Friday, September 16, 2011

Organizing a Successful Yard Sale / Garage Sale / Tag Sale or Fundraiser

It’s that time of year again, when the weather cools off and it is absolutely gorgeous outside in most areas of the country.

Several of my clients and friends are planning Yard Sales / Garage Sales/ Tag Sales/ Fundraisers in the coming weeks and have been asking for some great tips for planning a successful sale.

Whatever you call it, it is important to organize your sale for maximum benefits! Here are the BEST tried and true tips for a successful and PROFITABLE sale.

FUNDRAISERS AND GROUP YARD SALES:  Gather all the items ONE WEEK in advance. Most people use a garage or storage unit to store the items. That way everything can be priced accordingly and broken items and/or items not suited for the sale are disposed of. There is a lot of prep work to make it successful, so you're going to want the week to get ready.

1.      When preparing, sort items like with like and make sure everything is clean (especially clothes).
a.       Sort children’s clothes according to gender and size.  Plastic or cardboard boxes work well for this. Make sure you label the each container. 
b.        You’re more likely to sell everything for a better price if they are clean.

2.      Purchase or have available a box of plastic bags for purchased clothing and other small Items. We purchased a box of 200 bags for $10.00 at our local Sam’s Club.  That way you can bag multiple items as needed.

3.      Any big-ticket  or larger items, place near the street with a big readable price tag. That big-ticket items will catch the attention of those driving by to take a peek (and there will be many).

4.      Set everything up like you would if all the items were new. Presentation is everything even at a garage sale.

5.      Advertising:  Be sure to advertise your sale in the actual physical local papers.  Advertising online on social media sites like Facebook and such is good, but don't let it be your only source of advertising. 
a.       Typical garage sale junkies have their newspaper in hand and go to each sale one by one.  I have the research to back up my claims when I say you are likely to make 20 to 30% more off your sale if you do this. Yes it does cost money, but well worth the return in your investment.  List your big ticket most attractive items in your sale to get the ultimate traffic. Most people will come to the sale with a physical paper in hand when they come to shop. I have done MANY of these sales and at least in Utah, people rely on the newspaper for their yard sale info.
b.      STILL advertise via email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites as you will get some people who will come from posting it.

6.      Tag everything with the price you want begin to negotiate at, not the price you're willing to sell it, that way you have built in negotiating power from the beginning.

7.      Make the signs and directions BIG BLOCK BLACK LETTERS with DRAMATIC bright colored poster board or paper. Block letters will catch the eye much better than just writing the information on a plain white poster in sticking it up. A good idea would be to drive by it and see if you can read it without straining your eyes. If you can't make it bigger.  For Fundraisers, consider someone donating professional signage if it is offered.
a.       Keep the information short and sweet.  That way it can be easily read by people as they pass in their cars.
b.      Fluorescent colored poster paper works best. It is also helpful to print off large arrows from your computer or make them by hand if you are confident you can make them legibly, to point to where the yard sale is located.
c.       IMPORTANT! Before posting your signs around town, check with your city government to make sure that they allow you to do this.  We learned this the hard way as on the first day of our garage sale the city came and took down our signs. If you post the sign on someone’s actual property (not the parking strip) they are not authorized to take them down. Be sure to get permission from the property owner before you display your signs. 

8.      Start mega bargaining with the items once you are halfway into the sale. It is better to let the item go for a cheap price than to haul it off after the sale is over.

9.  DO NOT have a cash box! DON'T DO IT! I cannot stress this enough.  Especially for Fundraisers. Would be thieves are known for showing up looking for a cashbox to steal.  Instead, use a small plastic poly expander file (see image below) You can purchase these for a buck at a dollar store or a place like Wal-mart or Office Max. Have a expanding file for everyone who is agreed to gather money from the sales.
 a.     Make sure to get plenty of small bills in advance, $1’s $5’s and $10’s, a few $20’s and also at least $5 in quarters distributed between you. Plan on getting a little over $100.00 in small bills and distribute it evenly between those of you who are carrying the money. You don’t want to fall victim to a criminal who could be casing your sale and waiting for the opportune time to sneak in and grab your cash box.
b.       Keep the cash with you at all times.
c.       Have everyone who is taking money, wear a waist apron with deep pockets. Keep that apron on you at all times with the poly expanding file and cash you collect. That way you can separate the smaller bills from the larger bills so that you can exchange money quickly and swiftly (see 3 pocket waist apron picture below).

 10.  Provide Free Refreshments: lemonade, punch & cookies, whatever is easy to eat while you shop.  I was amazed at how many people that I offered a cookie and while they were eating at looking at things said,” I feel like I have to buy something now that I've eaten your cookie.” Again remember presentation is everything so if your cookies are “store bought,” you may want to at least lay them out on a larger platter so they look a little more appetizing.

11.  Try doing something like “package discounts,’ for instance, say someone is buying a bunch of kids clothes. Instead of taking the time to add up all individually, knock off a couple bucks off the top and it is possible they might buy more. Make those deals as people buy, as everything is about bartering at a garage sale.

12.  Make a large sign easy for people to see that says: CASH ONLY. Do not accept checks unless you know for sure who the person is. If you know the person, tell them secretly that you will accept a check from them because you know them. That way you will not have to deal with any bounced checks. Or simply just don't except them period.  If the person really wants the item(s), they will find the cash to pay for it.

13.LOCK IT UP! If you plan on doing your sale at your home, keep the doors to the inside of it locked.  You don’t want to fall victim to a crime while you are trying to make money. 
 Fundraiser Tips:
            For those of you who are doing these sales as fundraisers, here are a few additional tips;
  1.       Hang a large sign (block letters again) that everyone can see in block letters at the garage sale  site thanking them for their purchase and what their purchase was going towards.
  2.     Print out thank you cards on inexpensive business card sheets and put one in every bag with a link to the organization you are raising money for. 
Above, plan, plan, plan!  The more prepared you are, the money you will make and the easier it will be have a very successful sale. Good Luck!
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