Holding a multi-family yard sale can be rewarding: earn extra cash from the dust-collectors that don’t bring you joy any more, keep items out of landfills by finding new homes for them, and have fun bonding with like-minded friends! However, making it easy for your shoppers and yourself can be more challenging than going solo. Why not benefit from our experience should you get the bug to hold one with your friends or neighbors and consider these tips?
You have to spend a little cash to make a lot more.
We advertised for two days in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Friday before the sale and Saturday of).
This was our biggest expense but worth it. Veteran yard salers in RVA plot their path using the zip codes noted at the top left of the ad. We asked many of our shoppers how they found us, and most cited the ad. Having scheduled the ad over a week in advance, the paper’s on-line site even listed it as a Featured Sale.
The second promotional tool you will need is directional signage. Office supply stores like Staples sell packs of signs with metal posts, and we tried to making the printing legible from afar.
To catch people’s eyes, we added balloons to the signs. Alison posted one near a local school fair, and several shoppers followed our arrows from there.
Craigslist.org has a section for garage sales
in its For Sale tab. Using social media tools often can only help. We took to Facebook the morning of and, in hindsight, should have tweeted and posted photos on Instagram once the sale got rolling.
Pricing Your Items
Four families participated in our sale. Each used a different colored round sticker for price tags.
Pre-price everything before the sale; you won’t have time the morning of once the early-birds show up. The color-coded sticker helps keep track of each family’s sales. The week preceding the event we brought our stuff to Alison’s newly-cleaned garage for storage, making set-up the morning of much easier.
Setting prices is challenging. Most shoppers expect a bargain. If your goal is to move merchandise so you have less to haul away for donation, price far below what you think it’s worth. Attending other yard sales can give you an idea of the going price-range for different kinds of goods.
For the items you feel strongly should not be sold for a song, stick to your guns with your price. You can always consign them somewhere after the sale. For everything else, price to move. Some items have universally accepted pricing:
Hardback books: $1
Paperback books: 50¢
Lastly, decide if you want to have a pricing motivator towards the end of your sale, like everything half price at 11 am (just don’t tell your early customers). One tactic Kim Menges mentioned was in the last hour to give your shoppers a uniform-sized bag and say fill your bag for $x. But be prepared, the end-of-sale shoppers will still want to negotiate. They know you don’t want to deal with the left-behinds.
Display Your Wares
Think like a retailer and group like items together.
Display all holiday stuff on one side of the yard, sporting goods in another area, jewelry (divided individually in baggies) by the check-out, etc. The color coding system will keep track of each family’s sales, and the shoppers appreciate the effort as they zero in on their searches. Have your compatriots who aren’t manning the check-out act as salespersons helping your customers.
Ring Up the Sales
We started with a cash box of $100: 90 one dollar bills, and a roll of quarters. Most shoppers come with small bills, but we had two show up with $100 bills, so be prepared for anything.
Two of us managed check-out. One person removed the tags and put them on each family’s tally board noting any price changes,
while the other added up the total as the prices were called out. We kept a stash of bags at the table
for wrapping breakables and toting small items away.
Have a Plan for the Leftovers
At the end of the event we grouped the leftovers by family and took pictures for tax purposes. Fortunately we had pick-up trucks that we then loaded up with the remainders for hauling to Goodwill.
We lucked out with one of the most gorgeous days in recent memory and wrapped up the sale with time to enjoy the sunny weather. Having started the year with the goal of ridding our homes of anything that isn’t useful or beautiful, we were thrilled (though exhausted) to check the post-purge yard sale off of our To-Do List. We don’t pretend to be perfectly clutter-free, but we definitely took one giant leap towards that goal, just in time to relax for Porch Season.
April 22, 2015