Money Moment: Yard Sales: Savvy Sellers & Bargain Hunters

By Dr. Jennifer Hunter

Dr. Jennifer Hunter

Welcome back to episode 5, with your host Jennifer Hunter. In this episode Jennifer covers yard sales, and tips for being a savvy seller and a bargain hunter. Late spring and early summer is a popular time of year for yard sales. As people transition from winter to summer by cleaning out closets and spring cleaning, they often notice the amount of stuff that has accumulated over the last several months or years. It’s also often a time when people anticipate the items they might need to purchase for the summer, and by yard sale shopping it’s possible to find these items at bargain prices. A yard sale is often a win-win for both buyer and seller, but planning is essential whether you’re hosting the yard sale or out looking for bargains.

Be a Savvy Seller

Plan well in advance

Preparing for a yard sale takes a lot of time. Start by organizing the items you want to include in one spot in your house. Sort the items into similar groups, such as household goods, women’s clothing, shoes, toys, baby items and so forth.

Consider your location

The easier the location is to get to, the more likely you will have more buyers. If your location is not ideal, talk with a friend or family member about hosting a joint or multi-family yard sale at their location.

Determine your prices, and be flexible

A few weeks before the sale, attend other yard sales in the area to get a feel for how to price your items appropriately. Consider what you would be willing to pay for a similar item, and whether it is new, like new, good used or used. Be realistic with yourself; even though you might have a sentimental attachment to the item, understand that will not make it worth more to your buyer. Buyers will like to negotiate prices, so be flexible. Make certain that all your items are either individually priced or all like items are priced in a similar way. For example, all books are $0.25.

Schedule the yard sale carefully

Consider the time of day, week and month when scheduling your yard sale. Yard sale shoppers tend to be early birds. Start your sale by 8am but realize people may be knocking on your door as early as six or seven in the morning. Be completely ready the night before. Friday and Saturday are the most popular days of the week to host a yard sale. Consider having your sale on the first weekend of the month because people tend to have more disposable income at the beginning of the month than toward the end of the month.

Be certain to advertise

Identify your target customers and advertise in places they will be. For example, if you have lots of baby items, take a flyer to a local Mom’s club or playgroup. Check with your local newspaper about classified ad rates and deadline, and use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, as well as online classified ad sites, such as Craigslist to promote your sale. Ask friends and family to share the information, especially with people who may be interested in the types of items that you have available. Place signs at key locations at major intersections and street corners to help people find your home.

Other considerations for sellers

On the day of the sale, make certain you have another family member or friend there with you to help run the sale. Have a dedicated cash box and never leave it unattended. Start the day off with plenty of change, and consider pricing your items in $0.25 increments so that it is easy to make change. When planning your sale, be sure to check whether your city requires a yard sale permit or has any restrictions.

Be a Bargain Hunter

Start early

The saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’ is definitely true at a yard sale. Professional yard sale shoppers (yes, there are such people!) will be out early, and remember a yard sale will often open up before the advertised start time. Starting early will give you the best pick of merchandise, which is especially important if you are shopping for specific items. However, remember, sellers are less likely to negotiate prices early in the day. If you see an item that you like but cannot reach an agreement on price, stop back later in the day when the seller might be more motivated.

Plan your day ahead

Check local newspapers and websites for upcoming yard sales so that you can map out all the sales you plan to visit the night before. Develop a logical order so you’re not driving back and forth across town. This saves both time and gasoline.

Use a list of items you are looking for

Do not be tempted to buy items that you do not need. Start the day with a list of items you are looking for to help you stay on track, and don’t be afraid to ask sellers to lower their prices. Negotiating price is part of the fun of yard sale shopping. If there are several items that you are interested in, ask the seller for a bundle price.

Other considerations for buyers

Typically yard sales have a no-return policy, so be certain of what you are buying. Check sizes, washing instructions, and the condition of the items. Check clothes carefully for stains, holes, working zippers, missing buttons and so forth. Carry cash, preferably in small bills as large bills may be difficult for sellers to break if you are only buying a few dollars’ worth of items. Carry with you the amount of money that you are willing to spend for the day so that you won’t be tempted to overspend. Ask a friend or family member to yard sale shop with you to be an extra set of eyes to check for items on your list and inspect conditions.

Yard sale shopping is a great way to find items that you need at bargain prices, and can be a lot of fun. Stay tuned for the next episode where we discuss tips for savvy sellers and bargain buyers at consignment shops.

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