jump to navigation

Making Money: The old fashion way June 16, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.

Today, I have my daughter Anna with me to talk about a moneymaking tradition that dates back centuries.  No, dear romance writer friends, we’re not talking about that.  We’re talking about selling your used unwanted stuff.   And in this tight economy, every penny helps.

My daughter Anna is a consummate “yard sailor” who knows how to strike a bargain and get every last dime out of a sale of her own.  With three yard sales under her management belt, the last one netting over $700, I turn the mic over to Anna, with this question.

What, in your opinion, are the main elements of a successful yard sale?

Thanks Mom, it’s wonderful to be here.   Thanks for having me.

So, the elements of having a successful yard sale….

Good adverting and clean and clearly priced items are key. The cleanliness is important! When I see a grimy piece of Hall Poppy Seed china, I don’t see the value.  I see the dirt, I don’t buy, and you just missed out on making six bucks!  It’s also important not to load all the work of washing, pricing, and packing into one day.  Do it over time and price as you go.  Trust me; you’ll thank yourself later.

You say good advertizing is important, but newspaper/classified ads are so expensive.  Is there a way to advertize without paying for it? 

Craigslist!   It’s free with unlimited ad space, and loads of people visit the site.

When writing your ad, give details.   Don’t just say “clothes, baby items, kitchen stuff, china, dolls and more.”  Instead, write “boy’s clothes 0-12, Graco stroller and crib for girls, Tupperware, Hall Poppy Seed china, old collectible cabbage patch dolls (never played with).”  Details get people’s attention and make them come to your yard sale FIRST with their freshly filled wallets.

Also, don’t forget those signs.   Make them big, eye catching, and easy to read.  Include date, time, and street address.   Be sure to waterproof them, (laminating with clear packing tape is cheap and effective) and mount them on cardboard so they will withstand the blowing breeze of passing traffic.  Never hang your sign on a Stop Sign or poles that hold up traffic lights, it is technically illegal to do so, however some people go it anyway and get away with it. Be sure to remove your signs as soon as your sale is over.  It is the neighborly thing to do.

On “the day of,” what can I do to encourage people to buy?

Appearance is everything!

Drape your tables (old clean sheets work great) or purchase some plastic tablecloths at the Dollar store.  

When people walk into your yard sale, get up, walk around, maybe adjust a few items, say hello, ask how they are, and then ask if they are looking for anything in particular. Sometimes people need some engagement. Trust me; I’ve landed many sales using this technique.

Set up your tables in a way that supports comfortable flow of traffic and leads customers to you at your station ready and waiting to take their money, give them change, and bag their purchases.   Remember to have plenty of “Wal-Mart type bags,” change and an organized moneybox.   Having blank paper for an impromptu sign, extra price tags, pens, sharpies, and scissors at hand is also helpful.

Departmentalize your items.  When you walk into Wal-Mart, you don’t see the poultry next to the cereal do you?  No, you don’t.  You wouldn’t expect to find baby toys in the electronics section either.  It’s the same way with yard sales. Don’t stick a drill with doilies or mesh jewelry with kitchenware!  When Mommies and Grandmas come looking for your advertized baby stuff, they should find all you have in one department.  The same is true of collectables.  Your yard sale is your store.  Good organization is pleasing to the eye and suggests better quality. 

Pricing.  Price fairly and according to your market (the neighborhood where your sale is located).  Never price an item compared to what you saw on Ebay! This pains me every time someone says “Well it is worth 50 bucks on Ebay!” at a yard sale.  Ebay is a very different market whose pricing doesn’t apply to “yard sale” markets.  Pricing an item according to what you saw on Ebay will just make your shoppers mad and mad shoppers talk to each other at other sales going on that day.  An overpriced, disorganized yard sale will be squeezed out while better sales are quickly recommended. 

Be ready to bargain, but at the right time.  Experienced yard sailors know that there is a time for bargaining, and that’s late in the day or on the last day of the yard sale.   But they might try to bargain sooner.  It’s up to you to say yes or no, but don’t panic and say yes to a bargain you didn’t want. If you have more time, just say no. I’m sure you’ll get another offer.

Finally, ask for help!  A yard sale is a tough job that often needs at least three helpers.  Yard sailors are impatient people. It’s often hot, they want to get a move on, and there are other bargains to be had!  So, enlist family and friends to keep things moving. After all, what better use do you have for your teenage children and their friends in the summer?

If you follow this advice I’m sure you will have a very successful yard sale that will put a nice bit of extra coin in your pocket.

Thank you, Anna.  Will you let us know how your June 18 & 19 yard sale goes?

You’re very welcome, and I most certainly will!  I’m looking forward to serving buying customers who will supply me with cash for a trip to California.  And I’ll be rid of my clutter, too!  A yard sale is a great time to tan up a little as well, haha!

Anna will be hanging with me at Raw & Dangerous, today.  So, if you’ve got Yard Sale questions, tips or woes, here’s your chance.  Post in comments. 

Ohoh! I love questions, please do ask something. 🙂



1. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak - June 16, 2010

Good luck with your yard sale!

I have a question. What do you do about early birds? They want to start looking at your stuff and even try coming inside your house (if you have things there) before the starting time and before you are ready.

ninapaules - June 16, 2010

Ahh the early birds, sometimes these people can be your first sale or can just be a plain nucance. Here is how to manage them:

First off, the starting time you put on your adds and signs are sadly rarely followed, its usually just a indicator as to when you’ll be finished setting up. Personally, if people show up before the time I said I would be set up, they are more than welcome to look at anything I have displayed so far. Most people understand the fact that you aren’t quite ready but they still want to check out your items you do have in view. I always tell my early birds a time when I will be set up and tell them to come back later, they usually do.

If you have items inside your house you have a few options. You can either lock the entrance into your house, or hang a sign somewhere that says “Not open until (insert time here) please come back later.” If they do something that rubs you the wrong way or it bothers you that they have showed up before you are ready, ask them to leave. It’s your yard sale and its your property, you do what you want. But just remember, some of those early birds get the first worm….which means your first sale. 😉


2. Bedraggled - June 16, 2010

What about having food and drinks at the yard sale? Good idea or a waste of time?

ninapaules - June 16, 2010

I’ve seen yard sales that are hoppin’ because there is food. I’ve seen lunches be served, snow balls, ice cream, and then just the simple chips, snacks, and bottled water. I personally have never sold food or drinks at my yard sale mainly because I was always confused on how to make a profit on it. The thing about “yard sale food” is that it must but sold at a very low price for it to be successful, otherwise people will just go down the street to eat and McDonalds or Pizza Hut, or grab a bottle of water at Rutters.

Here is my advice on selling food at yard sales: If you can make it or buy it cheaply enough and can sell it at a high enough, but reasonable, price so that you can make a profit on it, go for it! But if you don’t find yourself with a means to do so, I would suggest sticking with what you know and just selling items.

So the final verdict on it being a good idea or a waste of time? It depends on your resources. 😉


3. Linda Banche - June 17, 2010

Good for you. I hope you make lots of money.

Anna Paules - June 17, 2010

Me too, Ms Linda. 🙂


4. Laurie Schnebly Campbell - June 17, 2010

If I ever hold a yard sale, this is the first place I’m coming — what a great bunch of useful information!

Anna Paules - June 17, 2010

Thanks, Ms Laurie! Glad you liked it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: