Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to host a yard sale

August continues to be a rough time of year for a yard sale picker. As mentioned in a previous blog, the garage sales have really dropped off. Although I have no scientific data to back this up, I think this summer has seen the fewest number of garage sales in a long time. The last few weeks have been particularly brutal, with only two to three sales each Saturday. What's a yard sale picker to do? In my case, I decided to stop whining and take matters into my own hands. If you can't find any yard sales, have one of your own! This decisive action was strongly encouraged by Mrs. Dude, who's been harping, ummm, I mean suggesting, we hold a sale to get rid of some stuff.

Stuff piles up fast!
After several non-starters due to rain, family events and other things that typically get in the way, we finally had our yard sale last Saturday. While we had a bunch of things from around the house to sell, much of our merchandise was made up of what I call my eBay "stinkers." This is yard sale or thrift store stuff I bought, but could not get sold on eBay or Craigslist. Hey, it happens! Even though I've honed my skills pretty well, once in a while this Dude gets stuck with junk I just can't sell. When I do, I usually conclude the item is a "stinker" and relegate it to a junk pile in the corner of my basement. Since it's been about 16 months since our last yard sale, the stinker pile has gotten big! I am sure more rational people might get rid of the stuff by donating it to Goodwill. That would be the easiest thing to do, but as the old saying goes, "In for a penny, in for a pound." In other words, I already paid for the stuff, so I might as well make a few nickels and dimes by selling the junk at my yard sale!

As a professional yard sale picker, I know a thing or two about running a sale. I begin by posting my sale on Craigslist early in the week, then reposting it every other day to make sure folks see it. It helps to put in a few teasers in the ad too. Mentioning good stuff you're selling like old furniture, old records, trains and other goodies brings the buyers out. In addition to my Craigslist ad, I post the all-important yard sale signs around town. This time out, I chose a very bright, very purple poster board. This ugly purple could be spotted a mile away. If you follow my blog over time, you'll notice that crummy yard sale signs are one of my biggest pet peeves. They can be too small, illegible and/or drooping over. Since these signs help buyers get to your sale, they should be clear, concise and easy to read! In my case, I keep it simple. My signs look like this...




Brief and to the point. When you think about it, how much more information can a person process when flying by a sign at 40 miles per hour? You don't need the hours of operation or the date. That's all useless information. Keep it simple and just point them in the right direction. (That's what the arrows for.) On Friday evening, I made a bunch of purple signs just like the above and with Sonny Boy's help, tacked them up around town.

After the first influx of pickers
On Saturday morning we opened at about 7:30. I was in no hurry to open up, but Mrs. Dude dragged me out to the driveway before I even had breakfast! (She's quite the taskmaster!) Surprisingly, we didn't get hit with a big influx of early birds. The ones that did show up early were pickers like me. I am sure when they pulled up to the house their eyes lit up. Our tables were packed with lots of colorful merchandise like old Fisher Price toys, wood puzzles, plush toys and other yard sale eye candy. To the untrained eye, it looked like the garage sale mother lode. Making it even more attractive, I priced most of the stuff cheap, no more then three bucks for any one item. It was funny to watch the pickers scoop up stuff I had no luck selling on eBay. One guy had his arms crammed with stuff from my reject pile. I got a chuckle out of his buying enthusiasm. If the guy could find a way to make money on my eBay stinkers, more power to him!

eBay stinker...this time.
After the first wave of pickers left, the tables looked a little bare. That's when you have to reposition stuff to fill in the empty gaps on the table. You don't want incoming buyers to think all the good stuff has been picked through. I made adjustments as the morning proceeded and even dug more stuff out of the house to sell. Stuff was selling quickly, even the the eBay stinkers. For example, I had some old newspapers for sale. I bought these 1980's era papers in a weak moment about a year ago for five dollars. I previously had some good luck selling old newspapers on eBay. There was a big difference however. My previous newspapers were much older. Apparently few people are interested in newspapers from the Eighties era. These dust collectors were impossible to sell on Craigslist or eBay! Fortunately, I found a buyer for them at my yard sale. A guy paid me five bucks for them...exactly what I paid for them a year earlier.

We were busy with sales like that all morning. As they day wore one, it was satisfying watching the eBay stinkers thin out and transform into dollars bills. While we didn't sell everything, we got rid of a lot of stuff. All in all, we made over $200 bucks at the yard sale! Not bad for a morning standing in my driveway. For now, the money went into the piggy bank. Mrs. Dude is looking to buy a new kitchen table, so we'll use the cash towards that big ticket item. Best of all, I was able to clear out that annoying pile of eBay stinkers that accumulated in the corner of the basement. Now the corner is completely empty...for now!

How's the summer wrapping up for you? Have any good yard sale hosting stories to tell? Share them in the comment section below.

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  1. I too have seen that garage sales just haven't been all that great this summer, and I live in the Twin Cities. Could it be we are still in recovery from the Great Recession, and people don't buy that much stuff anymore? What a difference from the what I saw here in the 1990's. I'm glad you were able to de-clutter and make a little cash.

    1. Isabella-Very possible. I am also thinking that more people are using Craigslist and Facebook to sell stuff to avoid the hassle of a yard sale. Hope this doesn't become a permanent trend, but it may.

      Thanks for writing in...Dude!

  2. Dude! I could have written this post. I sell my ebay "fails" (that's what I call them) either by having a garage sale or by setting up at a flea market. There's one a few towns over where I can get a free space on the first Sat of each month. People often tell me I have the most interesting stuff. Ha! They buy my fails and unfortunately I know that they're going to try and sell them on ebay without much luck. There weren't many yard sales this weekend, probably because it was 102 degrees yesterday. I think the season for sales is ending now that school started. One of my readers sent me a link to this article you may find interesting:


    1. Lorraine-The article is pretty timely. She's really down on yard sales, huh? Yeah, those pickers buying our stuff (fails) reminds me of an old Jerry Seinfeld joke where he described eBay as people mailing their junk back and forth cross the country to each other-HA!

      Thanks for sending me the article.....Dude!

  3. Garage sales have been thinning out here, too, although I expect another brief pick-up over the next month or so as neighborhoods have their annual fall sales. Congrats on your very successful garage sale! We live in a small town that doesn't attract much traffic, so a garage sale probably won't work for me, but I am thinking of taking a truck load of 'stinkers' to the flea market a few towns over in the spring.

    1. Kimberly-Flea markets are good too, just a little more work since you have to haul your stuff there.

      I agree, the sales should pick up after Labor Day. Around here, they run until at least the end of October and sometimes as far as Thanksgiving. After that, the sales dry up and folks are thinking about Christmas.

      Thanks for checking in....Dude!

  4. our city code enforcement is REDICULOUS with rules about posting of signs. NO signs can be placed on a city owned/maintained right of way. That means no directionals from the main road! You ARE allowed to post signs 100 ft from the sale. Really? That is at the corner of my OWN yard. They spend time, money and gas every Friday and Saturday trolling around town picking up right of way signage. They will also pay the sale holder a cordial visit if you go replace the sign, I know this first hand. And this is why MY garage is full of YS mdse that I need to unload but do not have the gusto to tackle, especially in this Tx heat.

    1. What?! That's crazy & stupid! And for the local town to pay their municipal employees to drive around ripping down signs, what the heck? That's a waste of taxpayer money if I ever heard it!

      How about a local law that just says the owner has to take their signs down after the sale? (I take mine all down, not just cause I am a good scout but I also don't want shoppers strolling up my driveway after the sale is over.)

      I feel for you...that's the worst!

      Thanks for sharing that insane story....Dude!

  5. I live in Tidewater, VA and my problem is too many yard sales! Trying to figure out where to go first or at all can be mind numbing. Seems like they all start at 8:00 AM. One day I gave up my "strategy" and just followed the signs and found some great treasures. One day I found a box of mugs. They were all wrapped in newspaper. My heart skipped a beat as I unwrapped a few - Dallas Cowboys, Dale Earnhardt #3, lots of Starbucks . . . I asked the lady running the sale - how much for the mugs (trying not to show my glee). She said, oh, fifty cents each! I took a chance - I said I didn't have time to go through them all - how much for the whole box. $5! I was not disappointed - all great mugs! Another cool find - a quilt for $2. And yes - I totally agree with keeping the signs simple!!

    1. Ree Cee - Having too many yard sale is a good problem to have-Ha! Hopefully, I'll have that same problem too in a few weeks. Around here, usually mid September to early October we reach maximum yard sale season.

      Great score on those mugs, especially the Starbucks. That's a big "Cha-Ching"! Bet you found them by following a very simple sign, right? lol!

      Thanks for writing in and keep us posted on your future finds....Dude!

  6. LOL I am planning to have that identical sale at my house next weekend! I have a lot of eBay duds from before I became a better buyer that I want GONE! Not donate gone though ;)

  7. I take my Ebay crap to the consignment shop. I did have one garage sale this summer and vowed never to do it again. I started too late and had no help