Monday, September 19, 2011

yard sale 101

so i am happy to say that this weekend's yard sale was a big success! yay!  we had a steady flow of traffic from the moment we started putting stuff out until we packed up for the day!

and it was actually a lot of fun! the 9 hours from set up to closing really flew by! we met all sorts of interesting folks who popped by to peruse the goods... my favorite was a couple that said they just moved to la from washington dc and needed to furnish their place... they lived about a mile away and walked over to check our sale out.... well, they  fell in love with my friend's upholstered headboard and were mulling it over for a while and telling me they had an air mattress so they weren't sure if it would work! needless to say they bought the headboard and said they would be back to pick it up (they didn't have a car and needed to sort out how to transport the queen sized headboard... my car was too small to bring it to them)... well, a couple of hours later they reappeared with a very small dolly that they found at their apartment building and planned to bring the queen sized headboard back with... just roll it home! i love it! they were ready to make anything work to get that headboard home... and you know they are going to have the best looking air mattress in town! i could have used them when i saw my "someday chairs" at the flea market last month...

well, my friend was amazed at the success and relieved to get rid of most of what she wanted to sell and make some cash... i was confident that it would be a success as it was not my first yard sale... garage/yard sales have been a part of my life since i was a kid... you see, my dad used to work for the air force and when i was growing up we moved every few years... my mom would hold a garage sale before every single move in order to clear things out and lighten the truckload...  also, my mom was a garage sale shopper as well & i have to say i had some of the coolest halloween costumes as a kid that were found by her at those sales... my favorite was a sparkly sequined majorette outfit with matching top hat... too bad a midwestern halloween was always cold and therefore required a turtleneck and thick tights and a coat to ruin the look of that costume...  anyhow, one of the best things about being a former marketing maven is that i know how to get the word out and market the heck out of a yard sale and i thought, why not share it with you so that you are ready in the event that you want to clear some clutter and make some cash at the same time!

1 - signs - make them big and bold with clear info and put them where it counts!!!
  • it sounds simple but i have to say that i am amazed at the number of times that i see yard sale signs that look as if they have been written on letter sized paper and are lacking in pertinent info such as the time and date of the sale! it doesn't cost a lot to invest in a good sharpie marker and bright colored large poster board... date time and address of the sale should always be on the sign. if it isn't, how do people know this isn't a left over from the weekend before??? (see one of our signs above... and yes that is la landmark hotel, the chateau marmont, in the background).  we had to be super strategic with our sign placement... my friend lives in a part of town that not only requires securing a permit from city hall to hold a yard sale but they do not allow signs to be posted within the city limits. so, we got a map of the city and thankfully she lives blocks from the los angeles border. we posted those signs at every major la intersection nearby that we could! and you know what? a few people commented on how great our signs were!
2. craigslist & penny saver usa- write an ad that would be appealing to you as a shopper!
  • i feel like i have really perfected the art of a great craigslist ad... i have noticed that there are a lot of folks that could probably benefit from fine tuning their own craigslist ads. what i tell most of my friends is that you need to write an ad that includes every possible search term that would be used to look for your item... for example if you are selling a sofa be sure to include terms like "loveseat" and "couch." there is no such thing as too much info when it comes to these ads... if a lot of your stuff was purchased at pottery barn, crate & barrel or fits a certain design type be sure to mention that too! so, i posted our yard sale ads on wednesday and on friday through craigslist an i made sure to include every single type of item we were selling (and keywords related to those items) and highlighted the fact that a lot of it was furniture, electronics, cds and dvds since that is what a lot of folks are interested in...and i added photos of big furniture items... this way anyone searching for those items on craigslist would see the ad for our sale! and if your home is smoke free and pet free, include that! it is a selling point, especially for upholstered items!
3. facebook & twitter - create an event! post on your wall & get your friends to do it too!
  • so, facebook is an amazing tool for spreading the word on something! we created an event and called it "the most fabulous yard sale ever" and invited all our friends and asked them to spread the word. also, we went through our friends list and sent private messages to those that had a lot of facebook friends and asked them to paste our event to their wall.  it was such a big help and most everyone was accommodating! also, we posted this on thursday, friday and saturday to be sure that our friends didn't miss it!
4. pricing - keep in mind it is a yard sale & people like to bargain for a bargain!
  • so, i know as a yard sale shopper that people want a bargain... the sticker price on an item is only a first price... so, with that in mind, you should be pricing things a smidge higher than what you actually want for the item.  this way, when someone asks if you will go lower (because 9 times out of 10 they will) you can go lower and they feel like they've gotten a deal and you've gotten what you wanted and everyone is happy! easy peasy! and just like the guys selling at the flea market do, be sure to drop prices as the day progresses... is it really worth it to you to get an extra dollar for something when you may be stuck lugging it up 3 flights of stairs in just a few hours, only to bring it to goodwill the next day?  and if something you have to sell is worth quite a lot to a specific collector demo then perhaps you should set that aside for ebay.... 
so, with those few tips, you can easily have a successful sale! also, enlist some fun friends to help out (easpecially with the set up and clean up because it can get a little crazy with the early bird shoppers...)... oh, and be sure to have snacks on hand to keep your energy up! one of my new friends, a gal i met in drafting class earlier this year, stopped by with muffins and pink lemonade for us! how cool is that? such a sweet gesture! and the two other friends that were enlisted to help with our sale ended up staying the whole day because they were having so much fun and really wanted to help! pretty cool, right? plus one of them (the gbf) provided comic relief while strutting the cement "catwalk" in front of my friend's building while modeling her gold heels and groovy handbag!  i'm not gonna lie, i was a little jealous that he walks better in heels than i do... here he is striking a pose....

so, lots going on this week... my friends who enlisted me for help with their master bedroom after the toilet pipe explosion from their neighbors place caused a flood in theirs also want me to redesign their living room, dining room, office and guest bedroom! yay!!! and another friend of a friend has reached out for help with his place!!

starting a new diy project tomorrow... fingers crossed it will look like the image in my head...

and for those of you just tuning in and wanting to know more about me you can by going here... and if you didn't already know... i created a facebook page... check it out and "like" it! and follow me on twitter
until next time...
the almost 40 year old intern


  1. Oh la la! One of the reasons why I love going into the yard sales such as this one is you'll definitely get a good finds stuff. Especially if you're aiming for a vintage feel, you will definitely find many interesting stuff in a yard and garage sales and of course to bazaars.

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