Sunday, May 3, 2015

Garage/Yard Sale Tips


The weather in Utah has been super warm since...well, February. Way earlier than years past, people have been outside,  swimming, eating snowcones. I have also seen another characteristic of summer popping up earlier than usually, garage sales. 

Before you roll your eyes or judge me, let me tell you some things about garage sales.

My family has done yard sales for literally as long as I can remember. The first memory I have of a yard sale, I had to be three or four years old. I had my little cash register and I would sit outside and be the "cashier". For the first many years, we were pretty disorganized. We had my aunts bring their stuff, we had our stuff, we never knew whose was what. It was kind of a mess. THEN. Ohhhh, then. Then, my sister Alison became an expert. My sister was born to thrift. She used to have an ebay business and made a way way decent salary, just selling stuff, usually 80's toys, that she found at thrift stores. That being said, some stuff wouldn't sell on ebay so she ended up starting to do garage sales to sell off the excess. She wanted to be super organized as this was her living. She taught me everything I know. So when she stopped doing Ebay and therefore stopped being the head garage sale planner for the family, I stepped in. Apprentice becomes Master? Anyway, last year when we got home from Maryland I started to plan for a family wide yard sale. 

Mark was super skeptical about garage sales. Last year he reallllly judged me and my family while we were getting ready, understandably. He kept telling me how we weren't going to make money and no one was going to come. I knew he would be regretting these words after the garage sale was over.
This first garage sale Mark witnessed had 200+ people coming in and out of our garage all day. Together, all the families made about $700. He was shocked. He is still shocked. 

To me, it's worth it and it's kind of a family bonding thing now, so it's fine. I get that it isn't a lot of people's thing, and that's fine. However, if you are just getting started, here are some helpful tips to keep you organized and to have a really successful yard sale!

ALRIGHT. After a way (too) long intro, here are the tips! 

TIP #1
Shoutout to Sims. Luh you boo.

The night before the sale, move the cars out of the garage. The goal is to get everything somewhat set up and then drag it into the driveway in the morning. Your yard sale will be 100x more organized and just all around better if you take an hour the night before and get totally set up in the garage. 
 You are going to need as many tables as you can get your hands on. Last year, we used 10. You are also going to need old blankets. If you have a clothes rack, that's helpful. Or this year, we just put a round dowel between two ladders and it was awesome as a makeshift rack. That way your nice clothes aren't on the ground.

What to put on the tables...
-Put all glassware like small decorations, household items, etc. on a table. 
-Put all electronics on a table. Wrap the cords and secure them with those things that bread is wrapped in. Very few people will look through a tangle of cords.
-Craft/Scrapbook Items

What to put on the blankets...
Any nice clothing that could be hung up on the clothes rack, should be. That being said, we put certain clothing folded on blankets. 
-Sweatshirts and t-shirts 
-PJs, sweats, workout, etc.
-Kids clothes. If you could put these on smaller blankets or beach towels and have them organized by size, clearly marked, that's the best idea. 

What to put in boxes...
-Random things that aren't worth much. For example, I had a bunch of random belts and hats. I put them in a box and put a sign that said ".50 EACH" If people wanted to dig through those, they could. And they did.
-BOOKS! People that want books will dig through boxes. They can't be kept on a blanket or table reasonably. The only thing that worked better than boxes is a bookshelf. This year we hauled a bookshelf out and put a lot of books on there, but we still had books in boxes. People were happy to look through the boxes, even when they had plenty of options on the shelf.

That's pretty much it. People hate boxes in a serious way. 

TIP #2
To save from headaches, set a flat price for clothes. We did $1.00 a piece for any clothing item. In years past we have done $1.00 for t-shirts, $2.00 for sweatshirts, $1.50 for shoes, and it just became way too much to keep track of. Just keep it at a flat price and be grateful that it's leaving your house at all. You are going to want to make a lot of signs on word that say "ALL CLOTHES $1.00 EACH" or "ALL BOOKS .50 EACH" and hang them up all around. A lot of people won't buy stuff if the price isn't clear because they are embarrassed to ask. 

For bigger items, like last year Mark sold his PS3 and we had a lot of furniture there, make large signs on word. Print off multiple and tape them all around the item. 

For everything else and mostly the stuff on the table, use the dot sticker system and write the prices on that sticker.

Please remember, it's a yard sale. Most things aren't worth what you think they are. Be open to offers and price fairly. 

TIP #3
Something I tried last year that worked out really well is I put a flier on all the Facebook yard sale sites near our house. The funnier you make it, the more people will come. This was the one I made last year. 

We had SO MANY PEOPLE come because I put this flier on the yard sale page. I also put this flier on KSL Classifieds and Craigslist. 

The next thing you are going to want to do is put signs up. I have started to really like the signs with the arrows, people love to follow arrows. However it's really important to have the address very clear on the poster. We used to do dates on the poster but we stopped doing those, they just clutter things up.

When do you put these posters up and where? Of all the things we have down, this is not one. This year I sent my Mom right as we started pulling the stuff we had set up into the driveway. This was too early. We had people flooding in before we could even finish getting set up. I would say about 5 minutes before you are done being set up. 

TIP #4
Since we have a multi family yard sale every single time, we have started to use a color system.

On all my items, I put a yellow sticker, including clothes. The only time I write a price on the sticker is with the items on the table or with the random things that won't fit on a table. Otherwise, the signs will have you covered.

The next thing I do is at the checkout stand I have an ipad. I have a google doc spreadsheet with everyone's names along the top. When I make a sale, I go through each item and type who gets what amount.
Example: Someone brings me a shirt with an orange dot, a book with a red dot and a picture frame with a green dot. I will go into my spread sheet and put $1 under my Aunt, who is orange. I will put .50 under my Mom, who is red and I will put .50 under my Sister, who is green.

At the end of the yard sale you will just enter the sum equation into excel and it will tell you who owes what. You will take all of the money in your box and divide it equally. Remember, whoever put money in for the change at the start of the day needs to have that added to the amount they made. 

TIP #5
This has become something I more and more believe in. It prevents from random people just taking money and not knowing who gets what money. 
Take a table or a desk. Put it in a place that you can see the entire sale and the entire sale can see you. Make a huge poster sign that says "CHECK OUT HERE!"
Have your ipad and a little box or something to keep the money in. NEVER LET THE MONEY OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. EVER. Too many bad experiences to not give you that advice.

Also, it's nice to have boxes/grocery bags for people's purchases. 

MOST IMPORTANT- You will need change! Try to do this the day before. We always forget and someone is rushing to the bank at 7:30 AM. 

TIP #6 
When my Sister was still running the show, she would put me in charge of this part. I was happy because I made bank! The day before the yard sale my Mom would take me to Costco and we would buy those really long licorice ropes and one other kind of candy. Then, at the yard sale, I would have a little table where I sold candy and drinks for like $1.00 apiece. I made so much money and people really liked to have a snack while shopping. Or something to distract their kids who are 100% tired of going from house to house.

I also used my snow cone machine one year which was like, THE biggest hit of all.

Just like at a store, people hate shopping in a disorganized mess. People will come in waves at your sale. Take the downtime to quickly refold clothes, put things back where they belong and make sure everything can be seen. You will need help, I was very frustrated this last yardsale because no one would help me so this maintain part didn't really get done and really, I think we paid for it. People do drivebys, they want to see what you've got. If they think for even one second that they have to do some effort to find good stuff, they won't stop. I mean, would you?
Moral of the story: Assemble a great team. 

-Start the yard sale EARLY, at 7:30 or 8. End at about 2:00. If you are starting to lose momentum around 1:00, that's a good time to start loading leftover stuff in the truck to go to D.I. That way you will be cleaned up by 2:00. 

-Put all your big stuff like furniture out by the road. People are way more likely to stop. 

-Organize your yard sale like a store would organize theirs. Put all of the clothes in one area, all of the children's stuff in another. 

-Don't forget to take your signs down. We have had people ring our doorbell at 6 pm thinking we were having a secret indoor yard sale. 

I'm sure i'm forgetting so many things, so this might be something I continually add to.

Good luck and happy selling!

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