24 West Holly Avenue
Oaklyn, NJ 08107
856-869-8468; 856-470-4510 (cell)
MY 25 CENT YARD SALE EXPERIENCE
by Denise Currie
I like stuff — all kinds of stuff. In fact I like stuff so much that my basement and attic is full of clothes, household goods, books, and toys, much of which my family of five can’t use anymore. It’s not so bad now, but left unchecked I could be on a Hoarders episode one day.
That’s why I love having yard sales. It’s hard for me to just throw things away when they’re still perfectly useful. Why put these items in landfills when someone could still use them? It’s recycling at its best. I want my items to have new homes. And, yes, while getting money for used items is nice and can help me get more stuff my family may actually need now, it’s the purging of materials that’s most important to me. I want to claim some of my household space back.
It’s for that main reason that I decided last year that enough was enough. I wanted to have a yard sale to get rid of as much stuff as I could while helping other people find the treasures they need for less. While my house is off a busy road and gets lots of traffic, I wanted to make sure my yard sale was one that people would make sure was on their yard sale list.
With a background in marketing I decided I needed a gimmick for our yard sale. I wanted to pull in more people to hopefully take away my family’s stuff. Smart marketing has been used successfully at my yard sales before. For instance, I live down the street from a theater that offers children’s shows on Saturday mornings. Since many families park on my street to walk to the theater, I made sure to plan our yard sale on one of these show days. This guaranteed us more traffic. My family and I were trying to sell tons of toys so I made sure these were prominently displayed up front for the children to see and drool over. Our signs for the yard sale also catered to children and families with sayings such as “Kids stop here — Free toys with purchase” and “Attention Moms, Dads, Grandparents: Best toy selection around.”
Another marketing trick that has been employed at my yard sale is using my children as entertainers to draw people in. With a sign in his hand, and a dance in his step, my son, Chris, dressed up in the Robot shoes we were trying to sell and danced on our street to get attention for our yard sale. Not to be outdone, his younger brother, Ben, would dress up and dance around, too, calling to passing cars to stop and shop.
But I wanted a bigger idea this time to promote our yard sale. At first I thought I would just put out all our stuff on our lawn and give it away for free. I dismissed this idea, not because it wouldn’t make our family any money, but I wasn’t sure a lot of people would be willing to attend thinking that our items must be junk if we were so willing to just give it away. I didn’t want to diminish the value of our items by not giving them a price. I’d get a few people to stop out of curiosity, but I wanted a huge turnout. That’s when I started to brainstorm about where people like to shop to get good deals. Places with fixed prices like Five Below and dollar stores entered my mind. That’s when I got the idea to have a 25 cent yard sale.
For only a quarter, someone could buy something big or small and get a great deal. Because the price was so inexpensive I was betting people would buy a larger quantity of items. I was so right! We advertised the yard sale for free on Craigslist, and listed some of the many items we had to offer to reassure buyers that while our prices were cheap, our items weren’t junk. After placing numerous signs throughout town and on our street, we had an amazing turnout. Our past yard sales have never been so busy. We had a constant stream of people from all walks of life. Shoppers were constantly stunned that great items, some even new, were so cheaply priced. I had to reassure many people that we weren’t tricking them somehow on prices. Everything really was 25 cents each.
Despite the low cost for items, I still had some people who had the bargain mentality that they needed to haggle on the price. It seemed funny at first, but when I reminded myself that we weren’t really doing this to make tons of money and that my goal was to get rid of things, I was fine with it. In fact I ended up altering some prices for even better deals by offering some items as buy one get one for 25 cents and in some extreme instances offering full bags worth of stuff for 25 cents. I had realized along the way that another goal I had for this yard sale was to help people. Even lower prices really assisted those who were financially challenged.
I felt good that I heard so many wonderful stories on how our items were going to be used to help those in need. One grandmother confided in me that she was buying clothes and toys for her grandchildren because her daughter was a single mother and couldn’t afford many items. She was so pleased that on her fixed income she was able to help her family.
Another woman bought tons of our children’s books. She explained to me that she was a teacher in a poorer school district and her students couldn’t afford many books of their own.
She always wanted to help them, but buying a large quantity of books even at a regular yard sale was cost prohibitive for her. I made her a 25 cent deal she couldn’t resist. She was beaming as she explained how happy her students would be with their “new” books.
A large immigrant family from the area, who spoke broken English, assured me that they were grateful for the deals they were getting for their family which included a mixture of new and used clothes, coats, shoes, toys, and baby items.
I heard so many amazing stories that day from people who were so grateful to get a deal. Little did they know that I was just as grateful that they were taking our items away and in return giving me these wonderful stories to share.
Just as uplifting as the stories were was the expressions on the faces of people who didn’t verbally share their stories. I saw the happiness in children’s faces when they proudly bought a toy or two with money from their piggybank. The faces of those people who I knew didn’t have much money, but yet still managed to walk away with new or new-to-them treasures for themselves and their families.
My family made $93.50 at our 25 cent yard sale. That means we sold over 374 items! While the day may not have been as financially successful as a regular yard sale, it was tremendously successful to me. We cleared out a lot of items from our home, provided others with some much needed things, and heard many incredible stories. We have since made our 25 cent yard sale an annual tradition. We have people who ask us when our next one will be. I can’t wait either. I still have many more boxes to clear out of my attic.