Every time I have a yard sale, I say, “Never again.” Because it’s just too much work. And then someone haggles me over a $1 and I nearly lose it. (Or dozens of someones, in my case.)
But, it was a necessary evil at this point in our lives. Because for over a year, about 90 percent of our stuff has been stored at my parents in their giant barn. And I guess they didn’t want to become our permanent storage facility forever.
We are hoping to be moving into the new house in the next month or so I knew we didn’t need to keep it all.
I had some thoughts about just putting all of it out to the curb. But then I remembered all my great STUFF. My Christmas trees. My fall decor. My furniture.
And so a second plan came together. I would simply go through every single box and remove the things I didn’t want. And then I’d sell everything and become independently wealthy.
Simple. So easy.
Except you are probably laughing at my expense right now, because this is the furthest thing from simple and easy. It’s tedious and painful and time-consuming and horrible.
It’s horrible. HORRIBLE!
But, I started working on going through every single box (literally hundreds of boxes and bins) to pare down. Because I know that all this stuff doesn’t matter. We’ve lived without it (pretty happily) for over a year.
On the other hand, I know that there are some things that do bring me joy. (To steal a little Konmari method.) I know there are things I would actually USE. I knew I wanted some of my favorite decorative and holiday and entertaining stuff. I knew I’d need some furniture. Like a SOFA. I cannot wait for sofas and beds. It’s amazing what we can take for granted.
So, over two (long and painful) weeks, I dug into the boxes. My mom and dad helped me SO MUCH. They moved boxes and put up with leaving vehicles outside and brought tables and delivered goods. And Henry was so patient with the long days.
The method – we basically took everything off shelves and stacks and tried to sort them into categories. I didn’t strictly follow any systems of downsizing, but this was similar to the Konmari method in that I didn’t want to go through a holiday box and then a clothes box and then a kids box. I wanted to do ALL the clothes. And then ALL the holiday. On and on.
Doing it all at once made it easier to get rid of stuff when I saw it together. And it made it easier to consolidate bins when they were together.
I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near minimalistic, but I ended up with over a trailer-load of stuff to get rid of. If you are a minimalist, you’ll still be disgusted at my excess. But if you are my friend, you know I made serious progress.
I had a few moments where I wondered if I ought to just get rid of everything. Just take it to Goodwill or the dump.
But, it actually made it a lot easier to get rid of things I actually liked (but maybe just didn’t love or use) by knowing that it would be used by someone else. So, I went forward with a yard sale. I ended up making a little over $600. It’s not going to pay for Henry’s college, but it was something.
And along the way, I learned a few things that seemed to work.
Follow the crowd.
We live in a small town, and my parents live in a smaller town. But all tiny towns have yard sale days. (At least around us.) There are a few advantages to having our yard sale during the full-city days:
- They advertise for you. (My parents’ town puts together a map and also placed local ads.)
- More yard sales typically mean more people.
- It gives a deadline – which kept me from putting off the yard sale indefinitely.
- Yard sale days are often followed up by a special pickup. (Which means you can put everything leftover at the curb and not deal with taking it away.)
I’ve done yard sales before where I started the day before. The truth is, it can take a lot of prep work to get enough good stuff to throw a yard sale. The more time you take to get stuff together and plan, the better.
Also, by working ahead, I could strategize the items that could be sold ahead of time.
This was my biggest success this time around. I posted a simple status update a week before the yard sale asking if anyone wanted a sneak peek at my stuff. I didn’t know that anyone would, but I ended up having about 50 people ask to join a private Facebook group to see sneak peeks.
I ended up posting my larger items, furniture, rugs, and brand-name stuff on this Facebook group as I was preparing. I just posted a cell phone photo, short description and price. Then, I just asked that everyone pick up the items BEFORE the sale started. This helped me get rid of so many of the bigger ticket items. And I didn’t have to deal with swap sites or strangers or deliveries.
I also had a few friends come out and look through my clothes before the sale. This was such a huge success for adult and kid clothes. It leaves less to chance.
In the end, I made almost half of my total profit from “pre-sales” on Facebook and from friends.
This is probably going to be debatable, but I wanted rid of everything and wasn’t going to keep it if it didn’t sell. So I tried my darndest to price things as low as possible to get them to move. I would rather have $1 than nothing.
There were a few exceptions – namely larger items that I thought I may be able to sell on Craiglist. But for most things, I wanted them to move so I priced them very low.
I also had deals for quantity – for example, I priced the kids clothes at $1 or a full grocery sack for $6. That was a helluva deal, and people loved it. I even sold the entire bin of sizes to people for $15 if they were interested.
Stage and sort.
Even though it’s a yard sale, the nicer that things look, the more likely they will sell. It’s more work to stage things nicely, but it definitely leads to more sales.
For ladies clothes, we hung them. (I think adult clothes always look sloppier when folded.) For baby clothes, we sorted by size. We kept like-items together.
I’m not saying this was Macy’s, but it looked neat and presentable.
And we had good luck placing the larger items and baby gear out front where more people would see it and stop.
Don’t let anything back into the house.
This is always my rule for sales. If it doesn’t sell, it goes somewhere else.
It ended up raining on Saturday morning (the sale was on Friday and Saturday). This meant it was slow and so we packed it up. I think if the weather had been nicer, I may have made quite a bit more on the second day. But, that’s life.
We loaded everything into bins and boxes right away. The majority of stuff went to Goodwill and a few things went to the curb. (I also gave a few things away to people.)
Just don’t let it back into your house.
So basically, yard sales stink. They aren’t usually fun. They can be a lot of work. But, for $600 and less stuff, it was worth it to me this time.
What do you think? What would you add to my tips?