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Plan Yard Sales For Best Results
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians hold yard sales every week, but those who plan, advertise and follow some general tips profit most.
"Mid-spring to mid-fall is the best time to have a yard sale because the weather is ideal for being outside. Plan yard sales for weekends, especially those at the first of the month, because more people plan to shop then and most people get their paychecks then," said Jan Lukens, consumer management consultant with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Everlyn Johnson, apparel and textile program leader with MSU's Extension Service, suggested having the yard sale at a place comfortable for customers, such as in the garage, under the carport or under shady trees.
"If you are having the yard sale with other people, assign specific jobs for each person to do and color-code prices or initial price tags so the profit will go to the correct person," she said.
Allow plenty of time to price items beforehand, and let everyone know when to sell items at the lowest price. Not many items over $5 are sold. Most items are priced at $1 or $2.
"Current clothing styles or fabrics; clothing without stains, tears or rips; and those that have original shape, color and brand name labels still attached typically can be priced better," Johnson said.
Use masking tape for labeling prices or write the price on a piece of paper and attach it with a safety pin. Do not use straight pins because someone could get hurt.
Record each cash sale and give receipts that contain the price of each item, cash given, total purchases and whose items were sold. Have a calculator handy for adding prices, and keep a money belt or box nearby for giving out change.
"Decide on sale policies, such as no out-of-town checks or cash only, and post signs that inform customer of these policies," Johnson said.
Lukens said to advertise yard sales by word of mouth, placing ads in the newspaper and radio, and making signs to hang in stores, laundry mats, churches and other areas where a lot of people will see them. Give information about where and when the yard sale will be, directions to the yard sale, items that will be sold and a rain date in case the sale gets rained out.
"The more merchandise you have, the longer the sale should last, and the more you have for sale, the more people it will attract," Lukens said.
She suggested holding yard sales with family, neighbors, church groups or civic groups to have a larger event.
"Lead items, such as furniture and computers, attract more people to the sale to buy the big items, but people pick up the little things, too," Lukens said.
Have 5-cent items for children to play with so they will not touch breakable items, and save newspapers to wrap fragile purchases. Set up sections that are alike, such as a clothes section or a kitchen section, and group items together to make more money.
"You are more likely to sell small items, such as kitchen utensils, if they are grouped and sold together. Instead of selling a spoon for a nickel, sell a set of spoons, knives and forks for a few dollars," Lukens said.
Johnson said to display items on steady surfaces and hang clothes on a clothes line made with rope or cord or hang them on a rented or borrowed clothing rack. Before the sale, save bags for customers to use and hangers to display clothes.
"Section off a corner in the garage for a dressing area because it could increase sales if someone could make certain a clothing item fits. Be sure to have a full length mirror," Johnson said. "Have several tape measures available for customers to decide if clothing fits."
Other general information and tips to keep in mind include: start early in the morning, preferably between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.; the first few hours are the busiest; be prepared for people coming early and late; yard sales lasting more than three to four days may require a permit; make notes if planning to have another one to learn from mistakes; yard sales are seldom taxable (only if profits are made); take checks to the bank quickly as possible; and take down signs as soon as the sale is over.