Moving into a new place has tons of great advantages. But if you’re downsizing and moving out of a large house into an apartment or smaller home, chances are there won’t be enough space to store everything you’ve accumulated over the years, even with the ample storage areas available in many apartment buildings. So what’s a person supposed to do? Two words: Moving Sale. Clear out the clutter so you can lighten the load on moving day and make a couple bucks in the process, too.
Whether it takes place in the garage or on the lawn, here are some useful tips to hold a great moving sale.
Plan ahead. Don’t start rummaging through your closets and crawl spaces the day before you plan to have the sale – as soon as you know you’re going to move, keep your eye out for items you think you’ll want to get rid of as you go along your daily routine and put these items in a separate box. Before you know it, you’ll have several boxes full of stuff ready to go weeks before your sale even takes place. Don’t be too picky when deciding what to put up for sale, either – people will buy just about anything. After all, as they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. However, for larger items such pianos, aquariums and pieces of furniture, you might try selling online through eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji or other similar auction/classifieds sites. People will be more likely to buy these larger items over the web than they will be at your moving sale, where most people are only interested (and capable) of picking up small trinkets and articles of clothing.
Get the word out. If you want people to come to your sale, they have to know about it first. Your ads don’t need to be anything fancy – it can be as simple as attaching signs to telephone poles at high-traffic intersections around your community. Just make sure that your signs are big and bright enough to be seen, and construct the sign to prepare for the elements – use cardboard to prevent the sign from blowing away and write in crayon, as opposed to marker, to ensure the lettering doesn’t become illegible if it happens to rain. Remember to drive by your signs to make sure they are visible – because if you can’t read them, nobody else will be able to either. So what sort of information will you want to include in your ad? It’s important to be specific and concise (as you won’t have room on the ad to include a lot of information and still have it be legible). Be sure to mention specific clothing sizes and brand names (especially for children’s clothes) and list any big-ticket crowd pleasers (like antiques and other rare items you might have). When you set a date for your sale, make sure you start at the advertised time. If you’re not ready when you say you will be, chances are people won’t come back later in the day to look at your stuff.
Keep the prices simple. Make things simple on your customers – use 25-cent increments for all of your items. It’s easier to calculate and easier to provide change for. And since this is a sale, you need to have some bargains – for example, for an item that costs 50 cents, consider offering a “5 for $2” sale. You could also have a “by the bag” deal for bulk items like books, where your customers pay three or four bucks and are allowed to fill the bag with as much stuff as they can fit into it. Offering bargains like these is a great, guaranteed way to move your items quickly and easily. To save space and time, and make it easier on your customers, you might also want to separate all of your items by price and have different tables for the 50-cent items, the one-dollar items, the two-dollar items, etc. Most importantly, don’t charge too much – anything higher than 1/3 of the retail price will scare people off. If you still have a bunch of things left towards the end of your sale, bite the bullet and keep yourself open to all offers. Remember, everything you sell is something you don’t want anymore anyway, so getting even a little bit of money in return is a bonus. If something doesn’t sell, that means you have to take it back inside the house (and eventually, to your new apartment).
Keep the customer happy. A nice atmosphere created by some pleasant background music and a positive attitude on your part can do wonders for your sales. And if it’s a hot summer day, consider selling cans of pop or bottled water. Your customers will appreciate it and you’ll make a couple extra bucks as well. Be sure to clean up the things you plan on selling – people are more likely to buy items that at least look shiny and new as opposed to something that looks like it’s been buried in the basement for the past decade. As well, it doesn’t hurt to display things nicely. Hang clothes on a rack instead of carelessly dumping it in a box – not only will this make it easier for customers to browse your selection, but the perceived value of the clothes will be higher.
Before you start planning the sale, be sure to check your local by-laws, as some communities require a permit to hold a yard sale.
To ensure the event goes smoothly, there a few things that you should always keep handy, including a trash can, bags (for people buying multiple items), a calculator (we’re not all math professors), and electrical outlets / extension cords / batteries to test things out, as people will be more likely to buy that old clock or VCR if they know that it actually works.
In the end, the most important part of a moving sale is to have fun and meet a bunch of new and interesting people. Don’t get too worried about how the sale goes, either. If there are still a few items left at the end of the day that that you just weren’t able to sell, you can always donate some things to charities and thrift stores (and you might even be able to get a tax receipt as a result of the donation). Remember, the main goal is to clear out the clutter so you actually have space to live in your new apartment. Anything on top of that is gravy.
If you don't live in a good yard sale area you can rent a table at a local flea market. Call a week or two ahead.
Consider putting an ad about your sale on Craigslist or putting an ad in your local newspaper. You'd be shocked how many older, non-computer users still check the Friday classifieds for yard sale information.
Instead of keeping the stuff that didn't sell call a local charity. Sometimes the tax break will make you even more money than the yard sale.
Invite some friends over and offer them a special deal on items you didn't sell. This is also great if you have any last minute things to get rid of and no time for a yard sale.
Consider contacting an auction house or company that specializes in estate sales. They work on commission but if you are selling a lot of items or your items are inappropriate for a yard sale (anything too expensive) you could attract a better shopper base.
Sometimes it is easier to sell everything and buy new. This may be especially smart if you are moving long distance and into something smaller. Keep sentimental items and sell everything else.
If you have furniture, antiques or items that have been in your family you should first open the sale up to family, children, etc. Explain you are moving and it won't fit and give them the first opportunity to keep in within the family.
Remember to post signs throughout your neighborhood as well as on busy street corners. Post signs with arrows, use balloons or provide a landmark if your house is even slightly off the beaten path.
Visit your local office supply store. They sell super thick permanent markers that are great for signs.
Promote your sale as a "Moving" sale and not just a "Yard" or "Garage" sale. A "Moving Sale" usually implies that larger items and furniture of quality will be sold and that you aren't just selling junk.
Give yourself time to hold two sales if possible. In case of rain or bad weather you can still move the items.
Get plenty of help. If you know people who are good at sales you can enlist them to help. Offer to let them bring items to sell too and promote it as a "Multi-Family Moving Sale". Split the cost of signs and advertising.
Be on the lookout for shoplifters. These are very common at yard and moving sales. Have plenty of help on hand. They often use one person to distract you while the other steals items.
If your sale is outside leave your doors locked at all times. Many burglaries occur while people are tied up with the yard sale.
Don't store items outside before the sale. Many people like to scout out sales in the pre-dawn hours to determine if it is worth coming back for. Many people also plunder through your items and take things.
Keep your cash in a bag and keep it on you at all times. If you use a cash box assign someone to sit next to it all day. Attach a bell to it if you can.
Many thieves rely on the fact you're too busy to watch everyone or keep track of every sale. Get plenty of bags (save up old grocery store bags or get extras from friends). Just like retail stores, put every purchased item in a bag. If you see someone walking off with items and they are bagless you can stop them.
Don't hesitate to call someone out if they haven't paid for something. Chances are they'll pay up or put it down.
Beware of "charitable" companies that offer to pick up your unsold items. Verify the charity exists and that you aren't handing your items over to someone who will profit off of Ebay.