Scorecard for the employee yard sale

Posted by on May 23, 2012 in For buyers, For sellers, Great Buys, Tips

The York Dispatch's employee yard sale had all sorts of interesting things for sale, from copper pots to giant inflatable ducks to Simpsons dominos.

Last weekend  seven York Dispatch staffers came back to work on their day off and set up tables to host the company’s first ever employee yard sale.

The day was hit and miss for the group. Some were thrilled with the results, others weren’t. Here’s the rundown:

  • Teresa – One of the contributors to this very blog, Teresa seemed a little disappointed with her sales. She’s hosted sales in recent years at her home where she’s earned more than $1,000 over two days. She was selling antiques and a few other items and managed to get about $150 in sales.
  • Dick – Sports writer Dick VanO’Linda and his wife had steady sales through the day and by the end had condensed their table several times as things moved fairly well.
  • John – Another contributor to this blog set up with his wife to sell. They had tubs and tubs of baby clothes, but didn’t see much traffic on any of them. Overall, the wife said “It was kind of a waste of time.” John was thrilled however when someone bought the two ceiling fans he had added to the sale. He had just had them removed and replaced the day before!
  • Mel – The York Weekend editor got most of her profit of $75 by selling DVDs. She spent the day reading a book while collecting her cash. It was the most money she’s ever earned for reading a book, she said. We were kind of surprised no one bought her Pac-Man stuffed toys though. They were cute as a button.
  • Donna – Our Night City Editor was only selling books, mostly mystery novels. At the end of the day, she said she had gotten rid of about 75 percent of the books she had brought.
  • Greg -- The Night Police reporter and his girlfriend brought some DVDs, game systems and a lot of home decorating items. For them, the electronics did well and they did good business on their wall art as well.
  • Kristen -- The Food page editor brought out some furniture, craft supplies, clothes, decorating items, books and DVDs. She reported a $150 profit, and was thrilled to offload some of her stuff.

One of the most amusing things that happened was that employees were buying from one another. DVDs, games and even clothes changed hands between the sellers.  That isn’t how it’s supposed to happen, people!

Rather than devote tables and tables to baby clothes, one seller separated all the baby clothes into their respective sizes and dropped them in labeled tubs. It saved a lot of set up time. ... And can you spot the Yard Sale Secrets junior team member in the picture?


Since this yard sale was our first ever, we’ve taken some time to figure out what went right and wrong with it. First up is the analysis of how things went smoothly.

  • The Weather — It was sunny and warm on Saturday, and it never got too hot, which made it perfect for hanging out at the yard sale all day.
  • Using the Lawn (Part 1) — Early on in the planning stages of the employee yard sale, we decided to have people set up in the lawn rather than the parking lot. This gave visitors a place to park. It also helped keep the sellers from getting too hot since we were set up under the trees.
  • Prepared — Most of us were well-prepared for the sale. All our items were priced. Everyone had plenty of change. Most of us got there in time to set up before shoppers started to arrive.
  • Tables – Although you can always use more tables, everyone had at least a few that they had from their own property or borrowed from a friend or neighbor. That’s one nice thing about having a sale that’s not associated with a community yard sale — you can borrow more tables from the neighbors!
  • Pricing – Except one incident over the price of some costume jewelry, there wasn’t much fuss over our prices. In fact, sales were crazy-good on DVDs marked at $1. Almost all of the group’s DVDs were gone by the end of the day.  (As for the costume jewelry incident, we had someone mad at us for wanting $1 for an old brooch. She was so mad that she threw the dollar at us when she decided to buy it!)

This table had the best pricing labels of them all. The seller simply typed out a group price tag for all her items and was done with it.


Even before the yard sale was done, the Yard Sale Secrets team members in attendance were brainstorming about what went wrong.

  • Signs – The yard sale was held in downtown York City and we had to apply for a yard sale permit to even have the sale. As we filled out the forms to do so, we were sternly warned by a York City official that we were not to put any yard sale signs on city-owned poles or trees. That limited our ability to do any sort of signage directing people to our event. Next time, we’ll have to ask permission from some property owners on Route 30, Philadelphia Street and Market Street for permission to put up signs on their property.
  • Food – The same York City official also warned us not to sell any food whatsoever else we be subject to a food inspection. That was a bit of pain, but maybe we can convince someone with a food mobile to park in our lot for the afternoon.
  • Using the Lawn (Part 2) – We set up our sales in the back of our lawn. Silly us, we should have put it out front where all the traffic is. We would have certainly got more customers if we made ourselves more noticeable.
  • Timing – Our biggest mistake was that we chose the wrong weekend to have a sale. This only became apparent in the days leading up to the event though. Why was it the wrong weekend? Because there were a bazillion community sales that weekend too. Since community yard sales take forever to go through, most casual yardsalers won’t go anywhere else. Next time, we’ll either have our sale in June or July when the community sales die down.
  • Promotions – While we were just testing the waters this time, we agreed that we could really amp-up the visitors by trying to tie some promotions to the yard sale. We’re thinking of bounce houses, newsroom tours, blood donation drives and asking community organizations to set up informational tables.

We were hoping for a little more traffic at our yard sale than we got. The day was far from a disaster, but it can be much better with a little more planning.



  1. I really liked that yard sale! I got some great stuff!!

  2. I was hoping to again see this certain blonde, blue-eyed editor but she was nowhere to be found.

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