Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yard Sale Tips from a Non-Professional

Updated April 2012:

With three yard sales under our belt, we feel like we have learned quite a few things about adoption fundraiser yard sales. There are many blogs out there about yard sales, and trust me, I read them all. There are many routes you can take when doing an adoption fundraiser yard sale, but here is a list of things that worked for us. Read about our first AL Yard Sale here, our NC Yard sale here and our second AL Yard Sale here.

1. Advertise! We made a facebook event for all yard sales, and that got the word out to our friends about it, and they passed along info to their friends/neighbors, etc. The word-of-mouth deal brought in a LOT of donations, yet our main shoppers found us on Craigslist. For Craigslist, we listed our events as "Yard Sale FOR ADOPTION" and people made a point to come by. For our first and third yard sales, we put an ad in the newspaper. In Jacksonville AL, the cost of running a small blurb about our yard sale was only $21 for three days! Not a bad investment considering most of our customers came from the newspaper ad. We posted a lot of road signs, that all said a similar thing about adoption, or a little unartistic outline of Africa. There are some intense yard sale people, and if they see your sign around another yard sale, they will definitely stop by. Some people are on a mission!

2. That point brings me to start early. Lots of work organizing the days/night before make for an easy setup on Saturday morning. You should get outside and start setting up way earlier than you think. I'm talking 4:30-5:00 am. Because it doesn't matter how many places you have posted "Starts at 7 am" - the dedicated yard sale crazies will be there at 6 AM! It happened to us every time.

3. Price your items ahead of time. It sure would be easier if you could say, "hey its for our baby, so just make a donation!" but that can make people uncomfortable. They may not want to make an offer, for fear of asking too little or too much. So go ahead, take the time and price things. Have a generic price for most things, like $1 for clothes, $.50 books, etc. This will allow any friends that come to help you to ALL know the same price to tell people. And you should just go ahead and know that even though people will see, by your signs, that all the money is going toward adoption, that people will still talk you down on prices. I am not joking- one person told me that she drove to our yard sale just because she had seen our advertisement on Craigslist about adoption, and yet when her items rang up $1.75 she asked me if I would take $1.50. Just expect that, and know that $1.50 is better than no money at all. Don't be overly prideful about that awesome vase that you spent $10 on at TJMAXX only getting sold for a quarter... yard sale people can be stingy and viscious. Don't take it personal!

4. Talk to people about your adoption. These people came on your property, so like it or not, you get to share the gospel with them! Win/win! We had little cards that I cut out (business card size) with our adoption blog on them. At both yard sales, all salespeople were instructed to give a card out to every customer, telling them that ALL the proceeds were benefitting our adoption. This will bring some great questions about Ethiopia, infertility issues (some awkward conversations were had... more on that later), Christ's adoption of believers, and how God has provided for us so far. For our AL yard sale, we had a big poster with facts about Ethiopia, our timeline, and blog. We left that in AL after our first yard sale and I didn't have time to recreate it for our NC yard sale, but it was a great conversation starter in AL!

5. Put your friends and family to work. Lucky for us, we have some amazing family/friends. Even people that didn't know us that well were willing to pitch in and donate items or spend whole days working for the yard sale. People get excited about adoption, and so let them be a part of it! Our neighbor's pastor donated a couch at 8 am the morning of our 2nd yard sale- and we made some great money off of it. The pastor blessed us financially, and they were able to take part in bringing our baby home. Win/win again! Don't say no to donations, even if the timing is crazy or you feel like there is no more space in your house/garage. You can make it fit!!!

6. Cash Flow. For our first two yard sales, we had a checkout booth. This made it easy for people to check out, and we had saved plastic grocery store bags to help people bag up their items (and they may be more willing to buy more things if they aren't trying to juggle stuff). We had a big jar that said "Donations for McGee Adoption" and "Thanks for Helping Bring Baby McGee Home!" on it. Some people would just drop money in that, and it helped people see that all the profits were for our adoption. Each 'salesperson' also carried a few dollars, just to make it easy in case the checkout line was backed up or if someone didn't want to go over there. Again, everybody had our blog cards to give out. We didn't leave a bunch of money outside. We rarely kept $20 bills outside, and once it seemed like there was a decent money pile we would take it inside, just to be safe.

Those are just a few tips that I can think of about hosting yard sale to fund raise. There are many other great blogs out there about yard sale tips. Here are a few more:

http://groceryshrink.com/2010/06/a-few-garage-sale-signs.html

http://www.thenester.com/2010/06/how-to-yard-sale.html

I have heard of people doing other great things, such as painting faces, lemonade stand/bake sales, masseuse for $1/minute... going on during the yard sale, and those are excellent ideas to offer during your sale. We didn't really have the time to bake before hand, but that is also a great idea.

Hope this helps others considering doing adoption yard sales. Our three sales raised around $5,000 together. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If you have done an adoption yard sale/ or any other successful yard sale, please link to it in the "Comments" section and I will post the link here for others to use as a reference.

Updated to add: Check with your town officials to see if you need a yard sale permit! That was necessary for us in our third yard sale, the cost was under $5.

12 comments:

  1. We have done a garage sale almost every year for the past 5-6 years...but this fall we will do our first one to raise funds for our adoption. Can't wait! I LOVE getting rid of stuff! And I am praying we raise lots of money in the process!

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  2. GREAT tips! We'll definitely do as much of this as we can!! I LOVE the story about the lady offering you $1.50 after saying she came because it was an adoption auction! SO funny! Yard Salers ARE hard core!! Haha!

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  3. Thank you for the tips! Hopefully we will get to do our own soon. $4000 is amazing for 2 yard sales! Congratulations!

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  4. Hope your yard sales are just as successful, or more!! I think organization is so important, but having people cover it in prayer is KEY! Good luck with planning!

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  5. Well...WISHING this would have been here before we did ours! But oh well...there are things I would do differently next time but it still went well.

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  6. Thanks for the tips. We are having our first yard sale in a couple of weeks, and I've never done one before so this is extremely helpful!

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  7. good luck on the sale, Britney!

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  8. We are having a yard sale soon so I totally appreciate these tips! I hope ours is as successful as yours!

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  9. Wow....excellent tips! I can't wait to put them to good use for our own adoption fundraising this spring.

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  10. I'm so excited to do our own yard sale to fundraiser! We too are praying about the possibility of adopting from Ethiopia. May the Lord be with and guide you guys every step of the way, giving you the patience, peace and endurance you need.

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  11. Thank you for posting this, great tips that we will definately be using...I love how you incorporated How God adopted us as believers...

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  12. We have our first one in a week..thank you for posting..

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