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5 Things I Learned from My Yard Sale

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A month ago, Cheap Thrills offered tips on how to find great yard sales. After participating in my first official sale, I came away with a few new ideas from the seller’s side of the process.

My friends and I decided on a “multi-family” sale in the hopes of attracting more buyers than a single sale might. The organizer posted Craigslist ads and signs around the neighborhood, and everyone set up around 9 a.m. By the end of the day, we were disappointed to see that a good amount of our gear was still unsold. As we dragged our stuff back inside, we nursed our sunburns and thought through what we could have done better.

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If you’re thinking about a sale of your own, consider the following lessons:

Think about the weather. Our sale took place on one of Colorado’s epically sunny days. We applied sunscreen almost every hour and huddled in the shade of one small tree, which was unfortunately a bit far from the actual goods we were hawking.  Not only would we have benefited from a tall shade tent; we also could have used a few tarps for the stray afternoon thundershower.

The “when” is important… For many of us sellers, 8:30 a.m.—our suggested start time—is not an appropriate weekend hour to be awake, let alone haul out one’s wares and organize them attractively on tables. But we missed a lot of potentially good sales as we rushed tardily to arrange books and stick prices on items. As one of us belatedly pointed out, the serious yard-salers start around 7 a.m.

…And so is the “where.” We held our sale in Platt Park, which houses families and young professionals who are, frankly, a bit out of our league. We were selling couches we had gotten for free through friends, and George Foreman grills abounded. The Platt crowd enjoyed our books—a liberal arts degree does yield a healthy philosophy selection—but left our scratched furniture behind.

Bloody Marys are a good idea… We set up a small Bloody Mary bar for the sellers to enjoy, which was a nice reprieve after we finally set up and tagged everything. Friends brought snacks—veggies, dip, and guacamole—that kept us happily munching throughout the day.

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… But free-flowing beer is not. We didn’t stop with the Bloody Marys, continuing to pop open cold ones throughout the day. While I’m not certain the PBR cans deterred customers, we did at times look like we were hosting a party instead of a yard sale.

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