Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Organized
Prep and Price
With the sale date scheduled and ads in place, it's time to assess your inventory. Does it look garage-sale drab? A little elbow grease can yield big bucks. Run dusty dishes and filmy glassware through the dishwasher. A quick spritz of automotive vinyl protectant makes small appliances and plastic items shine like new. Clean, fresh-smelling clothing hung on hangers commands a higher price than stained and rumpled items tossed into boxes.
Pay attention to packaging. Plastic food storage bags group children's game pieces, display jewelry, and hold hardware bits and pieces.
Assess your inventory with an eye to safety. Examine children's toys for breakage and hazards. If in doubt, throw it out. Old lamps with frayed cords or small appliances that give off a burned smell belong in the trash, not on your tables. Protect other families like you protect your own!
To price, or not to price? Experience comes down in favor of pricing every item. Yes, haggling is part of the yard sale scene, but for those with shyer natures, a price sticker saves a lot of energy. Buyers are more apt to buy when they know the price is in their ballpark. As for you, the middle of a crowded carport is no place to have to come up with a price for every spoon and trivet.
Use masking tape or small adhesive stickers to label your wares. At the office supply store, look for pre-printed yard sale price stickers. With amounts from 10 cents to $10, they're a true time-saver.
Be creative! Bundling is an old retailer's trick, and one well suited to the yard-sale seller. One half-used roll of shelf paper won't bring a nickel, but bundle all 12 or 14 roll ends from your last kitchen clean-out, and the whole box will go for $1.50. Got five small bookcases to sell? Price them at $10 each, but offer the whole lot for $40 and watch them waddle out the door.
Abide by your area's yard sale price guidelines. Yes, I know what you paid for that shiatsu massage wand (the one that leaves big, round, black-and-blue bruises), and I know what Macy's sells them for, too--but yard sales have their own economy. The goal is to get rid of stuff. Your shoppers know the going prices as well as you do.
Set Up Shop
Where will you hold your sale? Yard, garage or driveway, make sure your site can be seen from the road, and plan to haul a few big items out front, for good measure.
It's best to work from a stripped site, so remove everything that's not for sale from the driveway, garage or carport. If you can't, drape the not-for-sale items with sheets or tarps. That way, you won't have to explain that the garden tools are not for sale for a full seven hundred and thirty-two times.
Set out your wares. Tables, even a slab of plywood board resting on sawhorse, make it easy to browse. Hang clothing from ropes or chains attached to the ceiling. Display books, spines up, in shallow boxes for easy shopping.
Position big-ticket items like furniture or exercise equipment out near the front of the sales site where they will attract shoppers.
Display sales items to their best advantage, assembling items where possible to enhance their value.
You'll command a higher price for electronic items if you lay out all cases and accessories, and add a print-out from an online retailer showing the original purchase price!
A tidy, well-organized sale suggests that items have been well cared-for, so use signs to identify merchandise: full-size sheets, infants' clothing. Plug in a heavy-duty extension cord or surge protector to allow testing of electronic appliances.
Prepare your yard as if it were Halloween night. Remove anything that can be tripped over, including the dog, who should live elsewhere for the duration of the sale. Check the garage floor and driveway for slippery spots or hidden hazards. Tape down extension cords or cables.
Are you ready to make change? A muffin tin makes a good change holder. Be prepared with at least $20 in small bills and change. Or wear a fanny pack with at least two compartments; store bills in one, change in the other to process transactions quickly.