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Yard Sale Tips? (1 Viewer)

Andrea W

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Andrea Whitlock
Anyone have any yard sale tips? Next month, I'll be participating in a multi-family yard sale and none of us have ever done one. I'm looking for general advice and have a few specific questions to start with.

1) How much cash (and in what denominations) should we have on hand to make change?

2) How should we keep track of whose stuff is whose? We thought of assigning everyone a color and putting color stickers (separate from the price tag stickers) on all the items, so we know who it belongs to. But what if customers switch stickers? Will they do that just to be obnoxious? We figured they might try to switch price stickers so having separate color stickers might at least maintain some identity of the items.

3) The kids want to help out. They are mostly in the 5 and 6 year old age group. What can we have them do? Lemonade stand?

Any comments are appreciated!
 

Malcolm R

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Assuming you're selling stuff cheap, have lots of small bills as change...and lots of quarters. If you round all the prices off to the nearest quarter, you won't need any other coins as change.

We usually just write people's initials on the price sticker for items that come from different families. I'd limit the amount of stickers you put on items. I don't think people would switch the stickers, but people don't necessarily want to buy something covered in stickers either.

Be ready for early-birds (usually dealers who are looking for valuable items you might be selling cheap that they can resell in their shops). If you're advertising the sale, be ready for some people to show up an hour earlier, and for them to jump right in and start pawing through boxes while you're trying to set up.

The last couple garage sales my family ran, we advertised an 8 a.m. start time. We had people knocking on our front door just after 7 a.m. Then as soon as the garage door opened, they were trying to jam themselves in to see what was there before we could even pull some of the boxes outside to clear the aisles.

At least around here, the best times for sales seem to be Friday/Saturday, from about 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Sundays, or later hours, don't usually result in many sales.
 

Chris Moe

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Just use different colored stickers for you price tags. Your family has orange price tags, one neighbor blue, etc.

Having the kids do a lemonade stand sounds like a great idea. Maybe sell donuts or something similar if you start in the morning.

I've also been to yard sales where they BBQ up some hot dogs and sell them as well.
 

Chris Hovanic

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Yea beware of the early birds and stand firm on your prices to those early birds (unless you just want to get rid of stuff)

I have sales to get rid of stuff and normally take the offers on everything. If you fret about every deal made you may drive yourself crazy. Some people will do the "super low ball" on items, use your judgement... most of the time the older guy shopping by himself is prob. a professional and is looking to make some money on your generosity.

Fridays and Saturdays are the best days... don't bother with Sunday.

As stated before use color tags for prices to separate each persons stuff.

Good luck
 

Alex Prosak

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All pretty good advice you've received, especially on the early birds. While it's nice to get some cash in hand from the sale, my advice is to inventory everything, bag it up, and call The Salvation Army or some other local charity for a pick up. I hate sitting around for two days haggling with people when I could use the donations as a tax write off. I'd rather spend the time outside biking, hiking, skiing, golfing...insert activity here.
 

Shane Martin

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If you have various family members using the yard sale, use the color coded stickers and when an item is sold just place the sticker on a sheet with their name on it.

It's the easiest way I've seen to keep it fair.
 

Andrea W

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Shane, good idea! The reason we were thinking of separating the color stickers from the price tags is in case people switch prices on things. Don't know how often that happens, though.

Alex, whatever doesn't sell I'm taking straight to Goodwill afterwards. I have a ton of baby stuff and toys to get rid of.
 

Andrew Pratt

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I've held over 6 yard sales in the last 10 years or so and I've never had that happen to us. Just price stuff fairly cheap and people won't feel the need to cheat...beside they'll just barter with you anyway if they don't like the price.

We have a rule too that once it goes out it doesn't come back in
 

Malcolm R

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I don't think sticker switching is much to worry about. People will either ask if you'll take less or steal it outright.

Yes, people do shoplift at yard sales so if you have anything valuable, keep it in a prominent spot near the cash table or in a locked case (jewelry, etc.).
 

Mike Voigt

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In some places, you need a permit to hold a sale - like in my town here in Texas. No permit, you can get into trouble...

I like the idea of sending it all to Goodwill. Might even get a better deal on it...

Mike
 

Shane Martin

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An idea would be to catalog it. So Red -1 = Grandma's lamp or whatever if you catch my drift and inventory it. I don't think that tag switching happens all that often anyway.
 

Patrick_S

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Always have a higher price on the price sticker then you would be willing to except. Everyone will always ask you to reduce the marked price so if it's priced at your rock bottom price and you will not come down they will often pass. If on the other hand it's priced a little higher then your bottom line price you can give them a break and they feel like they got one over on you.

In the end both of you go away happy.
 

Andrea W

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Does anyone have any suggestions on how much change we should have on hand and in what denominations. Something like $50 or $100 in $1's, $5's, and quarters?
 

chris_everett

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Many banks have a change "package" that they will get for you, with appropriate denominations. I would talk to them.
 

Nathan*W

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All my sales have started with $50 in ones and $10 in quarters. Should be plenty.

Another nifty idea is to sell coffee/doughnuts in addition to your stuff. Some people skip breakfast to get there early and people don't barter on food prices. If the sale goes through lunch, I've pulled out the gas grill and sold hot dogs/sodas. You'd be amazed how much it adds to your bottom line.
 

Randy Tennison

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We did the garage sale thing a couple of times, and I hated it. The early birds, the dicker-ers, the rudeness.

We had a little box with seashells on it for a dime. A guy had the nerve to ask if I would take less for it.

Now, we donate all our items to Goodwill. We inventory them, assign a fair market value (from a spreadsheet provided by our tax accountant), and deduct the donation on our taxes. This year, we donated over $1000.00 worth of clothing and home goods to Goodwill (which was about 3 years worth of stuff). If we had a garage sale, we would have been lucky to get $150.00 for it all (minus the time and lost weekend).

Plus, hopefully, the goods will get used by needy families, rather than greedy families!
 

BryanZ

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1. Make clear signs on how to get there. Bright orange/pink/neon with arrows pointing the way. Think cars going 20 - 40 MPH. Are they going to read an address? Just put on there 'SALE' or something similar with an arrow pointing which way to go.

2. Make the letters and arrows highly visable. Big. Remember the above. Drivers eyes are looking. You want them to see your signs and know where to go. Do not bother using small tip markers. Use the big ones. You may consider some nice decorating on the signs but keep it simple and straight forward.

3. Take weather into account. If it is a cold day, sell coffee or hot chocolate at a quarter per cup. If it is warm or hot, ice tea, lemonade, bottled water, or soda is the way to go. Sell snacks too.

4. Play some nice background music that will appeal to most everyone. Heavy metal, hard core rap, classical music, or opera you can pretty much rule out. Music can help the sales.

5. Group similarly priced items. $0.25 pile, $0.50 pile, $1 pile, etc.

6. Everything is negotiable. You don't want to put that stuff back into your house.

7. Whomever is selling the goods should be close by. Separate cash boxes may be needed in order not to confuse my cash and profits with yours.

8. Have an idea of what may go early. Tools and electronics can be in this category. They also will attract customers. As an example, one of the first items sold at the yard sale I was participating in was my pair of KLH speakers.

9. Set as much up before 7:00 as humanly possible. People doing yard sales like to start at 8 but let's be honest. Those serious buyers will be there at 7 - 7:30. Your busy period likely will be between 7 - 9:30. Plan accordingly.

10. Change. I'd say have $75 worth. 6 $5s, 30 $1s, $10 in quarters, and $5 in dimes.

11. Have bags and newspaper readily available. Newspaper for the glass/breakable objects and the bags to make it easy for customers to carry. Those plastic bags you get with groceries often work wonderfully.

12. Original packaging if possible. Cleans out the garage and attic too and makes it easier for the customers. They know the item is much more secure that way. Less work for the spouse to do later too.

13. Could be an oversight but take care of landscaping beforehand. You want the place to look nice and not neglected.

14. Clean the goods ahead of time. Dust, polish, wash, etc. Spruce it up. Doing this can be a lot of work but can be well worth the effort. Additionally, remember people will be driving by. Give them a reason to stop and look.

15. Lastly, don't forget the sunscreen and comfortable chairs. You don't want to be a lobster nor to have blisters on your feet.

Good luck!
 

David McGough

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Be aware of people coming and checking out what is in your garage and what your lay out is.
I had a sale and was robbed 2 weeks later. The things I did not have for sale were stolen. Cover your personal stuff up.

If nice weather done even allow people in your garage.
Crooks will take the time to size you up.

Dave
 

Garrett Lundy

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Easier method for multi-owner sale. Make a list of everything a person has in the sale and its price (ie. lamp $1, DVD $2, etc etc). Place the price sticker on the item and run everything out of one register.

At the end of the day, count remaining inventory and divide the spoils o' war according to what did or didn't sell (You sold five of bob's dvd's, but the lamp is still there = $10).

My biggest complaint about such sales is that people have unrealistic expectations about what stuff is worth, broken Playskool baby things for $12 and whatnot.

And the biggest problem: All the good used stuff will just get sold on Ebay anyway. In a best case scenario you can find some cheap used CD's at a garage sale.
 

Patrick_S

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That has not been my experience this past year.

While a lot of good items are sold on EBay a lot of people just don't want to go the EBay route and still sell good stuff at yard sales.

This past year I've picked up several items that you can regularly find on EBay for higher prices but the seller in these cases sold them on the street.
 

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