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Easy Ways to Make Your Yard Sale a Huge Success

Gary Foreman

Yard sales are part of the summer landscape--an opportunity to turn unwanted household items into quick cash. Use these tips to attract shoppers and boost sales.

Understand your goal. Are you serious about making money or just trying to reduce clutter? If you want to make money, you'll need to put in more effort.

Select the date carefully. You don't want to be competing with other local events. Also, keep in mind many people get checks at the end of the month and thus have disposable income the first weekend of the month.

Have your merchandise ready. You'll need more time than you expect, so plan to have everything ready a week or more before your sale.

Have plenty of items. Shoppers will drive by a sale with only a few items. If you don't have enough to fill your yard, ask neighbors to join in; a multi-family sale will attract more people.

Place an ad in the newspaper. You may not read the local paper, but many consumers still look for ads they can clip.

Make your classified ad large. You want your ad to stand out--paying a few extra dollars for a larger ad will pay off.

Promote your yard sale online. A quick search will uncover sites that allow you to advertise your sale for free. Also tap social networks to get more people to show up.

Make your signs large and legible. You don't need your address on the sign--just one that says "Big Yard Sale" and an arrow pointing the way.

Keep your children occupied. Let them sell lemonade or some of their old toys. A lot of shoppers like to see the whole family participate, as many bring their kids with them.

Know what sells. Yard sales are great for kids' clothes, old kitchen utensils, books, DVDs and other small items. They're not so good for collectibles and furniture.

Prepare your merchandise for sale. Curios should be dusted. Clothes should be washed. You want your sale items looking their best.

Organize your merchandise. Keep similar items together, such as dividing clothes by gender and laying them out on separate tables to make it easier for shoppers to navigate.

Make prices clear. Tag items with a price tag. You can use a sign when you have many items in a category (CDs, books, t-shirts, etc).

Keep valuable items near your checkout table. You don't want something valuable to "go missing."

Have an electrical outlet or extension cord handy. You'll want to be able to demonstrate electrical items work.

Have bags and newspaper available. You'll need newspaper to wrap breakable items.; the bags are handy for people buying more than one item.

Be on alert for scams and shoplifters. Common tricks are changing tags or distracting you while an accomplice steals an item.

Have a calculator available. That is, unless you're good at calculating figures in your head.

Be prepared to make change. Have plenty of singles and coins available. You can always return extra singles to your bank.

Protect your cash. Have a cash box or fanny pack, and never leave it unattended.

Have someone work the sale with you. Sooner or later, you'll need a break--whether it's for the bathroom or a meal. Have someone to take your place while you're gone.

Plan for unsold items. Consider selling some to a thrift shop or website or donating them to Goodwil. Others, like collectibles and designer clothes, should be saved for a future sale or offered on eBay.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters. The site features thousands of articles on how to save your valuable time and money including an article on holding a garage sale.

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