PHOTO: Photo Courtesy of flickr.com/Master Cruz
As the weather begins to cool down and seasonal clothes are going back to the attic, it’s a good time for a closet clean-out. But one (wo)man’s trash is another’s treasure, so why not have a yard or garage sale? Not only will you get your significant other off your case for your hoarding ways, or for taking up all the space in the attic/closets/basement, but you will also – if you do it properly – make a chunk of tax-free cash.
It’s all gravy. This is money earned for things you weren’t using. It’s money for things you didn’t even remember you had. And in some cases, it can be money made for things you are tired of seeing around. We’re not recommending you go behind your spouse’s back and sell his old X-Box, but…well, it is an option.
Here are some tips for having a proper, money-making yard sale.
First, the bigger the better. Go in with a neighbor for even more to sell and/or more space to display things. Invest in or borrow some cheap clothing racks (use them after in the attic for off-season items) and folding tables. Make sure items are spread out so that buyers can peruse comfortably and see everything without having to dig through gigantic piles. Boxes can be flipped over and stacked to display things, also. Very few people will want to bend over and sort through boxes of your old junk.
Advertise. Put a classified ad in at least one local paper (for example, The Forum, which lands on every doorstep in Howard Beach). If you are selling any unique items, list them in the ad. Other words, like “huge” or “multi-family” or “low prices” will be compelling to a potential yard sale-goer. Make signs with big black lettering, preferable on neon posterboard in a uniform color. (All signs should be alike, so that people will look for that particular sign when trying to locate the sale.) When the sale is over, pick up ALL your signs. No one likes to go out of his way even a couple of minutes only to find that the yard sale ended the day before and no one took down the signs.
Have a rain plan. If you can do it “rain or shine,” advertise accordingly.
Price everything in advance, preferably using general, logical prices. For example, all books 50 cents, all clothing $2. It’s okay to go a bit higher, but then you should let people know they can bargain. Don’t bother trying to sell something you’re not actually ready to part with; you’ll ask too much money for it, and a yard sale is not the appropriate venue to sell high-end or sentimental items. Price to sell, and sell you will. Mark prices clearly. If using individual stickers (as opposed to signs) to indicate the prices, make sure they are the kind that won’t melt in hot sun and leave an annoying and difficult-to-remove residue. Masking tape is usually not a good idea.
You might want to offer buy-in-bulk prices, and have a 10 cent box and/or a box of free items. There will be kids that pick things up out of sheer boredom. Make the gesture and give something away. Parents will appreciate that and take more time to look.
If it’s a hot day, sell water or other drinks. More money! But don’t charge too much. You’re not Barclay’s.
Whatever is left unsold at the end of the day, GET RID OF IT and move on. Arrange in advance to have (one of many) local shelters or charitable organizations pick up the leftovers. If that doesn’t work for you or you have bulk items, Craigslist.com has a free section where you can get rid of almost anything within hours, as does freecycle.org.
By Eugénie Bisulco firstname.lastname@example.org