What were your greatest yard sale buys of 2014?

If you're ever in need of dinnerware, buy from a yard sale. You're sure to note these are mostly mismatched, we did that on purpose -- we were buying them for pictures to be used by The York Dispatch's Food Editor! Anyway, you'll always find great deals on dinnerware at yard sales. Most of these plates were 25 cents each.

If you’re ever in need of dinnerware, buy from a yard sale. You’re sure to note these are mostly mismatched, we did that on purpose — we were buying them for pictures to be used by The York Dispatch’s Food Editor! Anyway, you’ll always find great deals on dinnerware at yard sales. Most of these plates were 25 cents each.

Well, the yard sale season is pretty much over for 2014 — at least up here in the Northeast , where the Yard Sale Secrets team is based.

It’s been a low-key year for us for sure. We didn’t get out as much as we normally do due to a hectic schedule with the kids.

Still, we did find some great things along the way — you’ve seen them all in our posts through out the year. But what we want to know is what are your favorite buys for the year? ¬†Send us a message, leave a comment or do what this yard sale fan did — she made a video.

Check it out: http://youtu.be/NcsOnE3rvic

Keep an eye out for posts from us throughout the winter. We’ll be here, thinking about those glorious Saturday mornings when deals abound.

And when we do, we’ll be writing about the tips, tricks and hints that can help you.

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Neon Hitch teaches us about yard sales

British singer Neon Hitch has some colorful ideas on how to attract attention for your  yard sale.

British singer Neon Hitch has some colorful ideas on how to attract attention for your yard sale.

It’s not too often that we come across a song about yard sales, but there we were in the gym and Neon Hitch’s song popped up on the video screen.

This song isn’t entirely about yard sales — more about getting rid of stuff you don’t want and letting go of the past — but there’s still enough in it to warrant our attention.


If you’ve never heard of Neon Hitch, she’s a British songwriter and performer who signed with Warner Bros and is just starting to get mainstream attention.

Just like that Sammy Kershaw video, we have a few mostly positive critiques of Neon’s yard sale effort:

  • We like her effort to bring in shoppers. A bull horn! Great idea.
  • At 1:05, we notice she still has items in boxes. No one wants to look through peoples packed-full boxes.
  • We have to give her even more points for her sign spinner. If you know a sign spinner, you want that person in front of your yard sale.
  • But putting all your stuff on the ground? Bad form. The old folks won’t want to bend over, and the kids will trample your merchandise.
  • She also makes sure her customers know her return policy. That’s something everyone needs to do.
  • Why is she having a yard sale? She has a clear purpose for it. That’s always smart, since you won’t be disappointed in the end.
  • She also knows to put her large items out where people can see them. Heck, even free items make for good curb appeal.
  • And with a great rummage sale effort behind her, she ends it with a big no-no. We know you wouldn’t do that though.
  • British singer Neon Hitch offers some  tips for garage sale hosts in her song "Yard Sale."

    British singer Neon Hitch offers some tips for garage sale hosts in her song “Yard Sale.”

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5 tips for yard sales held in the fall

Planning a yard sale in the fall can be tricky, thanks to the weather. Still there's an upside since you can often sell items that are harder to unload in the spring and summer. (Photo by kstateLibrarian via flickr.com)

Planning a yard sale in the fall can be tricky, thanks to the weather. Still there’s an upside since you can often sell items that are harder to unload in the spring and summer. (Photo by kstateLibrarian via flickr.com)

Even here in southern Pennsylvania, the decline of summer is already evident in late August. The air is a little crisper. The greens are past their peak and kids are back to school.

Those events usually herald the demise of the yard sale season. Sure, there are still some all the way through October around here, but there are definitely far fewer.

That doesn’t mean that those yard sales shouldn’t be any less grandiose. In fact, you can really capitalize on the season as a key selling point.

  1. HOLIDAY DECOR – In some of our past articles, we told you to not bother trying to sell Christmas or Halloween decorations. That was advice for people planning a yard sale in the spring or summer. A September yard sale, however, is the perfect time to unload your Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. You can even mark the prices a little higher than you would earlier in the year. This is the time when people are in the mood for buying decorations.
  2. EVENT PLANNING – The autumn is a time when a lot of schools, churches and community centers plan events and games on Saturdays. Why not host your yard sale on the same day as one of those, especially if its right down the street? Then, with the proper signage, you can get some of their craft show, football game and luncheon traffic at your yard sale.
  3. WEATHER – It’s the natural state of fall — one day you can have a toasty warm day and the next is blustery, wet and cold.¬† Hosting a yard sale in the chill of fall isn’t fun for you or your customers. Make sure to check your forecast a week ahead of time and keep checking it, too. If the weather’s looking rotten, skip that weekend. On the other hand, if your yard sale ends up on one of those spectacular fall days, make the most of it. Post ads online the day of the sale, add signage and let people know they have a great reason to get out of the house. You’ll be surprised just how many people stop by and browse for a chance to be outside.
  4. CLOTHING & SPORTS GEAR – Just like our advice on holiday decor, fall yard sales are the time to sell clothing best suited for the season and the coming winter. Sweaters, snow pants, boots, gloves, mittens, heavy sweatshirts, winter coats are all going to be good sellers, and they will be likely to bring good prices too. The same goes for fall friendly kids’ sports — football pads, soccer gear and lacrosse sticks — will be snapped up by moms and dads looking to save a buck. While you’re at it, check the garage for skis, sleds, ice skates and other items that have seasonal appeal.
  5. GREAT EATS – We always recommend you have a few treats available for yard sale shoppers, and autumn yard sales are no different. But what should your menu selection be? We suggest apple cider, hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, soups, chili and apple crisp. Put any two of those out on a table and you’ll have a cash cow.

Photo from Flickr.com by CharNewcomb.

 

 

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The dish on selling food at yard sales

A selection of foods can really enhance your yard sale profits thanks to all the hungry visitors you'll get. (Photo by Iryna Yeroshko via flickr.com  -- mandarina94)

A selection of snacks can really enhance your yard sale profits, just make sure you check with your municipality first. (Photo by Iryna Yeroshko via flickr.com — mandarina94)

One of the most common tips for hosting a yard sale is to sell some baked goods, drinks and other food along with your regular household items.

For the most part, it’s a solid idea. You can make a decent return on your investment by selling food.

Before you do, remember one thing — check with your municipality to make sure its OK. Some actually forbid it — requiring a health code check for anyone selling food. Others insist that everything be labeled for those suffering food allergies

Once you get past those possible problems, we say sell away. Brownies, sodas, water or hot dogs can all turn a yard sale into a bonafide success.

Some tips for this money-making endeavor:

  • WHAT TO SELL –There are tons of options for you as a seller. Do you want to sell something memorable? Comfort food? Something to generate a big profit? Something easy to prepare? Or serve a fresh-cooked meal? Those are all questions you’ll need to answer before your yard sale. Here at Yard Sale Secrets, we suggest brownies or cookies for baked goods, hot dogs in buns for a meal, cupcakes if you’re a master baker and drinks as your high-profit item.
  • SAMPLES – If you do decide to try something more exotic than a peanut butter cookie, then we’d suggest you offer some very small samples to your customers. Don’t put a heaping pile of goodies on your sample plate either — someone might think they can take the whole thing! Instead, offer no more than six teaspoon-sized samples at one time.
  • WRAPPED TO GO – Be sure to include a bag or some other container to carry their snack off to the car. For cookies and brownies, a simple plastic sandwich bag is good. For hot items, such as hot dogs or hamburgers, wrap them in tin foil.
  • GARBAGE CAN -- Since some people might want to eat while perusing your other goods, you can have a garbage can available. No sense in allowing people to drop litter on your property.
  • BY THE SLICE – If you decide to offer something that can’t exactly be bagged, such as a cake or pie, then you’ll need to have plates and utensils available. Make sure to have the slices pre-cut before the sale, that way the customer doesn’t think they’re going to get a monstrously huge piece.
  • INCLUDE THE RECIPE – Another neat idea is to offer a printout that includes the recipe of your culinary masterpiece. The recipe by itself might intrigue some to indulge!
  • PRICE SUGGESTIONS -- But what sort of price should you charge? Our simple rule is this, if its a baked good and not bigger than your hand, it should be a dollar or less. Meal worthy items — hot dogs or hamburgers — can be up to two dollars. Set drink prices between 75 cents and a dollar.

 

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The U.S. government is having a yard sale too

The federal government has been selling off almost all of its lighthouse properties for decades now. This one in Wisconsin has an opening bid of $10,000.

The federal government has been selling off almost all of its lighthouse properties for decades now. This one in Wisconsin has an opening bid of $10,000.

Here at Yard Sale Secrets, we like to talk about our yard sales and the yard sales we visit. But there’s an even bigger yard sale going on all year long, and its being held by the U.S. government.

The General Services Administration hosts a site called GSA Auctions where the government lists all of its surplus property that it no longer wants, needs or isn’t allowed to keep.

And some of it is actually pretty darn interesting.

While there's a lot of interesting items at the GSA's auction website there's also some strange items too. Why put a grimy old chair up for auction? It's not even a set of chairs. It's just one chair!

While there’s a lot of interesting items at the GSA’s auction website there’s also some strange items too. Why put a grimy old chair up for auction? It’s not even a set of chairs. It’s just one chair!

Looking for a lighthouse of your very own? Click on the “Real Estate” link and then on to “lighthouses”

How about an airplane or two? You can find them under “Aircraft and Aircraft Parts”

Maybe you’re in the market for a new house. If so, you can check out these hot properties in the “Real Estate” section as well.

But maybe you aren’t interested in such extravagant purchases. You can also use the site to bid on office supplies, landscaping equipment and old computers too. There are categories for just about everything, in fact — furniture, hand tools, jewelry and photo equipment.

Before you get too excited about the deals from the GSA, be sure to read the fine print. In a lot of cases, you’re required to go pick up the items or to have them privately shipped to you. The vehicles come with zero warranties. The computers are wiped clean, too, so you won’t be finding any “X-Files” hidden on them.

Likewise, some of the listings are just plain silly. Do you really need to have your very own “chair on wheels”? And if you do, why not just go to Walmart and get a new one?

And those lighthouses? Well, the tough thing with owning a lighthouse is that you actually have to find a way to get to there. Once you’re at your solitary little paradise, you have to put up with the Coast Guard stopping by to check up on their equipment.

You know, the very equipment that made that lighthouse obsolete in the first place.

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Al Roker’s yard sale tips

The Weather Channel's "Wake Up With Al" offered some great tips for hosting a yard sale and -- you guessed it -- they want you to have a weather-contingency plan.

The Weather Channel’s “Wake Up With Al” offered some great tips for hosting a yard sale and — you guessed it — they want you to have a weather-contingency plan.

We love to search around the web for great yard sale tips, and found a few interesting articles and videos worth your time.

First up, check out this Weather Channel video, which offers a quick tutorial on doing everything right. http://www.weather.com/video/yard-sale-tips-49359

WE’RE FAMOUS, KINDA

We were also amused by this video, because the screen shot features our logo. We had to watch. http://youtu.be/kT8L8Hok3Vg

Yeah, we agree. It was a little disappointing, but we appreciate the exposure!

LIKE A PRO

Popular Mechanics offers a 20-point list on maximizing your yard sale adventure.

Popular Mechanics offers a 20-point list on maximizing your yard sale adventure.

There was also this helpful article for yard sale shoppers from Popular Mechanics. It’s a great summation of making your money and effort work for you.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/skills/auto-home-improvement-diy/20-tips-for-shopping-a-yard-sale-16686328

JUDGE NOT

We also liked this tip list from Realtor.com. In particular, we liked Tip No. 11 — Don’t take it personal. When you’re at yard sales, you judge the quality of other people’s stuff. Don’t be surprised by snark-filled comments about what you put out on your lawn.

http://www.realtor.com/advice/tips-on-how-to-have-the-best-garage-sale-ever/

LOOKING BACK

The one video we laughed at throughout was this woman’s “Yard Sale Complaints” video. She’s swearing like a sailor throughout, but she’s darn funny in the way she sums up her experience as she hosted a yard sale.

Again, we want to warn you about the language.

http://youtu.be/2YR64LofXfQ

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