Planning a yard sale

Home & Family, Outdoors, Seasonal, Traditions
on April 5, 2009

There's no better way to get cash for your castoffs than having a yard sale. Here are some tips to ensure that your next sale is a success.

Know the market. Almost anything can sell, but the most sought-after items are sporting goods, baby accessories, framed art, kitchen appliances, dishes and books. An interesting variety of goods on display will attract more shoppers.

Join forces. Consider a neighborhood sale where multiple households participate. Friends Sue Brannegan and Janet Healy, of St. Michaels, Md. (pop. 1,193), plan an annual fall sale together. "Coordinate your sale with a large community event that generates traffic and brings more people to your sale," Brannegan says.

Choose the right time. Saturday mornings in the spring and fall are popular because the weather is comfortable, and bargain hunters are out in droves.

Advertise. Check with your local government to see if a permit is required, and learn the rules about posting signs. Make posters with large, easy-to-read letters or buy ready-made signs and write your information in the blank space. Post signs near busy intersections, place fliers on neighborhood bulletin boards or buy a classified ad in your local paper.

Plan ahead. Save bags, boxes and newspapers for wrapping breakable items, and collect quarters, singles and $5 bills for making change. Consider borrowing tables from a church or public hall to increase display space. Gather all items in one place to price and tag them. A good rule of thumb is to price items at 20 percent of their original cost.

Organize to improve sales. Combine matching goods such as place mats and dishes that can be sold as a package. Use clear plastic bags to wrap bed sheets, table linens and towels, noting the size and quantity, and place clothes on a hanging rack arranged by size. Designate an area where all items cost the same amount, such as a "$1 table." If you're selling electronics, provide extension cords and batteries so buyers know they're in working order.

Eliminate leftovers. "Don't take any unsold items back in the house. The idea is to get rid of things," says Healy, who donates her remaining items to a local thrift shop. And don't forget to take down the signs after you've cleaned up and counted the money.