As I mentioned on Friday, Pete and I had a plethora of home item duplication when it came time to consolidate our two homes, so we hosted my first-ever yard sale over the weekend to see what we could do about that (and make a few bucks).
I pulled the trigger (so to speak) about two weeks ago, and all I hoped for was no rain. We had been to enough of these things to understand the fundamentals of setting up and marketing such an “event”, and it had really helped that we were well organized for it ahead of time, having bundled together a few “stuff we don’t need” piles the attic previously.
Back in the spring, the office I was working in went no-holds-back on the spring cleaning thing, and I found myself dragging home a box of unassembled cardboard box tops. An odd thing to have swiped when I saw it laying in the recycling pile, but I figured that it’d be good material to have laying around to serve as a painting surface or craft project. Turns out, the flat large pieces worked well for a garage sale signage surface, and when combined with with coral pink paint straight from a pint of f-r-e-e sample of Benjamin Moore, magic happened. Magic meaning… totally free signs.
A few tips for successful yard sale signage (somehow a lot of people miss these easy things or don’t try too hard):
- GO BIG.
- Clearly printed lettering, bold if possible. Stop using your sloppy shorthand.
- Arrows. Don’t use a street address unless you live on a familiar-to-everyone main road. Don’t assume that everyone knows where 123 Doggytail Lane is.
- Capture traffic from all surrounding side streets, not just one.
- If you’re in a neighborhood, don’t forget to keep reminding traffic which way they should be going. We know you’re not stupid, but reminders are nice to have if it’s a long stretch on what would be an otherwise unmarked road.
I hand painted the main text and let it dry at home, and added the appropriate arrow direction once I had the sign hung on the telephone pole or stop sign (opting for wood screws that we had on hand instead of staples… because I couldn’t find them on our secret mess of the his-and-hers basement workbenches).
And yeah, painting directorial info on the spot seemed like a great and efficient idea, but somehow I managed to get pink paint all over my Jeep (on the console, on the steering wheel, on the driver’s seat [and on my butt], on the back gate of the car, on Cody’s towels in the back, on the Sirius radio, oi vey). Painting-on-the-go-blunders aside, I received 3-possibly-more compliments on the clarity of my signage the very first morning. Winning.
We only used three tables to hold the smaller belongings – one DIY’ed from saw horses and a piece of MDF art (which I’ll get around to showing you and displaying… someday), the glass top deck table, and a card table that Pete’s Dad brought up on Friday morning. Bigger items were fine on the ground (it hasn’t rained in weeks, afterall, and we cleaned off the driveway really good recently).
We kept it simple when it came to pricing too. I opted for DIY labels made from Scotch Blue painters tape that we had on hand, since they’re easily removed without leaving a sticky surface, just another pet peeve of my garage-sale-scouring-ass. Unrelated to pet peeves but related to pets, Cody also hung out with us in the shade eating ice cubes (and snuggling with sale goers).
The blue tape worked well, but I did notice that you could get about 400 stickers for less than $5 if you shop around on Amazon which is a good deal compared to the tape. And you can get it with free 2-day shipping if you have Amazon Prime like we do.
Both Friday and Saturday were a sweltering and smothering 90+ degrees, which was awesome for trying to even out my combo tank top/racerback suntan lines and helped the sale of water, soda, and capri sun for a rarely-privately-sold-price of 50-cents (cheap enough for people to buy two, priced high enough for us to make back our investment and a pretty penny along side it). Of course, we probably lost a lot of local traffic too since no one wanted to leave their home (and air conditioned car – we had a lot of slow drive-bys).
We decided to clear out as much as possible in true want-to-live-minimalistically-fashion:
- Hundreds of CDs (audio from which had already been copied to iTunes)
- Dozens of like-new clothing items that I accumulated during my part-time employment at J.Crew, a sundress that I only wore once and for a Halloween costume, and a bunch of purses I haven’t used since 2007.
- Countless pieces of glassware that had sat on the back of the shelf for months collecting dust while we used ones that sat further forward on the shelf.
- Children accoutrements (from kiddie toilets to baby toys to sippee cups and electronics)
- Lucky magazines (years, and years, and years worth to in a freebie pile)
- Duplicate kitchen appliances (toaster, toaster oven, crock pot, espresso maker, etc.)
With fashionably low prices (many under $1) we closed up shop on Saturday afternoon making about $120, which felt pretty good considering the extreme heat. Our total potential was only about $250 the way we priced our goods, excluding the dog who was just faux priced. My modest goal had only been $50 (to give me an allowance for an upcoming outlet mall excursion).
Tycoon is a stretch for now, but I think we’ll give it another go-around later in the summer when the weather’s more tolerable. We’re only left with about 4 boxes of stuff (about half of the stuff sold). After that we’ll donate the rest to charity and be rid of it.