By gosh, there's nothing better than a good sale. And I'm not talking about shopping. Selling off your stuff can be surprisingly fun, liberating, and profitable. It's hard work, though. To ensure good profits, your best bet is to organize a multi-family or neighborhood sale. Bigger sales bring more customers; a well-run, well-publicized event can net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
So how do you do it? Well, you'll need more than a newspaper ad. Get organized, plan ahead, and use social media to make your sale stand out.
Yard sale books. Photo credit: EvelynGiggles. Used under Creative Commons license.
1. Start early and in person.
A month or two before the sale date, start calling your neighbors and friends. Hold a planning meeting, potluck-style. Topics of conversation: location, date, theme, and price points. Make an action plan and let every household choose a manageable task. Make sure someone checks with the local authorities about whether you need a permit.
2. Create a web presence.
This step makes all the difference, but it doesn't need to be complicated! The easiest method is to create a Facebook event. It's quick to set up, and you can invite most of your friends and neighbors. If you prefer a more official-looking site, try Weebly.
For now, your page is just for sellers. Use it to communicate with your core crew, but ask them not to share it with potential customers just yet.
KISS busts and swords at a Michigan yard sale. Photo credit: Jim Manoogian II. Used under Creative Commons license.
3. Catalogue the goods.
Create an online photo album (e.g. on Flickr). Use a shared login so your co-sellers can upload photos. Ask everyone to post their interesting or valuable items, along with information about any antiques or collectibles. If possible, set up a separate album for each participating household.
Have one or two people browse the uploaded photos, checking for anything unique that can help create interest. Does someone have a grandfather clock for sale? A massive baseball card collection? Shoes that would make Imelda Marcos jealous? Take note of anything with potential appeal to local shoppers.
4. Go for gimmicks.
Gimmicks make your event stand out. Get creative and make it fun: you'll bring in more customers, and keep them. Will you have food for sale or free? A free section or white elephant table? Special deals on certain items, discounts at certain times of day? Can you donate proceeds to charity?
Consider organizing a block party for after the sale closes. This gives your sellers more incentive to participate, plus the chance to do a little shopping and swapping after it's all over.
5. Build a buzz.
Two weeks before your event, tell sellers to share your website or Facebook event with their friends. Update your page with photos, gimmicks, and information. Post descriptions of the range of items and prices available — for example, will there be tons of kids' clothes? A great music stash? Are there any amazing deals? Think of what draws you to a sale, and make sure it's on your page.
Westnedge Hill Garage Sale. Photo credit: Luke Larsson. Used under Creative Commons license.
6. Pull the trigger!
One week before your sale, send out an e-mail (or a Facebook event message). Announce the yard sale as if it's the first time your friends are hearing about it. Include some of the choicest details from your web page with a link so people can read more.
If your local Craigslist is active, post the same information there. Check out yard sale listing sites, too. If they seem active and are free to use, post away.
Consider sending a reminder message on Wednesday or Thursday before the event. Just don't drown your friends in announcements.
7. Don't forget analog marketing.
Good signs and a newspaper ad bring in the veteran "salers" and the looky-loos you'd miss otherwise. Give every household flyers to post at their work, gym, and church. Make big, bold signs and hang them at intersections. If you have any hyperactive tweens in the bunch, bribe them to be your sign spinners.
8. Have fun.
Put on some good music, smile, and try not to bicker over prices. The more you sell, the better you'll feel.
Need more info? Read Get Rich Slowly's Ten Tips for Garage Sale Prep and definitely spend some time with the Yard Sale Queen.
Got tips to add? Leave 'em in the comments!