Monday, May 26, 2008


We visited a few yard sales this week and we just could not turn off the organizer within us. We kept noticing that some folks did not make the best use of their space. Maybe they just wanted a little fresh air and sunshine and selling the unwanted items didn’t matter much. That is the impression they projected with the jumble of items that littered their lawns.

We are serious about yard sales we organize for ourselves and for our clients. We want to make money, maintain safety, use our time well and have fun, so we have a few guiding principles that we abide by when it comes to space utilization and display.

Provide prices for everything. It is not necessary to put a price on every item if you are willing to accept a single price for a category. Examples are:
Men’s T-shirts $2.00
Paperback books $0.25
For items priced by category, keep a list next to the cashier space.
If time is running short or you have a bunch of miscellany that defies description, allow customers to fill a bag you provide for a set price that is posted on the bin of items

Be clear about what is included in the price. Keep multi-piece sets together with pins, rubber bands or plastic zip bags. Make special note on price tag about features or pieces missing.

Maintain safety. Allow adequate space between display sites for two people to walk side-by-side. This allows for two-way traffic, parents with children, and handicap access.

Make sure that sharp objects do not protrude into walk space and that heavy objects are not precariously balanced on shelves. Also remove any broken pieces or loose small pieces from open access and put in plastic bags and tape to the item if they are part of the sale. Do not place green tarps on green grass. Some shoppers may have difficulty seeing where the boundary is and stumble over the items on the tarp. Make sure display tables and other devices are sturdy and able to support the weight of items displayed on them.

Put like things together. Some categories to consider are toys, children’s clothing, tools, small appliances, exercise equipment, jewelry, home decor. Books are a tricky item and some advice columns say they do not sell well. That has not been our experience. Think about putting some of your books with categories that are directed to customer segments: children’s books with toys, how-to books with tools, recipe books with kitchen items. It just might tempt your customers to peruse the book stacks for others that might interest them. Put things next to each other that appeal to market segments: toys next to children’s clothing, garden equipment next to tools, jewelry next to women’s clothing.

Capture passers-by with visible merchandise. Set tempting items close to the curb. If possible, include items that will draw in various population segments. A piece of furniture, a toy, a fertilizer spreader and a piece of exercise equipment will attract very different buyers and more buyers equal more sales.

Have fun. Yard sales are a way to rid yourself of unwanted items, meet new people and make a little cash. While doing that you get to enjoy fresh air and sunshine and your choice of refreshing beverage. We call that a good day!

Beverly & Kristen

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