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.


Neatness With A Cause

cgjung02%20(1)Along with Joseph Campbell, one of my favorite thinkers of the 20th century is Carl Jung. Not only did Dr. Jung live a long life in the public eye, he was very prolific in documenting his thoughts, theories, and world views. This proliferation of ideas has made Carl Jung one of the most oft-quoted figures in recent history.

One of my favorite quotes attributed to ol’ Carl is, “Meaning makes a great many things bearable.” Keep this thought in mind as you read on.

In the minds of many, the thought of de-cluttering a living space is equivalent to having a voluntary root canal. But I am quite sure that if some greater meaning was applied to the process — other than guilt, peer pressure, or that funky smell the origin of which cannot be specifically located — the project could actually become enjoyable.

Here’s the challenge:

There are two weeks left in the month of January. Between now and the end of the month your mission is to fill one large plastic garbage bag with items culled from your home. These items will be donated to the charity of your choice: a homeless shelter, a foster home, a “dress for success” organization, your church’s outreach program, after school teen projects, whatever cause touches your particular heart.

And there’s the KEY: What touches your heart? How can your unused/extra/outworn and gently-loved items serve another person? How can creating some order in your life improve the life of another?

One purpose: Attaching meaning to an unpleasant task.

Two weeks.

One bag.

Do something for yourself. Do something for another person in the process.

Let me know how you made out, and if creating meaning actually did make your de-cluttering project more bearable.


Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini created She’s NEAT with an understanding of 2 simple truths:
1. Being organized is not a trait that comes naturally to everyone. 
2. Neat is beautiful.
Visit the She’s NEAT site and LIKE us on Facebook!

Tips For Keeping Your “Neat” Resolution

Fireworks ShowSo…. Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be more organized in 2013?

How’s that going so far?

If you’re having trouble staying on track, here are a few suggestions for how to be successful in that resolution all year long:

1.  Use something you love as a focal point in the room. If it’s your office, maybe you have an antique desk that you treasure; if it’s a living room maybe it’s that one-of-a-kind coffee table or bookcase; maybe your bedroom has a pair of lamps that are to die for.  A space http://shesneat.comthat holds a positive emotional charge is more likely to stay neat, clean, and organized.

2.  If you bring something new into the space, take something else away…either put it into storage or take it to the Goodwill.  This tactic — especially important for closet spaces –keeps stuff from piling up.

3. Recognize your de-cluttering efforts as socially responsible and/or eco-friendly. For instance, isn’t there someone who would benefit from those sweaters you never wear? Wouldn’t someone love to read those books that have sat on your shelf for 2 years? What “good deed” can you do with the money you can make from selling some of the unused stuff treducereuserecyclehat is clogging up your basement or attic?

De-cluttering can make you feel good about yourself and can help someone else feel good in the process.

And Remember: When you clear out your office space, be sure to recycle the paper that has piled up rather than just tossing it into the trash. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle is a key phrase in the neatness game.

De-cluttering can make you feel good about yourself and help someone else in the process.  And the emotional reward from the de-cluttering process goes a long way in maintaining good “neat” habits.

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini began She’s NEAT with two basic principles: Being Organized Does Not Come Naturally to Everyone and Neat is Beautiful.  

Visit She’s NEAT to see some photos of the work! It’s pretty cool what a little organization can do!

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
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
necklaces, bracelets, earrings  ….. 11
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.








$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: 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.  


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

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 8-25-12


11:45 AM Saturday Morning

I can’t believe I’m still standing … and am awake … and have energy.

It’s nearly noon, and straggler salers are filtering in even though the morning’s high tide has come and gone. I’m feeling like I could probably hang around out here ’til mid-afternoon, but maybe that’s the coffee talking.

Hey — did you know that it’s pitch black out at 5am in late August? When the alarm went off this morning I called the Time and Temperature lady just to make sure my clock wasn’t on the fritz. I’d expected there to be at least a hint of daylight … but no.

As I look at the half-eaten pile of stuff in my driveway I wonder if it was worth three days of hard physical work and not much sleep. As is par for this course, some things which we thought most certainly would fly out of here have not yet sold. On the other hand, people took off with other things (such as the bare-assed gnome squatting in the grass) which made us look at one another with the “Say what?” face.

It does feel good to have cleared out the corners and to have let go of the experiences left like a thin film on some of the items. Plus, money was made through this cleansing process in addition to having saved $20-30 by not being “out there” buying even more stuff at the numerous sales that were being hosted today.

We heard tales of a neighborhood pow-wow, 8 sales clustered together a few streets over. It could be true, who knows; anything beyond the scope of my driveway was beyond my attention span today.

The day was rich and varied. Today I learned that the people who lived in this house, my house, during the 60’s and 70’s, “The Baldwins,” were very popular. During this morning’s comings and goings I heard stories about how the adolescent boys used to play night-time tag in the adjoining back yards; how a woman was friends with one of “the girls” and they all “grew up together in this house.” How, back in the day, this was the happenin’ neighborhood as far as the high school crowd was concerned.

It’s an odd but lovely experience to have perfect strangers gaze wistfully at your home, half-smiling, their eyes full of memories.

It has been a beautiful late-summer day to hang out in the side yard. A spectacled 8-year old girl, here with her parents, proclaimed, “This is a pretty nice place you got for yourself here.” I would have taken her picture but didn’t want to make her feel self-conscious.

Now comes the final chore of hosting a yard sale — sorting in reverse:

what goes to the Goodwill eventually to be resold, what goes to the Preble


Street Shelter where they need clothing, bedding, and personal maintenance sorts of things, and what SMALL PERCENTAGE of things make their way back into the recesses of the house. Reabsorption is never the goal for the yard sale host.

I’m going to need another hour of just being here and wandering around in circles before any of that is gonna happen.

6:30 PM Saturday

Most everything has now been put in its place: the car is loaded with boxes for both the Goodwill and Preble Street. I’ve collected the signs that, miraculously, 10 hours later, are still staked in place around the neighborhood. I’ve had my first substantial meal all day, plus two beers — I was SO thirsty! — so I’m a little fuzzy-brained. The final remains are being hauled into the basement, my tired, aching body is about to lauch a  coup, and I hear footsteps at the door.

Ding -Dong. Opening the door I see  a friendly-faced 70-ish year-old man on the porch with a red T-shirt stating, “I’m a Good Catch.” He’s wondering if he can take some of the things in the FREE pile at the end of the driveway.

These are things that didn’t make it into the Goodwill or the Preble Street boxes, items for which I have no longer have any use or on whose behalf I cannot justify the reabsorption process. Among these freebies is a box of three  hub caps which fit my old Saturn but which are the wrong size for the new Versa.

“My daughter had two of her hub caps stolen off her car last night and these will do the trick!” he explains, bright-eyed.

I’m just tired and buzzed enough to say, “Give me five!” This is the same thing I say to my 2 year-old granddaughter when she does something great.

He does, and leaves the porch smiling, tossing back that “if those green patio chairs are still here in the morning I’ll be by to picking those up too!”

All this makes me very happy. I’m still exhausted, but a purpose for my exhaustion has been revealed.

0 AM Sunday Morning

Hosting a yard sale is like having a baby: Something has left you in a physically strenuous manner, immediately after doing it you determine that “I’m never doing THAT again” and for days after the fact your body feels like it’s been run over by a truck.

I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m quite sure this experience will remind me to practice safe yard saleing in the future, being careful about what I allow into my Versa from now on.

And PS — the green patio chairs are gone.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 8-11-12

Today is National Yard Sale Day!

But that didn’t do us much good today here in Southern Maine. A combination of a rainy forecast and the summer doldrums put Kate and I on an extended 30-mile loop around the ‘hood in a vain attempt to find something worth getting out of the car for.

It was an exercise in futility, but we had a surprisingly good-natured time given the fact that we’d gotten out of bed for nothing. “I put on deodorant for this?” Kate bemoaned as we pulled up in front of another paltry display of goods.

I was seriously wondering what I was going to put in this column. After relaxing into a three-hour nap on the couch (obviously not too stressed about content), I bumbled upstairs to check the email and was pleased and gratified to see this note:

Hi Jeanne-

Thank you so much for contributing to our blog article on Garage Sale
Memories! We published the article earlier this morning, you can view it


Feel free to use the social share links at the bottom to share this with your friends and family networks!

Have a great weekend!


So there you have it! The Universe provides in one way or another.

I can only hope that this rainy weekend is giving folks a chance to clean out those closets and basements for yard sales yet to be born.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 4-28-12

Here’s a photo of what we got at yard sales today:

lots of fresh air.

As I’m writing this entry, the time is 10:35am on Saturday morning…. not a good sign on the yard sale front. Last weekend was pretty bleak, but today was worse. Not because there wasn’t any action out there, but because although the ads were enticing, between the three of us all we bought was a couple of cookies from a kid having a bake sale.

You could have called this outing “fooled ya’.” Some of the prime real estate for great sales was in the mix today, but the pickin’s were slimmer than slim. In an extended search, we even crossed the bridge into Portland proper where a West End neighborhood (more prime real estate) was hosting a sale; then on into Scarborough and looped back  around into South Portland by a different route in desperate hope for a sign (literally) and a good-looking pile of stuff.

I’m not sure which was more desperate, our attitude about unearthing some treasures or the dregs that sat out on people’s lawns.

Oh well. We gave it the good college try, and since it’s early in the season no one is getting too twisted up about the 2-hour drive around the greater Portland area. However, I may have to hit the Goodwill store later today just to get my bargain fix.

Yearning for Yard Sale Season

It’s a stormy, snowy day here in Maine today. Those of you “from away” might think this happens all the time in Maine, but that’s not been the case this year. In fact, today — March 1st —  is the first time this year that the kids in our school district received the ever-anticipated notice that schools were closed due to “current weather conditions.”

Dang! Just when I’d begun to think warm fuzzy thoughts about the upcoming yard sale season. Just when my daydreams were turning to visions of  the treasures that could be hidden among the castoffs from another person’s life. Just when the bargain-hound in me was awaking from its winter hibernation.

While the thought of getting up at the @** crack of dawn to rummage through other people’s belongings may give some of you the heebie-jeebies, this activity is one of the few things in the world for which I will get out of bed before 7am. If you’ve ever been to my house, you know why: the place is filled with one-of-a-kind items brought together over the course of many years to create a truly wonderful environment. Like they say on the Nate Berkus show, “I’m house proud,” and at the foundation of it are my yard sale finds.

Let me share some of my finds with you:

Everything in this photo is from yard sales.
The print is one of the best finds ever, a
30″ X 40″ art poster from the 1930’s
in its original frame. Cost to me: $30                                     

                                                                                                  Each piece here also from yard sales, including the Rookwood pottery and the hand-carved
wedding gourd.

Oh I do love my art prints, and pottery…
and real paintings…..
and did I mention pottery?                                 All sorts of home decor:
pillows from Pottery Barn,
Japanese wall hanging,
torchiere lamp… all adopted.

 And here’s my best find yet:                                                     an original oil painting that I snagged before I’d figured out where in my house there was a wall large enough to hold it. I can’t tell you how much it cost because it doesn’t do justice to the artist. It’s enought to know that I don’t go out sale-ing with more than $40 in my pocket.

Mind you, all this doesn’t happen in one weekend. It takes years of patient poking and sifting and discriminating between the wheat and the chaff in order to bring such a nice collection of unique items into your home. (Sometimes my daughter will say to me, “How did you manage to come out of that sale with something good?”)

It takes a good eye, a vehicle able to cart home your sometimes  w- i – d – e  assortment of goodies (you may come home with a piece of furniture, a good book, an unused ball of twine, and a new set of wrenches.) It also take a good measure of luck and timing.

GOOD LORD I can’t wait to get out there!

Clothes Swap Follow-Up

I’ll let the pictures do the talking as a follow-up post regarding “Christmas in February” aka The Annual South Portland Clothes Swap.

    (Left) Here we are at the
beginning of the event,
relative calm and decorum
is the tone so far.

(Below) This is my treasure of the day, a beauty which came early on:
a lime green fleece coat with black
faux lambs wool trim, a Maralyce Ferree original.   I love it!

Our host nabbed TWO pairs
of these fabulous shoes as additions to
her massive haul of fine quality items.

Above right:: Our host in a jacket which must have once been owned by either Hugh Hefner or Keith Richard, we’re not sure which one.  In any case, it certainly does work with her not-so demure nature.

(Right) And here’s the aftermath: the pile of
goods that will find a home in less-fortunate
hands. We are truly blessed to have such

In addition to the Six of Pentacles spirit of the day, I must add the Queen of Pentacles to the roster of attendees. We had silk blouses, leather handbags, cashmere sweaters, designer labels, sparkly jewelry, and beautiful fabrics all ’round. That particular Queen was in her glory today. Thanks to all for a wonderful celebration of friendship and abundance.

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