HOW TO MAKE A TON OF CASH WITH A YARD SALE
If it’s true that one gal’s junk is another person’s treasure, why not hold a yard sale and turn your unloved items into loveable cash? Cleaning out your closets, doing a bit of pre-sale shopping and contacting your friends can help you create a buzzworthy event that generates thousands of dollars.
USE THREE STRATEGIES TO BUILD YOUR STOCK
You can generate items to sell at your yard sale from three main sources: items you have around your house or apartment; items you buy during the months before your sale; items your friends ask you sell.
Strategy #1 – Clean out your house
Empty a room or clear out space in your garage and start bringing in items you’re going to sell. As you see the pile grow, you’ll not only get a feel for how much you’ll have to sell, you’ll get more excited about your sale and be willing to part with more items in your home or apartment.
Be dispassionate as your going through your home. OK, so you still love that cute jacket you bought two years ago, but when was the last time you wore it? If you haven’t worn or used something during the past year, decide how likely you are to use it this year. If you haven’t used it in two years, add it to your sale pile.
Strategy #2 – Contact your friends
Let your friends know you’re having a yard sale and ask them if they have anything they want to get rid of. Some friends will offer to load you up with items and will drive them over if you sell the items for them and split the proceeds. Others will beg you to come over and haul away the clothes, exercise equipment, toys, kitchenware and sporting goods that have cluttered their houses for years, letting you keep whatever you make from it.
Strategy #3 – Buy more items
Get together with a friend or your partner and visit other yard sales during the months before yours. People who hold yard sales often just want to get rid of their excess items and make a few bucks. Look for items you can buy and sell for three to four times what you paid. For example, buying a CD for $1 and selling it for $3 might not seem like much, but you’ve just tripled your money. Investing $500 this way can return $1,500 (and often more), adding to your yard sale. The more items you have, the more photos you can put on Craigslist when you advertise your sale, creating an awesome event people will drive miles to attend. Stock up on clothing, toys, books, CDs and DVDS. Pet items are huge sellers – look for closeouts during the year.
If you wind up at or drive past a yard sale at the end of the day and you’ve got a truck or van, tell the tired homeowner you’ll haul away everything she has left so she doesn’t have to deal with it, and you’ll give her $50 to boot. You can end up with hundreds of dollars worth of items.
If you’ll be holding your sale in summer, have plenty of Christmas items you buy cheap shortly after Christmas at grocery and retail stores. Believe it or not, Halloween is the second-biggest holiday of the year, with consumers spending billions (yes, “billions” with a “b”) on decorations and costumes.
GET REAL ON PRICING
“But it’s worth $100!” No it’s not. People who go to yard sales don’t want to pay even close to retail. They want big discounts. Even if that $100 juicer you’ve never used is still in the original box, decide if you’d rather have a $100 juicer in your pantry or $30 in your hand. You’re not losing $70, you’re gaining $30 (times many, many items).
Have a second set of price tags and be ready to lower your prices if your first wave of customers don’t buy. If certain items have received no interest by 10 or 11 a.m., drop your prices or bundle these items as freebies with other, higher-priced items you want to move.
A risky strategy you might try is to tag nothing and let people name their price. Yard sale regulars will low-ball you while amateurs will often pay much more than you had in mind. Keep a bottom-line price sheet you can scan when haggling if you use this method
MASTER THE MERCH
It’s not just what you sell, but how you sell it. The more attractively you display your merchandise, the more you’ll put people in the mood to buy and pay your asking prices. Put tablecloths on your tables. Buy a cheap clothing rack off Craigslist. Neatly fold and stack blouses, shirts and slacks and display them just like you see in a retail store. Create different areas to make it easy for people to find exactly what they want. Have batteries and an extension cord to let people check out electronic items.
Use stickers or store-bought price tags from an office supply store and neatly affix them to items. Use your computer to create signs for your tables. Decorate the yard with balloons and signs to create a festive event. Regular yard sale shoppers (your best customers) may be hungry and thirsty. Offer free popcorn, cookies, lemonade and early morning coffee to keep people around longer and create a good vibe between buyer and seller.
Don’t place items on the ground if you can get enough tables, benches and racks. You’ll catch more eyes and send the signal your items are more valuable if they are displayed with care. If you have the time, visit some estate sales and see how the pros do it.
PREPARE TO HAGGLE
Be prepared when someone says, “How much will you take if I buy all your CDs?” or “I want the sofa but not the matching chair.” Don’t wait until people try to talk you down on larger items to start thinking about the minimum you’ll take for something.
To encourage larger purchases of items you might not sell out, used tiered pricing, such as one CD for $3, three CDs for $7, and five CDs for $10. Wait until later in the day until after buyers have cherry picked the best, paying top dollar for these items.
WHAT DAY IS BEST?
Because of sports leagues, high school and college football and other errands people reserve for Saturdays, you’ll get more traffic if you hold your yard sale on Sunday. Start early in the morning to attract yard sale fanatics who visit multiple sales each weekend. If you have nicer, expensive items, especially furniture and art, professional resellers, art dealers and retirees with money to spend might be more likely to come on a Friday. If you live near a school with heavy traffic, consider a morning weekday sale if moms are your target customer.
ADVERTISE EARLY AND OFTEN
Visit your town’s website and find out the rules and regulations for holding a yard sale, including the hours you can sell and where and how you can put signs around town.
Advertise on Craigslist with plenty of photos if you want a big turnout. Be prepared for emails from people who want to buy certain items they see in advance, or who want to come in before you open. Post readable signs (use wide black markers on white cardboard) in high-traffic areas. Email your friends and ask them to pass the link to your Craigslist ad to any friends they have who are into yard sales.
Safety tip: Don’t go it alone on your sale day. You’ll inevitably get a phone call, need to take a bathroom break or get distracted with one customer, allowing ne’er do wells to steal your merchandise or cash. Have a buddy work the sale with you or hire a youngster to be your eyes and ears and to help make sales.
MULTIPLY YOUR HAUL
Using $2,000 you make at a yard sale to pay down a credit card with a 20 percent APR can improve your bottom line by another $400. If you put $2,000 into a 401(k) your employer matches and let it ride for years, your yard sale will help you generate an even larger pile of retirement cash.
This article was written by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, contributor for The Daily Clutch.