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How to Plan a Successful Yard Sale

Jon Fesmire | December 29, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Self storage is great for keeping important belongings that you know you will need. What do you do with all those extra things you’ll never use again, books you’ll never read, silverware you’ve replaced, and more? If you’re like many Americans, you hold a yard sale!

This tradition allows you to meet neighbors, clear out your home, and make a little money.

Initial Preparation

Get together all the things you’re going to sell. To do this, go through your home with a box and fill it with all the things you want to get rid of. When that box is full, put it by the front door, and get another. Remember to look through closets, the garage, and if you have them, the attic and basement. Head over to your self storage unit and go through it as well! If you have a self storage inventory, that will make the job much easier. With your stock together, contact your town or city hall and find out if you need a yard sale permit. If so, follow their directions to obtain one. Plan your sale for the morning. People are more likely to show up between about six in the morning and noon. They can head over, purchase a few items, and get on with their day. A weekend yard sale—in other words, days when people have the morning off—tends to work best. In some areas, consider starting your sale just after morning church services on Sunday. Also, find out if you can put signs up on telephone poles.

Continuing Preparation

A few days before the event, advertise it! Your local newspaper is still a decent place to advertise, but these days people tend to look for items and events online. Put your listing on sites like Craigslist, Yard Hopper, and Yard Sale Search. Ask friends to help! If you have a partner, spouse, or children, they can help. This can be a fun family event. Otherwise, call some local friends and offer to buy pizza for everyone when the sale is over.

Make sure you have enough tables and racks for items. If you can hang clothing, that works best. To price items, put a piece of masking tape on each and write the price on it in Sharpie.

If you can, get cheap aprons with pockets for each person working the yard sale. You should each have about a roll each of quarters, dimes, and nickels, dollar bills, fives, and tens, for change, hidden in those pockets. When something sells, set the payment on a table beside you, give the change, then put the payment in one of the pockets. Know how much each person started with. Consider getting a credit card reader like Square. While common sense says to bring cash to a yard sale, some people may forget. Square allows you to take credit card payments on your smartphone or tablet. You can order a free reader from the website, or purchase one from an electronics store.

The Sale

The night before the yard sale, set up the tables inside your living room. That way, you can get up early, have your breakfast and shower, and with the help of a friend, take each table out to the lawn. If you’re allowed to put up your yard sale signs on the surrounding blocks, do so. This is a great way to help people find your sale on the day. Greet people as they arrive and let them look over what you’re selling. Answer questions about items. However, hold off on haggling until the end of the sales day for a one day sale, or the last day for a multi-day sale. If you sell that pair of dress shoes for $10 at 7a.m., and someone shows up at 11a.m. willing to pay the $25 asking price, you’ll have lost out. Watch for shoplifters. This is another good reason to have a helper or two. You can’t be looking everywhere at once. While yard sale prices are much lower than one would pay anywhere else, theft is still a possibility.

Wrapping Up

When your yard sale is over, clean up, take the supplies into your house, and order that pizza or Chinese takeout you promised your helpers and enjoy! You deserve a break. You’re not completely done yet, though. There are a few things to take care of before you’ve completely finished. Take down all the signs you put up around the neighborhood as well as the ads you put online. Count the money, and subtract the amount you started with. That result is the profit you made by getting rid of things you no longer needed. You probably have extra items. Take them to a thrift store, like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or St. Vincent de Paul’s. Write down the total value of those items, donate them, and get a receipt. Because it’s a donation to a charity, you can use that amount as a deduction to your income taxes. Now, you’re done! Take it easy. Enjoy your less-cluttered home and self storage space. You’ve earned it.

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