How To Organize a Successful Neighborhood Yard Sale

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Many people offer great advice to having your own successful yard sale, but I have the key to making it a tremendous success; not just for you but your neighbors too!

I have been organizing neighborhood sales for almost ten years now and we always have a great turnout. So much so that even new residents of our neighborhood stop by my home and ask about when the next neighborhood yard sale will be.

So now I'll share my methods with you!

To begin organizing your neighborhood yard sale, you'll need to determine the date on which to hold your sale. (I recommend one day only sales as they seem to generate the larger crowds.)

I recommend setting the date approximately two (2) months in advance to allow for plenty of planning and organizing time.

To do this, you can try one of the following:

  1. Have a neighborly gathering by inviting your neighbors over. Simply slip a typed slip of paper into each of their doors reading "We are organizing a neighborhood yard sale and we need your input. We'll be holding a meeting on [date] at the home of [insert organizer's name] at [time]. We hope to see you there!"

  2. Conduct a telephone survey if you have available to you a listing of neighbors (or most, at the very least) telephone numbers. With each call, simply introduce yourself, the purpose for your call, and, if they are interested in participating, ask what date they would prefer.

  3. Choose your own date and avoid the hassle of consulting with others. In the past three (3) years, this is the method I've chosen and have never had a complaint. This method is the simplest, but should only be used when you've got a general idea about the attitude of those who live around you.

Once you have an idea on everyone's preferred date, make the date official.

While I recommend that areas such as subdivisions allow everyone to conduct their yard sale at the home (customers and salers alike love this idea!), you may choose to discuss during this time with your neighbors holding the sale in one central location.

TIP: Yard sales, as a neighborhood or individually, will see higher sales if held on the first weekend of any month, with the exception of July.

Once you have the official date set, then you need to let everyone in the neighborhood know. The best way to do this is to produce a type written flyer (Microsoft Publishing, PrintMaster and other similar programs are great for this type project) announcing the date(s) and hours. In addition, you should request that each person choosing to participate contributes money for advertising. The amount you request should be determined by advertising cost in your area and the number of places you intend to advertise. For example, I always request that my neighbors contribute $5 each to the cost advertising; which is done in our local paper, four surrounding counties newspapers, two radio stations, and Craiglist.

Be sure your flyer is neat, organized, and attention-getting. Also include in this newsletter an invitation to neighbors to set up lemonade stands (keeps the kiddies in the neighborhood busy!), cotton candy machines or similar ideas. When you have a neighborhood sale, it takes a while to shop and I found that shoppers are willing to pay good prices for coffee, cold drinks or lemonade. Other neighbors of mine have had success in offering pizza by the slice, grilled dogs and burgers, and roasted corn.

TIP: Ask that neighbors return their name , phone number, and number of family members participating to you, along with the advertising contribution, within a certain time frame if they wish to participate. This will give you a total idea of how many homes and families will be involved for use in advertising.

The next thing you will need to do is form a committee willing to be in charge of creating signs to post announcing your yard sale event and, when the time arrives, to actual go out and strategically place the signs in high traffic areas leading to your neighborhood.

Now that the date is set and you have a sign committee, you just need to know how many will be participating and the number of families will be participating with them.

For example, at my home I always host myself, of course, plus my mother, mother-in-law, a couple of aunts and my grandmother-in-law. I count this as one home, 6 families. You need a tally like this from each home participating.

Once you have gathered the information on participates, you can begin creating your ad. An example of my ad from last year reads: 57 Homes, 314 Families, ONE DAY ONLY....." The remainder of the ad offers the date and times, directions and my phone number for additional information. You may also wish to include a Rain Date in case of inclement weather.

TIP: Advertise in not only your local newspaper but in newspapers for cities and towns that border your own. For large sales, people will make the drive!

Be sure to run your advertisements in the two editions prior to the sale and the edition published on the date of or closest to the date of your sale. This allows for yard salers to plan in advance.

As the date approaches, check to make sure the signs are complete and ready for posting.

Send out one additional flyer to the neighbors reminding them of the upcoming sale and inviting any of those wishing to join last minute to do so (be sure them to remind them of the "contribution" fee, even if they're late in joining!).

The evening before the sale should be spent putting up signs and organizing your own yard sale items.

I also found it a lot of fun to visit others who were having a sale and using the opportunity to get to know my neighbors better. A neighborhood yard sale is a great conversation starter!

A successful neighborhood yard sale is a great way to get rid of your junk, make almost twice as much than holding your own individual sale, and a great way to get to know the neighbors. It'll be something that you and your neighbors alike will look forward to each year!

One last tip....don't be spooked if you see strange cars sitting in the shadows even before the sun comes up. Neighborhood yard sales, especially very large ones, tend to draw out the very early birds!

More Tips for Having a Yard Sale:

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