Tips for having a successful yard sale:
- List your yard sale in your local paper and give good directions! If there are community Facebook groups in your area, be sure to list your yard sale in those groups..
- Make good signs that look alike. I use brightly colored poster board. You can find hot pink, electric yellow, neon green, and fluorescent orange poster board in the arts and crafts or school supply sections of most retailers. Whatever you pick, make each sign the same color. That helps people looking for your yard sale to find you when they know what signs to follow.
- Make your signs big with thick black lettering. Consider listing in your ad what color your signs are so people can spot them and follow them.
- Price everything. Nothing is more annoying than having to ask how much everything is. Be reasonable with your prices. People who frequent yard sales are looking for a bargain. They are more likely to buy more when the prices are good. It’s about getting rid of the stuff first and what you make off of it second.
- The more you can spread your sale items out, the better. I hate yard sales where someone has five or six big boxes and you have to dig through them. Hang clothes up on a portable clothes rack, along a fence, or makeshift clothesline. Set up tables to lay out smaller items so people don’t have to bend over to look through everything. Short on tables? Use your boxes! Flip them over and lay stuff on top. This is also great for shoes or purses.
- Profit from the summer weather. Have a cooler with canned sodas and bottled water. Sell them for $0.50 each. If you have a stockpile of sodas and waters you can use those.
- Have a rain plan. I always list “rain or shine” in the ad because I have a garage. Two years ago it rained on my yard sale day and I still made $120!
- Go in with a friend or neighbor who wants to sell stuff. Have a yard sale together. It helps to have one person who can answer questions and one who can handle transactions.
- Have plenty of change. I start out with at least $30 in ones, $70 in fives and $5 in quarters. Add dimes and nickels if you do not price items in $0.25 increments.
- Offer a bargain. I always have a $0.10 box for all those things that don’t feel like it’s worth my time to price. T-shirts, belts, athletic shorts, tank tops, makeup bags, change purses, kitchen utensils, koozies, pot holders, and socks are all things I’ve put in a $0.10 box before. I throw it all in a big box and put a sign on the box. This is where I break my “spread everything out” rule, but I make sure to group like items together. Last year I had a lady spend $2 on things from the $0.10 boxes.
- Be prepared for haggling. Yes, you will put $0.50 on a pair of shorts and, yes, some lady will ask you if you’ll take $0.25. Give it some thought ahead of time about what you’ll waver on and what’s firm. Anything under $1 I will usually take what they offer me. I usually price larger items a little higher so I can haggle. For example, last year we sold a push mower. We wanted $60 for it. I priced it $75 so I could negotiate down. We ended up selling it for $65! Some people feel like they get a better bargain if they get you to come down on the price.
- Push your merchandise! When customers arrive be sure to greet them and ask if they are looking for anything in particular. If someone is looking through your collection of rock band t-shirts from the 80s that you’ve priced at $1 each, tell them if they are interested in them they can have them for $0.75 each or buy 2 get 1 free. Tell the guy thumbing through the box of car magazines that he can have the whole box for $2. Be friendly. Chat. Point out some of your larger items. “Could I interest you in an area rug today?” You want to sell and they want to buy. Work with it!
- Remember to arrange for pick up of what is left. I call the Hannah Home, a local mission center that runs several thrift stores, to come pick up around 3pm on yard sale day.
Tips for selling items in a consignment sale:
- Always keep the cut the sale takes from your items in mind as you price them. Most sales around here take a 30% cut from the cost of the item.
- Price your items to sell. At a yard sale you might be lucky to get $1 for a pair of children’s jeans. At a consignment sale you can price the same jeans for $3. I tend to price all of my items for $3-$4.
- Group cheaper items together. If you have a couple items that you would be happy to sell for $1 each, group them together and put $3 on the set. People love buying a top with a bottom even if they aren’t the same brand. Please make sure they are the same size though!
- Check your items for rips, stains, or peeling. Most consignment sales won’t accept items if they are worn out so don’t bother pricing them. Throw them in a $0.25 box for your next yard sale.
- Before signing up for a consignment sale check their rules and requirements. One sale in my area wanted me to hand key in each item. I don’t have time for that! Opt to include your items in sales that don’t require you to work too hard to list your items.
- Always launder your items before the sale. Items that are presented well will sell better.
- If you have multiple consignment sales in your area you might be able to put your clothes through 3-4 sales. Make a note of the drop off and pick up days for all the sales and outline a plan for the season.
- Start preparing your items early. You don’t want to be stressed as you get closer to the drop off date for the first sale. Get your items together, make sure you have enough wire hangers and safety pins, and set a goal of how many garments you want to tag per day.
- Gather wire hangers throughout the year. If you need more, contact the local dry cleaner to see if they can sell you some hangers.
Tips for selling items online
Facebook groups have become a popular place to sell unwanted items. Search on Facebook for groups in your area and be sure to ask your friends if they know of any. Be careful not to buy more items than you sell. It can become addictive!
- Consider the time of the day that you are posting your items. Don’t post when people don’t tend to be on Facebook. Many groups have rules about how often you can reply to your own post to move it up the page.
- Price your items to sell. If you wouldn’t pay that much for a used item then don’t expect someone else to.
- Make sure your pictures are free of clutter. It only takes a moment to clean up a spot in your house to take the picture and it could help your item sell better.
- Contact your local police station to see if they offer a meeting place to meet with your buyer/seller. Many do that now. Always err on the side of caution. If the police department doesn’t offer a meeting place then choose a well lit, public spot.
- Always confirm the day of your meet to make sure the other party is still coming. There is nothing worse than waiting for a no show.
- Make sure you specify “cash only”. People think since they “are local” that their check is good with you.
- Be wary of the “can you hold until Friday”. Too many times you have other interested buyers and the Friday pick up falls through. I find that buying on Facebook is impulse. I might jump in and say “me, me, me,” but if I took a day to think about it I might have not made the commitment. The same happens on the other end, you go back to someone who was interested and they cooled off.
- Always bring change if you are asking for an amount other than $20.
- Ask more then you really want for the item. For instance, if you want $5 ask $7 because they are always going to offer you less unless it’s a hot item.
Tips for selling items on eBay
If you aren’t comfortable selling in your local Facebook groups (remember they don’t have fees!), you might want to turn to eBay. I only use the ‘Buy It Now’ feature on Ebay when I list my items. And I allow them to make offers, but it does allow you to set the minimum you are willing to take.
Here are some tips on how to sell your items:
- Look up items like yours first by using the “Sold” search feature. Check out how much they sold for, the quality of their pictures, and what words they used for their title and description. They now have an option to ‘list an item like this’ which makes listing on Ebay a lot easier.
- Give your item a great title and make sure you do not misspell anything. Buyers can only find your items if they search for the keywords that you used.
- Make sure you have a box to ship your item before you list it. Don’t scramble trying to find a box after it is sold. You can go ahead and weigh and measure the box so when it sells it is easier to print out the label. There is a place on the listing to input that information.
- Be completely honest. Ebay thrives on feedback and if you lie once your reputation will be ruined.
- Take good pictures. Quality is better than quantity and you don’t need more than 3 pictures per item.
- Start your item in a price that ends in .99. This will entice people to start bidding and you will pay less in listing fees. Or skip auctions and just use the Buy It Now feature.
- Always start your auction at night. Most people are online purchasing in the evening hours. It is also better to end your auction on a Sunday night.
- Don’t inflate your shipping costs. Offer a refund if the shipping fee is less than you estimated. Don’t underestimate though! You can always package your item and take it to a FedEx or UPS Store for an estimate before you list the item; use a zip code for a town that is on the other side of the country from you.
- Make offers to your viewers. When you go to the Selling area of Ebay, it will show you if you have anyone viewing your listings. You can make offers to them. I like to turn OFF the counter offers feature when making an offer because I am going to already give them my best price because I want the item gone.
Tips for selling items on Amazon
Amazon is another great place to sell your used items. You can even box up all your items and ship them to Amazon to sell for you! There are a number of resources to learn to sell on Amazon. Just search it out on Google or YouTube.
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