It’s an American classic: the yard sale — and its variations, such as the tag sale, garage sale or the ever-nikolenko English for kids rummage sale. Sharing your household excess with others while making a pocketful of change is a tradition that’s been around for as long as people have been collecting clutter. But don’t make the mistake of thinking a yard sale is nothing more than throwing your stuff out on the lawn and collecting cash. As with all events that involve currency changing hands, marketing and merchandising make a difference.
If you’re interested in making some serious money, here are a few tips to make your next sale more successful. The early bird gets the customers. Instead of starting your sale on a Saturday morning, start on a Friday. If you have enough items left, hold it again on Saturday.
Plan on starting early: You’ll have bargain-seekers there at the crack of dawn. Make it a practice to set aside anything you have not used in six months to a year. This way, you’ll conquer clutter while amassing inventory for your next sale. Avoid dragging all your stuff onto the lawn only to have a neighbor complain, or someone from code enforcement drop by to stop the sale. It’s rare for a permit or license to be required, but it’s possible. There are even neighborhoods where yard sales are not allowed at all.
There are a few things in life best done alone, but holding a yard sale isn’t one of them. The more people you involve and the more stuff you offer, the better the sale will be and the less you’ll have to do. Go door to door and get the whole block involved. The yard’s better than the garage. There’s more light and space, people can see the wares clearly from the street, and the whole thing looks more festive and inviting.
But check the weather: You don’t want your stuff rained on, and, inside or out, you’ll have fewer shoppers if it’s raining. Homemade signs are fine — just make sure they’re big enough to read and include arrows, the address and perhaps a phone number in case people can’t find you. Use bright colors and keep it to as few words as possible. Task someone with checking on the signs throughout the sale to make sure they’re still up and looking good. The busier the street where you plant the signs, the better. But be aware of sign ordinances in your neighborhood. Spread the word in other ways as well, including posting notice of your sale to Craigslist, your local newspaper’s classified ads and websites like Yard Sale Search.