Spring is here, friends! Our allergies are flaring, the tulips are blooming, and people are purging. April generally kicks off the three to four months of yard sale season. My favorite season of all.
To establish my credibility here, let me tell you I am a passionate yard sale shopper. I come by it honestly, I have learned from generations of women before me who were not even trying to pay full for something. My kids wear nice clothes, our house is adored in great yard sale finds, and we save money on those sorts of things to spend or give elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I can see how if you are new to yard/garage sales, you could get slightly overwhelmed. I’m here to ease this anxiety and give you a tangible checklist!
Before you head into yard sale season, make yourself a list of needs and wants. For example, I know I need size seven sandals for Sawyer, size 6T clothes for Liam, and quite a few home furnishings for our new house! I’ll create an honest inventory, which will help me chart my courses.
Set a budget: Yard sales (like other deals) can be tricky, you aren’t saving money if you purchase 400 pairs of shorts when you really only need 4. So, give yourself a budget. I usually do for the whole season, because you never know when you might hit a yard sale that the family is selling their three boys clothes up to three sizes bigger than your oldest son. This happened to me! I spent more than I normally would, but my boys scored some awesome stuff! We got Columbia fleece jackets(NEW WITH TAGS, YA’LL.) Keen sandals (for 1.00!) and a bunch of cute preschool boy outfits from the Gap.
Make a map the night before: I like to check Craigslist, the newspaper website, and wherever else people post about their yard sales the night before. I prioritize based on what the posting say, and what I have on my inventory list. My husband and his military friend once joked I looked like I was planning a military mission. It takes two seconds, but helps me to figure out my most efficient route. By taking about ten minutes the night before, usually on Thursday night *sales tend to be Friday/Saturday* you can save yourself from going somewhere you know you won’t buy anything.
Set “buy prices” I like to set buy prices. For example, I won’t spend more than 3.00 on pants, 1.00 on shirts, 1.00 on books.
Get there early: To maximize your potential for great finds, arrive when the yard sale begins. DO NOT GO BEFORE THE START TIME. “Early birds” are the worst. “Early birds” arrive at the yard sale before it has even been set up, they are digging through the boxes, they are haggling, they’ve got places to be. If you arrive at a yard sale, at 8:57 am stay in the car until 9:00 am. We call this yard sale etiquette. Arriving early ensures you get to see the cream of the crop, but know there won’t be a lot of room for haggling. Be okay with that!
Close the club down: There are two kinds of yard sale shoppers, those who arrive when they open and those who wait until it is almost over and come in prepared to make deals. This is an okay strategy, not for me, but I get it. People come in ten minutes before you close and offer you a fraction of what you’re charging so you don’t have to move it inside or take it to the donation center. I have done this sometimes if I’ve seen something in the morning and later thought of a use for it.
Look for “stuff a bag” sales: These are my favorite! 5.00 to fill a baby of kid’s clothes!? This will bring down your buy price significantly.
Get resourceful: Your inventory list is not the only thing you should be shopping for. Your inventory list is simply to help you stay organized and make sure you get the essential items you need. Don’t forget to look for gifts or more practical items. Examples? I’ve gotten plastic animals for Easter eggs, finger paint brand new in box, tons of books, and even a cute stuffed Peter Rabbit for a quarter recently. (new stuffed animals are insanely expensive!) I bought a gorgeous stainless steel trash can, diaper pale liners, a toothbrush holder. I find gifts or gift starters at yard sales all the time. I once bought a brand new scrapbook kit for a little boy for 1.00 for a baby shower gift. People get gifts they’ll never use, and then you buy it! Build your child’s library. Build your wardrobe, your library, or decorate your home on a budget!
So, you want to have a yard sale? Here are my tips for that.
If you are done with it, try to sell it. You will be amazed by what people will buy. Creative people out there can do so much with things you might think are junk!
Share your sell on Craigslist, Social Media, The newspaper’s free online classifieds. Try to share what you’ll have to help shoppers be strategic.
Price competitively, not emotionally. Just because that was one of your favorite outfits that little Johnny ever wore doesn’t mean it is a high value find. If you feel attached to it, maybe save it. People who shop at yard sales are trying to find good deals, not overpay for sentimental finds!
Have a strategy for displaying prices of things. I like when people just put a price sticker on the item, or have a space set up that says “1.00 for these items.” or this box 1.00 per item. Otherwise, you’re going to spend the whole time awkwardly answering “how much is this?” when you should be sitting down collecting dat cash.
Do not charge more than clearance price: We are stocking up on things! Practical things, but buyers aren’t going to pay more than they could stop at bottom dollar coupon or clearance prices.
I really love when your kids sell lemonade. I think this is BRILLIANT. 1) I’m always thirsty. 2) Kids are cute 3) It gives them something to.
Don’t ask your customers if they’ve seen XYZ. Believe it or not, some yard sales can be pushy. I went to a yard sale last year and found several things I really wanted, but the hostess was being so obnoxious I couldn’t even focus!
Don’t forget the yard sale pages on social media: Didn’t sell in your yard? Try selling it online!
Donate! Donate what doesn’t sell.