Yard Sale 101 from an Online Sellers Perspective; Maximize your Profits

This past weekend was my first Yard Sale as a home owner. I can remember as a kid my family having a yard sale. My job back then was to take the stuff out and move it back in after it was over.  During the yard sale, I was busy flipping baseball cards with kids from the neighborhood. Not really paying attention to what was going on.This go round, things are different.

First, this yard sale was not just our home. This was a community yard sale. Each home that participated had their home marked on a map. Yard sellers went to the visitor center to pick up the map and off they went. The yard sale time was from 8 am to 2 pm.

At CM3 Solutions, we not only help businesses with web design and custom application development. We also help business owners sell online. We even have our own in house online store www.ShoppersHideout.com. Would you rather hire a company who has their own online store backed with the experience or someone who can set up the store and design it and never made a cent online. Taking our experience with selling online, the thought of doing a yard sale was very interesting. So this is what we did.

First, with any online store you need data to see what your customers are doing. Since I can't set up Google Analytics for a yard sale, I needed some data to work with. So I tracked several key things. Cars that drove by our house, groups that stopped at our house and time as well as the most important part, money made.

Here are some interested points I learned about our Yard sale.

141 Cars drove by

90 cars stopped at our house

This tells me is that it is very important to have your items visible by the street. This means no items in containers. If they can't see it from the street, they can't buy it.

Even though the yard sale started at 8am. Some veteran neighborhood yard sellers said to take your items out at 6:30am. People would already be out looking for deals. They were right. We started bring out items out at 6:45am and had our first customer at 7:36am. But even at 6:45am we saw cars drive by our house, looking at what we had.

The highest traffic time was 9am. 25 cars stopped by our house that hour.

Our Hourly break down 7am 2, 8am 16, 9am 25, 10am 18, 11am 13, 12pm 11 and 1pm 5 with the last costumer at 1:22pm. The amount of money spent per costumer at 9am was $3.28. However at 12pm that number was $7.27. This tells me that people with left over cash wanted to spend it before the yard sale time was over.

Thoughts about the customer (Yard Sale Buyer)

65% of the time the customer negotiated a lower price than what was listed. One instance we had a box of 6 frames selling at $2 a piece. The customer wanted the whole box for $10. Another instance we had a bag of 14 toy balls in a bag listed at $0.10 each. The customer want the whole bag for $1.00. There were other instances of this package buying. The point is to package items as much as possible. Even list it as such. Example: box of toy figures $0.50 each or whole box for $10.

If you have a rack of shirts put up a sign up that says "buy 3 and get one free". It that instance, they will probably not bargain you down because in their mind they are already getting a deal. Your mission is to move this stuff because you don't want. They know it, so make it easier for them to buy. The other 35% of people would probably negotiate but are uncomfortable with the idea. Since we know this now, make it easy for them to buy but still feel like they are getting a deal. 

70% of the people spent less than 5 minutes looking at our items. This was very interesting to me. This is the same as an internet user. Most people who surf the web are scanners not readers. People are less interested in digging through your items. If they see a deal they'll take it. If not, they are on to the next house. We made the miscalculation that people would be diggers. Items that were in large bins did not sell well at all. Items out in the open sold well. Tables are great but most of us don't have 8 tables laying around the house. Place a large piece of plywood on the ground and display all your childrens clothes for example.

One important thing you need to get over to have a good yard sale. No one cares how much you bought an item for. It can be painful to see the lamps you spent $50 a piece on go for $5. Your price range should be anywhere from $0.10 to $20. Most yard sales don't take credit cards. Ours could have but the wife didn't let me 🙂 That being said, most people come with a cash limit. They don't want to spend it all at your house. That would be no fun for them.

The point of this exercise is to maximize the amount of money you can make during this time period. This is from the perspective of someone who has sold items on Craigslist, EBay, runs their own online store and helps clients sell online. Just as we tweak web pages and online stores to maximize readers and items sold. You can do the same for your yard sale to maximize your profits.

What are some tips you have for yard sellers? Post them in the comments section.

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