Monday, August 23, 2010

Lessons from a Yard Sale Novice

I've never been one for yard sales. I did pick up a great bureau at a yard sale in my neighborhood many years ago and it's currently in Annie's and Izzie's room and I'm pretty sure it cost $10. Before we moved to this house we contemplated having a yard sale so we didn't have to move so much stuff. Then we found out I was pregnant and decided that we'd better keep all the kids stuff and clothes (good thing we did since I was pregnant with the twins!).

But as the stuff kept accumulating in our basement, we got a little overwhelmed. We keep all the clothes that Meg outgrows for Annie and Izzie, but we were keeping all of Drew's clothes as well. So we finally buckled under the weight of a zillion storage boxes and opted to hold a yard sale this weekend. If you've never done a yard sale before, here are a few small tips:

  1. Be prepared for people to ignore your signs and come early. We started at 9 on Saturday and people were waiting at the end of our road at 8:30.
  2. Either send the kids to grandma's house or have a babysitter come to help out. It's very difficult to make lunch for your kids when you're needed on your lawn to help customers. Kids will also play with every single toy you have out for sale and even take things back into the house during the sale. We had our babysitter with us Saturday and she was a huge help.
  3. Advertise your sale on Craigslist. We had several people tell us they saw our ad, so we weren't solely relying on our signs.
  4. Speaking of signs, make them BIG. Doug had ours printed at his office, then mounted on poster board. Everyone said they were easy to read and follow to get to our house, which is quite off the beaten path.
  5. Sunscreen yourself and your lemonade-selling oldest child because even though it's the end of August that sun is still darn hot. Oops.
  6. We sold a ton of the kids' clothes because we only put out what was in good condition. We also sold things for $.50 an item which helped us sell so much. We ended up providing bags to people who had so much that they couldn't carry what they had.
Next time we have a yard sale we'll organize the kids' clothes differently. We had everything in buckets with labels such as "Girls 2T" but next year we'll actually split out the seasons a little better so that customers don't have to fish through all the summer things to find the fall clothes. Our sale was mostly kids items and even though we put that in the ad and our signs, people still came looking for other items and were disappointed. Next year we'll be putting more household things that are taking up space in the basement.

We were really thrilled with how well Saturday turned out. Yesterday it was cloudy and ended up raining so after having just a few people stop by we called it a weekend, took down our signs and packed everything away. I was dreading the whole experience (it was a LOT of work to prepare for) but am really glad we went through with it.

Lest we sound like money grubbing whores, the money we made from the yard sale is going to a fun thing like paying for the work done on Doug's truck last week. The winter coats that we didn't sell will be donated to our local TV station's "Coats for Kids" campaign, which every winter provides thousands of winter coats to kids right here in Maine who otherwise wouldn't have one.


creative kerfuffle said...

we've participated in a couple of yard sales and had one of our own. i probably will never do it again. too much work. we've never made much money doing it so to me it wasn't worth it. glad yours was a success!

Brooke Brown said...

sounds like a HUGE success!!! and, so like kids to play w/ toys (and suddenly remember toys) that are hopefully on their way to someone else's house! :)