This past weekend my family and I hosted one of our most successful yard sale events ever, a huge multi-family endeavor. We all met our sales goals, we cleared our homes of clutter, and we had a lot of fun. A lot of things came together to make our event work, so I’d like to teach you how to have your own successful multi-family yard sale.
Yard Sale Prep:
1-2 Months Before
•There are a lot of benefits of hosting a multi-family yard sale. First, you have extra hands on deck to set-up, interact with customers, and clean-up at the end of the day. Also, you have a more impressive stock of products to display, which will bring more people in off the street. Third- you have a party going on! I usually really hate putting on yard sales but these last two times that I’ve gone the multi-family route have been much more enjoyable. Last but certainly not least- you have better exposure when each family involved is also sharing the news of your sale to their social media circles and co-workers and families and friends.
If you want to enlist the help of your friends and help them make some cash too- create a private Facebook event and invite them to help you to plan and host your own multi-family yard sale! I titled my private Facebook event “Wanna have a multi-family yard sale?”, set the date, explained what I wanted to do in the event description, and then invited the people who I thought might want to get involved. Almost everyone I asked did in fact want to get in on the action. Nobody wants to have a yard sale by themselves, and pretty much everyone needs to have one at any given time. 😉
•Merchandise prep is a dirty, ugly, mean job, but someone has to do it. Items must be identified, cleaned, organized, and preferably- priced. We had a lot of stuff- like a LOT of stuff- so I got started on this about six weeks before the sale.
1 Week Before
•Get together bags, hangers, rope, scissors, extension cord, tape, rags, tarps, and a money box or fanny-pack for handling money. Get some change together- we started with $80: $20 in ones, $20 in fives, $40 in tens.
•Make sure you touch bases with the other families who have agreed to participate- encourage them to bring all their good stuff, and to let you know if they have anything special or popular to sell that you can talk about in your advertisements.
•Make arrangements to have someone come take your yard sale leftovers off your hands for you, unless you want to have another yard sale in the future. In previous years we have asked a local charity to come pick up items at the end of the day- but this time we donated our remaining items to SVDG for their upcoming rummage sale.
•Purchase a garage sale permit if necessary. In our town we must purchase a permit for $15 that allows us to either have one three-day sale, or Sat/Sun sales for two consecutive weekends.
1 Day Before
•Make very readable signs on very bright posterboard. We made eight and put them up in the neighborhood early the morning of our sale. I put my teens to this job and they enjoyed it.
•Create a new public Facebook event for your sale. Write a bit about what you have to sell, add as many photos as you can, and invite all of your friends. Share the event on your newsfeed, and also in any local Facebook groups you are a part of. Encourage anybody who might be helping you with your yard sale to share the event also.
•Create a local Craigslist ad for your sale. Add lots of details and lots of pictures.
•Make sure that you have plenty of sunscreen, snacks, ice and water bottles available to your family and the others who will be helping with your event.
•Ask your participating families to bring their own tables if they have them. The more tables, the better to put all your merchandise on!
The Day Of
•REMEMBER: put on sunblock, and if you are very pale like me- do it more than once during the day. Also: wear a sun hat and make sure to drink plenty of water. It’s so easy to get busy and forget to take care of yourself, and yard sales are hard work. Many of our participants were absolutely fried after our sale- and it could have been so easily prevented!
•Put as many items on tables as possible, and make sure all of your items are easy to see and reach. Items piled up in boxes don’t sell nearly as well as items displayed.
•Make sure you hang up your nicest clothing, and lay out the rest of your clothes in a way that allows people to see the items and sort through them easily. We used ladders, rope and PVC pipe to create make-shift garment displays for our dress clothes. We laid out the rest on tables and tarps organized by item type: blouses, t-shirts, denim, sweaters, etc.
If you can, take the time and organize and label your clothes by size and type. I know we could have sold a lot more clothing if I had been able to properly organize it all, but this time we really just had too much clothing to get to everything.
•Take turns interacting with customers in pairs. One person minding the customers should have a fanny pack to handle money and paper/pen to keep track of sales. The rest of the participants can either keep things tidy, offer and enjoy refreshments, run errands, or simply watch the sale and socialize. We had a lot of fun shooting the breeze under a big shade tree watching the sale together.
•Post updated photos of your items for sale in your public Facebook event while you are killing down time- we ended up selling a number of items when our Facebook friends saw something they liked.
•Don’t Forget: At the end of the day be sure to retrieve and properly dispose of your yard sale signs.
The Day After
•Be sure to thank everyone who helped you put on your multi-family yard sale! You may not want to ever do such a thing again at this point, but you will need to and these people are your Ride or Die folk. <3
•Rest up, you deserve it.
A Few More Tips:
•If I regret one thing about our sale this past weekend it’s that we didn’t price many of our items. We just had SO MUCH stuff to deal with that we ran out of time to get through it all. Because our items were largely not priced, it meant for a lot more customer interaction than we’d like. It probably lost us plenty of sales too. Many people do not really want to ask you how much you want for something, or to barter. Next time I won’t slack on pricing my items.
•Be prepared for the garage sale pros who show up as you’re setting up and fast-talk you into making better deals than you should while you are not quite as caffeinated as you need to be and harried to get things done in time. I got mobbed just as I was beginning to put our sale items out and felt a bit of regret later when I realized that one lady made off with well over $100 in easy-to-sell merch for just $40. My garage sale vet friends tell me to REFUSE SERVICE before your stated start time. Let people look while you set up if you want, but let them know politely that you will not be able to complete their purchases until you’re ready, or your stated opening time. Learn from my mistakes. 😛
•If the neighborhood drug addict wants to buy $2 of merchandise with a $100 bill, tell them no, you can’t make change. (I didn’t fall for this one, lol!)
Current Project: Operation Stop Eating Everything In The House, And In Fact The World. But really- I’m kinda just floating around today, still recovering from this weekend’s yard sale!
Today’s Soundtrack: Roller Derby Road Trip on Spotify
I’m Reading: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren