Growing up, my summers consisted of running through the sprinkler, riding my bike, playing badminton (poorly) on my front lawn, and yard sales. My mom is the queen of yard sales. When I was in high school, she was able to pay for most of my school trip to Italy. She has people come from out of town for her yard sales. She once had a garage sale in the middle of winter. It was literally in our garage, and we had a few strategically placed heaters. My mom is the queen of yard sales.
And she taught me well.
For the next 5 posts I will be imparting some of the knowledge I've gained from my years of hosting yard sales, but I'm also going to go into a bit of detail about how to be a successful yard sale shopper.
Part 1: Prep work
Hosting a yard sale may not seem too difficult. Get a bunch of items together you don't need anymore, put it on your yard or driveway and let people come. Sure, you can do that. Or, you can make money.
What to sell
The first thing is to figure out what you want to sell. Usually this includes items you don't need anymore, or multiples of an item you do use. This is the time to purge, so don't be afraid to empty out your attic or garage. Or even your tool shed. I know, it can be hard, but think about the items you used the previous years. Didn't use it? Maybe someone else can. Have friends or family who need to get rid of stuff? See if they want you to sell it for them. (If you do this, have an agreement as to what they expect in return. I.e they price their items and get that money back, you take a small commission for doing the selling, or you get all the money and they're thankful to be rid of the stuff.)
Also keep in mind the area in which you live. If you live in a neighbourhood with seniors then CDs, baby clothes, furniture aren't likely to sell. At least not as well. You're going to want to try to attract people from outside your neighbourhood, which will be discussed later. Try to look online to see what collectors are looking for in your city. Have a box of old legos or Transformers? Usually there's someone looking for that.
Whatever you sell, make sure it's clean! If you're selling clothes, wash them. If you're selling dishes, wash them. It makes a HUGE difference to buyers.
This is something most people overlook, and isn't normally an issue, but once you've figured out what you're selling make sure it's legal to sell. Here is a link to the Health Canada website for a list of items illegal or restricted to sell in Canada. If you're American, this is still a good list to use as a guideline.
Getting people to your sale
To do this, obviously you're going to need advertising. This pretty much goes without saying. Every Saturday during the summer, you're more often than not going to see a sign or two at street corners showing the way to a yard sale you're not hosting. Signs at the side of the road need to be eye-catching, and easy to read. Drivers only get a second or two to read your sign before they pass it, so it's a good idea to maybe put a few in a row a short distance apart from each other.
Advertising online is easy, and usually free. Place an ad on Kijiji, or on Facebook groups geared towards buying and selling and yard sales. Give a short summary of the types of items you'll be selling so people - such as collectors - have an idea of what they're in for.
Church bulletin boards are another great way to advertise. Make sure you get permission before you post anything. A good incentive is to offer to give a portion of the funds to their church, or a charity they sponsor. Giving back is always nice.
On that note, if you advertise that part of the proceeds go towards a certain cause, you're going to get a lot more people. For the past two summers my mom has given part of her proceeds to breast cancer research. As she's a survivor, she was able to share her story which helped boost sales, and she had a lot of other survivors come out to take part.
Now that you've figured out what you want to (and can) sell, there are more things you need to think about.
Check your city's by-laws to see if there's an actual season to host sales. There are also usually limits to how many sales you can host per season. If this is the case, you need to plan carefully to make sure the dates you want to have your yard sale are good days. Typically long weekends are a forfeit.
If you live in an apartment building, check your lease to see if it mentions anything about hosting a yard sale on their property. Most of the buildings I've lived in prohibited sales. If this is the case, check again the city by-laws if there's a place on city property where you're able to sell. I've seen sales on long stretches of empty land on the boulevard (the part of grass between the street and sidewalk.) If it's not allowed and you still decide to host one there, be prepared to have a cop kick you off the property. I've seen it happen many times.