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KASS JOHNS • Creative Consultant

 

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The New Up-To-Date (2011)
Kass' Yard Sale Tips
document to download

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This document does NOT have the Neighborhood Sale Documents listed below the pink lines on this page.
It is primarily designed for single yard sale sellers with great signmaking tips as well as some neighborhood sale tips.

Topics in this document include:
Which Days?
Good Signage (including:)
     Free and/or Cheap Sign Materials
     Where do I put the signs?
General Tips
Money Tips
Cheap, Easy Tables
How much should I charge for my stuff?
Neighborhood/Community/Block Sales (including:)
     Money Tips
     Last Minute Info Distribution
     Get Some Help!

For Twenty Years I ran the largest annual Neighborhood Yard Sale in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (90+ homes plus two churches and a nursing home, in a 300 home neighborhood. I drew 3,000-5,000 shoppers every year in those 2 days!) Believe me, I KNOW what I'm talking about here!
Read more about it. www.kassj.com/yardsale

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Want to run your own neighborhood yard sale?

Here are my forms and sheets to help you create a successful neighborhood sale for your area.

I share these freely for non-commercial, private use. They are all copyright 2007/2011 Kass Johns.

They may NOT be used for online, television, or print articles, books or other commercial use without the express written permission of the author. Copyright violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If you write an article or book and use my material, I will find out!

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These are PDF files of the exact forms, letters, tips and other documents I use to create the greatest neighborhood yard sale in Colorado! (Names and addresses changed to protect privacy.) Many of these sheets, especially the flyers are printed on our trademark pink paper. Everyone in our neighborhood knows that bright pink is our color for signs, flyers, instructions, lists and more. (ie: Follow the pink signs) When a homeowner needs to signup for the sale, they can easily spot the pink forms in their pile of mail and other papers.

Contents of each file and in order of when I use it in the timeline.

tipsSIGNS.pdf
This may help you NOW. My tips sheet with the tips about how to create good signs. This is the sheet I created for folks who want help doing their own individual sale. The Kass' Yard Sale Tips (2011) document at top of this page has this info PLUS MORE DETAILS.

Neighborhood Sale Documents in order of when I use them...

1. announceletter.pdf
This is the initial handout I tuck under the doormat of each of our 300 homes. This goes out 2 months before the sale dates. It gives homeowners enough time to plan vacations. schedules, accumulation of goods (and invite friends and family to town). Pay teenagers in your neighborhood to hand these out. Or place some each evening on your stroll through the neighborhood. Do NOT put them in/on a mailbox.

2. sellertipsprices.pdf
This is the tips sheet I handout as needed. I have some old tip articles I attach to this for the sellers. I hand this out as requested to save costs.

3. signupsheets.pdf
These are now a part of each of the announceletters (#1) so folks can mail me their signup if desired. I also keep a plastic shoebox loaded with spares on a small table near my front door (with pens and envelopes). I have a mail slot in my front door so signups can be slipped into my front door without security worries.

I keep a clear letter size envelope for signup sheets and cash that come in through out the process. As they come in, I drop the money and sheets inside. I tally the list as I go in a spreadsheet. The phone numbers I request are for my own use only and are NEVER shared with anyone.

4. 4upflyers.pdf
I print these up (and cut them into quarters) right after #1 is distributed so folks can start passing them out and posting them. This is our "word of mouth" advertising campaign.

These same also get printed the last week or two before sale weekend (with sponsored coupons printed on the back) for handout just during sale days to all adult attendees.

5. classifiedads.pdf
This is the TWO classified ads I put in the newspaper. The first is because we are famous... "Only One more week until..." It gets the shoppers geared up and excited. I don't send the final ad until the Monday of the sale week. If I send it in the week before, they have accidently printed it too soon and messed up the shoppers causing anger and frustration to those who travel a long distance to our sale!!! I had to make up a quickie sign with the correct dates to put at all entrances to our neighborhood to help alleviate wasted time for potential shoppers. Don't trust the newspaper to print it when you say to print it -- protect yourself.

I always run classifieds on Wednesday thru Saturday for a Fri/Sat sale. Most real yard sale attendees prep ahead and need the info by no later than Thursday to shop on Friday. They are out shopping too early on Friday to sit and read the Friday paper! These shoppers want to map their route a day ahead!

5. finalsalelist.pdf
Here is the final list of sellers, with last minute seller info and list of donation outlets. They can select their preferred thrift store. I only give these to the sellers who have signed up so I don't have to print more copies than there are on the list (I also add in a few spares for late signups). And late signups will happen. I always get 3-10 additional signups DURING the two sale days!

If you notice someone sold but didn't pay into "the expenses kitty," here is what you say during or after the sale, "Hi, I hope you did well at the sale! 'We' all sure worked hard on this. I am glad it's all over. By the way, I don't believe I got your $X participation fee." THEN, If they want to argue, point out that it's not fair to everyone who DID pay. Give them the benefit of the doubt before you go on the attack.

More tips from Kass:

Create a facebook Fan Page to advertise your event if you cannot create your own web page for it.

Put your event on Craigslist too! Use the new social media to spread the word! Tweet it!

Which Days?

Pick your sale days by what is popular in your area. On our end of town, Friday/Saturday are the common days of sales -- no Sunday. In one suburb of Colorado Springs it's Sat/Sun. Watch your classified Garage Sale ads over several weeks to see what is common in your area at the time of year you want to do this. Different regions of the country do different days. FYI: Estate Sales in CSpgs usually go Thurs-Sat or Fri-Sun. Each year, I see more and more Thursday yard sales as sellers try to get the jump on the other sales.

Money Tips

Professional yard sale dealers shop with hundred dollar bills on the first day. I always (privately) advise those that ask... a $200 cash bank is standard and will get them going. But be aware that many professional dealers try to make you break their twenties before Noon on Friday. Be prepared for that.

I don't price below 25 cents so I don't have to mess with making change. Anything less than that is good Free Box "come-on" stuff. Free box stuff makes a good guilt trip (they buy from you cause they feel guilty taking so much free stuff). I use my plastic wading pool as a free box to get shoppers to stop and root around in it.

Never admit money made to media folks. Explain off-the-record that homeowners are prone to robbery should someone realize that cash is on property before a Monday trip to the bank. Also admitting amount made to media is like asking the city to pay sellers a visit for their cut of taxes. Each year, media ask how much I would estimate is made. I always politely explain these two items and they are very sympathetic and agree it is best to not air such info. Also, since the money does not go into a "pool" it depends on the individual seller--there is no way to guess.

I always make sure that sellers and others know that I am not making money on this. This is not a business for me, this is a volunteer effort and the money paid into the "expense kitty" is just to pay the expenses. If you are taking money for this as a business like "You pay me X amount and I will run this sale for you" THAT'S a business service and so subject to laws and permits. I only take money for a collection to cover expenses.

In a small neighborhood, you may be able to get by with $2 or $3 per house to participate. Be prepared to take a loss the first couple of years. I lost money ($50-$200) on this sale for the first 6 years I managed it. Up until 2005, I just broke even. When your expenses go up, then your "per house fee" needs to go up. This is why I use recycled election signs and other freebie goods whenever I find them and can repurpose. I scout stuff at yard sales (banners, posterboard, markers, flags, etc) all year 'round to use for our sales. (I also have a 3-car garage so can store these goods from year to year.)

Last Minute Info Distribution

To get/keep the neighborhood momentum up before the sale, I post a sign in my front yard. My front yard happens to be located at the "gateway' to the neighborhood. You may want to do same at one major entrance into your neighborhood. Ask that neighbor if you can use their property for these info distribution signs.

The first sign has the sale dates. This keeps regulars from having to stop by my house for the most common info (the dates). This is also good for regular shoppers who want the same info. They can just drive by and get the info. I get a lot of, "My relatives are coming out this summer and want to know when to plan to come to be able to attend the big sale."

The other sign(s) I put up is the "SIGN UP NOW! Sale is: (dates) Sign up at (my address)" that reminds last minute signups to get on the ball. I also keep a big sign on my front porch for those who drive by but can't remember my house number... "Sign Up Here!" I put the "Sign Up Now" signs at all major entrances into the neighborhood so neighbors see them when returning from work or the grocery store. They usually go up with 2 weeks to ten days to go.

I also keep a lidded plastic shoebox (waterproof) on my front porch with extra signup forms, ballpoint pens and empty envelopes for sellers to just stop by and sign up when they drive by. They can then drop their sealed envelopes, with money and form inside, into my door mailbox slot for a secure payment while I am at work. This system works well and has for years!

Be fair warned... Most signups will happen in the LAST few days just before the event itself. I receive very few signups ahead of time. Most folks want to wait until last minute depending on: weather, family activities, prior engagements, better offers (other events/activities), how much energy they have to pull a sale together, how much they have to sell, whim, or are just plain procrastinators! This is just human nature. You can't change it, just expect it and don't panic when you have five days to go before sale day and you have very little in the way of signups. I always sweat it every year, but there is not a thing I can do about it. It just happens this way!

In my book, nobody is signed up unless their fee is paid. No exceptions. If I had the fee of everyone who told me they were selling and then ended up NOT selling for one reason or another... (Again, this just happens -- expect it.)

Get Some Help!

Enlist neighborhood youth groups (scouts, church, etc) to rent their services to the sellers. They can rent their labor for helping to pull the stuff up out of the celler or down from the attic. They can help put up signs. They can help set up tents & tables throughout the neighborhood on sale day or the night before.

Cheap Easy Tables

Unused interior doors over two trash cans or two patio end tables make for decent temporary tables. i keep several hollow core interior doors slid along the wall in my own garage year round just for this purpose. Every large plastic storage tub, trash can, patio end table I acquire, I get in pairs to make table "legs." The giant storage tubs with lids make great sale storage, then when unpacked for the sale, flip them over for table braces.

IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER AGAIN, the ONE thing I would change...

Have your event the first weekend of the month (rather than last weekend). One phrase: PAY DAY! Especially near a military base, have it first weekend after the first of the month. Bottom line. (There is long reason why ours is when it is, but it cannot be changed now with this legacy of umpteen years.)

 

COPYRIGHT

I release this info for you to use for your own neighborhood yard sale, but not for reprint in any commercial publication, book or article without the express written permission of the author (Kass Johns).

If you are located in Colorado Springs, let me know when your sale is so I can attend! Let me know how your sale went and if these materials helped you! i want EVERYONE to create a great neighborhood sale so that I can attend them myself!


© Copyright 2007 v.4.2.07 Kass Johns
http://www.kassj.com/yardsale/
719-635-1306 (vc)
Please forward your comments or questions to the event manager, Kass Johns... yardsales at kassj dot com.

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