My husband and I recently held a mega yard sale fundraiser with all funds designated for our adoption expenses. We were blown away by how successful it turned out to be (we raised nearly $4,000 – after all expenses). But, it wasn’t successful simply by chance. A lot of planning, organization, and preparation went into this before the “big day” ever arrived.
While these are tips that work well for a mega yard sale fundraiser event, many of these could be used in a smaller, personal yard sale as well.
1. Start planning early.
We started planning the event about three months ahead of time. We choose a date first, then had to secure a location for the sale (we wanted it in a highly visible area – our neighborhood doesn’t offer that).
2. Collect items to sell.
In addition to making a sweep of our own house looking for those unnecessary items that we were willing to part with, we also began spreading the word to friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers that we were having a mega yard sale to raise funds for adoption and would be more than willing to come pick up any “treasures” they’d be willing to donate as well.
3. Shop other yard sales.
Early in the planning, we made a flyer like this:
We took the flyer with us and set out yard-saling most Saturday mornings for several weeks. We would distribute our flyers all over town, asking folks to consider donating any of their unsold items to us, if they weren’t planning on keeping them for another sale or purpose. We received several mini-van loads full of goodies by doing this.
4. Organize your “holding area”.
Decide where you plan to store all the items you’re planning to sell until the actual day of the sale. Is there a garage/basement area large enough in your home? A family member’s home? A storage unit? We chose to rent out a storage unit for two months. While there was an expense involved, we felt pretty certain we’d be able to cover that expense through the sales.
5. Price everything!
This is a BIG one! While it might seem easier to just set everything out and put up a generic sign that says “make me an offer”…that’s NOT a good idea! People often will not make such an offer. They’ll simply walk away if an item is not priced. This will take time, and definitely designate no less than two weeks for pricing. You can group some items and simply put out a sign that prices the whole group. For clothing, we charged $1.00 for each adult clothing item, $0.50 for children’s items, and we had some selected items (typically coats or new with tags name brand items) that we priced separately.
6. Solicit volunteers.
Don’t try to go it alone. I used Volunteer Spot to recruit volunteers for all kinds of tasks. You can also just ask folks in person. You’ll need people to help you price, load/unload, set-up on the day of the sale, help with crowd control, work a cashier station, clean-up, etc.
7. Collect tables to borrow.
We borrowed a lot of tables (around 35, I believe). Most were those 6-foot plastic, foldable tables, but we had a few card tables in the mix also. Start asking early.
Use every resource you have at your fingertips (that doesn’t charge a fee). We used online yard sale boards, Facebook, and good ol’ word-of-mouth. A few days before the sale, we put yard sale signs all over the area, directing people to the location of our sale.
9. Box up items to sell according to category.
Because we used a storage unit as our “holding tank”, we also used that location for pricing and then had to pack up the items (in a U-haul) and take them to the site the day of the sale (early enough to get set up). Organization ahead of the event was vital. We grouped like items with like items. Each box was labeled according to what was inside (books, toys, home décor, electronics, etc.). This made set-up the morning of the sale go much smoother.
10. Set up sale with lots of category signage and in an organized structure.
Because our yard sale was so large, we also needed to make the set-up visually appealing for our customers. Every table (or area) was marked with a category sign. Some that we used: home décor, holidays, electronics, tools/gadgets, toys, books, jewelry, sporting goods, DVDs/games/CDs, etc. For clothing, we laid them out on large tarps. Children’s on one and adults on another. We divided the adult clothing by women/men and by size (S, M, L, XL). Our specialty priced items were labeled and hung on borrowed clothing racks.
11. Have a designated cashier table.
Have a central area that you send all folks to in order to check out. For any price adjustments we might have made, we walked the shopper over to the cashier and verbally told them of the adjustment. We had lots of grocery bags available to package up their goodies.
12. Offer a half-price sale during the last couple hours of your sale.
Consider marking everything down to 50% off when you only have a couple hours left in your sale. You might not make as much, but there will be less to pack up later.
13. Secure a local thrift store to come pick up all of your leftovers.
We found a local store that agreed to pick up all of our leftovers at the end of the sale. That was a HUGE win-win. We helped to stock their store, and they hauled off our unsold items.
I’m sure there are other tips I could pass along, but these are the key things that we discovered worked well and helped to make our yard sale such a success! Happy selling!