Summertime is an excellent time to have a yard sale. Family life is less hectic, the weather is a joy, and your kids are hungry for a creative project to sink their teeth into.
Involving your kids in your yard sale is a great way to teach them some very basic business principles that they can build upon their entire lives. As the world favors entrepreneurial skills more and more, such lessons become ever more valuable.
Before we delve into the steps for a successful yard sale for your family, let’s first define success.
If an easy or substantial payday is what you’re after, a yard sale is probably not for you. Expected price points for basic household items tend to hover in the single dollar or multiple quarter range. Setting up a yard sale requires a good bit of work, as does managing it and breaking it down. You’ll be working most of the day and will need to prepare days in advance. Easy? No. Efficient? No.
However … if your goals include a cleaner space, more enlightened kids, and a fun day out in the neighborhood, then let’s get started!
A newly decluttered space is the glorious fruit of yard sale labor. Days and weeks before, go through each room in your house, including the basement, the attic, the long-forgotten closet in the guest bedroom, the backyard shed, and anywhere else you might find items that are no longer serving you.
Encourage your kids to choose items of their own to include if they wish. It may be tough for them to let go of their possessions, and a light touch is probably in order. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” suggests holding your item in hand and asking yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” This may be a helpful framework to teach children as they examine their things.
You can also choose to allow your kids to set up their own table or two, selling lemonade, crafts, or anything of their making. Building their business from the ground up, they can consider what their potential customers might want, and how to produce that for them—product development 101.
As your family gathers items, be sure to box them up by category (i.e. books, clothes, toys, home decor, kitchenware, tools, etc.) Having your items organized in advance of your sale will make the day-of activities run more smoothly.
Price (or Not)
To price or not to price: that is the question. Every business needs to consider its pricing strategy and your yard sale is no different. Labeling each and every item in your inventory can be a time-consuming affair. You may choose to label everything, label each shelf or table (“Everything on this table is $1.00,” for example), make up prices as the day goes on, or ask each customer to “name your price.”
In general, remember that people who attend your yard sale will be looking for a great deal. If you have items of value and you’d prefer to realize their full potential, eBay and other online options will likely give you a significantly better return. If you’d just as easily donate your item, try it at your yard sale first.
Set Up the Kids’ Table
Help your kids decide what their items’ price points will be and what supplies they’ll need. Indulge in a quick lesson on profit, adding up the cost of the supplies they’ll need and what they’ll be required to make on each sale to come out in the black.
Providing your kids with a calculator, and a cash box, stocked with small bills and coins, will help them make change.
Online, Craigslist is still the most widely used vehicle for yard sale listings. You may also consider checking out www.yardsalesearch.com or see if you can find a local Facebook group that advertises yard sales.
Newspaper classified ads will generally charge a fee. If you think you’ll recoup your fee in multiple, this may be worthwhile. Consider how widely read your local newspaper is, and if it’s worth the effort and expense.
Get the kids involved in making signs to post on public bulletin boards. Keep your messaging simple and clear: “YARD SALE, Date, Address, Time.”
Prepare signs to post at each corner leading to your address. These should be extremely simple, as in, “YARD SALE —>”
Another great benefit of a yard sale is fun interaction with your neighbors. Be sure to show your neighbors the greatest courtesy by telling them well in advance of your sale what you’re planning to do. Traffic will increase on your street during your yard sale. Invite them to come by and check out what you’ve got. Offering coffee, kids’ drinks, and snacks can add to the fun!
When people begin to arrive at your yard sale, welcome them with a friendly smile and a hello. Teach your children the importance of being well-mannered and kind as they manage their table. As customers shop, offer them a bag or two to make holding items easy. Encourage them to check out what the kids are offering. Thank everyone for coming.
Be sure to have a variety of bills and coins on hand to easily make change. Invariably someone will try to buy a $0.75 item with a $50 bill. Be prepared. Review the act of making change with your children in advance of the sale.
When it’s time to close up shop, the last thing you want to do is bring the unsold items back into your home. Research in advance a local charity that will accept the types of items you are selling. Goodwill accepts a broad range of items and has donation centers across the U.S.
Celebrate Your Success
You’ve got some extra cash. Your home has more space. Your kids embarked on their first entrepreneurial adventure. Review the experience and celebrate your yard sale success together—preferably over ice cream!