This is the third post in a four day series on:
So now that you have your date planned, your signs made, your supplies purchased, you’ve decided who you are having the sale with, and you’ve planned your advertising…
It’s Time to Organize!
This is by far the most time consuming part of the sale. Many people don’t have space in their homes to spread out all the stuff they’ve collected over the course of a year to organize and price it.
I always have way too much stuff to spread out on tables in the garage (especially since I usually host a multi-family sale and everyone drops their things off at my house!), so most of the actual organizing of things on tables is left until the day of the sale.
However, here are some things you can do ahead of time to make it easier on the day of the sale:
Group like things together. As you store your stuff for your sale, try to keep things like housewares, home decor, seasonal decorations, toys, books, etc. together in boxes or bins. It makes it much easier to put them out on tables if they are grouped together from the start.
Price a box at a time. I’ll talk more about pricing your items later, but one thing you can do to save yourself a lot of time on the day of the sale is to price things ahead of time. If possible, price things as you store them.
However, I do recommend waiting until a month or two before the sale and no more. When price stickers (even the removable ones) stay on items for too long, especially if being stored in a hot attic, they are very difficult to remove. That will annoy your buyers. 🙁
If you have grouped like items together as you’ve been storing them, it’s not too hard to grab a box to price when you have some down time (ha ha!).
On the day of the sale, take your boxes and bins that have the contents grouped into categories (i.e. toys) and decide how much table space you need. Seeing how many bins you have for each category will help determine the size of table(s) you need to display it. After you put everything out, store the bin under the table.
Strategize like a store. Stores put a lot of research into what to sell and how to attract buyers. I’ve found if that item you were sure was going to sell first thing in the morning hasn’t budged, try moving it to a different table or lower the price ever so slightly.
It’s crazy how changing the location or setup of something causes it to sell immediately. I am constantly changing placement of things during the sale and I know it works!
On the first day of our sale, we displayed our homeschool books spread out on a table. In previous years, we had them stacked in boxes and not many people looked at them. So we tried this…
Not too many sold. Especially considering how we just left a box and a large art pad on the ground. By that time I guess we were too tired (or were having too much fun :D) to notice.
The next day, we stacked our homeschool books in boxes next to our regular book boxes. It was much more effective!
If it’s not working – change it!
FYI – I totally didn’t notice when I took this picture that the books had been turned every which way. It is helpful if you have them facing the same direction! 🙂
Keep clothing separate. Spend some time before your sale putting sizes together, matching outfits, and pitching things that have stains. Your buyers will appreciate the time you spent in organizing your clothes. It makes a HUGE (temporary) mess, but it’s worth it! Try taking a box at a time and sorting it when you are watching TV at night. It’s best to have your clothes organized ahead of time. I do admit – this is a big challenge (especially when you have four children)!
FYI – Don’t Miss This Tip!
I like to price clothing by putting the price sticker on the tag. I learned the hard way that when clothes sit out for a day (or more), the sun slightly “bleaches” the clothing. It’s hard to notice until you take off the price tag. What remains is an unbleached spot on the clothing. That wouldn’t make too many buyers very happy to find that after they get home.
Price as much as possible! Nothing irritates buyers like not having things priced. They DO NOT want to ask how much everything costs. I will say that I honestly have not always had everything priced before the start of the sale. It’s difficult to get it all done ahead of time and pricing everything is one of those things that often gets left until last.
It’s not the end of the world, though! Pricing can go pretty fast when you use prepriced stickers. They save SO much time and are worth the extra minimal expense.
Don’t make people pay different sellers! Buyers can get very annoyed by having to pay different people. Have one “cashier” table (labeled!) where buyers can pay for everything.
One of the best things to do when having a multi-family yard sale is to put your initials on the price stickers.
I keep a notebook at the cashier table with the names of the sellers in different columns. When a buyer is purchasing items from multiple sellers, I keep a running total on the calculator and write the totals for each seller in the notebook. When one column hits the bottom of the page, simply start a new page.
Things to Have at the Cashier’s Table:
- Cash – I start with $100 in cash ($60 in 5’s, $30 in 1’s, and $10 in Quarters). It’s amazing how many people will hand you a twenty dollar bill first thing in the morning. It can eat up your change quickly.
- Permanent Marker
- Extra price stickers
- Lots (and lots!) of plastic grocery bags. I start collecting them weeks before our sale.
- Boxes for things like plants or heavy dishes
- Paper or bubble wrap to wrap delicate items
- Extension cord (for testing electrical items)
- Batteries (for testing toys, etc.)
- Notepad (somehow we always wind up needing paper for one reason or another)
- Pens and a notebook for keeping track of who sold what
- Hand wipes there is always something (or someone!) that needs wiping off.
I used to use a nail apron around my waist to hold the money (my husband informed me that it’s not called a nail apron because men do not wear anything called “apron”. However, he didn’t know the name for it either. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s that little pouchy thing that holds nails and ties around your waist). It wasn’t very convenient if I had to lean over (change would spill out), and it really didn’t work when having a multi-family yard sale.
We started using a cash box and kept the money together. Buyers love paying one person and it’s SO much easier than constantly trading money with your friends during the sale.
A few years back I had one of those “aha” moments when I was preparing for a sale.
I picked up a muffin tin from the dollar store for $.50 and cut two sections off. I folded over the sharp edges and viola! a perfect coin organizer that fits perfectly in our cash box!
Make sure you remove large amounts of cash every once in a while and only keep a minimum in your cash box – just in case! 😉
Pricing Rules of Thumb:
I know a lady who always under prices herself when she has a sale. She doesn’t wind up with very much at the end of her sale because she asks almost nothing for her high quality items.
I find that it can be very difficult to know how much to price something, especially if you have had it for a while. It’s easy to remember how much it cost you and that can make it very hard to part with it for “nothing”. However, over pricing something results in a no-sale.
What would you pay for it?
Try to imagine going to a yard sale yourself and decide what is the most you would pay for it. Lean towards asking more – I have noticed when selling with friends or family, they tend to under price things because they feel like it’s “old” since they’ve had it for a while.
Don’t take nothing!
Let’s face it, you’re having a yard sale to earn money. If the only reason you are having a sale is to clear out junk, take my advice and save yourself a lot of effort and donate it! If you’ve gone to all the work of planning an excellent sale, make it worth your own while and don’t give things away for nothing (unless your goal is to help out your community, which is a worthy cause).
Base your pricing on the item’s quality, not how long you have owned it.
By the way, I never price anything for less than a quarter. If it’s that worthless, put it in a free basket and give your buyers something else to be happy about. 😀
Other Tips and Ideas:
- Got plants? Try selling them! I have lots of hostas which multiply quickly. Every year, I divide them near the time of our sale and sell them for $2-$3 a piece. It’s pretty easy to bring in $30-$40 with not much effort and they always sell.
- Offer a “free” box with small kids’ toys and other low value items.
- Schedule a thrift store pick up a few hours after the end of your sale. That way you won’t be tempted to take anything back into your house! 😉
- Plan your meals ahead of time. Where I live 2-3 day yard sales are popular. That’s a lot of meals to prepare for when you are exhausted! Try planning easy lunches (hot dogs in a crockpot :)) and dinners (tacos with the meat precooked and the fixin’s pre cut).
- Have everyone involved in your sale post it on their Facebook page.
I hope these tips will be helpful to you when you have your next yard sale! What are your favorite tips for having a successful yard sale? I would love to hear them!