Saturday money making….tips for a successful yard sale!

Happy weekend everyone!!!  So, my mom is selling her house….or trying to at this point.  The house she has lived in for over 30 years…..the house I lived in my entire life, until college.  This impending move means there is 30+ years of stuff that this sentimental woman has held on to.  The realization has dawned on us (including her) that if we don’t get rid of stuff, it all needs to get packed up, moved, and fit somehow into a smaller place when she downsizes……not happening!!!  We figured we had to get rid of most of it, but before donating it, we decided to have a yard sale and see what would happen!

In the 50 degree weather today (= no flip flops [sad face]), we had a neighborhood yard sale!!  Overall, a success!! I typically HATE yard sales for several reasons:

  1. You have to get up early – the Bentzs are NOT morning people!!!
  2. You have to schlup all of your junk out for people to manhandle pick through, tell you you’re overpriced, and then walk away anyway
  3. Then when it’s over you have to schlup all of your junk BACK into the house, or find some other method of disposal that won’t break someone’s heart (i.e. in the trash!)

BUT, I kept an open mind…..the goal = make as much money as possible and end up with the least amount of junk!!

After a successful day, I have come up with my tips for the most successful yard sale possible.  I’m sure some of the more professional yard sale-ers out there have better tips than this, but its amateur hour at the Bentz house tonight – humor me! (Disclaimer – sorry for the lack of pictures – I was a lean, mean, selling machine today….not much time for pictures!)

1.  If possible, make it a family/friend/neighbor affair……the more junk treasures you have, the more people will come!  We had the yard sale in my mom’s neighborhood, with about 5 of her neighbors, as well as some family members. There was a plethora of treasures to choose from!  The shoppers were excited at all of the possibilities!

2.  Location, location, location!!! As with selling real estate, opening a business…..pretty much anything…..selling your stuff works best in a good location. You aren’t going to get much business without much traffic or possibility of being seen….by people other than the occasional passing cow or postal service worker.  My mom lives on a busy thoroughfare through town, so there was lots of traffic, both from pre-advertising, as well as general passer-by! Which brings me to my next tip……

3.  Get the word out!!!  Advertising ahead of time will help drum up early business (those that plan ahead) to help keep the throngs of random passer-by shoppers coming out.  The more people they see, the more they will think they are missing out on an awesome find!  Advertising on Craigslist helps get the word out (for free – SWEET!).  Also, when having multiple families, sharing the cost of a newspaper ad is also economical.

4.  Signage.  In addition to advertising through various media outlets, signage is important….especially when its pretty and attention grabbing!!!

The pink was definitely the way to go!!  Pertinent details including the date, time, address (blocked out to protect the innocent – my mother) and other key facts (multi-family) is obvious.  Shaun was in charge of hanging these at key places in town, including busy corners with stop lights where potential customers would be sitting waiting for stop lights.  Him hanging the signs drew questions from people passing by, and he just sent them on down to the sale!  He’s lucky this is all he had to do….I could have made him stand out on the street in a chicken costume, waving at drivers with a yard sale sign on…..but I’m nice.

5.  Organization is key!  The best way to get items sold is to organize your junk treasures into “departments.”  This was where I became the boss key player of the show…..we had housewares/decor, holiday fare, kitchen items, electronics, office supplies, purses and “man stuff” (tools, snow blowers, row boats – seriously, the row boat is still for sale…..any takers?!?!?!).  This worked well and kept customers focused on their options and kept items moving out the “door”!

6.  No one likes to give their money to a grump!!   #1 above in my list of reasons I hate hated yard sales – getting up early.  Getting up early makes me sad…..(“eating fiber makes me……sad” name that commercial……..) HOWEVER, I gave each and every person that strolled into our sale as much of a bright and perky “Good morning – how are you today?!?” as I could muster on a Saturday morning.  In return, I got lots of smiles and money flowing as treasures were being carted away to new homes!

7.  Prevent as few questions as possible.  You are going to be asked eleven-dy BILLION times if this Elvis shaped waffle maker still works (just kidding…….none of these were present at our sale!), so why have a million and one questions about price???  Taking the time (no matter how torturous the night before) to price everything ahead of time will keep the day moving along and keep the transactions flowing!

8.  The price is right!!!  Probably the hardest part of selling 30+ years worth of fun at a yard sale is deciding at what prices to part with things.  I  (who made the most money – ah thank you!) found that the lower you price things, the less people will try to talk you down, the more willing they are to buy additional items, and the easier it is to get that stuff out the door!  HOWEVER, in addition to having these lower priced items, having a few key pieces – priced higher (video game systems, keyboard – sold to our most interesting and enthusiastic customer of the day – serenading us with a song even, and a futon) helped round out the total earnings from the sale.

9.  Goodbye junk!  We were selling stuff, obviously, because we no longer wanted it… why bring it back into the house?  Everything that was left when we were finished was donated to a local ministry thrift store, grown-up books to our church book store, and all of my BabySitter’s Club books (TONS) were donated to a reading program at one of the local schools.  Not only did we clear out my mom’s house, we made some money in the process, and were able to help others….warms your heart!   You can search for local organizations (Salvation Army, veteran’s homes, etc) that will come pick up donated items after yard sales, saving additional treks to various drop off locations.

Overall it was a successful day! Most of the key items sold, with a decent amount being donated to local charities.  I am PUMPED at the money I earned…….I have already been deciding which upcoming home project it will be “allocated” to – SUPER EXCITED.

However, the saddest moment of my day was when my mom sold my baby stroller……..although I have laughed endlessly at her for still having it around after 26 years.  Seeing it stroll off to another home left me a bit nostalgic (and worried because I wasn’t sure if it was even up to modern day baby codes!)  I even asked the woman to wait a second so I could take a picture (I was laughed at quite a bit for this!)

Pictures take up much less space then keeping crazy items around for sentimental reasons….so they can laugh at me all the want……I’m the smart one…..and the one who made the most money!!!

So there it is……the Bentz method to yard sale-ing.  It was a money maker, but this is NOT going to be a regular occurrence.  Waking up before the sun on a Saturday morning is not our idea of a good time, but earning money for new projects (and having donuts – Shaun’s incentive) will definitely garner our consideration……maybe!

One Comment on “Saturday money making….tips for a successful yard sale!”

  1. Gary Yoder says:

    But,you didnt sell my boat,,,,,lol

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