When it comes to decluttering, it took me most of my life—and several false starts—to get where I am. The biggest kick in the butt was the passing of my brother, a lifelong collector of pretty much anything. When he died, my siblings and I travelled to Manitoba to clear out his apartment in a matter of days. Overwhelmed by the amount of stuff he had, we needed to make quick decisions about what to keep and what to toss. We dropped off about 40 bags of clothing to Value Village and filled two recycling dumpers with decades of old magazines. Much of the rest went into storage for months until we could sort through it, trying to decide whether something was sentimentally valuable, monetarily valuable, useful to someone somewhere, or merely crap. Sometimes the lines blurred.
When we die, someone has to sort through and make sense of what’s left of our life: every single thing that we gathered and stored over the years. As the parent of an only child, I didn’t want to saddle my daughter with that burden.
I’d attempted decluttering before. Failed attempts involved a never-ending cycle of moving piles from one place to another. So while I didn’t know how to go about decluttering my life this recent time, I knew how not to go about it.
The true measure of success for a yard sale is to get rid of your clutter – not necessarily to make the most money. The money you make should be considered a bonus. With this in mind, here are 10 tips to help make your yard sale the best it can be.
1. Be realistic and honest with yourself about what to sell. “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” only goes so far. Don’t bother putting out junk, garbage or musty, dirty items with pieces missing and expect people to purchase. Make sure everything is clean, in good repair & has all its parts. Include manuals if you have them. If there are parts missing, note that with the price & mark it lower than other items.
2. Create a FREE BOX for things that you want to get rid of but aren’t worth a price tag. People love a free box, you’ll be surprised at what goes. This is a good way of getting rid of more things as the day goes on (or on the second day). Gradually put more things from the sale into the Free Box & watch your clutter walk away!
3. Signs! With signs, you want to keep it short & sweet using big letters to make it easier to read from a moving vehicle “Yard Sale Sat & Sun 9am – 4pm 123 Main St.”This is not a good item to let your children help with. You want people to be able to read the signs – colouring & drawing on the signs distracts from the information.Do use arrows to point the way, but do not use pencil on cardboard – it cannot be read. Take your signs down after the sale.You can buy an ad in local newspapers, add this to the cost of holding the yard sale. Yard sale listings can also be posted for free on Craigslist, other sites and of course blogs!
4. Present everything well. Hanging clothes sell better than clothes in a pile, items sell better on tables than just tarps on the ground. Books sell better with the spines showing the title.Most people want to “hunt” not “work” at finding a treasure, so stay away from deep boxes for just about anything. Pop can flats work well to move stuff out to the sale & show your items without hiding it.If you’re selling large pieces of furniture you do not or cannot have out with everything else create an info sheet with dimensions, photos, price & have a small piece displayed with everything else like a cushion or drawer. People generally respond better if they can see & touch the merchandise.
5. Keep items in like groups. Kitchen items, tools, toys, books, etc. This makes it easier for people to find & therefore buy your stuff.
6. Make it easy for people to buy. Have an extension cord available to anyone wishing to test a small appliance or power tools. And have lots of plastic bags. This is a wonderful opportunity to rid yourself of all those grocery bags. Also remember newspaper to wrap breakables in once sold.
7. Price everything. If possible, price by category. This makes it easy to remember the prices and you don’t have to mark every item individually. You can also price for quantity to sell more items & reduce bargaining. Example: Paperback Books 50¢ each or 3 for $1Make the sale as easy as possible – you’ll get rid of more stuff & have more fun.
8. Keep lots of small change on hand. Most people carry $20s & $50s from the bank machine so have $10s, $5s and a roll each of toonies, loonies & quarters.
9. Have fun at your sale! Make it an extended family day or invite friends to sell as well. Play inviting music & be happy – nobody wants to purchase from a grump.
10. Mind security. Lock the doors & windows to your house & car. You will be occupied & distracted, a perfect opportunity for a thief. If you don’t want people coming through your back yard to the front (or vice versa), try to block the entrance with your car or lock the gate & post a sign to direct people around.
Good luck with your sale & goodbye to your excess stuff! Reclaim Your House from Clutter!