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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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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Why aren’t yard sales later in the day?

Why aren't their any yard sales at night? Well, not many people have lights in their yards. Who wants to shop in the dark? (Photo by Jim Larrison via Flickr.com. Find him at www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/)

Why aren’t their any yard sales at night? Well, not many people have lights in their yards. Who wants to shop in the dark? (Photo by Jim Larrison via Flickr.com. Find him at www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/)

It’s practically a tradition that yard sales are held in the morning hours. Most people set their hours from 9 a.m. to about 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

But have you ever wondered why yard sales never late in the afternoon? Well, even the wizened folks at Yard Sale Secrets don’t know exactly why, but we have some good guesses.

  • HEAT: Most yard sales are held in the summer, that means temperatures go up through the afternoon. In some parts of the country, that means 90-plus degrees by 3 p.m. The mornings, in contrast, are far cooler.
  • BUGS: Even on cool mornings, it’s quite rare to see mosquitoes or other bugs. Gnats prefer the heat of the day. Mosquitoes like the twilight hours — particularly during sunset.
  • LIGHT: If a yard sale was held in the late afternoon, you’d be picking up your unsold items in the dark. Even worse, if you held a yard sale at night you’d have people shopping in the dark since very few people have significant yard lighting.
  • SAFETY: Imagine the problems you’d have with people visiting your yard sale in the evening — tripping over your merchandise or the curb!
  • TIMING: If you set your yard sale’s hours early in the day, you have time to clean up and even do something else afterward — we recommend a family barbecue. Anyway,  with a morning yard sale, you’re not wasting your entire day off.
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Forbes offers tips on yard sale gains and losses

Forbes.com offers a basic explanation of the tax ramifications of holding a yard sale.

Forbes.com offers a basic explanation of the tax ramifications of holding a yard sale.

Kelly Phillips Erb, the so-called “Taxgirl” columnist at Forbes.com, recently posted an article talking about the tax consequences of having a yard sale, selling your well-used items and offering the remainder to a charity.

Check out the article here.

Now that you’ve read in, we at Yard Sale Secrets agree with what she’s saying. And really, why shouldn’t we? She’s writing for Forbes.com, and we’re writing for yardsalesofyork.com. One is clearly more prestigious than the other.

Anyway, let’s hit on her Ms. Erb’s key points:

  • Earning money for selling a used product doesn’t mean you should pay taxes on the income. This is because you likely spent more for it when you initially purchased it.
  • That being said, selling an item for less than you paid for it doesn’t count as a tax loss.
  • Holding a yard sale — or even a few — over the course of a year doesn’t mean you’re running a business.
  • Holding a yard sale every week will likely attract the attention of the IRS or your local tax bureau. They will likely consider this a business.
  • When you give your items away to charity after a yard sale, you should only claim up to the amount for what you were planning to sell it for — not full retail price.

And lastly …

  • Yes, everyone in the 1970s owned a copy of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and “Frampton Comes Alive.”
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