Yard Sale Pointers
Spring has finally arrived in Mahossuc Mills, Maine. The daffodils are in bloom, the trees are budding, and we are fast approaching my favorite time of the year: yard sale season!
I just love yard sales. I love going to them and I love having them. Because the thing is, if you go to a lot of yard sales, you have to have a yard sale every once and a while to get rid of all the stuff you bought at the other yard sales.
I’ve learned through experience that having a successful yard sale is about marketing and product placement. If you’re thinking about having one, it’s not too early to start getting organized. Here are some of my yard-sale pointers.
I’d suggest taking out an ad in the local newspaper, and if you’re near a big city, like Bangor or Waterville, get an ad in that paper, too. That way, you’ll get people from away. You can charge them more.
Now, you need something snappy in your ad to get folks’ attention. Here’s mine: If you saw something you liked on the Homeshopping Network that you wished you’d bought but didn’t, most likely I did, and I’ll be selling it on Saturday. Yard Sale 8:00-3:00. Collectibles, furniture, tools, all sorts of bargains. Early birds welcome.
See, I started with the bit about the Home Shopping Network. That’s the hook. That’s what gets them to read more. Then you have to say you have collectibles, because that’s trendy. And if you don’t think you have them, you do, because everything is collectible to someone. I’ve seen Antiques Roadshow.
Furniture is important. You need a few big pieces to draw people in, make them stop and get out of their car. It’s not worth your time to have a jelly jar yard sale. That’s when there’s a couple tables with lots of little trinkets on them. You’ll just get drive-bys with those. A car will slow down, checking out your stuff and then drive on to the next yard sale on their list.
Now, if you don’t have any furniture that you’re ready to part with, just have your husband bring out a chest of drawers, a desk, a trunk: anything big. Then, put a few things on them that are for sale. People will stop to look at the furniture, and when they ask what the price is, you say, “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not for sale. I’m just using that to display those collectibles.”
Now, tools. I’m not big on them myself, but you need to put them in your ad for three reasons. Number one: It might get your husband to tidy up the shed. Number two: It keeps him occupied, so he’s there when you need him to carry heavy things out to a car or truck. Number three: It’s a code; it lets you women know that there’s going to be something at the yard sale to occupy your husband so you can really look around, and then he’s there when you need him to lug stuff.
You have to make sure your yard sale signs are fresh and new. You can make them by hand if you want, or use the ones that the newspaper gives you for taking out the ad. Just don’t put up old ones. Then it looks like you’re one of those places that’s having a permanent yard sale. You’ve seen them: a house with lots of junk piled up in the yard all summer long, yard sale signs all weather beaten because they’ve been out for years, blue tarps everywhere. I stopped at one once where they were trying to sell little packets of mustard and ketchup like you get at McDonald's. I mean, come on! Half-used boxes of laundry detergent, an old bed pan. Swear to God, an old bed pan!
Now, let me say something about early birds. You know you’re going to get them. Why fight a force of nature? These people bought newspapers, planned their route and got up in the middle of the night in order to buy stuff. You have to respect that kind of dedication. If you say your yard sale starts at 8:00, you can bet you’re going to have people lining up at 6:00, 6:30. Don’t start the day off on the wrong foot by getting aggravated at the something that’s inevitable.
You need to be ready to go by 5:45. I can’t stress this enough. I mean, everything priced, displayed, your cash box organized, signs out, hair and makeup done, breakfast eaten and coffee in a travel mug. This takes planning. In order to have a successful yard sale, you need to spend the week before hand getting ready.
And when I say “early birds welcome,” I mean it. I have a couple big boxes of Dunkin Munchkins waiting for them. I mean the big box, the ones with 50 munchkins, smile on my face, lip gloss, power bra. These are people from away looking for a deal out in the country, and I am ready to dicker. My motto is: distract them with sweetness, then drive a hard bargain.
That’s if for now. Catch you on the flip side!
Ida LeClair is the alter ego of Susan Poulin, a Maine humorist who knows the appeal of powder blue eye shadow and a good bargain. (You can listen to Ida's podcast here.)