This article is an edited excerpt from Do Your Own Home Staging by Tina Parker, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. For more information or to order a copy, click here.
We all know that when you’re selling up, decluttering is a key part of staging your home for sale. But after you have decluttered and come up with storage solutions, you will need to get rid of everything you have decided to part with. A good way to use this to your advantage is to have a yard sale.
In order to have a successful yard sale, you will need to apply the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. So you must know your products, set appropriate prices, find a place that will showcase your items, and promote your sale properly.
Be organized and make items appealing: When selling books and compact discs, arrange them in a box with titles or artists facing upwards so the customers can easily read them. Sort items by categories, such as toys and household goods.Sort small toys and put them in sealed clear plastic bags, according to the type of toy or age group. Make sure all items are clean and working. Put everything on attractive covered tables – in keeping with staging your home, you need to stage your yard sale too! And make sure any items you do not want to sell are put away. If not, they will be the ones a buyer wants. Throughout your sale, keep your sale tables attractive by filling up empty spots as items get sold.
Set the mood: Have easy listening, middle-of-the-road type of music on, rather than heavy metal. To lure customers in, display some of your larger, more interesting or top-selling items at the end of your driveway. Some people will just drive by slowly and determine if your sale is worth stopping for.
Be careful how you arrange things: Use common sense and do not prop a nicely framed picture against a rocking chair on a very windy day. Keep makeup, compact discs, and electronic equipment out of the sun, and keep clothing off the grass. Ensure that all of your tables are stable and on even ground.
Empty pockets first! When selling clothing and coats, take a minute and go through the pockets. A buyer once found a $20 bill in a jacket that she paid $5 for.
All sales final: To avoid any issues later on, post a sign that reads “All Sales Final.” There have been stories about customers returning the next day wanting their money back on curtains that didn’t fit or end tables that were too big.
Display pricing: Ideally, put prices on everything. If you do not have time to price everything individually, signs are helpful, such as “All books 25 cents each,” “Each piece of clothing $1.00,” or “Anything on this table 50 cents.” You also can offer a deal, for example, “Paperbacks 25 cents each or five for $1.” Another suggestion is to categorize priced items by location in the yard; post a large, clear sign marked “All items $5.00” where the section is, and make sure the section is obvious. Also, consider the physical size of the item; the bigger the item, the larger the price tag should be. Don’t expect buyers to search all over a couch for a tiny price tag.
Know how to price: As a general rule of thumb, price items about a quarter or a third of what they would cost new. However, there are exceptions. Clothes are generally very poor sellers, unless they are baby or kids’ clothes. If you price adult sized clothing cheap enough, it will sell regardless; people are reluctant to pay a lot of money for clothes they cannot try on, but are willing to take a gamble if it is only for a dollar or so. Take some of your “nicer” clothes to consignment stores, rather than trying to sell them at a yard sale. If you still have the original boxes and instruction manuals for an item, you can probably charge a little bit more.
Offer “fill a bag” deals: If you have a lot of kids’ clothes or small toys that you want to get rid of, consider having a “fill a bag for a set price” kind of deal. Yard sale buyers love getting a good deal. I have seen yard sales with “fill a plastic bag full of clothes for $2” and “fill a lunch bag with small toys for a nickel” (very cheap).
Yard sale bargaining: Some buyers will expect you to barter with them. If it is early in the morning and you do not want to bargain, just say to them, “I think it is worth that price. I may lower the price later in the day if it doesn’t sell.” When the buyer asks you how much you want for a particular item, don’t say, “I don’t know, how about 50 or 25 cents?” No buyer in his or her right mind would respond, “Yeah, I want to pay the higher price. Give it to me for 50 cents.” Say, “How about 50 cents?” Then, if the buyer puts the item back or hesitate, counter with, “Or how about a quarter?” By using the higher price first, you give yourself room to negotiate.
Money handling: Run a cash-only sale (or risk bad cheques) andhave lots of coins and small bills available to make change. If you do not, your first customer will be someone trying to buy 50 cents’ worth of stuff with a $20 bill. The amount of change you should start off with depends on the average prices of what you are selling. If you are selling a lot of small, lower priced items, you should be fine with around $80 to $100 broken down into small denominations.
If someone hands you a large bill, leave the bill out in view until after you have given him or her change. You can put the bill partly under something such as a paperweight until after you hand the person his or her change. Otherwise, a dishonest person could tell you that he or she gave you a $20 bill, not a $10 bill.
Having a calculator handy is helpful in totalling purchases. Make it easy for yourself to total items by pricing things evenly, for example 25 cents, 50 cents, $1, $5 etc.
Do not leave your money lying around in a box as you’ll be distracted by customers. I recommend a fanny pack or carpenter’s apron so you’ll always have your money with you.
Where your sale should be: Ideally your sale should be positioned close to the street where passers-by can easily take a look and you are close enough to answer their questions such as “Do you have any LPs?” This spot also prevents people from “forgetting” to pay for an item on their way out.
On your property: If you are planning to host the sale in your yard, rather than your driveway or garage, make sure it is a clean and safe environment. Cut the grass a few days before an, fill in any ruts in the ground
Love me, love my dog? Although you may have the friendliest dog in the world, it is best to keep animals away from your yard sale. Some people are afraid of dogs or are allergic. Keeping the dog out of the way is also for his or her own safety, since cars will be coming and going. And if your dog poops in your yard, do some pooper-scooping before the sale.
Do you have enough parking? Before deciding to have a yard sale at your house, consider whether you have adequate parking to handle an additional four or five cars parked near your house at one time. If not, consider alternative venues, including splitting a yard sale with your friend at their house. You can also rent a table or space at a fundraising yard sale put on by a local community group, or sell at flea markets.
Set a date: Saturdays and Sundays are usually the days devoted to being around the house or going out for leisurely drives. In other words, yard sales are ideally held on weekends. But do not pick a busy holiday weekend to have your sale, unless you live in high tourist area and could get more local traffic. Also, find out if your local government has any restrictions in place regarding yard sales or garage sales.
Free advertising: Go big and advertise your yard sale on the Internet, for free on sites, such as www.kijiji.com or www.craigslist.org. Put up advertisements on bulletin boards within your community, such as at grocery stores, community centres, libraries, and mailbox centres; spread the news of your yard sale via word of mouth to coworkers and friends; and post a sign in front of your home a few days before the big event.
Inexpensive paid ads: Advertise in your local newspaper. If you are unsure of what to say in your ad, read some others and copy elements from them; make sure to have proper spelling and your correct address. Ask neighbours if they want to share the cost of the ad and hold a multifamily yard sale – the more, the merrier!
Signs: Make very clear yard sale signs, both for the sale site and to post in the surrounding neighbourhood, using cardboard or foamcore from local craft shops. Use designs such as big arrows for impact.
When writing it, use large very clear lettering. Don’t try to cram too many words on the signs. All that’s really needed is the words “Yard Sale” (or “Garage Sale,”) the date of the sale, the street address, and a bold arrow pointing the way. After your signs are up, drive past to see if you can read them easily. If you can’t, nobody else can.
Offer drinks: If your yard sale is blessed with a hot and sunny day, consider selling sodas from a cooler or having the kids run a lemonade stand. Offering complimentary paper cups filled with ice water on a hot day, with a trash can close by, is also a nice touch. The longer people stay at your yard sale, the more likely they will buy something and having a crowd will attract more crowds.
Bag it: Have free plastic grocery bags available to bag sold items. If selling breakables, have newspaper available to wrap fragile items.Use everyday metal hangers if you are displaying clothes on a rack so that buyers can keep the hangers if they want to.
After the sale
Leftover items: If you still have some valuable items to sell, consider selling them on eBay, an online auction site. Visit www.ebay.com for a wealth of information to help you do this. Alterntively, plan to donate any good, unsold items to charities so that others will benefit. Confirm with charities first to see what kinds of donations they take, and in what condition the items should be.
Clean up immediately: Do not forget to take your signs down right after the sale and remove all trace of the sale. Neighbours resent unnecessary clutter in their neighbourhood.
Success: Count your money; you will have just had a successful yard sale!
Next time: Home Staging Tips #2: Creating Curb Appeal