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Spring Cleaning: Dos and Don'ts for a Successful Community Yard Sale

Posted by IKO Community Management on May 1, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Spring time means spring cleaning, and like most households, a time to clear out the old and make room for the new. IKO Community Management knows community yard sales are a great way to unload those unwanted items in a fun and profitable way for all. Successful yard sales depend on some early planning, organizing and advertising. Remember, one person’s junk is usually another person’s treasure. Making some extra cash is easy when you know the dos and don’ts of a community yard sale.

Do – plan a meeting for your community yard sale inviting all neighbors to discuss the event. Details and logistics will need to be worked out such as advertising, signage, times, area, etc. Smaller committees can be formed to handle these items and take the load off of one person.

Don’t – ask which date suits neighbors. Choose a date before the meeting that does not conflict with any other event that may be taking place in your neighborhood. Check with your HOA. Asking everyone what date works best will be a nightmare. Everyone leads busy lives and you will not be able to accommodate all. A one day only sale seems to generate the larger crowds.

Do – email and/or hand deliver a flyer to all neighbors with details decided on from the prior meeting. There will be many folks that might not have been able to attend the initial meeting. Make clear all the details of the event. Add contact numbers for questions neighbors might have on arrangements. List volunteer committees that may need help, such as putting up signs, or advertising on local bulletin boards and how they can sign up.

Do – give everyone plenty of notice to gather their items and have an RSVP for those that will be selling. This will have an impact on the space you will need. Collect phone numbers, names, and emails so that reminders or cancellations due to weather can be taken care of with ease. Note: Consider charging a small fee, $5.00 or so to help pay for the cost of advertising if needed.

Do – have a back-up rain date. Garages and basements will have boxes of treasures ready to sell and there will be much disappointment if all that planning is for nothing.

Don’t – place any flyers in mailboxes as this violates postal regulations. Instead, distribute the flyers by attaching them with rubber bands to door knobs or posting them in a community center (with permission). Flyers are a great way to announce and remind everyone of the yard sale especially those that do not use email regularly.

Do – organize your event to be held on a large flat area such as common grassy park in your community or an overflow large parking lot. Make sure this area has room for all those that will be selling. If needed, blocked off spacing can be done to allow everyone fair room to sell their stuff.

Don’t – choose an area near a busy road as it this could be hazardous for parking and patrons.

Do – obtain any necessary approvals from the property management or town.

Advertising your event.

Do – write up important information of your community yard sale before you post making sure you have items listed such as community, date, time, street address for GPS, approximate number of households selling (the larger the event, the more traffic it draws), rain date, etc.

Do – advertise your event using several different methods. Post your ads at least a week in advance.

  • Use online for free. Many sites allow you to post your community event such as local newspapers online, local online calendars, Craigslist, and any other local community based websites that have free classifieds.
  • Local newspapers. Sometimes newspapers will have a section for non-profits on their community calendar page where you can post announcements at no charge. Consider towns that boarder you community as well. For large sales, people will make the drive.
  • Paid announcements in local classifieds. If you go this route, make sure to post the ad at least the day before and the day of your event. This allows those yard sale junkies to plan their day ahead of time on which sales they will be attending.
  • Create well designed flyers and post them on community bulletin boards such as grocery stores, community centers, any local shop that allows flyers to be hung. Let co-workers know as well. Start posting flyers about two weeks in advance.
  • Social media. Word of mouth is a great way to spread the word to your friends, family, and others via Facebook for example.

Don’t – assume flyers can be hung before you ask. It is always best to ask permission to post the fliers at the library, grocery store, convenience store, gas station, post office and fast food restaurants.

Don’t – run costly ads unless everyone has pitched in prior. Asking for reimbursement later will be difficult. Make sure you have done your homework on paid advertising and know the cost of running those ads before your event. Splitting the cost will be much easier knowing this information up front.

Signage for the day of the event

Do – check with your local government and homeowner’s association to see if there are any restrictions on yard sale signs. Some cities and towns have strict ordinances that you will want to know in advance. Having the signs taken out by local authorities the day of your event will be devastating to your traffic for the day so know the rules!

Do – have a committee that will make design and make signs for your community yard sale. Know in advance how many signs you will need, what size to use, where they will be placed, and what information needs to be included. Having clear directions up front will make it easier when the signs need to go up!

Do – use some type of sturdy cardboard and make the signs legible. Remember, these signs will mostly be read by customers in a car that may be unfamiliar with your area. Consider using arrow signs as well. These are easy to follow right to your event.

Don’t – use flimsy construction paper or ball point pens to create your signs. These signs will not hold up and cannot be read from a distance.

Do – create larger signs that can be displayed at an entrance to your community a day or two ahead of time if allowed. Drive by advertising will entice those to come back the day of your event.

Don’t – post signs on street poles or utility poles. Staples and nails pose a safety hazard for workers who may need to climb a utility pole or fix a street sign. Depending on where you live, you may even be breaking the law by attaching these signs in such a way.

Do – make sure all of your signs are free standing and that your committee is well aware of rules and regulations when posting these signs. Posting can be done the night before or the morning of your event. Inexpensive stakes can be used. Make this expense part of the money collected from all yard sale homeowners at the beginning.

Do – a drive by once all signs are in. Make sure the signs can be seen and easily read.

Do – have someone assigned to TAKE DOWN the signs after your event. No one likes to see old, left over yard sale signs cluttering up the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Extra tips!

Do – make sure your neighbors who are participating in the yard sale are aware of things they can sell. Only person items can be resold. Yard sale items are not items that are sold for profit for a business.

Don’t – allow any firearms or illegal items such as pirated CDs.

Do – advise neighbors to mark items with pricing prior to the sale. Make sure everyone is set up and ready at the designated start time. It may be possible for sellers to set up the night before.

Do – know there will be “early birds”.

Do – advise sellers to have plenty of coin and small bills on hand. You won’t want to run out of change for customers. Also, remind everyone to have their money in a safe place. Many sellers will have and apron with pockets or a fanny pack.

Don’t – accept checks unless you are willing to take the risk of getting a bad check. A check that looks perfectly fine may be from a closed bank account. If you are familiar with the buyer, it is your choice.

Do – have plenty of plastic bags for customers. If you are selling breakable items, do have old newspaper or bubble wrap. These items make for happy shoppers.

Don’t – bring your pet. Even if your dog is the friendliest dog in the neighborhood, it is best to leave them at home. Some people are afraid of dogs or can be allergic. Dogs could be unaccustomed to all the excitement and with a sudden pounce from a small child, a dog could be startled and bite. This is a good idea for the safety of your pet as well as the safety of your shoppers.

A long day of yard selling can make for hungry, thirsty buyers. Have a booth set up with refreshments for sale like bottled water, lemonade, and homemade goodies, donuts, or fire up a grill and serve hot dogs. Have some of the kids in the neighborhood run the snack booth. This is a good way to learn the value of hard-earned money and teamwork. The profit can also be put towards expenses of advertising and signage.

Plan B:

While having a community yard sale in an open community park or parking area is a great idea, this may not be feasible in some communities. In this case, yard sales may be conducted in individual yards or garages. If choosing this path for your event there are a few things that will make your day run smoothly.

Do – mark homes that will be selling with balloons or some sort of bright sign to identify the participating households.

Do – make sure households are ready at the start time of your event.

Do – make sure a reminder goes out the day before to all participating homes.

Do – make sure to remind homeowners to give their grass a cut a few days before the event and that any ruts are filled in the ground, and there are no obstacles that a shopper might trip on. Remind neighbors of pet owners to scoop their poop before the sale. No one wants to step in something that will ruin their day as well as their shoes.

Do – hire a babysitter if you have small children at home. Having someone entertain the young ones is a big relief and allows for a much more fun day of selling your items.

Organizing a community yard sale in your neighborhood is a great way to promote camaraderie with your neighbors. It is a good way to make money out of items that you and your neighbors may not have any use for, but will be useful to others. Community yard sales make almost twice as much as an individual sale. Better yet, it can help everyone in the neighborhood get organized while earning some cash. IKO Community Management knows this could become an event that your neighborhood will look forward to each year. After the sale is over, do send out a note to all participants asking for feedback. This will be helpful in planning your community yard sale for years to come! Enjoy the fun!

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Topics: Homeowners