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Yard sale advice

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By Deanna Godman

Yard sales are a time-honored tradition, but it can be difficult to know how to get started when having your own. The best way may be to ask others who have had their own yard sales.

Mary Ealey, who has had three yard sales at her current home in Spencer County, says that she averages between $200 and $300 over her two day sales and finds that she sells more on Fridays.

Natalie Bednark, another experienced yard seller, said she has better luck on Saturdays.

Ealey finds that children’s items, such as toys and baby items, sell better for her.

Bednark has good luck with large items such as furniture and yard equipment.

“People also like little stuff to go through. It makes them feel like they have found a treasure,” said Bednark.

Valerie Tong, a veteran of yard sales, has had X-BOX and video game equipment, purses, shoes, toys and baby clothes sell well.

“The last time I had a yard sale, I had our pack and play sitting outside (which was not for sale) and I had numerous people stop and ask how much I wanted for it,” said Tong.

Angie Beard, a second generation yard seller,  says that home decor items, sports equipment and movies sell well for her, in addition to children’s equipment.

Tong grew up having yard sales with her mother, and has hosted two at her own home with a friend. She has developed ways to make her yard sales more inviting, like having a cooler filled with free bottled water especially on a hot day.

“It’s also nice to have some music playing, something neutral that most people like,” said Tong.

Bednark said that “drinks are an excellent seller on a hot day, especially if kids are selling them. People like to buy snacks from kids.”

Ealey agrees. Her son sets up a lemonade stand or sells cookies.

“If they don’t end up buying anything from me, they usually still buy something from him,” said Ealey.

Beard’s children have set up refreshment stands with soft drinks, water and cookies. She likes to have them do the refreshment stand to entertain the customers’ children.

In order to have a successful yard sale, getting the word out is most important and there are many techniques to draw a crowd.

Beard advertises her two weekend sale in the local paper and then places signs at the end of her road. She also strategically places signs at nearby intersections.

Tong places a large sign at the main intersection, and then several neon signs marking the way to her house.

Ealey and Bednark each post ads for their sales on Craigslist. Bednark also puts signs up at Country Mart and Elk Creek Grocery two days before her yard sale.

“Simple signs work best. Too many words take too much time to read as you drive by,” said Bednark.

Pricing items for a yard sale can be difficult, especially when remembering how much the item originally cost.

“I start out selling items for a third of what they were new,” said Bedmark. “Remember, you can always go down but you can’t go up once a price is marked.”

Ealey said that she takes into account the age and wear on an item when pricing, but that people do try to talk her down from the price she’s set.

“You have to know your bottom dollar,” said Ealey.

Tong sets her prices, but said everything is negotiable.  “It depends on how bad you want to make money versus how much you want to get rid of your stuff.”

Ealey’s experience is that sometimes people are not comfortable negotiatating, so she will approach customers and ask “What are you willing to pay?”

Beard said that her prices are already low, so she does not get a lot of haggling from customers. She only hosts yard sales as a way to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. All the proceeds go toward Alyssa’s Angels – her daughter’s JDRF walk-a-thon team.

Beard said much of what she sells has been donated by friends and neighbors. Sometimes she asks for leftovers from other yard sales. Beard finds that this helps her when pricing her items for sale.

“I don’t have the emotional attachment to the items so that’s what helps me lower my prices,” she said.

Beard has found holding yard sales to be a wonderful way to earn money for her cause, and averages about $800 over a two weekend sale.

“It’s pretty amazing that people are willing to give their things to earn money for your child. I truly appreciate everyone who comes out to help us with the cause,” said Bednark.

She recommended placing larger items closer to the street so that it makes the sale look fuller.

“If there is something you don’t want to drag back in the house, price it cheap so it will go quicker,” Bednark said.

If you have an idea you would like to share for a future At Home article, please contact Deanna at ideas@funmama.net. For a personal perspective of yard sales, see Deanna’s blog at http://blog.funmama.net.