10 Tips For A Successful Yard Sale

musical notesIt’s the most wonderful time of the year ... Yard Sale Season!

If you’ve been following this blog for any time at all, you know that between the months of March and November of 2012 my weekly yard sale adventures were chronicled herein as the “Yard Sale Documentation Project.”

That was 33 weeks of very early mornings, many amazing bargains, a few price delusions, some tepid lemonade, and a lot of laughter. There will likely be the occasional blog installment when an amazing deal is scored this season, but a regular accounting during the 2013 season is not to be.

HOWEVER, I’m going to pass along some time-tested tips so that if you are inclined to embark on hosting a sale of your own, you will have some prime information to get you started.

Yes, one friend did say he’d rather have birds peck out his eyeballs than host a yard sale. And sorry to say, I’m not going to come over and help you clean out … unless you hire me as She’s NEAT, then I’m all yours!

Nonetheless, having a sale is a great way to clean out your house, get rid of some “old baggage,” and bring in a little tax-free cash in the Yard Sale Documentation Projectprocess.

Here you go — 10 Tips For A Successful Yard Sale

1. Plan ahead. Give yourself several weeks to clean out, gather your items and other material you’ll need (such as display tables and signage), and then organize and price your goods. Yes, things should be priced. Customers get nervous when it comes to asking about prices; let customers know the ballpark they’re playing in and then get ready to haggle.

2. Watch the weather report. Catch the 10-day forecast for your area and wait for the best weather on any given Saturday.  Saturday is still the preferred day for die-hard yard salers … and the earlier start in the day the better! A 7:00am start time is not unheard of.

3.  Be aware of other events going on that day. Is your home right down the street from an annual open-air art festival, church fair, parade, or other community event? If so, that’s a great day for a sale….. customers are already in your neighborhood! On the other hand, if you know that everyone heads out of town on July 4th weekend  … you should too.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 4. Advertise – Use the newspaper, and Craig’s list too, which has become an important resource for any yard sale event. Yard Sale pros check these listings out in the days prior to any given weekend. Also, don’t forget to work your own contacts: your email lists of friends and family, your social networks, and don’t be afraid to use work/school/local business bulletin boards.

5. Good signage on the day of the sale is a MUST. Even if people have seen your ad on Craig’s list or the newspaper, they can’t buy your stuff if they can’t find you. Put your signs up the night before if possible, and remember to get that permit from the city if your town requires it.  Large bright signs complete with arrows and street address will steer even those customers who had no intention of stopping by your sale right into your driveway.

6. Enlist your neighbors. Nothing says “STOP HERE” like a neighborhood full of yard sales. Even if you can rally a couple of dsc00256homes in your area to host sales on the same day, everyone will fare much better than going solo.

7. Be on time and ready to go. If your sale is scheduled to begin at 8:00, be ready by 7:45. Don’t get caught pulling stuff out of the basement while your sale is supposed to be happening. Nothing deters potential buyers from purchasing Grannies afghan quicker than having it sitting up on the deck under a pile of newspapers.

8. Suggest uses for some items at your sale. Sometimes customers just need a reason to buy something! For instance, place a sign on a used TV– “perfect for kitchen or student room” … or alongside a camera: “Give this to gramma for her weekend visits” … “Once-worn prom dress: Great for kid’s dress up.”

9. Price your items reasonably. Price items at what people will likely pay for them, not for what you think they’re worth. “Yard Sale dollars” are a different currency than “US dollars.” I like to work on the 10% rule: If something is $50 new, I’ll spend around $5 for it at a yard sale. Also, don’t sell anything you really don’t want to sell; nobody will feel good about that transaction. Those are “emotional dollars” and that’s slippery business.

10. Create a happy atmosphere and have fun! People will be glad to spend their money when they feel good about where they are. Light music, some cookies, a box of free give-aways … these things make customers feel welcome and more willing to like you and your stuff!

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com

Jeanne Fiorini will not require a 10% cut of your yard sale proceeds for helping you have the best yard sale ever!  But you can visit the TarotWorks website and/or the She’s NEAT site, that’d be fine.

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2012 Yard Sale Documentation Project: Final Accounting

And so we say goodbye to another yard sale season. Although it is a sad aspect of the turning of the seasons, 2012’s yard sale scene was one of the best in recent memory!

The sale-ing season was stellar in part because it was an abundant and fruitful affair, but also due to the fact that this weekly report added a real measure of pleasure to the whole thing. THANK YOU for paying attention to these weekly escapades!

As promised  the beginning, here’s the final tally: a record of the kinds of items that were purchased, and the not-so-grand total expenditure. To tell you the truth, I was surprised at how little money was spent during a season that spans three-quarters of the calendar year.

We’ll start with the types of items that came home with me, and the number of “pieces” in each category:

Furniture: Chairs, tables, rugs …..  6
Holiday Items:
String lights, candles, décor …..  8
Prints and Paintings:
Real art!   …..   7
Things for Vera:
Books, toys, puzzles ….. 11
Utilitarian Goods:
Stationary, office supplies,  kitchen utensils, baskets, plates, vacuum cleaners, smoke alarms, and a Hamilton Beach food processor  …..  27
Decorative Goods:
Frames, mirrors, pottery, pillows, etc. …..   26
Clothing:
Jackets, scarves, sweaters, purses, shoes ….. 7
Lawn and Garden:
a mixed bag of garden ornaments, a barrel of straw,
and a free beach umbrella ….. 11
Jewelry:
necklaces, bracelets, earrings  ….. 11
Books:
including cook books …..  5

Total number of different items: 119. Where in this house did I put all this stuff?!

A few observations: I’m proud of the fact that Utilitarian purchases edged out my penchant for pretty things. That Hamilton Beach processor might be the single best buy of the season, especially if none of my paintings or pottery turn out to be valuable.

Clearly I’m not a book hound, with those items ranking last on the list. But my dear Ms. Vera did score pretty well from grammie’s little addiction. And that free beach umbrella, used on the back porch as well as the beach, was greatly appreciated for its form and function.

Now for the cash outlay for the entire season…..drum roll, please!

Care to make a stab at it? It might be fun to offer up a quiet personal guess before the big reveal….. scroll down a bit to see the final amount.

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$158.75. Total. For the whole season. For all that stuff. I am amazed and I lived through it!

Now who thinks I’m a crazy B with too much time on her hands?

Jeanne Fiorini is a crazy B, but not because she lives for yard sales. She’s just started a new local business in South Portland Maine called “She’s NEAT,” a personal organizing service creating orderly and efficient environments. With all this stuff she got at yard sales you have to be organized! Find us on Facebook: ShesNeatCreatingOrder

Yard Sale Documentation Project: 11-10- 2012

Let’s see, where did we leave off?

October 20th

Rained out. Just as well, I was feeling uninspired i.e. lazy.

October 27th

We’re at the point in the season where the “just wander around and look for signs” approach is no longer effective. This is now a targeted effort. And while the number of sales in the classifieds for this Saturday is down to a mere 22, there are some tempting listings.

Although there was quite a bit of stuff out there today, I didn’t come home with much, and for two very good reasons:

1.  The “I really don’t need that even though it’s totally cute” mantra that still is cycling through my head.
2.  Severe price delusions by young’un’s who think granny’s stuff is valuable just because it’s old. They’ll get the message when the end of the day comes and they’re faced with a mountain of old pine and rusty tools and outdated junk.

But I did score a new stick vac (I don’t need a sincere vacuum since I only have throw rugs at my house) and a set of “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf” finger puppets for little Ms. Vera.

Total outlay: $6, plus I was home in time to ready the house for hurricane Sandy who is supposed to show up on Monday. We had an earthquake here in Maine a few weeks ago; what gives, Mother Nature?


November 3rd
I worked this day, co-facilitating a Jung and Tarot workshop. A great group of inspiring and enthusiastic participants made it so that I only thought a couple of times about what I might be missing in YardSale Land on this sunny Saturday.

November 10th

The Portland Press Herald’s classified section declared on Friday that the yard sale season has ended.

I beg to differ. Despite clumps of snow and chilly temps, people were selling and people were buying on this second weekend in November. And, by some sort of fortuitous yard sale telepathy, several decent sales were clustered around a well-to-do area in neighboring Scarborough.

This “well-to-do” aspect can work in your favor and sometimes it bites you in the butt. Sometimes it means there’s high quality bargains in them thar hills; sometimes it’s a pre-cognition of the relativity of money and that the realization that the word “bargain” means different things to different people.

Kate and I operate under “the 10% rule.” If the yard sale price is 10% (or less) of what the item would cost new, a purchase is worth considering. Much more over that constitutes price delusion and we’re apt to be headed toward the car mumbling and grumbling.

It was amusing to me, but not surprising, to see again those same young’un’s referred to on October 27th, still tied to their imagined value of grannie’s junk. I picked up a pair of dessert dishes, marked $2, and asked the girl if she’d take $1 for them.

“Yes, $1 each,” with a glare she replied.

I could have done without the attitude. Back on the shelf they went, and I hope she enjoyed packing them up at the end of the day.

At a different sale, I observed a man drop $100 cash on two different piles of art prints. Both the seller and the buyer were thrilled with the transaction, and I have no doubt that the buyer got a good deal there; the prints were authentic and lovely.

As I said, money means different things to different people.

When it was all said and done, and it was done fairly quickly today, an eclectic and useful mix of things did come home with me. Here’s the tally:

1. Two funky cookbooks (I love that title, Lode of Vittles!) for my brother Bill who owns a B&B in the Adirondack Mountains, white Pfaltzgraff bowl, and two small notepads …. from the “Free” pile
2. Fisherman’s cross-stitch for my other brother Mike    …..$2
3. Five pieces of arty-crafty materials, always useful for my New Year’s Intention Map Workshop and the upcoming “Make your Own Holiday Ornament” event …..$1
4. Tall glass vase and Waverly Garden mug ……$1
5. Garden Scissors and heavy brass pine cone (from a coo-coo clock?) ….. $1
6. Three yards of burlap… any gardener knows you can always use burlap. …..   $1
7. Biographical fiction about the life of the Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, dated 1914 …..$1

Total expenses for the day: $7

Stay tuned for the final installment of the 2012 Yard Sale Documentation Project coming soon, where the full season’s accounting will be posted!

How much did she spend? What did she buy? Was it worth the time and effort? Does this woman need a new hobby? Does she need an intervention?

See you next time when you can decide for yourself.

 

Jeanne Fiorini is a Tarot professional and a yard sale addict who can stop any time she wants. Visit the TarotWorks website to see what Jeanne does when she’s not rummaging through other people’s stuff.

Yard Sale Documentation Project: October Update

I was going to wait and post all of October’s adventures at the end of the month, but so much for that idea! Today (October 13th) was such an enjoyable day in yard sale world that I had to create a post to honor the event. Here goes, beginning at last week’s entry:

Saturday October 6th

The day opens with bright sunshine: a good sign. The wind is warm and the air is moist; you can tell it’s going to rain later in the day, but for these early morning hours it’s a perfect fall day.

The Maine Today classified section listed 77 yard sales happening this weekend. Granted, some of those are in the Augusta area 30 miles away from here, but that’s still a respectable showing for an October Saturday.

Sometimes when you head out in the morning, you have a focus for the day, a goal to accomplish, an item you hope to acquire, a thing that you need to buy eventually or in the moment but don’t want to pay full retail price for. Today I was in search of costume jewelry to give to Vera for her second birthday.

We haven’t tried to turn Vera into a girlie-girl, in fact both Kate and I shun that sort of programming. And the girl is not what you’d call “delicate” in stature. But she does love “peenk” and she loves wearing Grammie’s jewelry, all of it at the same time, mostly.

I hit the mother lode on this one today, as evidenced by the photo.

  • Two pairs of clip-on earrings          $1
  • Beaded bracelet                       50 cents
  • 25-carat blue cocktail ring       50 cents
  • Turquoise beaded necklace             $1

Those items will become part of Vera’s birthday present. The black/gold beads ($1) are for me. They’re especially lovely and probably have some age, check out that fancy clasp.)

The sale next door to this one was truly fabulous: lots of wonderful pottery, kitchen ware, kids clothes and furniture, but I really didn’t need any of it. I also found, at another sale down the road, a DIVINE 1960’s low coffee table, well-crafted solid wood, about 6’ long…$10. I pondered long and hard as to where I might be able to fit that thing into a niche or corner somewhere my house, it was so cool.

With heavy heart and empty hands I left both these sales.

But I did come home with a classic Moosewood cookbook ($1) and Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight, purchased for the rock-bottom price of one quarter. If you follow the other postings on this blog you’re sure to be hearing more about that book in the near future.

This was a good day, and considering that October is upon us, it was stellar. Could be best of the season still be ahead?

Saturday October 13th

That “best of the season” comment might have been prophetic. I did come home with some great things today, but the hallmark of this Saturday’s excursion was the classic kitch that was out there today.

Even though, as the James Taylor song goes, “the frost is on the pumpkin and the hay is in the barn,” … and the yard salers wore hats and gloves this morning ….  sales were abundant and the throngs were thronging. Let me not waste any time in sharing the joy of the funky junk that was there for the picking.

First we have this fine item: a handmade wooden cross, about 20″ high, fully electrified and bulbed-up, for what we can only guess. Those red lights are the round bulbs from the 60’s, and I shudder to think what the thing looks like when lit. Praise the lord.

Then there were these two chairs, now in poor shape but one can imagine the artful dignity they carried when new or only slightly broken in. These are more like broken down, but they still have more character that much of what I see selling in stores today.

And come on, who doesn’t want a fountain light hanging in the corner of their living room? Certain to add ambiance beyond compare to any decor. I can remember the day when seeing this in a restaurant was the guarantee of a fine dinner, no joke.

Finally, we have a plastic surfing baby monkey.

Nothing left to say on that one.

It’s only 8:30am and I’m already SO glad I dragged myself out of bed.

More seriously useful and lovely bargains were yet to cross my path on this chilly fall morning. Once the LL Bean wool/silk blend sweater coat was purchased (for $1) I was tempted to wear it on the spot, but it does need a little airing-out.

I also picked up some audio cassette tapes (useful for recording Tarot readings for those folks who still have the technology to play them back), some fancy-schmantzy body lotion (I know, that looks like a lady’s “pleasure tool” but it’s not), a 6-pack of artist’s note cards, and a bouquet of fresh flowers from a farm stand.

Total expenditure to carry home the things in the photo: $7.75.

The find of the day, however, is certainly the painting at the top of this article. Done in the 60’s by a Massachusetts artist named Ernest Perry, a quick trips across the internet shows his work to sell for around $275.

I don’t expect to sell it since I love it and it has already found a home in the stairwell gallery, but if I ever do I’m sure to make some money on it, since the woman who sold it had it priced at $1.

Praise the lord.

Jeanne Fiorini is an avid yard saler, a professional Tarot reader, a pro football fan, and a lover of dogs. Visit the TarotWorks website to learn more about Jeanne and the Tarot work!

Yard Sale Documentation Project: September Round-Up

Thought you’d heard the last of this, right? Not quite yet.

Yes, the season is waning, but that’s more a result of September’s wet weather than of limited sale-ing ops. I’ve compressed the experiences of the past several weeks into one post, and will likely do the same for October unless something fantabulously amazing happens out there in the meantime.  

Enjoy!

Saturday September 15th

This was an uneventful outing. Although revved up to make the scene due to one supremely up-scale neighborhood having their annual sale, I was home by 10:00am. Today’s was more a case of “I don’t really need that” rather than the less-attractive whine “there’s nothing out here today.” At this point in the game that’s OK.

For the record, here are my purchases:

  • Versatile Crate and Barrel divided dinnerware holder thingee  $2
  • Full box of Metropolitan Museum of Art “Sunflowers” note cards  $2

 

Saturday September 22nd

A rainy and therefore late start to the day. I’m sure many of “my people” were out at the usual hour, but sale-ing in the rain is where I draw the line. I am enthusiastic about the yard scene but I’m not desperate.

You’d be surprised at the number of folks still hosting sales, but not surprised (if you’ve been paying attention at all ) to know that the throngs are still thronging. Ran into Jack, about whom I was beginning to worry since we’d not seen him in weeks. He’s well, and was quick to alert me to several unadvertised sales happening nearby.

It was another “I really don’t need that” kind of day … maybe the exertion of having my own sale a few weeks ago really has altered my yard sale gene. A few things about which I’m really happy did come home with me today:

  • This ADORABLE kiddie shopping cart, complete with lift-able baskets and racks.
  • Vera will totally flip her lid.                                             50 cents
  •  Pair of 5” prints, wonderful colors, nicely framed         $2

I spent more than that on the morning’s coffee and bagel.


Saturday September
29th

Today’s event was totally rained out, which was a bummer since I received an email notice during the week about a fab sale to be hosted today. Having advance notice of a good sale is akin to having free pizza delivered to your door or seeing the CandyGram guy standing there with an armload of chocolates.

However, the lack of sale-ing activity today gives me a chance to share with you one more facet of The Yard Sale Experience: The Integration Process.

Sometimes this is the more time-consuming aspect of being a yard sale hound, the fact that to effectively and gracefully integrate all these new belongings into one’s living space requires thought, patience, ingenuity, and oftentimes more than one trip to the hardware store.

You may remember this frame on the left from a sale in July.

Here it is on the right, reformulated; now showing off a print formerly housed in a much less elegant holder but which is now at home in a complimentary style and mutually-enhancing arrangement. Lovely, eh?

This is where the 5′ X 8′ wool rug that came from perhaps the best sale of the season landed, now very much at home in my bedroom. It seems to go well with both the summer- and winter-toned decor in there and I love the soft feel of the wool on my tootsies.

Plus you should know that everything you see here (yes everything) came from yard sales along the line, except for the mattress itself.

And here are those two wooden painted frogs from June that I just had to have. They preside over all activity in the kitchen as they perch upon some baskets atop the refrigerator. Ostensibly I bought them thinking Vera would enjoy them, but the truth is they make me happy.

There you have it. Until next month, when things WILL seriously be coming to close, Happy Trails!

Yard Sale Documentation Project 9-8-12

I should have done what Kate did today and stayed in bed.

After a full week of teaching second graders she was in no mood to get up early, get in the car with her mother, and go look at other people’s junk. Letting me know last night that I was on my own allowed for a revamp of the travel route for the day.

It was not a sparkling morning, but rather a foggy, cool start to the day. Nevertheless I was up and aiming farther afield than we normally drive, out to Scarborough near the beaches where a big sale had been advertised.

And yet, at the appointed time and place, no action whatsoever could be found.  A large white gate closed off the end of the driveway. No sign, no notice of “rain date” (it was not raining), nothing. GRRRRRRR.

Strike One.

But, it’s only a stone’s throw to Higgins Beach where, because of recent hurricanes, the beach swells were predicted to be extremely high. So I took a wander down to see what was happening. And it was happening at 8am — surfers, onlookers, beach walkers, all sorts of people out to watch the pounding surf.

Ah, beach air. I feel better.

On to the next stop, Cape Elizabeth, for an “Estate sale 60 years in the making.” Although MapQuest had steered me wrong on the street address (Strike Two), the true target wasn’t far from the misstep and I soon found myself in front of a very juicy-looking array.  Proud of myself for remembering to pop the camera in my bag, I gathered my things and exited the car.

“Oh my frickin’ god,” I’m pretty sure I said out loud, as the car door closed.

Sure I’d remembered the camera, but I hadn’t grabbed any cash before leaving the house. I’m standing in front of a yummy yard sale with no money. And I’m about 10 miles from home.

Strike Three.

Yeah, I scraped some quarters out of the change box in the car and looked around a bit. Fortunately there was nothing there that made my heart ache. Made a half-hearted effort at whatever sales crossed my path and wended my way back across to the other side of town.

Despite walking into the wind today,  I did manage to find these Pottery Barn decorative strands for $1 each. The tag was still on them: originally $24 each. WTF? I am totally looking forward to the day that my disposable income pile allows me to drop $50 on decorative strands.

Turns out the side trip to Higgins Beach was the highlight of the excursion . And I’m quite sure the surfers had a better morning than I did.

If it keeps up like this I’ll post a synopsis at the end of September and not bore you with the  minutia of such a day. I sure hope the season doesn’t poop out before I do.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 7-28-2012

Back in the saddle again this weekend.

Kate and I were in the same town for a change, the rain held off until later in the day, the tummy felt better, all we needed were a few good scores to make for a perfect day. For a Saturday at the height of the season there were fewer sales out there than would be expected, and Kate, who came home with only a book and a memory game for Vera, would say it was uninspired.

Even on this relatively pleasant summer morning, many of our usual yard sale peeps were nowhere to be seen. No Mary, not even Jack, although we did see Kathy who is now out saleing for her baby who busted out of womb-prison in June.

The real bummer was that, although I had my camera with me, I didn’t realize the battery was dead until I went to take a picture of a sofa with a large sign on it reading “The Best $20 You’ll Ever Spend.” Theirs was a fun yard sale.

Sometimes when you see the massive pile of stuff on someone’s lawn and driveway, you can’t help but wonder not only how they fit all this into their house in the first place without it all busting at the seams, but what else might remain inside not having making the yard sale cut. Scary.

But this group was enjoying themselves, a mom and a couple of 20-ish “kids.” Joking, drinking coffee and eating donuts, presiding over the 10′ banquet tables crammed with stuff; clearly the kids were there as muscle to help mom move it, literally and figuratively. Mom emerged from the house repeatedly with armfuls of used merchandise, wearing a weary but amused face of “Why did I think this was a good idea?”

Yard saleing is like quantum physics — the unified field allows for various and innumerable “outcomes” depending on the presence of the observer. In the same way that I had a certain experience a few weeks ago when Kate was absent from the event, an experience that would have been vastly different had we been traveling together on that day, this day’s outcomes were directly impacted by her keen powers of observation.

“Mom, you need this witch.”

Yeah, that’s just what I need.  I don’t do kitch. But truth be told, although I’d seen the thing — how could you miss it?– it didn’t captivate me until I really looked.

The colors are great, the expression on the cat’s face is priceless, her lamp really lights up, but it was her bosom that sold me. If you know anything about the Tarot you might recognize both Empress and Hermit aspects here. Standing about 30″ tall, her gaudy friendliness will  brighten my porch at Halloween and I’m totally in love with her.

And right there is part of what I love about yard saleing: you never know if the day will bring things of beauty, utilitarian things, things of monetary value, unique things or things that everyone has/needs that you just haven’t gotten around to buying, or no things worth buying at all.

As Geoffrey Rush muses in Shakespeare in Love: “It’s a mystery.”

On we go. Speaking of utilitarian, who doesn’t need nice hangers? Bag o’ hangers … $2.

The Egyptian gift wrapping paper seen below is another example of Kate’s prowess in seeing a thing that somehow escape me or whose usefulness I’ve overlooked. This is a full roll of that heavy-duty Sally Foster paper that kids sell for fundraisers; Josephine, if you lived nearby I’d be giving this to you!

The pottery addiction was satisfied today, as well as the never-ending search for interesting frames and the art to put inside them. This old wooden frame is a beauty, making part of my Sunday chores the finding of just the right piece (something less-beautifully framed already hanging in my home) to complete the combo.

This day’s tally:

Bag o’ hangers:   $2
Art Pottery:         $2
Green glass kitchen bowl  $2
Gift wrapping paper  $1
Witch    $2
Wooden frame $2

$11 out-of-pocket and a morning spent delving into the mysteries of the unexpected.

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