’ll get to them tomorrow. Especially if you’re a mom. You’re busy and you have a lot going on. The best way to conquer this is to simply just do it. Look at that stuff sitting in your garage, or in storage, and view it as cold, hard cash. That’ll motivate you for sure!
- It’s Messy: Well, if you’ve just been chucking stuff in the garage, then, yeah. It’s messy. You can avoid this by sorting as you go, placing things together and in plastic bins or boxes. Just like step 1–go stand in the garage and stare at that pile. It’s literally cash just sitting there. Take that extra day and sort. If something is garbage, then toss it. You know what’s salable and what isn’t. If your pile is pretty big, then chances are you can toss some stuff without missing it, saving time and energy for the stuff you know will bring you some dough.
- It’s Time-Consuming: This just depends. So, is it really time consuming, or does it simply require some extra time? If you stop and think about it, how much time are you spending on Facebook or social media per day? It’s commonly know that research shows people spend at least 2 hours a day on social media. What if you took some of that time and devoted it to planning a yard sale? One week of prep and you’ve got some serious cash. So, in short, the answer here is you’ll have to prioritize and go with what really matters.
Tips to The Ultimate Yard Sale
So now that we’ve begrudgingly accepted that this amazing yard sale really can happen and is very possible, let’s look at some tips and tricks to make it as successful as it can get. My little yard sale brought in over $250, and the things I sold were so simple. I did not sell a single piece of large furniture. Everything I sold fit in the back of a tiny, Toyota pickup and the trunk of my car. The yard sale lasted around 5 hours, but 90% of my earnings came in the first 3 hours. More on that later.
So, what did I do? Here are some tips I learned along the way!
1: Keep It Simple
It’s easy to get excited and a little carried away. Before you start pushing your couch outside, stop and think about it. Most people who are shopping at yard sales come with a certain amount of cash. It’s usually enough to fit in one pocket. Someone purchasing a couch would need three things: A truck or large vehicle, a larger amount of cash, and help to lift and haul the furniture.
That severely limits the amount of people who would be able to purchase your couch. Unless your couch is beautiful and you’re selling it for $40 in like-new condition, you’re probably going to lose the average shopper from your house to theirs.Keep things simple. Sell what you know a person can pull over, impulsively buy right then, throw in their car and go.
Still want to sell that couch? Use platforms like OfferUp, Facebook and other free online apps. Buyers on these platforms have most likely typed in search words and key phrases to find what they’re looking for. If someone asks you about your couch, it’s most likely because they’re looking specifically for a couch. Read more about how to sell on OfferUp here.
2: Keep The Prices Low
I know some stuff is important and that salad mixer your grandma gave you means the whole world, but it probably isn’t worth $10 to anyone else. It’s probably not even worth $5. In fact, most people won’t even pull over for a salad mixer. They’ll pull over because they see all that stuff in the yard. Then they’ll walk by that salad mixer and see that you’re only asking $1 for it. They’ll readily hand you that dollar and take that salad mixer home.
Before you scoff at that $1, there’s something else you should know. Sure, a buck is just a buck. But that yard sale shopper will probably also notice the pretty vase, ornate picture frame, and the pair of candle holders sitting there, all for $2-$3 or less. They’ve got ten bucks cash. They’ll most likely give you that ten and take all those items. Now that $1 has just multiplied tenfold. That’s not too bad.
If you’d stuck to $5 for that salad mixer, all that may not have ever happened. Yard sales aren’t about haggling over pennies. This is where a lot of people trip up. It’s about getting rid of stuff you’re not going to use and serve you no purpose, and swapping it out for cash. If you get hung up on trying to maximize every single sale, you’ll exasperate your shoppers. They’re looking for a deal. Give them what they want!
3: Keep It Organized
There is nothing worse than being a yard sale shopper and having to ask “what are you asking for this? How much for this?” on every item. It’s frustrating. Unless it’s this incredible find that a person has been searching for, most people will lose interest. Yard sells are all about impulse buying. Keep that process as quick and simple as possible.
Before the day of the yard sale I went through all of my items and placed stickers with the prices clearly labelled. Keeping sentimentalism out of it, I listed everything at an unbeatable price, clearly written and easy to see. My goal was to make it as easy for those impulse buyers as possible. It worked.
People brought stuff up to me to talk price, but it wasn’t asking “how much”. It was to haggle. If the vase I was selling was $3 and they offered $2, I said “deal”. If they offered $1 I countered with $2 and they said “deal”. I was stuffing my money bag with bills left and right.
4: Keep It Appealing
If you’re selling a bunch of stained clothes from the 80’s, don’t expect to make much. The same goes for broken picture frames, cracked cookware, and non-functioning electronics.
Sure, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but the reality is that if it looks like it belongs in the garbage, it probably belongs in the garbage. You’re not going to get very much money selling stuff you didn’t feeling like hauling away.
But if you have a set of dishes in perfect condition that sat in the cupboard for ten years unused, or 4 crock pots, or a gild-frame mirror in great condition, you’ll get some money for that stuff.
A very appealing item to see is something still in the packaging or box, unused. A yard sale shopper is going to love feeling like they just bested Home Goods or Bed, Bath and Beyond by buying your blender, still boxed, for $7.
You also get away with charging a little more for the pretty stuff. I had way too many cloth laundry bins that I’d received as gifts for my son. I sold a large, gray laundry bin with elephants on it and rope handles for $10. Those things are sold everywhere, and you can find them at Ross or Home Goods for $15-$20. However, that shopper saw my like-new laundry bin and recognized the bargain. So I got the cash rather than Ross or Home Goods.
5: Don’t Be Afraid to Bundle
As a mom of a 1-year-old, I had a surplus of baby blankets. Almost all of the blankets I had were virtually new or in excellent condition. The idea of sorting and pricing every single blanket was a bit overwhelming. Instead, I got the idea to bundle them in packs.
I bundled the muslin swaddles together, the receiving blankets, and the thicker blankets, and rolled them up and then tied them all together with ribbon. Then, I sold each bundle as a set. I charged less for the receiving blankets, selling them for $5 for a pack of ten, as those are inexpensive. The muslin swaddles were separated into packs of 5 and the thicker blankets sold in bundles of 2-3. I charged for each bundle accordingly.
I made over $40 in just baby blankets. This is extra nice when you consider these were mostly gifts, which means I didn’t buy them to begin with. That $40 was pure profit.
I did the same with my son’s shoes, separating them by size and selling them for $10 a bag. I also sold bags of baby clothes for $5-$10 per bag, based on the size. When shoppers saw the bags for sale, full of items, they didn’t waste time. At least two shoppers handed me $20 and grabbed their money’s worth of bags. They acted like they’d hit a gold mine, and, hey, it was money in my pockets and more space in my house.
I was rather amazed at how the bundling idea appealed to the shoppers. Rather than trying to sell every receiving blanket for $1 or scattering baby clothes all over the yard, the bundling method sold more, much faster.
6: Keep It Tidy
One of the things that added to the success of my yard sale was the fact that we set up folding tables under E-Z Up canopies. The larger items sat on the driveway, and the smaller items were organized on the tables by category. Adult clothes were neatly on hangers and hung on the canopy frame. Everything was well tended, easy to reach, and clean.
I know we’ve all seen those yard sales where stuff is virtually piled on the lawn. A determined shopper might rifle through the items, but most people are overwhelmed and a little put off by what looks like a mess. Your yard sale will be significantly more successful if you take the extra time to place things neatly on tables or hang clothes up.
Things like furniture, containers, large electronics, and so on can easily sit on the ground without looking cluttered. But a pile of clothes just dumped on the yard gives the appearance of disorder and uncleanliness. You’ll make more money avoiding that altogether.
7: Remember Prime Selling Hours
This one is huge. If you miss it, you’re going to be so frustrated. I found by experience that the best time to sell is Saturday morning, from 7:30 to 10:30. I live in Southern California, so the weather allows for those hours. Depending on where you live and how chilly it gets, those hours may change. For us, it was definitely early on Saturday morning.
We were still setting up at 7:30 and had shoppers waiting on us. The biggest crowd arrived from 8:00-9:45, with other shoppers trickling in between 9:45-10:30. By 11:00, the traffic had considerably decreased. Our official hours of selling were 8:00-1:00, but the last hour was spent chitchatting with the neighbors.
For the best results, be ready at the prime time. If you start at 10:00, you’ll most likely wind up exhausted and discouraged in a couple hours, with minimal success. Just make that sacrifice and get up early.
8: Market Your Yard Sale
Don’t let this one put you off. I’m not about to start a spiel on marketing techniques and all that complicated stuff. The reality is that those “yard sale” signs are super effective. But, you can take it one step further.
My husband was clever when selling time came. He took pictures of specific items and posted them on our local Facebook “Buy, Sell, Trade” along with info about the yard sale.
I sold an item for $50 off of that technique. Someone saw the baby item (still boxed), asked about it, and then drove all the way to the yard sale, cash in hand, to buy it. We also generated much more traffic by posting the choicest items on Facebook.
A good way to market is to have one person handle the physical shoppers, and another focus on answering all the “how much” questions on Facebook. By responding and interacting with interested people on Facebook, we sold more items, specifically some of the larger ones.
My mother-in-law even sold her car for $5000 at that yard sale!
Pro-Tip: For Extra Results, Team Up!
Unless you have a yard full of stuff, this one is a great way to generate lots of traffic and interest. I didn’t have a huge amount of items, and neither did my mother-in-law, so we put our things together and had one big yard sale. I had less than 50 items, and she had around the same amount. She, too made a couple hundred dollars (aside from her car sale).
It can be overwhelming to take on a yard sale alone. If that’s the case, team up with someone! Keep your things separated by specifically colored price stickers. Make sure both sellers are following these tidy techniques, and don’t forget your coffee!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the Ultimate Yard Sale. I plan on doing another one soon, and I’ll keep you posted on its success! My goal is to break $500 in 4 hours, so it will require prep, marketing and organization.