Monday, August 14, 2017

13 Things To Remember When Hosting A Yard Sale

Last month, the weekend before our big backyard anniversary party, Lisa and I had a yard sale. It wasn't a Bodacious Yard & Bake Sale. We didn't have a Bodacious Biscuit Love table or offer our homemade dog treats or baked goods for the humans. In fact, after our last Bodacious Yard & Bake Sale in October of 2015, we swore we'd never have another yard sale again. It's too stressful for the kids and the work in the weeks prior and the day of was too much for the both of us alone. Our decision to have a yard sale last month was to clear out the basement so Lisa could move forth with renovating part of the basement into a woodshop.

Prepping for this yard sale was fairly easy in comparison to the gigantic Bodacious Yard & Bake Sales we've had in the past, but it was still a lot of work. We did well. Most of what we didn't sell was donated to the Salvation Army. The rest of it was vintage and antique items. Our neighbor friend took them to sell for us at one of the many auctions and yard sales he has.

This was our last yard sale ever. For real. We're done. The basement is cleared. And, our family has grown in the almost-2-years since our last Bodacious Yard & Bake Sale. Hosting one of those is no longer an option.

In the few years that we did host both Summer and Fall yard sales, we learned quite a bit. Whether you're having a family yard sale or one to raise money for an organization, I'm going to pass on some words of wisdom...

1. It's not easy money. Hosting a yard sale involves a considerable amount of work and weeks of planning. Give yourself at least 2 weeks. This may seem like an excessive amount of time, but it goes fast. Lisa and I started planning for our huge Bodacious Yard & Bake Sales over a month ahead of time. Even with that amount of time to plan, there was a lengthy list of tasks that still needed to be conquered.

2. Take the time to make an online poster. Social media generates awareness and it's free advertising. Create a poster. Post. Ask others to share. A few days before your yard sale, post it again.

3. Ask for yard sale donations. If you're a rescue or charity group, you probably have a following. That's your community. Your fan club. They support your mission. And, they probably have a few boxes or totes in the garage or basement filled with stuff they don't want or need. Ask. Ask. Ask. More than likely, they'll be more than happy to donate these items to help you raise money.

4. Set boundaries. Unfortunately, there are some who view "donating yard sale items" as a means of getting rid of unwanted items that should go in the trash or unloaded at the dump. Broken appliances and electronics, filthy and stained clothing, holey socks, t-shirts sporting yellow sweat zones, appliances infested with mouse shit or food that was never cleaned out, etc. It's okay to put limits on what you'll accept and won't accept. Remember, you're the one who's going to be stuck with the items that don't sell once the yard sale is over with.

5. Know your source when accepting food items. A lot of charity, non-profit and rescue groups who host yard sales generally include a bake sale. We always have and it's been successful. People love homemade baked goods. The items in our bake sale are made by Lisa and me only. We do not accept bake sale donations. That's our rule. It's important you know the source of where baked goods are coming from. I strongly suggest you don't accept food items from strangers.

6. Let people know where you are. Fortunately, our road is off of the main road. We're only two houses down after making the turn. Making posters to hang for people to see going in either direction, and a few other busy roads nearby, has resulted in a substantial turnout. If you're in a secluded location, make lots of posters that pop and are easy to read. Or, advertise. Some shopping circulars allow free advertising for charity and non-profit groups. There are also yard sale sites.

7. Saturdays are best. We've always hosted our yard sales on a Saturday. People are out and about and eager to get first dibs on merchandise. Sundays...meh. For a lot of people, that's the day to attend church and enjoy brunch. Items are always picked over and there's not much of a crowd.

8. Price most or all items. Lisa and I, on occasion, frequent yard sales. One of my biggest pet peeves is table after table after table with items not priced. If I see something that catches my eye, it's a hassle to ask what they want. I like to see the price. View the item. Decide if it's worth it or should I make an offer slightly below the asking price. Sometimes, the person in charge of deciding prices isn't available. It's frustrating. We price 90% of our items individually. The merchandise we don't price are bulk items likes clothes and books. There is a set price. For example, softcover books are $2 and hardcovers are $3.

9. Do your research. On occasion, someone will donate vintage and antique items. Usually, it's followed by, "I have no idea what they're worth, but if it makes you money and helps your mission, take it." We do. These are items we separate from the rest and find their way into the home office. We research the items on various sites and price accordingly. It's worth taking the time to do a little research. You don't want to be pricing a $100 antique vase for $2.

10. Ask for help. Lisa and I are a wife & wife team. We're not an animal organization with several dozen volunteers. In the past, we've asked a friend here and there if they'd like to spend the afternoon, or even just a few hours, with us to help out. A couple of neighbors drop by and hang out. We've never had anyone decline. We appreciate any and all assistance. Setting up, run time and taking down is a lot of work. The more hands on board, the better.

11. There is a difference between bargaining and haggling. It's a rule of thumb to price items slightly higher than what you want. Most of the time, people are going to bargain with you. If it's a $5 item, they might ask if you'll accept $4 or $3. Then, there are hagglers. They'll take an item you've priced for $20 and want to give you $5. Or, if you have a box of 200 CD's priced at $1 each, they'll want the entire box for $10. Just. Say. No. Yes, you want to get rid of the items, but you're also looking to make money. Usually, with bulk items, I'll tell the hagglers to stop by at the end of the yard sale and we'll make a deal.

12. Avoid the "open donation" yard sale. A few years ago, an acquaintance of ours held a yard sale to benefit a children's group. They had a HUGE yard filled with items ranging from gently used cribs to high-end furniture items. Their policy was an open donation. How that works is you choose the items you want, make a donation and it's yours. No set prices. No donation amount denied or questioned. People were walking away with hundreds of dollars worth of items and dropping a $10 in the donation jar. It didn't take long for the group to realize they had made a mistake, however, it was too late. Never assume people are going donate generously when taking multiple what-would-be pricey items or that people care about what and who you're raising money for.

13. Safety. Safety. Safety. I can't stress this enough. Keep your pets indoors. Lock your doors. Don't leave money boxes unattended. Keep an eye on your yard sale activity. There are a select few who stop at yard sales and observe any opportunity to swipe cash, items or sneak into your home. Safety first. Always.

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