Is It Time To Plan A Yard Sale?

Is It Time To Plan A Yard Sale?

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The current economic climate is casting a pall over family finances, but there is one surefire way you can pull in some much needed cash while clearing your home of unwanted and unneeded items. Yes, it is spring which makes this season the most popular time of the year to hold a garage sale, yard sale, tag sale or similar type event.

garage saleYard sales are a lot of work, requiring careful planning on the part of the person organizing and managing the event, to actually putting into motion the sale itself. Done right and you could come away with some serious cash; done wrong and you could be left with more junk than you wanted (sorry, sweetie — there were no takers for the crib) and little money to show for it.

Its been quite some time since we’ve held this type of sale ourselves, but my wife and I have one planned for early May. Already we’re going through some of the items we want to sell and discussing the steps we need to take before the actual sale date. Fortunately, our community doesn’t require that we obtain a license to hold a sale (a lot now do) and we won’t have to pay for a newspaper ad because we’ll be using Craigslist and a handful of other sites to get the word out.

The following are some of the things we’ll be doing to ensure that our sale is a success:

Plan Ahead — As mentioned, we’re planning now for an event that won’t take place until May 9th. This means that we know the date and times of the sale (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and have a good idea that the weather will be quite nice. Even if it should rain, our home has an attached garage, therefore everything can be placed inside of it. Otherwise, we’ll set what we are selling along the perimeter of the driveway, strategically placed so people have plenty of room to browse.

Get Cash — We’re going to start off with at least two hundred dollars in cash, splitting that amount into tens, fives and ones. We already have plenty of loose change handy and I have a workman’s tool bag which I will wrap around my waist with all of our money in it. Will we accept checks? No, we’re strictly cash ‘n carry — all sales are final.

Set Up — The days leading up to the sale will mean that our garage will be filled with whatever we’re planning to sell. We have several tables that can be used to display items, but the main thing that we’ll be doing is coming up with prices. That should be easy, because we’ll compare our prices with how people price things on eBay and other sites or take a chance and go with our best guesstimate.

We’ll price our pillows, garden tools,  CDs, linens and other stuff to allow for some wiggle room, but we won’t be accepting low ball offers. Some people panic as the sale comes to a close, slashing prices to the bone just to get rid of stuff. Guess what? The savvy shoppers know this and will stop by for the pickings.

Advertise — Craigslist and sites like it are a popular way to draw traffic, but since we live off of a busy road, we’ll pick up as many as six garage sale signs to help capture drive-bys. Tailor your ad campaign to match your needs, include a map to your home online if that would help people find where you live too.

Hold Your Sale — Well before the sale starts, we’ll have our tables set up, everything on display and prices prominently plastered. We’ll also have a spreadsheet handy where I list all of our inventory, the asking price and our lowest price. That way if a sticker falls off or we get into serious negotiations with a potential buyer over our Bissell rug cleaner, we’ll have vital information handy.

Start & End On Time — We discourage early birds for two reasons: it isn’t fair to our neighbors to have people stopping by early on the one day a lot of people like to sleep in and we need that time before we get started to hang up signage,  organize our inventory and handle last minute details. On the flip side, we’ll shut down promptly at 2 p.m. regardless of whether we got everything sold or not. That will allow us to bring unsold items back inside, fold up tables, remove signs, count our money and have a few hours left in the day to enjoy for ourselves.

When all is said and done, we’ll see how our sale worked out. More than likely it’ll be our one shot for the year, a chance to pull in a few hundred bucks while getting rid of things we no longer need.

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".