A baby’s journey through childhood leaves a lasting impression. He also leaves behind mounds of outgrown clothes and accessories. Some people save everything hoping to reuse for subsequent children, but eventually it all has to go. If you have a basement full of stuff that can only be used with a time machine, a yard sale may be in your future.
There are very simple rules to follow to ensure a successful sale: time, organization, presentation and advertisement. Investing a few dollars will also increase the odds for a profitable clean-out.
First pick a date. Typically, avoid having yard sales on holiday weekends. They aren’t successful unless you receive heavy traffic from vacationers. Run ads a week or two beforehand. Choose whatever media you’re comfortable with such as Craig’s List, Facebook, or the Sunday paper. Don’t forget old-fashioned signs at busy intersections and at the ends of your road. Increase foot traffic by inviting neighbors to participate in a block sale. My parents open their ultra-organized garage each year for the town-wide sale in Mexico and advertise as a four family stop (or however many family members participate). They consistently bring in several hundred dollars. Keep in mind our ever changing weather so have a backup plan.
Highlight a theme to attract the right customers (baby items vs. antique furniture). In my experience Friday and Saturdays are the best days as Sundays yield fewer visitors. And say ‘no early birds’ if you truly don’t want people showing up at 6am while you’re still in PJ’s.
Most people overlook the amount of time it takes to pull together a good sale. I’ve never tried to count this time as an overhead expense but as an investment. Like anything, due diligence pays off. No one, especially busy parents of young children, have time to paw through a cardboard box full of random clothes. Take a few evenings after dinner or a weekend to go through each room, bin, or closet to see exactly what stays and what goes. Think seasonally. The winter gear that’s just been shed may not fit the little one next fall so don’t hang on to it. Still not sure? If it hasn’t been used in over a year it’s probably safe to sell.
Bundling is important to maximize a sale and clear space (more on that later), so choose items that are in good condition. Some kitchen items we pulled were wedding gifts we never used. I needed a few weeks on the clothes alone even though they were separated into totes for newborn, 12-24mo, and 2T-3T. The more diverse the items advertised the more potential buyers so check those boxes in the attic or garage, too. Start saving plastic grocery store bags for purchases.
Ah, my favorite. Think department store layout and keep everything together: house wares area, toys, bedding. Baby toys and baby clothes are top sellers as they are used briefly and usually outgrown in very good condition. These need to be broken down further and separated. Imagine a mom of a 12 month daughter seeing everything you have for a 12 month girl on one rack as opposed to circling a picnic blanket, table, or box looking for that size. Allow her to see not just one item, but all of them. The majority of shoppers don’t like the bartering system, so use black markers on signs to identify and state the cost. It’s ok to have groups of items for the same amount with one price, and it eliminates unnecessary marking. Customers who know this up front are able to browse in their price range. For those with storage options and DIY talent making your own wooden clothing rack is a good investment (see side bar). Don’t forget to make a trip to the bank to have lots of small bills and change!
If the sale is large be sure to have a few extra hands available. Extra helpers deter dishonest people from pocketing goods. We invite a favorite aunt or cousin to keep us company and help out. Playing some good music and springing for donuts and coffee doesn’t hurt. If they have items to sell simply put their initials on the price sticker to keep the profits separate. Keep the cash box tucked away from visitors. Wearing an over the shoulder bag with the money inside is safer.
Include the immediate family in this event and encourage school aged children to have a lemonade stand. There are life lessons in marketing and management they’ll learn firsthand that they won’t learn in school.
Yard sales that are neat and clean with reasonable prices are profitable. If a garage is used for part of the sale set up as much as possible the night before. Use plain colored plastic cloths to keep the attention to your wares. Large or brightly colored items closest to the road attract drivers’ attention.
Here is where bundling pays off. Maximize a sale by putting outfits together if possible, then use a clothing rack or improvise for something similar and mark each size by a separator. If a buyer can’t see it they won’t know they can’t live without it. The goal is to have nothing left to bring back inside, so spend a little money on a couple dozen plastic hangers and package of safety pins. Baby clothes are the easiest since most are complete outfits. Include bonnets with sundresses and ball caps and jackets with denim. For toddler sizes and up, pin a top and bottom together. My last sale listed all outfits at $2.00 each. Sometimes putting a stray skirt with a coordinated onsie gets rid of both faster. Put loose items, such as socks, hair accessories or tights together in baggies and discount them. We put all small crib toys in a box with a general price of 50ȼ each or 3 for a dollar. Be open to hagglers. A shopper offered a larger bill for the whole box and we happily took it.
As sales are made reorganize so everything appears fresh and orderly. Lower prices if items aren’t moving. Make them rock bottom if they are not destined to return to the house, but please consider donating gently used items to local thrifty stores instead of pushing to the curb.
Do it yourself clothing racks For about thirty dollars and a little tool time make these reusable clothing racks that can be broken down for storage against a garage wall or under a work bench.
2- 2x4x12 wood
2 wooden dowels (1” wide x 6’)
4 castor wheels
Assorted nails and screws
The top piece is 22”, the sides are 4’ and the bottom is 26”
Using a hole drill cut out 1 ¾” holes
Attach the frame together by screws and nails with castors on the ends
Repeat for the other side
Put the dowels through the top for 12 feet worth of clothing racks in 6 feet