Friday, November 1, 2013

Tips for a Successful Yard Sale Fundraiser

Adoptions can be expensive, in order to help with some of the costs we hosted a yard sale. We didn't have a lot of time because we wanted to have our sale before it got too cold, so we learned quickly what we needed to do to hold a successful sale.  Here are some of the key lessons we learned along the way.

1.  Don't be afraid to ask for help!  After cleaning out our own house, we asked for donations to our sale from friends and family.  It's amazing how quickly and willing everyone was to unload clutter from their homes and donate it to our sale!

2.  Be willing to pick-up the donations yourself, clean and sort them.  Nearly everyone who donated said to me, "do you really want this?" or "I don't know if that's worth anything." We didn't care. We took everything in, gave it a dusting if it needed it and sorted it with like items.  To stay on top of it, do this as items come in!

3.  Price everything!!  It made it easy on our volunteers and the shoppers to have everything priced and ready to go.  To keep it simple, we priced items with one price and made large sale signs.  For example, all kids clothes $1, all adult clothes $2.  Plus, we priced to sell!  It's still a yard sale even if you're fundraising.

4.  Get organized.  You'll sell more, faster if you have an organized sale.  The goal is to raise money first, but also to unload everything out of your house!  We matched 4 or 5 similar children's books in a gallon sized baggie and marked it a dollar.  That was better than selling kids books for a quarter each.  Every baggie sold and we didn't have random books left over!  Put craft items, movies and puzzles together and sell in lots.

Organize all clothing by size.  We had so much kids clothes that we taped signs with sizes to the front of tables (Boys 6-9 Months) and piled clothes on top.  We also used plastic bins to organize everything by size.  Same with adult clothing.  At the end of the last day, we started selling all clothes for $0.50 each.  You can sort of see in this photo how clothing was organized.  We placed everything on tables prior to the sale so we could just move the entire table to the driveway when the sale started.

Have markers, labels and price tags handy during your sale.  You'll want to mark things down as your sale goes along and make deals with shoppers.   

Have lots of bags (grocery size, etc.) for people to put clothes and items in.  We were filling bags left and right, plus boxes and trash bags! 

5.  Promote, promote, promote!  We promoted our sale every way we could think of.  I placed several ads on Craigslist in different categories.  One promoting kids clothing and toys, another promoting sporting goods and another promoting home d├ęcor items.  We also put ads on Web sites like

We purchased print and online ads for our local and city papers.  This cost about $25, but most people learned about the sale from the community paper.  If you only do one, chose your community press. 

Strategically place clear, easy to read signs around.  My husband works in marketing and so he knew a couple of graphic designers who were willing to create a sign for our sale.  It was hard to miss!

I realize not everyone may be able to find those kinds of free services, but ask around.  You may have a friend who freelances and is happy to design a sign for you.  There may be a printer who will give you a 20% discount because he likes your cause.  It never hurts to ask. 

My husband and I both have a background in public relations, so a lot of this came easily for us.  One of the best things we did, however, was find a reporter with our local paper and tell her about our story.  She loved the angle of a local couple having a yard sale to raise money for adoption.  It was during the town wide yard sale weekend too, so that made it timely and relevant.  The article in the paper really inspired a lot of people to come to our sale.  Find ways to get your story out there, whether it's through church or community.  Friends, family and strangers will want to support you.  

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