On Saturday we had a yard sale. This was my first yard sale. It won’t be my last but I am still recovering. Here are some things I learned from it:
1. Go ahead and put the words ‘No Early Birds’ in your ads but know that there will be early birds anyway. They’re sure they will get the worms you will no doubt be selling. I walked out at 6:30 a.m. (our posted start time) to open my front gate and found several people (all men) peeking over the top of the (6 foot!) gate waiting for me to grant them admission. These people know what they want and they don’t spend time shopping – if you have something of interest to them they will engage you in the speed round of negotiating and be on their way to the next sale.
2. Which brings me to lesson number 2: There are 3 types of yard sale shoppers: The Professional. They come equipped with lists and maps of their planned route of the local sales that day. They are in and out and if you don’t have what they want they won’t stay to see if anything else might interest them. The Shopper. They go to lots of yard sales but not with any particular needs in mind. They will spend an hour or so picking through your goods to find the gems. They will create piles of stuff they want in a corner of your yard. They are not the keen negotiators the Professionals are, it’s about the stuff for them, not the savings. The Chance Shopper. These are people who didn’t set out to go to a yard sale, they were driving or walking by and saw your signs so they decided to stop and see if there was anything good. They either buy a ton of stuff, nothing at all or that one thing they didn’t know they couldn’t live without until that moment. Some of them negotiate but some of them don’t even think of it.
3. These are some rules I learned from this website on how to have a yard sale (they also allow you to post your notice free). First, don’t let anyone use your bathroom or enter your home at any time. Keep your door locked and carry the key. You can’t watch everyone at all times so keep them locked out. Second, carry your cash and change on you – don’t use a money box. The money box could easily be carried away when you’re not looking. Set a start and end time. If you don’t tell the people when you’re starting they may come a’knockin’ at five a.m. Also, put out a ‘freebie box’ with stuff that you don’t think you’ll get money for. People like stuff for free.
4. The stuff you think is junk that no one would ever ever want is the stuff that gets bought first. The good stuff, the designer labels and such won’t get sold at all. People just aren’t interested. The exception is Apple products. We had so many requests for computers, iPods and iPhones it was amazing.
5. Be ready to bargain. Price your stuff accordingly. People will haggle with you and they’ll walk away if they don’t get a price they like. You might not be able to sell that item to anyone else. I priced everything a dollar or more than I wanted for it and when you’re talking $4 or $5 then people will offer you a dollar less or even half what you’re asking. If you set out to get that anyway you’re golden. I’d make people those kinds of sweet deals all day long. We both win. It’s not about the amount of money they have to pay for an item, it’s about getting a discount on it.
I had what I thought was a genius idea which turned out not to be the cash cow I had hoped. I filled a cooler with sodas and bottled water and put a $1 sign on the cooler. I got many an offer for the cooler but very few takers for the sodas. Even though it is sunny southern California it’s still February and I think the weather was too cold to really move my sodas. But if you’re having a yard sale in the spring, summer or early fall it’s not a bad idea. People love to haggle over the yard sale items but no one tries to bargain for cheaper cans of Coke, which is amazing to me.
Those are my tips. If you’re having a yard sale I hope you make a ton of cash. If you’re not having a yard sale then you might want to check and make sure you’re not a hoarder. Just kidding. I’m sure you’ll know if you’re a hoarder because the production team from Hoarders will arrive unannounced on your doorstep and tell you.
To hear Conor sing about having the cash, click here.