Friday, August 17, 2012

Lessons Learned from My First Yard Sale, Part 2

(If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, you can find it HERE.)

The next morning came. I was up around 6:30, feeling oddly nervous. Was this going to be a huge waste of time? Would anyone buy anything, let alone even come? The signs were affixed to telephone poles around the neighborhood. I hurried and started moving things out into the front yard, wishing I had at least another table for all the stuff.  Right around 8:00 AM, the cars started coming. It was go time!

Things got off to a fairly steady start. The books and DVDs were the first to get bought up. One thing that helped was that I priced the books so that people would get a better deal if they bought more. Paperback books were 25 cents each but five paperbacks went for a dollar; hardcovers were 75 cents each but you could get two for a dollar. Lesson #5: Quantity discounts work really well. More stuff gets sold and people like getting a deal.  The books went quickly and I wasn't really out that much by giving a discounted rate (I was out a quarter by selling 5 paperback books for a dollar). The quantity discount thing was sort of a last minute idea (can you tell by the sign I made really quickly?) -- I wish I would have applied it to the other items there, like the clothes and toys.

As people came and looked through everything, things got disshelved. As I reorganized things between lulls in yard sale traffic, I realized I could have organized the clothes much better. I had lots of cute baby and little boy clothes, but I ended up not selling nearly as much as I thought I would. I should have had a better system for keeping the clothes separated by sizes. Lesson #6: Clothes can turn into a heap quickly. Find a good way to organize them. I currently do not have any creative ideas for this and I am open to all suggestions.

Back when I was in the gathering stage, I was collecting things to sell and I'd have these moments where I'd think, "If I don't want this, why would anyone else?"  I felt slightly guilty charging people for stuff I considered clutter. But I got over that pretty quickly the next day.

Lesson #7: The saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" is true. This isn't to say I'm in favor of peddling garbage to people -- I just mean that something you don't like may be appealing to someone else. That bright blue and yellow argyle baby sweater vest I got at a baby shower years ago wasn't my cup of tea, but someone else liked it enough to buy it for their baby. I even had an older man pay a quarter for an old CD single I bought in high school that I found in a box in my garage. Who knew?

Lesson #8: Getting the neighborhood involved is the way to go. I knew I wanted to do a yard sale, but I asked the neighbors if they wanted in on it before planning anything. It's much more of a draw if you can put on your ads and posters that there are multiple families involved. We each did our yard sales in our own yards (to keep things orderly, separate, and less confusing) and it worked out really well. We had people stop at ours (since we were on the corner), shop, sometimes buy stuff, and then move on to the other houses. Plus, it creates a fun sense of community.

Lesson #9: A designated sign waver on the corner works quite well to bring people by, especially if said sign waver is in costume.

The day before, we were driving through town and saw a dude dressed as the Green Lantern holding a sign for a BBQ restaurant. Max's face lit up and he said, "I could do that for the yard sale!" So that evening he used some of the extra poster paper and wrote "yard sale" on it (you can get a better view of it in the picture at the top of the post).  The next morning, he donned his pirate clothes and headed outside with his sign. (He's going through a bit of a pirate phase right now. The picture above was taken mid-"arrrrrrgh.")  He even tried a few tricks and flipped the sign around. Sure, enough, many of the people who stopped by commented on how cute our little sign waver was.  I say it totally helped!

Which leads, finally, to Lesson #10: Just have fun with it. Get the kids involved. Turn on some music. Don't stress about it too much. Chat with people- you get so many different types at yard sales. Spend time with some neighbors. Chances are, you're not going to reclaim the money you spent on all the items or even make a profit. Just go with the flow (this, coming from the woman who almost never "goes with the flow". But I did with the yard sale!). Be flexible. Don't let it stress you out. A yard sale is not worth stressing over, in my humble opinion.

In all, all the stuff in our yard -- which was some of my things and some of my parents' stuff -- sold for around $160-$170. We made money and I have less cluttered house. In all, it was a good way to spend a Saturday summer morning.

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