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Make Money with a Yard Sale

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A great way to earn some money AND clean out your closets is to have a yard sale. We are very lucky in our neighborhood to have a biannual community yard sale. The HOA does all of the work to get the word out, and all we have to do is pull all of our junk out of the garage onto the driveway for two days in the Fall and Spring.

I used to hate Yard Sale days because of all the extra traffic in the neighborhood, and the kids begging to go sift through someone else’s junk. However, once I finally hosted my own, I was hooked. The extra cash is worth all of the sorting and cleaning, besides the piece of mind that comes with knowing your stuff will have a second life instead of ending up on the garbage heap. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

I feel like I’ve perfected my approach after having a few yard sales under my belt. There are several things I do to help my yard sale succeed with minimal effort from me. We always have lots of clothes, except last time when a man came early on Friday and cleaned out my stash in one go. Can’t complain about that! I have the clothes displayed in a way that is easy to sort through. People are looking for very specific items when buying, so sorting is key. I fold them and stack them in size piles by boy and girl clothes, and then label them on the table. This puts them at the right height for sifting through and allows customers to look in the pile that corresponds to their child’s size. For higher end or bulkier items like jackets, dresses, and costumes, I run a pole through two ladders and hang the clothes on display.

Same goes for household items. I’ll take out the higher end, pricier items and put them on display on the table, leaving the rest in boxes to be sifted through. Those items are priced much cheaper, even three for a quarter, just to get them out, and help people feel they are getting a real bargain. Furniture, tools, instruments, and other bigger items are much more popular, so they are featured at the end of the driveway.

We don’t really have what everyone is looking for. Most people barely slow down to have a look at your stash to decide if they want to stop. I don’t mind this at all, because I’m the exact same way! However, I do try to get people to stop even if they don’t want any of my stuff, by offering ice cold drinks. I buy soda on sale, and then sell each can for fifty cents. It’s not a huge money maker, but I figure it might draw some people in, and they may make a purchase even if they weren’t planning on it. I also offer ice cold bottles of water for free. Yard saling is hard work, and we live in a desert, so it’s the least I can do, and people are very grateful. Besides, bottled water is super cheap at Costco, so it’s a simple, inexpensive perk for my customers, and maybe they will remember me and check back next time.

Sometimes the traffic to our yard sale is better than at other times. I’m not sure what the pattern is, if Spring is better than Fall (I think it might be), but I figure if I didn’t put my stuff out, I wouldn’t get rid of any of it, nor make any money, so I do both seasons, both Friday and Saturday, and I always plan to keep it out during the entirely of the hours, 7am-2pm. I usually have something else to do while it’s slow, and the kids help me in the early morning on Friday and throughout the day on Saturday.

Last year, a friend had a great season with their lemon tree, so the kids decided to do a lemonade stand with the donated lemons. Of course, they weren’t the ones who did most of the work juicing and making the lemonade, but I will say that I was pretty proud of how tasty it was, and how much money the kids made on it. I imagine most people are skeptical of lemonade at a kids’ stand, but we have yet to find tastier lemonade!

When the yard sale is over, I pack everything up in boxes and place them in a designated spot in the garage. I try to organize as I pack so that when I get up at 5:30am six months from now, it’s super easy to set everything out already organized. For household goods, I just keep an empty box to fill as needed, and for clothes, we keep a pile in the bedroom of things that are too small or that we don’t want anymore. Those get sorted a day or two ahead of time, and voila, new merchandise for the next sale!

Each time I host my yard sale, I write notes and take pictures to put in my Keep app for next time. I’ll even set a reminder for six months from now so that I’m on the look-out for the email from the community management company announcing the dates. Six months is a long time in between, so it’s good to have a visual refresher of how you set up, and what worked and what didn’t. For example, I learned very quickly that our driveway is in the full sun for most of the morning and afternoon. Since we don’t have a porch or canopy, I back the car up next to the driveway and open the hatch. Add a beach umbrella and a camp chair, and I have the perfect pop-up office with all of my supplies at hand.

This year, I solved another problem by inviting the dog to sit with me in the back of the hatch. Usually she spends the day pacing back and forth in the house, her clicking nails grating on Bryan’s nerves, who works from home. She was happy to lay in her bed all day in the car, relieved to know where I was and what I was doing. By taking a picture of her setup and entering it into my Yard Sale notes, I’ll remember to do that next time.

So don’t hesitate next time you realize you have a number of things accumulating around your house. Gather them up and sell them at a yard sale! You can clean out the things you don’t need anymore and make some money at the same time!

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