10 Tips for Managing a Moving Sale

A moving sale can help you pare down your belongings and make a little cash.
A moving sale can help you pare down your belongings and make a little cash.
©iStockphoto.com/Gene Chutka

The big move is only a few months away. You're looking into moving companies, your friend at the bookstore has begun collecting boxes for you, and you've started to assess the contents of your house. How could you have accumulated so much stuff? There's really only one thing to do -- you're going to have to have a garage sale to pare down your possessions. The more you think about it, the more you know it's a great idea -- a win, win, win, if you will. You'll cut down on the clutter, and you'll not only make money, but you'll also save money by not having to pay for transporting a bunch of unwanted, unnecessary things. Now you just have to figure out how to make your sale a success. The following 10 tips should help.

Invite a Few Friends to Help

Sometimes it's difficult to look at our own things with an objective eye. One way to solve this problem is to invite a few close friends to help you. They'll know you well enough to understand that there's no way you're going to part with your decorative tin collection. But they'll also know you well enough to realize all those fitness gadgets you have shoved under beds and tucked into closets will never replace your love of the gym. With your friends' help, you'll be able to sort through your stuff with an objective eye. The process will be a lot quicker, too.

Do Your Homework

It can be easy to look at a collection of stuff you no longer want and wonder who's going to buy it. But instead of treating your old stuff like a big pile of junk, look at it like undiscovered treasure. Take a little time to give everything a good cleaning. If you still have the original packaging for an item, put it all together. If you still have all your owner's manuals, tape them to the gear they came with. Do whatever you can do to make something look as appealing as it did when you purchased it. And, to be sure that you're bringing in top dollar for your treasures, take a look online to get an idea of how you should price everything.

Organize Your Sale in Department Store Style

When you go shopping, do you want to walk into a giant warehouse with a mass of unorganized items? Probably not. Think about it -- how would you find what you're looking for? Take a hint from the big department stores, and organize your stuff as they would. Group everything by room or category. If you have the space, do a little staging. Put the baker's rack by the big freezer, and set up a table filled with kitchen gadgets, cookbooks and countertop appliances nearby. Group all the exercise equipment together along with those roller blades and your old skis. And if you have time, sort books, CDs and DVDs by genre. It will make it easier for a shopper to leave with several items instead of just one.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

If you have a lot of things to sell, consider taking out an ad in the local newspaper. You can also post your yard sale on Craigslist. In your advertisement, be sure to state the location, date and hours. Most yard sales are conducted on Saturdays. But in some areas, sales are common on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, too. Briefly list what you have for sale so that shoppers will know what to expect. If you have mostly clothes and exercise equipment, say so and list what sizes the clothes are. Also, be honest. Perhaps you're selling a kitchen table your parents passed on to you. Just because it's 30 years old, that doesn't make it an "heirloom antique." And don't forget local advertising. Be sure to post flyers and signs around your neighborhood.

Put a Price Tag on Everything

Garage sales can get busy, fast. Even if you have two or three friends on hand to help you hawk your wares, you won't have time to stop and come up with a price each time someone wants to purchase something. Whether or not you want to allow customers to negotiate the price is up to you, but tagging everything before the sale will save you the hassle of trying to come up with a price on the spot. As you're pricing things, keep your goal in mind. You're moving. While you do want to make money, your bigger goal is to get rid of all this extra stuff. Rather than putting a price on each individual wine glass, price them together; if you have a dozen, sell all 12 for $4 or offer six for $2. Pick one price for paperbacks and one price for hardbound books and make signs to indicate pricing.

Delineate Your Yard Sale Space

If your house is on the market, you might want to see if you can host your yard sale in the neighbor's yard. Not only will this keep your house available for prime weekend appointments, it will also keep you from having to conduct (or deny) impromptu showings of your house to yard-sale shoppers. No matter whether you're having the sale out of your garage or the neighbor's, you want to delineate your sale space. Put away any items that are not for sale. You don't want your son's new snowboard to end up going with your old skis by mistake. Estate sales, which are often held on prime yard sale days, generally let shoppers into a home. Keep all doors locked and rope off or block entryways into your home to prevent confusion.

Let the Kids Help

If you have kids and they want to help, let them. You can encourage children to get rid of old toys and belongings by letting them keep the money from the sale of their possessions or letting them know that the proceeds from the sale are going toward something for the entire family, like a flat panel TV for the new house. If they want to help on the day of the sale, let them set up a small concession stand. They can make lemonade and sugar cookies or brownies to either sell or give away to shoppers. To avoid any accidents, avoid ingredients that can provoke extreme allergic reactions such as peanuts. And make sure that there's an adult or an older, teenaged sibling on hand to sit with the younger kids while they work.

Be Prepared to Make Change

On the day before the sale, go to the bank to get plenty of smaller bills and some coins so that you'll be prepared to make change. Figure out how many people will actually be helping you sell items. That will help you decide how much money you'll need for change making. Stop by the local hardware store and pick up a few free aprons. Set up a bank of change for each of your assistants accompanied by an apron, some extra price tags, a black marker, some masking tape and a small calculator. You'll also want to have some shopping bags, a few empty boxes, and some newspapers and maybe even some twine on hand for packing up purchases.

Be Ready for Early Birds

The ads and all the signs and flyers you've posted clearly state that the sale starts at 8:00 a.m. You've even included a line that reads, "No early birds." It doesn't matter. As long as there are yard sales, there will be early birds. So you need to be prepared to sell from the moment the first yard sale item is placed on your lawn, even if it is only 6:30 a.m. To avoid any errors or lost sales, make sure everything is priced the night before. Ask your friends to arrive early -- you can greet them with fresh-baked scones, coffee and hot cocoa. And if you're still setting up, don't be shy -- ask the early birds what they're looking for. If they're there, you might as well try to sell them something.

Donate What You Don't Sell

Of course, you're hoping that everything sells and that at the end of the day, you'll be left with only a few empty clothing racks and card tables. While you might luck out and have this happen, it's good to be prepared just in case it doesn't. Make a game plan for what to do with what doesn't sell. Maybe your friend Ginger wants your old skis. And maybe Fred wants that elliptical trainer. If the friends who have been helping you want some things, let them have it. If they don't, you can still give away what's left by donating it. Before the sale, go online to find drop-off locations for nonprofits that are accepting donations of the types of items you're selling. As soon as the sale's over, pack up everything that didn't go and take it to a drop-off center. Better yet, some organizations will even come by to pick up items.


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