let’s make mama some money

2014-04-29 17.17.47

The time is finally upon us.  Spring?  No, yard sale season!  Clutter has been piling up all winter and it is time to get it out and MAKE MAMA SOME MONEY!  These are our years dear mothers, our time is now- to sell stuff that people actually want to buy at a yard sale.  Selling adult clothing and knick knacks from your old decor will never pull in the cash like outgrown kids/baby clothing and orphaned toys.  The mental breathing room and physical space found from getting rid of those things is sooooo nice.

You’ve probably heard it said that yard sales are too much work.  I disagree.  It is all about proper execution.  Roll up your sleeves mamas, and let’s do this!  Follow these steps to have a successful yard sale without losing your mind…

1.  Establish dates in advance to have your yard sale.  Write it down and communicate these dates with your family.  Setting a date gets you and your family motivated to start collecting stuff from around the house that you want to sell.  If you never set a date, it will keep getting pushed back.  Include in your planning a back up date.  If it is pouring rain on the day of your yard sale, don’t bother.  No one wants to shop in that. (The only exception to that rule is if it is a neighborhood yard sale because the traffic those bring in are just too good to pass up.  Clean out your garage, and put all of your merchandise inside of it).

2. Figure times you will be hosting your sale.  I am not a fan of the 8 hour one day yard sale.  It is both boring and unproductive.  People who plan out their yard sale visits put those sales in the “Oh, we have plenty of time to hit that one later,” category.  You don’t want to be put off.  They will spend their money on all the early starts and early ending yard sales and not find time to fit your sale in at all.  I like to plan two days for my sale and be open at two different times to attract the most potential buyers.  I live near a school so I will have my first day be a Thursday and open from 3:00pm-7:00pm.  I will have my second day be a Saturday morning 7:00am-1:00pm.   This time frame gets the yard sale hobby shoppers as well as people who missed the Thursday time slot due to work.

3.  Check to see if there are any major schedule conflicts happening around town on your date.  Graduations of most local high schools? Bix festivities (unless you live on the route)?  Mother’s/Father’s Day or Fourth of July? Neighborhood yard sales that are way across town?  Avoid all of these days to make your sale worth your time.  Reschedule if necessary.

4.   Set up your yard sale prepping dump spot.  In the weeks leading up to the sale, claim a spot in your house that you can put things destined for new homes.  I have a large tub that I add things to year round for this purpose.  I also stick things in there that may be rediscovered as new loves and played with for 30 seconds and re-abandoned.  This mama doesn’t have time for that drama.  I am not above hiding old toys from my kids in order to sell them and get them out of my house.  (Insert evil laughter here while I gather that loud and annoying battery sucking, better put a low price tag on that one to sell it fast toy). 🙂

5.  Start going through closets and bins.  Sometimes visiting another yard sale can give you ideas of things to sell that you wouldn’t have thought to put out.  Beyond kid clothes and toys, let this list spark some ideas…

purses    costume jewelry    shoes     sporting & fitness equipment    camping equipment    tools    landscaping equipment    sleds    floats    home improvement leftovers    mirrors    holiday decorations    lamps   furniture    organizers    luggage    snow blowers    lawn mowers    gift bags   books    CD’s    DVD’s    backpacks    candles     pots & pans    dishes    school supplies or educational supplements    pet supplies    small/big appliances    costumes

6.  Be realistic when pricing your items.  Once again, visiting other yard sales will help you in this.  Yard sale shoppers are looking for deals.  Brand names do matter.  I am not paying $2 for a store brand kid’s shirt when I can score it brand new on clearance for $3.  However, if a nice brand coat is on sale for $5, I will pay that at a yard sale.  I have had a lot of success selling clothing with these general price points…

shirt, shorts, one piece outfit or pj’s $1.00     jeans, pants $1.50    girls dresses $1.50-$4.00     shoes $1.00-$2.00   boots $3.50-$5.00    sweaters $1.50-$3.00    adult pants or capris $5.00    maternity clothes $1.50-$5.00       coats $2.50-$5.00

Adult clothes typically don’t sell very well at yard sales, so don’t give them your best showroom location.  Kids clothing can be your best selling items.  Price your non-clothing items individually.  Don’t try to do the “make an offer” approach.  Very few people feel comfortable with this set up.  Decide on a fair price, but do observe people’s reactions to your prices.  If the same set of luggage has been looked at several times and no one is buying it, your price point may be too high (or it may have a stain you didn’t notice).  Either way, it will be in your best interest to drop the price if you want it sold.  I typically drop prices only on my second day of my yard sale.

7.  Expect price negotiations.  People like to feel like they “win” at yard sales.  If someone asks you to reconsider a price, politely consider the request.  Sometimes I will go down in price, and sometimes I stand firm.  Some people are ridiculous in their low ball offers, so don’t be afraid to counteroffer.  If I see a person looking at an item that I desperately want to get rid of, I can even offer a lower price to them to sweeten the deal.  If a customer is really stocking up and helping me to clear out a lot of stuff, I might throw in a free item or two.  Have fun with it.  Don’t be insulted.  After all, this stuff was first rejected by you, right?

8.  Make your sale easy to shop.  Gather and borrow tables to display your merchandise.  I use my kitchen table, deck table, end tables, folding tables, as well as bins with lids on them.  I also have used a piece of plywood clamped to sawhorses to create a table.  If you have dresses, coats, costumes, or adult clothing, it works best to hang those items.  I grab a little rolling hanging rack out of my laundry room that works great for yard sale days.  Don’t have a blanket on the ground with items piled on it.  Gross.  People don’t want to buy junk off the ground.   Like items can be gathered in a box or bin and labeled with a clear sign (example: bibs and hats 3 for $1.00  or stuffed animals 2 for $1).  I use signs to display my price points for clothing instead of labeling each item.  The clothing items I label individually are dresses, costumes, sweaters, coats, and maternity clothing.  I hang those up to separate them from the lower cost clothing items.  I have a sign stating that hanging items are all priced as marked, and nothing is over $5.  All non-clothing items are sorted by likeness and price clearly attached.

9.  Use these Yard Sale MVP’s…  

A fanny pack.  What?  Oh yes, grab your grandma’s fanny pack and strap it on, Mama!  This is your portable cash box.  With all of your money strapped onto your body, it is both safe from thieves and you are free to roam your sale to straighten up, visit with shoppers, or do a quick food grab from your kitchen.   I used my grandma’s fanny pack so much, that she bought me my own 🙂  It is perfect for holding all of my yard sale supplies- change, calculator, pen, paper, and my phone.

A Sharpie and masking tape make the best price tags.  Masking tape sticks better than those price stickers.  I will even write a quick description on my masking tape price tag to ward off price tag switching (example: white dress $3.50).

Radio playing music to shop by 🙂 Absolute quietness is awkward.  Shoppers want to be able to talk to each other without feeling like they are being overheard or forced to talk to you because it is so library quiet.

Yard sale signs with a floating balloon catch attention.  The sign includes my times clearly marked and I took the sign inside between days of my sale.  No one likes the advertised yard sale that is nowhere to be found.

10.  Advertising can be free.  For my first two yard sales I paid $35 to put an ad in the newspaper.   I have wised up since then.  Craigslist works great for advertising yard sales.  There is no word limit, so I can include descriptions to attract buyers to specific things.  Also, people can email me with questions prior to the sale to check on details of wanted items.  Facebook is also a great way to advertise my yard sale.  Friends can help spread the word to people they think might need my yard sale hand-me-downs.  Free advertising keeps more money in my fanny pack.

Good luck, Mama!  Have a great yard sale!


What are your best tips for having a great yard sale?  As a yard sale shopper, what things do you like finding at yard sales?  What is your best yard sale score?






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2 Responses to let’s make mama some money

  1. Andrea April 30, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Makes me want to do a yard sale!

  2. Emily April 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Love these tips, Barbara! I have half a garage full of “stuff” for a sale…I’m going to do as you say & SET A DATE..this mama wants to make some $$!

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