Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Host the Perfect Yard Sale

I've shared quite a bit of stuff inside of this blog. Very personal stuff about myself, my school years, the mistakes I've made, and the lessons that I've learned from those mistakes.

But, I haven't really posted many candid snapshots of myself in this blog at all. Of course, this should really come as no surprise to some of you. I did after all write an entire blog piece last year about how much I hated getting my photo taken.

But you know something? I'm another year older, and I don't nearly take myself as seriously as I used to. So, I promise you that when the opportunity comes up, I'll be bringing a little more of myself to this blog. In fact, I'll be talking more about this in tomorrow's Thursday Diary entry. I'm toying around with some ideas for the second anniversary of this blog, and I really want your input and suggestions for the new direction that I plan on taking this blog in the coming months.

For now, since I promised all of you that I would post more photos of myself in this blog, I thought that I would share this one with you. Don't worry, it's linked to today's scheduled topic.

This photo was taken on the morning of May 18, 2013 (coincidentally the same day that I turned 32). At the time this photo was taken, we were setting up a yard sale outside of the store that I work at as well as a barbecue that was going on at the same time. I've mentioned this before, but next month I am taking part in the Relay for Life in memory of several friends who have passed away from cancer. It's an event that will require me to stay up all night long as I walk around a track. Every dollar raised for the event will go towards cancer research so that one day a cure can be found. Several members of my team are cancer survivors, and almost every single one of us has known someone who battled cancer.

Now, as part of being on my workplace's team, I am required to get donations myself from various people, and so far, I've been doing okay. It's hard to get individual donations from people, but my feeling is that if I can get at least $100 raised, it's a great effort. And, I'm only fifteen bucks away from that goal. If worse comes to worse, I'll throw in the money myself.

Besides, our team all agreed that the bulk of our fundraising efforts would be a team effort. Hence the motivation behind the yard sale/barbecue.

And, luckily for Saturday, it was a beautiful day for a sale. The sun was out the entire day, there was not a drop of rain falling from the sky, and the temperature was slightly higher than normal...variables necessary for guaranteeing huge sales. We even had a local band volunteer their time to perform in front of our store to attract customers to the sale, which was fantastic to see. I only wish that I had a video clip to show you because I thought the band did a wonderful job.

And, boy oh boy, did we have sales! The event was a two-day event, and it spanned May 18 and 19 (which in Canada is a long weekend, as Victoria Day falls on the third Monday in May). The Saturday was the better day of the two. With the warm temperatures and sunshine, we did a lot of business. Sunday, on the other hand, was cold, and it began to rain about four hours into our sale, so we had to pack things up a little earlier than we wanted to.

Regardless of that, our final total between the yard sale and the barbecue was almost $2,000 raised for Relay for Life! And, let me tell you, I've been to many garage sales in my lifetime, and I have never seen any of them raise two thousand dollars. That is absolutely fantastic, and I want to publicly acknowledge the population of my hometown for coming out to see what we had to offer and generously donating money to supporting our cause.

And, well...since I talked about my experience at the charity yard sale, I thought that I would make today's topic all about yard sales!

So, how many yard sales have you been to in your lives? And, how many have you hosted?

For some people, the yard sale is almost like a rite of passage, and you can automatically tell when Spring has arrived by the amount of yard sales that pop up in suburban neighbourhoods all over the world.

I mean, let's face it. Everyone has heard of the phrase “Spring Cleaning”. The beginning of Spring is the time of year in which a lot of people go through their houses and get them all spruced up for another year. They scrub all of the walls and floors, they vacuum every room in the house, they fluff the pillows, they bleach the clothes, they beat the rugs...

...actually, do people even beat rugs anymore? Or, is that strictly a turn of the twentieth century thing? Inquiring minds want to know!

Spring cleaning is also the time of year in which people go through all of their stuff and decide what things they want to keep and what things they want to get rid of.

Well, unless you're one of those people who have a hoarding issue.

And, once you have a list of all the household items that you want to dispose of, you have to decide if you just want to throw them in the trash, donate them to the local Goodwill shop or Salvation Army charity stores, or if you want to become an entrepreneur and set up shop outside of your home.

Well, let me tell you from experience. If you want people to come to your garage/yard sale, you have got to advertise, advertise, advertise. And, that just doesn't mean going around town posting signage on telephone poles all over town with a big red balloon attached to each sign (although I won't fault anyone who does go that route).

We live in an era where social networking is an effective tool in self-promotion. And, I think that part of the reason why our yard sale at my workplace was very successful was the fact that everyone on our Relay team posted about the event multiple times on Facebook and Twitter. We even contacted a local online magazine to cover the event to give us added publicity. It was absolutely amazing to see just how many people dropped by to check out what we had because they saw our posts on social media sites.

Another rule that you should have in place for a successful yard sale is to make it stand out from everyone else's. Of course, in our case, we had some advantages. We had a live band, and were in a high-traffic area. Not every yard sale will have that. But, in my experience, you can still have a lot of people interested in your sale if you display your items in an ingenious way.

I mean, it sounds simple enough to group like items with like items. That much is common sense. But, if you have a whole bunch of toys to donate and you happen to have a sandbox or play equipment in your front yard, why not transform the area into a miniature play area for kids? The kids could get a feel of what toys they like they best, and while the moms and dads are browsing the kitchen accessories and used electronics, the kids could pretend that they were playing in the park. Of course, you should probably have someone supervising the play area so that people don't accidentally take things that are meant to be sold. And, you should also stress that the sandbox and play structures are NOT for sale! It's just simple things like this that can make the difference between getting pocket change for your items and getting a crisp five dollar bill!

I think another way you can make your garage sale successful is to let people who come and visit your sale make you an offer before making the commitment to sell, rather than immediately price things right away. I mean, if you have a whole box of action figures, dolls, and McDonald's Happy Meal toys, offering a quarter a toy is fine. But, if you have big ticket items like a full-length mirror, a Tassimo coffee maker, or a crock-pot, sometimes it might be better to let the customer make you a deal, and go from there. You don't have to accept the first price they offer. You can bargain with them so that both of you get the best deal possible. I know that when I am shopping at garage sales, and I see an item that I want, I like it when the people selling the items allow me to make an offer first.

Just going back to our yard sale in support of the Relay for Life, we never set prices on anything. We just told people that all they had to do is make a donation to the Relay, and they could pay whatever price they wanted. And, for the most part, most of our customers were very generous, handing us five and ten dollar bills in some cases because they were given the opportunity to pay what they wanted. Mind you, there were a couple of people who seemed to take advantage of this, but because all the money went to charity, we couldn't really refuse the offers. For the most part, it was a system that worked well. I even managed to sell an old box of comic book doubles that I had from the 1990s for ten dollars. It may have been a lot less than what the comics were actually worth, but I was happy to see them go, and the customer who bought them was happy to be able to introduce the world of Archie comics to her children!

And, of course, you have the most important rule of all. If you're going to have a garage sale, you make sure that all of the items are at the best quality they can possibly be for used items. This means, no clothing with obvious stains, no books with pages ripped out of them, no dodgy appliances or electronics, and definitely no thousand piece jigsaw puzzles with only six hundred and seventy-six pieces in the box!

I still remember one instance in which I went to a yard sale as a young kid. As a kid, I was very much into board games, and I really wanted to find the board game Clue. It was the one game that I loved playing at other people's homes, and I really wanted a copy of my own...but at that time, a brand new edition of Clue was more than I could afford with my tooth fairy money and weekly allowance.

So when I saw Clue at a yard sale being sold “as is” for two bucks, I happily handed the people at the sale a two dollar bill (this was a time before Canada began using 'toonies'), and went home to play Clue.

But when I opened up the box, I found that the board game was missing half of the cards, someone had swiped the candlestick and lead pipe, and apparently Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard were murder victims alongside Mr. Boddy, as both playing pieces were not to be found.

So, what I ended up buying was a Clue game that I could not play. After that, I inspected every board game and toy closely so that I would not make the same mistake of purchasing a board game that was absolutely useless.

Let's put it this way. If you have an item that you're unsure of whether it works or not, play it safe and throw it out. Nothing annoys yard sale customers more than purchasing an item only for it to be complete junk. If you won't buy it at another yard sale, why would you sell it at yours?

So, the next time you decide to host a yard sale, keep those tips in mind. You don't have to follow them all, but if you play your cards right, you could make a fortune at your next sale!

No comments:

Post a Comment