3 ways to have a yard sale when you don't have a yard


Chicago Tribune

Published: 08-02-2019 12:03 AM

Yard sales are a great way to get a few extra bucks for items that might be just a little bit too valuable to toss or donate, but what if you don’t have a yard?

Don’t let that stop you; think creatively instead.

Yard sales are all about getting rid of stuff. Forget what you originally paid for something; price it to move. Still, there are ways to make your objects more attractive, so they will fetch more dollars.

Bruce Littlefield, author of “Garage Sale America,” said to think about getting back a quarter on the dollar and realize that people will likely negotiate. Another tactic is not to list prices at all and just see what people will offer. “People definitely want to feel like they’ve gotten a good deal,” he said.

Organize items by use: kitchen items in one section, children’s toys in another, Littlefield said. Hang up or neatly fold clothing. “Think that you’re a store for the day. Make it a nice presentation,” he said.

When Chicago resident Josh Barza, who had a yard sale on his parkway, realized many of the goods he was selling were records, posters and other memorabilia, he branded it the “Aging Hipsters Sale.” A friend gave him flyer designs on the theme, and Barza posted them in areas where would-be buyers might gather and other places people stand around. He said this likely helped attract early buyers who wanted the best pickings; some bought other items he was selling, boosting sales overall.

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Consider bundling, like offering books or CDs at three for $5, Barza and Littlefield said. That can motivate people to buy more. Have a table where everything is priced for a dollar, and keep it replenished. People tend to gravitate to these tables, Littlefield added.

If goods aren’t moving by midday, put up a sign that everything is half off after a certain time, or tell people that everything is half off tomorrow. “When people hear that, they suddenly want to buy. It piques people’s interest,” he said.

Having fun and being nice can ring registers. “If people are nice and funny, and we’re having a good time, it makes me want to buy something,” Littlefield said.

Here are three ways to unload some of the stuff that you have accumulated — and recoup some of the cash that you spent.

Make it a block party

Your neighbors will have to agree, but multifamily yard sales are big draws for buyers. In most cities, check with your town clerk or other departments that oversee the municipality’s roads or traffic to see what the rules are to temporarily shut down your street.

Residents throwing a block party should notify the Northampton police department and Department of Public Works of the event. The city clerk’s office says fines aren’t typical for events that town officials aren’t notified of, but if the police receive complaints the event is at risk of being shut down.

These can be so successful that they become annual events. Michelle Cornell, of Laguna Beach, Calif., said that for the past several years, her neighbors in a three-block radius hold a yard sale, usually the first or second weekend in May. Theirs lasts a half-day, so it’s not too disruptive for people not participating. “It ends up being a fun neighborhood event,” she said, adding that neighbors take turns organizing it, spreading the word through flyers and email.

Commandeer the parkway

That narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and the street is fair game to set up a table. Avoid blocking the sidewalk or the curb, so pedestrians aren’t tiptoeing through stuff.

In some cities, you can set up in public parks or other communal spaces with permits. Sell at your own risk if you’re in a park or on the grassy parts of boulevards.

In Northampton, permits aren’t needed for yard sales on private property. Individual vendors who want to set up sales on municipal property must have a Hawker and Peddler license from the state of Massachusetts, which permits individuals unaffiliated with a group or business to sell goods. Vendors can apply for licenses for $62 online at www.mass.gov.

Partner with anonprofit organization

For a small fee and/or a cut of the profits, houses of worship, arts groups, fraternal organizations and other nonprofit groups may let yard-sale wannabees use their spaces or parking lots on days the group doesn’t have functions. Sometimes these organizations also have community yard sales where they invite nonmembers to set up a table for a small fee. Quick internet searches for community yard sales in your area can yield results.

With reporting by Abbey Dwight/For the Gazette.