6th Annual Old Louisville Yard Sale Extravaganza
August 2, 2008
(first Saturday every August)
In need of attic treasures, cellar stuff, appliances, furniture, bric-a-brac, gifts, crafts, architectural details? Do you like to stroll along magnificent avenues of Victorian mansions? Would you like to meet your neighbors or just catch up? Would you like a great reason to visit the magnificent setting of Old Louisville? If so, the first Saturday in August is the day for you, mark your calendar now!
In Old Louisville we never do anything small scale. The Third Street Association, the 1300 South Third Street Association, the Toonerville Trolley Association, Second Street Association and the West St. Catherine Association will be joined by other Old Louisville blocks and associations for this year's annual extravaganza on Saturday, August 2nd. This will be the largest neighborhood yard sale of the year for the City of Louisville.
Directions: Find I-65 and Downtown Louisville and take the St. Catherine St. Exit (just south of downtown). You will already be at the northern limits of the sale on Floyd, Burnett, First, Second Third or Fifth & St Catherine Streets.
For Yard Sellers:
40 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale
(1) Put up advertisements on bulletin boards in your area (grocery stores, community center, etc.) Try to put them up about 5 days ahead. After the signs are up, drive past them and see if you can read them easily, because if you canít, nobody else can either. Don't try to cram too many words on the signs. All that's really needed on signs are words: yard sale (or garage sale), the date of sale. And most importantly, after your sale is over, TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN. That bears repeating, TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN! click here for a printable flier (MS Word .doc)
(2)An idea for signs is to use paper grocery bags to draw your signs on then fill the bottom with heavy rocks, stuff with newspaper and staple shut. Ta da! - easy, portable signs that you can just place on the ground. Use crayon or Permanent Markers to make your signs. The lettering won't run if it gets wet.
(3)Expect early birds. Some sellers love them, others hate them. We will say ďNo Early BirdsĒ in the ad, but you will have some anyway.
(4)Months before your yard sale, start accumulating the items you want to sell. Put all the items in a box in some out-of-the-way place. If you donít have to retrieve an item out of the box before the sale, it's probably safe to assume you donít need it. If you still have the original boxes and instruction manuals for an item, you can probably charge a little bit more for it. Remember, one person's trash is another person's treasure. Even if you think Aunt Edna's crocheted orange toilet seat cover deserves to go in the trash, it may be the first thing that sells!
(5)If you are setting up your yard sale in your yard (rather than driveway or garage), make sure grass has been cut recently (but not too recently - you don't want big wet clumps of grass sticking to people's shoes). Fill in any ruts in the ground. You don't want people to trip.
(6)If you are setting up your yard sale in your yard (rather than driveway or garage), make sure grass has been cut recently (but not too recently - you don't want big wet clumps of grass sticking to people's shoes). Fill in any ruts in the ground. You don't want people to trip.(8) For a successful Yard Sale, Price everything! The price should be on top of an item, not on the bottom. I know itís a lot of work, but worth it because you wonít have people asking every two minutes, "how much do you want for this?" As a general rule of thumb, price items about a third of what they would cost new. There are exceptions (see next item). Clothes are generally very poor sellers, unless itís baby/kids clothes. But if you price adult-sized clothes cheap enough, it will sell regardless. People are reluctant to pay a lot of money for clothes they can't try on, but will gamble if it's only $1 or so. I recommend taking some of your "nicer" clothes to consignment stores, rather than trying to sell them at a yard sale. A rule on price: you can always go down on a price, but you can never go back up. If you donít have time to price everything individually, signs are helpful, such as "all books .25 each" or "any piece of clothes $1.00", or "anything on this table .50". You also can offer the customers a deal, example: paperbacks .25 each or 5 for $1.
(7)Although you may have the friendliest dog in the world, it's best to keep them away from your yard sale. Some people are afraid of dogs or are allergic.
(9)Another thing about pricing - I think the bigger the item, the bigger the price tag should be. Make it obvious. If you're selling a sofa - you can't expect the buyer to be looking all over for some tiny dot sticker. Take a full sheet of paper and put the price and list any good selling points or flaws: "Sofa - $200 Firm - only 3 years old - comes with 2 coordinating pillows". When I wanted to sell a junky lawnmower at my last yard sale, I took a 3" x 5" card and wrote: "Lawnmower $5 - As is. Has fuel leak but starts." It sold.
(10)When pricing items, keep in mind that "a third of what it costs new" is only a guideline. No one cares that you paid $75 for your advanced quantum physics book 10 years ago. You'll be lucky to sell it at all. Try to look at your stuff objectively. Do you really think people will be knocking down your door to get at your old t-shirts with stains on them? That's why they make good rags. If you have a bunch of items that are missing pieces or broken, put it in your FREE box with a note "broken - good for parts" or something similar.
(11)Before your sale, look thru the boxes of everything you sell. I've often found old credit card receipts (complete with full numbers) in old shoes boxes or in books as bookmarks.
(12)Use commonsense and don't prop up a nice framed picture against a rocking chair on a very windy day. No, I didn't do it but I was at a yard sale where the seller had a lot of glass shards to clean up!
(13)When selling clothes (and coats) take a minute and go thru the pockets. I know a yard saler who once found a $20 bill in a jacket that she paid $5 for!
(14)If you are displaying clothes on a clothes rack, I always use the cheapy metal hangers. That way if the buyer wants to keep the hanger, they can. I don't use nicer hangers because every time I've used nicer hangers, the buyer will say "Oh, can't I just have the hanger?" or "Oh, I thought the hanger was included".
(15)When selling books and CDs - arrange in a box so the titles can be easily read by the customers. I go to many yard sales where books and cds are a big jumbled mess - that gives me the impression that the sellers don't care about their stuff and probably didn't take good care of it when they had it in the first place.
(16)Put some effort into your sale and really try to sell stuff by making it the most attractive it can be. If the first thing that someone picks up is nasty and dirty, it may turn them off to looking at other things you have to sell. If you are selling an old basketball, make sure it is full of air. If you are selling a tv, have it turned on. If something needs batteries to run, put batteries in it so it works - it will help it sell. (But don't put in brand new batteries; use some half-used batteries. I have a collection of used batteries for this purpose - they aren't strong enough to power my digital camera anymore, but still have enough juice to run kid's electronic toys etc). However, don't go overboard in cleaning and spend 3 hours working on an item that you only plan to price at $1. If all people see from the road is a tarp with a mountain of clothes heaped on it, they'll likely drive by. Ask friends/neighbors to loan you portable tables if necessary. Nothing worse than going to a yard sale and just seeing boxes of dirty, unorganized cobwebbed junk on the ground expecting people to fish through it. Sometimes the sellers are just sitting there having their coffee chatting with neighbors and ignoring the paying customers. These people probably wonder why they never have successful yard sales.
(17)Yard sales are more relaxing if there is some background music on. Have easy-listening middle-of-the-road type music on, not MegaDeath Slaughterhouse. That allows customers to discuss potential purchases privately with their shopping partners, without feeling like they have to whisper.
(18)Display some of your more interesting items at the end of your driveway to act as a magnet to lure people in (see next tip). Some people will just drive by slowly and take a quick look to determine if it looks worthwhile to stop. Some sellers prefer to be stationed at the end of their merchandise, closest to the street. It prevents people from "forgetting" to pay for an item and they can also easily answer someone who drives by and asks "do you have any LP's?"
(19)A tip from a reader: ever notice how hard a woman has to work to convince a man to stop at a yard sale? To solve this, set out an old lawn mower or power tools out front in plain view of the road, and you'll get more business! It's also smart to set up a small table with nothing but "man-things" (jars full of screws and nails, electronic parts, tools and parts of tools, etc.). This gives the men something to immerse themselves in while the women find all the real treasures.
(20)If you are planning your yard sale on the hot day, consider selling sodas or having the kids run a lemonade stand. (Generally though, itís just easier to ice-down a bunch of sodas - bought on sale of course - in a big cooler. And just sell the kind of soda you like, so you don't mind if you have leftovers.) Selling lemonade can be tricky for a 5 year old who doesn't understand a lot about hygiene - and will want to just grab ice cubes with their hands. Someone told me they once saw a child stirring a pitcher of lemonade with their ARM! On an especially hot day, having a cooler of ice-water with paper cups (and trash can) available for free is a nice touch. The longer people stay at your yard sale the more likely they will buy something. Some people like to set up a coffee pot and sell donuts - but I think it's too much work and could be a potential safety problem - especially with the hot coffee, electrical cord etc.
(21) Some sellers color code their items with a little stickers and create a chart, example: all items will blue stickers are .50, items with red stickers $1 and so on. Personally, as a shopper, I hate that! Also, a buyer could easily "swap" stickers and you'd probably not even notice it.
(22) I've been to so many yard sales where items are not marked. When Iíve asked the seller how much they want for a particular item, many times they respond, "I donít know, how about .50 or .25?" No buyer in their right mind will say, "yeah, I want to pay the higher price." The better way would be for the seller to answer, "How about .50?" Then if the customer puts the item back, then say, "or how about .25?"
(23) You may get a customer who wants to "help" you buy totalling up their purchases ahead of time and giving you the total. It may be a ploy to sneak some high-dollar items into the pile or not paying the true full amount. If this happens just say that you need to go through it because some of the things are your sister's (or just lie and make up someone) and you need to check what they are buying so you can divide the money fairly with them.
(24) Here's a tip if you are trying to sell something that is fairly high dollar and its a popular item that appears in catalogs or sale ads. Cut out the ad with the item in it (with the price showing of course) and tape it to your item. I've seen this done mostly with gently used children's toys and such. It shows the buyer that spending $10 for an item that normally sells for $40 new is a good deal. Be selective if you use this tactic, people will get turned off if you do it for every item you're trying to sell.
(25) If you are trying to sell a bunch of old kitchen utensils, rubber-band the knives up so people don't get cut.
(26) Make sure any items you donít want to sell are put away. If you donít, that will be the one item the buyer wants. Sometimes you just canít win though! At one of my yard sales, a customer was adamant about wanting to buy a table which was not for sale (I was using the table to display the junk). I had even placed a tablecloth over it. Then someone else wanted to buy the tablecloth! So now I just have some plain sheets I use as table coverings. Of course at a subsequent yardsale I WANTED to sell the table but couldn't.
(27)During your sale, keep your sale tables attractive by filling in the empty spots on your tables as things get sold. It's a good idea to keep your eyes on your customers, but don't stare at them or hover inches away. I get annoyed at yardsale sellers who are a little *too* overbearing and has to tell me a story about every item I touch and what a good deal it is.
(28)GUARD YOUR MONEY! Have lots of coins and small bills available to make change. If you don't, your first customer will be a little old lady trying to buy .50 worth of stuff with a $20 bill. Do not leave your money laying around in a box. I recommend wearing a fanny pack or carpenter's apron because you'll always have your money with you. If you are running out of change, and someone is trying to haggle a price down, be willing to negotiate if the buyer has the exact change.
(29)Don't accept checks unless you are willing to take the risk of getting a bad check. A check that looks perfectly fine may be from a closed bank account.
(30)Here's a tip about making change: if someone hands you a large bill, leave the bill out in view until after you have given them their change. Otherwise, a dishonest person could say afterwards "I gave you a $20, not a $10". And it would be your word against theirs. And make sure you really take a second and look at the bill. At my last yard sale, I glanced at the bill and thought it was a $20, and when I went to give the customer their change, I looked again and realized it was a $10 bill, not $20.
(31)Have plastic grocery bags available to put sold items in. If selling breakables, have newspaper available to wrap fragile items. Having a calculator handy is helpful in totaling up purchases. Make it easy for yourself to total items - price things evenly: .25, .50 and $1, NOT .40, .75, $1.20. Heck, even doing that, itís easy to mess things up (but that's me, I hate math!). At my last sale, I had a 12 year old customer correct me - I had given him back too much change!
(32)If you have kids, involve them by having them set up their own table selling their old toys. Explain to them if they get rid of their old outgrown toys, theyíll make space to put the new toys that they buy themselves with the money they earn. If they agree to parting with their old toys, help them with the prices. At one yard sale, a little boy wanted $1 for a cheapo little plastic dinosaur that would have been overpriced if it had been priced at a nickel. Plan with them afterwards to donate their good, unsold toys to charity so that needy children will benefit.
(33)Your ability to sell certain items depends a lot on the timing (I think it's better to have 5 smaller yard sales within a 10 year period, rather than 1 big blowout yardsale once every 10 years.) At a recent sale, a seller had an older style baby carrier that she was trying (unsuccessfully) to sell. Although she had the original box and paperwork, no one wanted a 10 year old baby seat. It's old enough just to be "old" but not "vintage/collectible". She would have done better selling it right after she was done with it. Same thing with trendy or current *hot* items. Remember back in the early 90's when kids were all into collecting and trading bottle caps and pogs? Every once in a while, I'll see them at a yard sale and now nobody wants them. They could have been easily sold while the trend was still lukewarm.
(34)If you are selling electrical appliances, have an electrical outlet handy or a long extension cord. (Put the cord away when not in use - you don't want to create a tripping hazard). I donít allow strangers in my house, either to try out appliances or try on clothes, etc. If they need to use a restroom, give them directions to the nearest fast-food restaurant.
(35)To avoid any hassles later on, post a sign that says "All Sales Final". I've heard horror stories about customers returning the next day wanting to get their money back on items.
(36)If you have a ton of kidís clothes or small toys you are dying to get rid of, consider having a "fill a bag for a set price" kind of deal. Yard salers love getting a good deal. I went to one yard sale that had a "fill a bag of clothes for $2" and another one that had "fill a lunch bag of small toys" for a nickel (very cheap!) If you do something like this, just make sure you have enough bags handy.
(37)Another option is to sort the small toys and put them in sealed clear plastic bags according to type of toy and whether it's for a boy or girl. Then STAPLE the bags closed so customers can't open them. Then have a set price for the entire bag. That way, you'll won't get stuck with leftover "less desirable" toys when the sale is over.
(38)Expect that some buyers will expect you to bargain with them. If it's early in the morning and you don't want to bargain, just say "I think it's worth that price. I may lower the price later in the day if it doesn't sell."
(39)Don't assume everyone going to yard sales are fun and happy people. Just like in the real world, shop-lifters and shady characters go to yard sales too. My friend recently had some small items stolen at a yard sale. Nothing too valuable, just a book tucked into a purse, so she wasn't going to confront the person. But it could have been worse if she had left other more expensive small items like jewelry unattended. I donít want to scare you, I'm just trying to inform you. These people are few and far between so it shouldnít deter you from having a fun day having your own yard sale.
(40)If possible, invite a neighbor or friend to join you in your yard sale. The more stuff you have available to sell the better! And having a lot of customers at a sale entices other people to stop too. Happy Saling!
And don't forget, TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN! Thank you!
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