It is April, therefore it is time for my annual "It's Yard Sale Season!" Pep Talk.
I am a sworn yard saler, and have become even more passionate about it since I realized it is my favorite way to be "Green". Granted, I live in an area where people have a lot of disposable income and get rid of great things at their yard sales. Its "easy being green" when you are buying great, nearly-new kids clothes for 50 cents piece, and like-new books and toys for 25 cents. I have bought brand new appliances (coffee grinders, blenders, crock pots, bread machines, even a $150 knife sharpener) that people just didn't want or need once they got them. One of the best sales I ever hit was that of a shiny brand new lesbian couple. Both woman giggled and held hands as they sold me all of their unopened or unused weddings gifts from their "previous lives". Hey, not that there is anything wrong with it.
So here, in no specific order, are my yard sale buyer and seller tips:
- Get the Friday paper, and check craigslist for your area. Map out where you want to go. Neighborhood sales are the best because you can hit a lot of houses in one neighborhood.
- When I go to a Neighborhood yard sale, I don't hit the first few houses in the neighborhood. I drive all the way to the back of the development and work my way back. Everyone hits the first few houses. Also, If you are looking for something specific - such as a ladder or a rocking chair, do a quick drive by of all of the houses in the development to see if anyone has one.
- Get up early Saturday and be there when they start. I hate when people show up during the last hour of my garage sales and want to know where the bikes and kids clothes are. Hello???! I sold them at 8am when the sale started. There is no such thing as "having more in the stockroom" at a yard sale.
- Be respectful of people's prices. If you think they are a bit steep, ask them if they would take less for something if you buy a lot. I will always give a discount to someone who is buying a lot.
- Have small bills. I have had many garage sales where my first 8 customers all had 20's. Which is fine if they were all spending $15, but that's rarely the case.
- Don't be afraid to ask your fellow shoppers where the other garage sales are. I find some of my best shopping tips word of mouth from my fellow bargain hunters.
- Never had a Yard Sale? Don't be afraid! There isn't anything you can really do wrong other than over price. Ask a friend to do it with you to defray nerves and the cost of advertising. Give yourself a few weekends to gather and price your stuff in advance, and have a few card tables and boxes to display your stuff.
- Adult clothing sells better when it is hung up on hangers. Kids clothes sell better in bins sorted by size and gender. I don't know why.
- Dont overprice. People who come to yard sales are looking for a bargain, and you are looking to clear out some crap. It's win-win, but not if no one buys anything. If people keep picking things up and then not buying anything, ask them to make you an offer. You can always say no. If you are really uncomfortable about setting prices, hit a few local yard sales the weekend before and see what the market will bear.
- As you put your stuff out, ask yourself what you really don't want to have to drag back in the house and be willing to negotiate on price. At my yard sales, I generally find that I am willing to part with about 75% of it at any price, and the other 25% I am firm on.
- Don't take checks. Cash only. Real shoppers know this.
- Don't be afraid of early birds. I find I make most of the money at my yard sales in the first hour and a half. Sometimes even before the "official" start time. People who show up before you even open the garage door are serious shoppers, they don't care if you don't have everything on display yet.
- If you just want to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly, do what a friend of mine did and have a $5 bag sale. She had tons and tons of clothes and she gave everyone a paper grocery bag and charged $5 per bag. They could have as much as they could stuff in a bag for $5. She sold out every single time she did it. I have heard of people doing this in the final hour of their sale too, just to clear things out.