Yard Sale Survival 101: I did it and you can too!

I grew up in a home with people who SAVE things. Like, I am talking ALL. THE. THINGS. In fact, so many things that they are now making their way back to my home; I am now the owner (again) of a New Kids on the Block 1989 Hangin Tough Tour t-shirt, a bin of assorted naked Barbies and rad clothes, a box of cassette tapes (oh HEY BANGLES!), pots and pans, yearbooks, candles, frames… I could go on and on. To be fair, we’re not talking TLC level Hoarders, but more like that crazy aunt with all the tchotchke and super questionable dollar store habit; you know SOMEone has to inherit all of that someday and you just hope it’s not you.

I am not judging my family (not really, swearsies) for their tendency to keep all the things, but I am just cut from a different cloth. I mean, I read feng shui books as a teenager.

Sidenote: I was very, very cool.

I am not a neat freak at all, but I feel burdened by extra stuff when it’s hanging around; clutter makes my brain foggy and every once in awhile a great PURGE of the THINGS must happen. I actually feel physically lighter when stuff is gone.

Couple my natural inclination as a not-hanger-on with an impending finalization of divorce and subsequent strong desire for fresh starts of all types—and voila, I give you: a YARD SALE!

This first occurred to me as I was cleaning out closets and noticed all of the STUFF we have that really, truly could be used by someone else. My trash (aka fun online purchases I ended up not using, toys the kids got for birthdays that went unplayed with, random housewares from my mom, and relics of a marriage gone bad) could indeed be someone else’s treasure. I had seen the hordes flocking to neighbors’ driveways weekend after weekend and pictured the piles of cash and all those beautiful, empty closets in their homes. Friends, I was having a yard sale!

Besides, we could use the fun money for, well, something FUN, instead of letting it to sit in the form of un-used things taking over the corners of our house. Winning!

First, I designated an area of the garage as “yard sale pile o’ goodness”  and took time every so often to grow that bounty, cleaning out closets and toy bins (oh the bins, no one warns you about the bins) until it was TIME PEOPLE. This was NOT A DRILL.

Side note: committing to a date was hard. Yard sales happen EARLY y’all. Also, yard sales mean strangers like, come to your house. And when you are typically reticent to answer even the doorbell, that’s a big step.

Any of this sounding familiar? Thinking of having one yourself? Wondering where to start? Allow my inaugural experience to help you along. Here are 10 things to consider when preparing to sell your loot. Good luck!

10 Things to Consider When Preparing for a Yard Sale

  1. Set your date. I had an easy time growing the pile and a harder time setting the date. But when I did get serious, I chose a date where we didn’t have too much else happening before or right after, looked at what was going on in the community (like, probably not the best if it’s your city’s fall festival) and avoided holiday weekends. I also checked in on the weather as the date approached; nothing worse than soggy merchandise.
  2. Commit to it and publicize. I got our stuff together, wiped it down, and took pictures of what I thought would sell best. Use social media to your advantage and post in swap sites, mom groups, yard sale pages, and community newsletter. Include (beautifully filtered, cause hi, we live in the great age of Instagram) photos. I did this and even PRE-sold several items which was awesome. I posted about five days prior and then a reminder the evening before and believe me, people showed up!
  3. Prep with gear like pre-printed price stickers, yard sale signs and a money belt. One of the most tedious parts of a yard sale is pricing: pre-printed price labels made it SO EASY to just slap those puppies on. It also left me less time to hem and haw over what each little thing should cost. Well placed signs are key—and this is one great way to get the kiddos involved. I had one at the entrance to our subdivision and then on our corner—like well lit beacons showing those bargain shoppers the way home. Finally, I got one of those waiter/waitress black belts with pockets and it was PERFECTION. I had extra price stickers, cash, my phone, scissors, and sharpies right at my fingertips.
  4. Prepare for early birds. Like, really early. My next door neighbor crawled to a halt at my driveway before the sun was up and I was dragging stuff out, on her way to OTHER yard sales. She perused the loot in the garage, and yes, bought something but I was not ready! And just as she left? The cars started coming. At 7 am. For a sale that was posted as 8-11 am.
  5. Get your kids involved or have a plan for them. My kids are seven and almost five; big enough to entertain themselves but little enough for trouble if alone too long. I gave them jobs like posting the sign on our corner, greeting customers as they arrived and demo-ing toys. They loved being a part of it for a bit but after a while gave up to watch movies inside or play across the street. Luckily we have a great relationship with those neighbors and we are always cool with hosting each other’s kids. I do wish I had made more of a plan though as there were a couple “oh *&^%” moments of like, well I HOPE they’re just watching that movie I plunked them in front of.
  6. Have small change on hand. Lots of folks will hit the ATM right before heading to yard sales with their crisp $20 bills. Which means that your $1-5 dollar items are going to require some change! I had $100 in cash on hand to start with in a variety of small bills and that covered it just fine.
  7. Make your space attractive. This could be me, but I wanted to make my space look nice. Here’s my logic: if I take the time to put cloth table cloths out for a yardsale, then likely the things I am selling have been cared for and are not totally gross. Also, I love an excuse to decorate. I ALMOST hung up the fabric bunting I got on Etsy that I use at the kids’ birthday parties…but that might have been overkill. Do display your items with care, and group them by type; it makes it easier for both you and the buyers.
  8. Take care of you. You are about to be standing in your driveway, chatting with strangers and wrangling your children very early on a weekend morning. So please, remember to be kind to yourself. Brew copious amounts of coffee, remember to drag out some camp chairs for you and any helpers.Trust me: schedule a pedicure for later in the day. You’re welcome.
  9. Prepare to negotiate. Know which things you will go WAY down on and which things you absolutely want to sell for what you’ve priced them. There are, like, professional yard sale shoppers out there and they WILL tell you what kids’ clothes and knock-off Coach bags are selling for around the corner. So, keep an open mind and know what your goals are. For me? I wanted the stuff out of the house so I was very, very willing to negotiate on almost all things.
  10. Have fun! Honestly, it was a pretty good time and I will definitely do it again. I got to see some friends who stopped by, it was a beautiful morning and the kiddos and I got to do something different together that they are STILL talking about like it was a trip to Disney (yeah, don’t tell them, they have no idea what they’ve been missing).

Also? I paid for that pedicure and subsequent date night in cold, hard, cash. Boom.

 

Kate Buckholz Berrio

Kate Buckholz Berrio is a single mom to two boys, and a truth teller at all costs. She works full time; speaks, writes, and performs in local theater; and generally lives a life of carefully managed chaos. She is a contributor on DivorcedMoms.com and has been featured on HuffPo, Scary Mommy, Mock Moms and Charleston Moms Blog. She and her boys live in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. You can find her on her blog, I Hold Your Heart.

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