Ready Set Sale

And another 30 Before 30 item bites the dust.  The task…hold a yard sale.

We’ve been planning on having a yard sale pretty much since the day we moved into the house and we FINALLY pulled the trigger on it this weekend.  After months of pulling “merchandise” we were ready and had a little free time (now that we’re post wedding) to hold a successful sale.  So I bring you our “how to hold a yard sale” post and share with you what we did and some tips and tricks worth noting.

First up, the merchandise.  We waited to have a yard sale until we had a decent amount of things for the sale.  I know I tend to drive right by yard sales that look sparse so I wanted to make sure that we had plenty to sell.  We’ve been storing yard sale items on our porch.  For more than a year now, every time we found an item in our house that was yard sale worthy, something we longer needed or used, we grabbed it and stored it on the porch.  That is until we pretty much filled the entire porch with yard sale merchandise.  Here’s a pic of the porch before it got too overrun.

Once we decided to pull the trigger and actually do a yard sale we did two things: promote the yard sale and price the merchandise.  For the yard sale promotion, we opted just to make a few signs: a pair of signs on each end of our street.  We live in a pretty busy neighborhood and right down the street from a school.  So we waited until the day school resumed to post our signs, just a few days before our sale, and called it good.  We opted not to pay the thirty dollars it cost to advertise in our local paper.  We just wanted a nice, simple, impromptu yard sale.

Then came the infamous night before the yard sale pricing extravaganza.  An extravaganza indeed!  It took over our living room.  It was like a sea of stuff eating our couch alive.

This isn’t even the half of it!  There was still stuff out on the porch, items lining the hallway, and while I priced away Colby was still combing the house grabbing anything and everything that we wanted to part with for a few bucks.

The pricing strategy was easy, but it took me a little while to get there.  I used those little round stickers that you can get at Target for a couple of bucks.  You know, those neon ones that you see at all the yard sales.  I simply wrote a price on the sticker and placed it on the product.  I had a hard time at first pricing things, some items were definitely overpriced, mostly because I kept thinking of what I paid for that item.  But I quickly let that go since the mission of our yard sale was to get rid of the clutter in our house!  Not necessarily to make serious money.  Then I started think like a yard sale shopper, and what I would pay for something at a yard sale.  I ended up using prices like $1 for a vase, $0.25 for a three ring binder, $0.50 for a pair of earrings, $5 for a small suitcase, etc.

We had a few big ticket items like a dryer for $50, table and chairs set for $60, and skis for $75.  But the rest of our merchandise was pretty much $5 or less.

We priced everything out on Friday night to get ready for our Saturday, 8 am to 2 pm yard sale.  A couple things to note…definitely price your product before the sale.  The morning of the sale, even if you get up extra early and think you can price things as you put them out, think again.  You’re gonna get early birds.  No joke, a pair of ladies came by our sale at 6:45 am!  Crazy fools!  AND we had only set out two boxes!  They were pawing through our boxes as we were setting them out.  I wanted to kick them out of our yard, mostly out of spitefulness, since we were promoting an 8 am sale, but I couldn’t kick out a customer.  They ended up buying about $15 worth of stuff AND came back later so I guess I can’t complain.

Some other important yard sale tips that we learned:

  • Categorize your merchandise:  Keep like with like.  We had a kitchen wares section, purse section, jewelry section and more.  The jewelry section was a real hit!  But the categorization made it easier for customers to peruse what interested them and to find things they were looking for.
  • Have change:  Lots and lots of change.  It was amazing the number of twenties that we got even for one or two dollar purchases.  Have lots of singles, fives and tens and a handful of quarters.
  • Negotiate and be willing to come down in price:  One of the most successful selling methods was when Colby would walk through the crowd of perusers and try to package deals.  For instance, we had priced my old purses at about $3 each but offered up a any two for $5 promotion as women looked interested in some of the bags.  And it worked.  There were a couple of upsells using this method AND we got rid of more things…the ultimate goal of the sale.
  • Be friendly:  The more we chatted with our customers and the more random stories we exchanged, the more they perused and the more they bought.  I also learned more about our town and neighbors that I could have ever imagined learning at a yard sale.  Sometimes a bit too much!
  • Keep it short:  We advertised an 8 am – 2 pm yard sale, but we should have just ended it at noon.  We were super busy all morning but as soon as noontime hit, crickets.  No one came by.  Next time, we’ll do a Saturday only sale from 8 am to 12 pm.  Nice and short and simple.

All in all, I would have to say we had a successful yard sale.  We got rid of so many things, including every big and bulky item we put out there, and made about $350…sa-weet!  And in the end, we decided to pack up what little merchandise we had left and do it all over again next fall.  But this is all we had left:

We went from about twenty boxes of stuff down to only three.  AND our porch is looking almost usable these days:

Hmmmmm…could it be time to start refinishing the front porch?!  Perhaps!

Now that “yard sale” is checked off the list, let’s take a look at what my 30 Before 30 list is looking like these days:

  1. Get Married (August 10, 2012)
  2. Go see the Timber Tina Lumberjack show in Bar Harbor
  3. Consider having children
  4. Join Colby for a romantic date night out
  5. Learn how to use the video function on my Nikon DSLR
  6. Purchase a big girl couch
  7. Try surfing
  8. Track down the world’s most amazing Sangria recipe
  9. Travel somewhere outside the continental US
  10. Run the Beach to Beacon road race
  11. Hike Cadillac Mountain
  12. Finish a quarter of the books on “The List”
  13. Go on a picnic
  14. Learn to sew
  15. Bake Colby a birthday cake (August 19, 2012)
  16. Learn to knit
  17. Dig for mussels on the Maine coast
  18. Finish the yearly photo books
  19. Make my own Christmas cards
  20. Spend a weekend in Southern Maine  (July 20 – 22, 2012)
  21. Go to an auction
  22. Send my mom flowers
  23. Watch all 10 seasons of Friends start to finish
  24. Explore Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  25. Cook through my recipe idea files
  26. Attend the infamous Brimfield antique show
  27. Become a mug club member at a local bar
  28. Organize the house
  29. Conquer Julia Child’s Le Boeuf Bourguignon
  30. Host a yard sale (September 1, 2012)

Four down and twenty-six to go!  Technically I could also cross off the couch from the list, since the new couch has finally arrived, but I’ll wait and do that after tomorrow’s “here’s our couch” post.

Pssst…Read about my initial 30 Before 30 project post back here.

Psssssst…And now it’s audience participation time again.  All you overachievers can put those hands down because I’m calling on all of you.  What are your yard sale tips?  Or stories?  Anyone else have crazy early birds come by?!

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