…in just over a week.

It’s crazy, but it’s true. My friend and I put together a yard sale in just over a week. Based on this blog post, the fact that I had a garage sale at all just may shock you. And if you’ve ever held your own yard sale before, the fact that we did it in just over a week may REALLY shock you.

First, let’s put to rest the reason for my apparent change of heart. While a few people (my husband included) pointed out that my original blog post said “don’t have sales,” what it really said is that if you do have a sale, draw a line in the sand so your it doesn’t indefinitely postpone realizing the benefit of your decluttering. As I said in the original post, the line in the sand looks like this “…you set a date, you conduct your sale on that date, you make a few dollars, and then, anything and everything that didn’t go in the sale gets donated and leaves your premises for good!” Putting together a yard sale in just over a week is definitely drawing a line in the sand.

The original garage sale post also said that in the past, my yard sale efforts haven’t been worth the time and effort. But this time around I was motivated by the idea of reusing and re-purposing my things. I’ve been buying other people’s things at yard sales lately—and have really been enjoying the green nature of this type of shopping. So I loved the idea of seeing my no longer needed things go off to someone else’s happy home. I also have noticed considerably more traffic during my yard sale shopping this year than in years past when I had my other sales. Maybe it’s the economy or the fact that it’s more fashionable these days to be green, but either way, the timing felt right to give a yard sale another try.

And so, in this post and tomorrow’s, I will share some tips that I picked up from my sale. Just in case you decide you want to get in on the fun, too.

Tip 1: Draw a line in the sand.

I still believe in this original advice: set a date and hold your sale on that date. One thing I noticed, as I was getting ready for the sale, was my tendency to let it snowball. What started out as “selling a few things” turned into “lets go through the house with a finetooth comb and sell anything that isn’t tied down.” Okay, not totally. But my sale definitely did grow into something bigger than I had originally envisioned. The line in the sand helped curtail my enthusiasm and keep things in check.

Tip 2: Everything is more fun with a friend. 

If you’re going to have a sale, I highly recommend a yard sale buddy or two. A buddy helps during the planning process because you have people to divvy up the costs of the sale (balloons, signs and ads) as well as people to brainstorm and share the prep tasks of the sale (putting up the signs, placing the ads, getting change, setting up tables, staging the sale, pulling items out into the driveway, taking down the signs, etc.) Best of all though, your sale buddy is there on sale day to keep you company, to help you sell your items, to cheer for you when you sell those items you really didn’t want to lug back into your home or haul off to a charity, and you get to celebrate with her when her important items are sold. In the past I have had solo sales, and this time it was far more fun with a buddy.

Tip 3:  Go into a sale with your eyes open.

In the mind the formula for a yard sale looks something like this:

unwanted stuff = cash

In the reality the formula is more like this:

unwanted stuff + a whole bunch of time and effort = cash

When I work with scrapbookers, one of the things I always say is this:  when you craft you add something to your supplies that is far more valuable than the supply itself…and that is your time. This holds true with yard sales, too. In order to convert your stuff into cash you add a lot of time and effort to the equation. Some of this is time that would be spent anyway when you’re in clear-out-the-clutter mode. But a sale has a lot of extra steps that donating doesn’t require. In addition to the time spent going through my home and pulling out items to sell, I spent time planning the sale. I spent time transporting items to my neighbor’s garage. (And this wasn’t just time but also hard work!) I also spent time pricing items, working at the sale, and finally, I spent time hauling the leftovers off to Goodwill and other charities. So when you see your stuff and you start to see dollar signs…just remember the rest of the equation—time and hard work.

Yard sale

Tip 4:  Price things to sell.

I priced my personal items low…very, very low. How do I know this? Because they sold! Keep in mind your two goals when you have a sale — to clear out clutter and to make some cash. The best way to accomplish both of these goals is to price your items to sell!

One thing that became quite clear to me during the sale was that value has nothing to do with how much money was originally spent on an item. In the yard sale world, an item’s value is only about what someone else is willing to pay for it. My strategy on Day 1 of the sale was to hold firm on my original prices. Then, on Day 2 I offered additional price cuts and was open to negotiating. Traffic was much lighter on Day 2 of our sale, and so negotiating made a lot of sense. In retrospect, it would be a good idea to say in your ad that you’ll have additional price cuts (and possibly new inventory) on Day 2 of your sale—just to encourage people to attend the second day of your sale.

Before we move on from pricing, there’s mixed reviews on whether or not you should price every item. I decided to price every item even though it took more time, because it made managing the sale easier, especially since there were two of us selling things. We priced every item in 25 cent increments, which meant the only coins we needed to have on hand were quarters. This also made for easy math—which is a good thing for me.

Garage sale bins

Tip 5:  Advertise your sale on Craig’s List.

We placed ads in our local paper, online in a second paper, and we also advertised on Craig’s List. The advantage to Craig’s List is that you can list all the important items in your sale and you can include photos, both of which can draw more interest in your sale. Someone looking for an exercise bike may find your listing and come to your sale…and buy other things, too. So include a long list of items that you’re selling along with photos of unique and / or high ticket items—anything that will drum up interest in your sale. (I followed these tips from Small Notebook to upload high quality photos to our sale listing.)

In tomorrow’s post I’ll share some ideas for staying organized during your sale. :) In the meantime, I’d love to hear your garage sale tips. Thanks for sharing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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