Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 Tips for an Awesome Yard Sale

This past weekend, I capped off my summer of purging and de-cluttering with yet another yard sale...this one on my own driveway with my own junk! With this being my fourth big sale in about five months (including two major estate-style sales while helping my father downsize), I honestly feel like I am now an expert at preparing for and executing yard sales (maybe I should put that on my resume ;)! As I was preparing for this last sale (at least for a while!), I was telling my sister that I feel like we've learned "the formula" for a successful sale. As in, if you follow these particular steps..."you too can have a successful sale, get rid of (most of) your junk, and make some good money!" (imagine that said in an infomercial type voice!) Now, I don't make any promises because so much of a sale's success is dependent on where you live, what kind of stuff you're selling, and the weather (!!!), but our family followed the exact same game plan for each of the four sales and brought in over $20,000 across all the sales. Because I honestly feel like we have this down to a science, I wanted to share with YOU what all we've learned along the way!!!!
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My absolute number one piece of advice is to price everything. Yes, it can be a pain and very time- consuming, but it is SO worth it on sale day....especially if you have a lot to sell and have several people working to cash people out. We felt like buyers were more likely to scoop things up when they didn't have to approach us for each and every price. Checking people out moved faster, and it ensured we consistently priced based on the quality of the items and not just on our whims or based on pressure from enthusiastic bargainers. We also had really good success with pricing things to move. Instead of pricing high and expecting people to bargain, we priced low and made a "We aren't bargaining" policy. Sure, this wasn't 100% effective as there will always be the people who try to talk you down no matter how low your prices are. But having the "we priced everything low so we aren't bargaining" phrase in our back pocket made dealing with hagglers so much easier. Toward the end of the sale (and on bigger more expensive items), we knocked prices down and entertained offers more often just to get things gone! 

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One last tip on pricing: instead of buying yard sale labels, we found it SUUUPER easy to print tags on pre-made return address labels (the itty bitty ones) in whatever prices we needed. We printed a lot of $0.25, $0.50, $1, and $2 tags...some $3, $4, $5, and then a sheet of just $__ tags so we could write in prices as we needed. With sheets and sheets of labels ready to go, pricing went relatively quickly!


Not just for our sakes, but to help our shoppers out, we worked VERY hard in the days and weeks leading up to to the sales to purge out the true junk and organize our "goods" into shop-able categories: home decor, cooking/baking, tools, toys, recreation, furniture...you get the idea. This made for easy and logical setup and also helped out shoppers who were looking (or not looking) for something in particular. We received so many compliments on how well-organized our sales were, and I really think that our organization and presentation directly influenced how much stuff we were able to sell!

When setting up items to sell, whenever possible, get it all up on tables. Obviously, this doesn't apply to furniture or large/heavy items...but for dishes, glassware, kitchen utensils, small appliances, craft items, knick knacks and (most especially) books, folks are a little more willing to take the time to peruse all your goods if they can stand upright (rather than be hunched over down on the ground). In our experience time and time again, if things weren't selling down on the ground, almost as soon as we moved them up onto tables, they'd be gone! We used everything from long 6' tables, to card tables, to sheets of plywood setup on saw horses. Anything will work - just make sure it's sturdy enough to hold everything safely.

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Also, we found it worked best to have tables running all-the-way down the center of the driveway so that both sides of the table could be loaded up and people could move down both sides - this was especially important at times when we had a lot of people crowding into the driveway! Lastly, as your shopping day moves on, make sure you take time to consolidate, re-position and make things look nice so that it doesn't look and feel picked over. Re-position items that aren't selling because they might be getting looked over and make sure price tags are still visible and sets of items haven't been split apart!

TWO DAYS!Yard Sales-005

Some of these suggestions might be no-brainers to many of you, but to me, this next tip was new to me and the most surprising! We had so much success with two-day sales: a pre-sale on Friday and then the usual early morning Saturday sale. We held a Friday sale for all four sales, and all of them were incredibly successful. For us, we attracted more neighbors, work crews (yard crews, cleaning crews, delivery people) and the coming-home-from-work crowd on Friday, while the Saturday shoppers were more hard-core garage sale hunters. Regardless of who passes through, it's a pretty simple concept: the more hours you have your stuff out, the more likely you are to get rid of your stuff!

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Cash is certainly king at yard sales - it's the safest and easiest way to take payment, especially if you don't know your customers. A majority of our transactions were in fact done in cash. However, if you have expensive items to sell (electronics, furniture, or in our case: fabric!), it is very appealing to customers (and pretty handy, I might add!) to be able to take credit cards. We ordered card readers for our iPads and iPhones through PayPal and were able to accept credit card transactions with very little hassle. At our Craft Estate Sale, this was a significant reason why we were able to sell so much...accepting credit cards allowed our customers to buy piles and piles of fabric and supplies without having to run to the ATM!

ADVERTISEYard Sales-007

The success of your sell is directly correlated to how much foot traffic you get: no customers means no sales! Use every mechanism you can think of to get the word out about your sale. We used electronic avenues like Craig's List, Facebook groups, Twitter, this blog, workplace message boards, and personal email invites to advertise our sales. We also relied on old-fashioned signs and flyers. We posted bright, clear signs at the entrance to the neighborhood, which brought a lot of traffic. We also create a flyer with all of our sale details (including what we were selling) that was easily posted and shared on social media and also printed and hung at college campuses or handed out to friends and neighbors. 

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We were very surprised to see that furniture items just didn't sell well at our yard sales, pretty much across the board. Although our furniture was good quality and priced well, it really seamed like yard sale shoppers weren't in the market for (or prepared to take home) large furniture items. We had much more luck selling furniture online. With that said, furniture in the yard does get people to stop and shop!

Ziplock bags, baskets/boxes, and tape were our go-to supplies for all of our sales. Anything that could be bundled, we packaged/taped together and priced accordingly. Sets of dishes, piles of dish towels, series of cookbooks, matching tablecloths and napkins, purses with wallets, etc. Not only does a "set" look more appealing to buyers, but it's a more effective and efficient way to move your stuff out! This technique was especially helpful in selling off craft supplies. Matching skeins of yarn, coordinating cuts of fabrics, sets of threads and more were bundles and sold as single items. Also smaller items, like zippers, elastic, ribbon, stamps etc were put into "grab bags" and priced super cheap! People scooped them right up, and we weren't left with odd spools of ribbon or random zippers!


Speaking of craft sales, I think this topic alone warrants its own post, but here's a few quick points. We had a TON of craft supplies to sell (figuratively and literally ;). You name it, we had it for sale, often in really high quantities! To sell the craft supplies, we held a separate and specific Estate Craft Sale. It was quite possibly our most successful sale, and this is why:
  • It was a dedicated Craft Sale - and pretty much ONLY crafters came out to shop. If you have a lot of craft supplies to sell, sell and advertise it separately from a general household yard or estate sale. 
  • We specifically advertised our sale to local crafters, quilt groups, stamp groups, stained-glass groups, knitters and more...and they came out by the dozens!
  • All of the above tips hold true for this sale, especially the bundling (bundle everything and anything you can!) and the organizing and categorizing. Crafters tend to do specific hobbies so they only shop for certain things. Have all the fabric in one spot, all the ribbon in one spot, etc. 
  • I said this above, but it's worth repeating...have your books up at waist height! Our craft shoppers spent hours looking through my mother's extensive book collection...looking for a unique book or their next project. We sold every last book because we had them displayed in a fashion that customers could easily sort through!
  • Fabric - oh my - this could be a whole post in itself too! We had about 2,500 yards of fabric to sell, and it was in every form you could imagine: yardage, fat quarters, scraps, sets...you name it! There was no way to measure and price each and every piece, so we decided to sell the fabric by the pound. Yep - you read that right! 1 pound of quilting cotton is approximately 3 yards...we sold fabric for $10/pound (which worked out to about $3/yard). We had signs everywhere explaining our system. My sister and I weighed each and every customer's pile of fabric on a high-tech kitchen scale and it honestly couldn't have worked better! Customers were happy, and we were efficient...and we sold a TON of fabric! For anyone who has a lot of fabric to sell yourself, I highly recommend this approach! Email me if you have questions or want more info! 
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This one is a little more of a lesson learned than an actual "we did it and it worked." Because of the amount of good stuff we were selling at our sales, people were scooping up items right and left and quickly had their hands full! People then would make piles off to the side while they continued to shop. While this worked well, during our busier times, we had a difficult time keeping track of whose piles were whose. And unfortunately, on some occasions, people's piles were shopped from by other customers...making for sad and cranky customers who lost out on things they wanted and had first! We found that by having a dedicated helper at a holding zone (complete with holding bins/boxes and sticky notes to write names on) helped tremendously.  If you are gearing up for a really large estate-style sale, I would recommend having a holding zone where people can safely keep items aside while they continue to shop!

THE POWER OF FREE!!!Yard Sales-012

Ooooops! I know I said 10 tips, but here's a bonus! With the exception of high quality items that we wanted to try and sell online, once everything was out of the house for the sale, it didn't come back in. At the end of our two-day sales, we left everything outside for the afternoon/night with a big FREE sign on it (we had great rain-free weather for almost all of our sales). The next morning, whatever was left was loaded into cars and donated right away.  It's amazing what people will haul away when it has a FREE sign on it! So it you don't want to have to lug some big furniture to the thrift store yourself, put a FREE sign on it, and you've got good chances someone will come and take it off your hands!


Phew!!! I'm not sure what was more exhausting: doing all these yard sales or writing this monster-of-a-post! While it's been an incredible year of getting rid of so much junk and making some great money (and doing A LOT of family bonding!), I am excited to say that my purging and yard sale-ing is officially over for a good long while!!! I've learned a lot (both about my own shopping/keeping habits as well as how to have a great yard sale), but one soul can really only be around so much junk and junk shoppers for so long. I'm pretty excited to see this chapter of my year come to a close!

What about you? Do you have any rockstar yard sale tips? Do you agree/disagree with my ideas here? I'd love to hear if you've had something work (or not work) out really well! Not that I'm gearing up for another one anytime soon...but eventually, I'm sure I'll be back out there again some day!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Craft Room and Office Final Reveal

With under a year left in this 5th house of our's, I have a lot of full room reveals to tackle in the coming months for you guys (everything is mostly done, I just need to get snapping!). While I tend to blog in "real time" as projects and spaces are completed, I also like to do one final post that shows the full evolution of a room, captures all my favorite photos, and contains all the links for every project from the space in one single post! (You can find other full room reveals HERE.) I know I've totally saturated you with posts and updates of our Office/Craft Room (ummm...25 of them to be exact - eek!), but it was a long and tough space to get right. So for old readers who have been here every step of the way: I promise this is the last one (but there is even a new update, so keep your eye out for it!) And for new readers, this is your one-stop shop for catching up on this room! So without further delay, here it is: our FULL reveal of our Office and Craft Room, fully documented in one tidy spot!

When we first moved into this three-bedroom house, I knew right away that we were going to be sacrificing a guest room/spare bedroom for a combined Office/Craft Room space. This duty station guaranteed a lot of travel for my husband and I was really getting into this crafting/DIYing/blogging thing, so it was very important for me to have a dedicated and closed-off space I could create and work as my time and energy permitted! The room is a big one, measuring 10x15' with a single window and pretty big closet. Here's the room the day we got the keys: 

Craft Room Office Reveal-001

Before our stuffed arrived, we painted the room with Martha Stewart's Cumulus Cloud. I LOVE this color - in some lights/times of day, it reads pale blue; and in others, it reads very light grey. It's a crisp and neutral background that provides just enough color without being too strong!

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Before getting this room to where it is now, I took quite a few wrong turns, including lots of less-than-ideal storage solutions and a color a palette that wasn't quite right. Last summer, I emptied everything out (literally) and started from scratch. (Oh - and I have read a few "negative" comments on other sites that these pictures were staged to look like super bad "before" shots. No such thing here. This was the real cluttered deal! And for the record...I don't stage anything to look any less or more than the way it is in real life - I keep it real around here!)

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Craft Room Office Reveal-004

Although I've had to re-organize this room a couple times (due to taking on a bunch of new craft supplies from my Mom), the overall design of the space has been pretty set and un-changed for about a year. Lots of white and turquoise, with pops of gold and black make for a fresh, clean and glamorous space - one that I love to be and work in! Let me give you the full tour !!! (Oh, and if you're looking for links and tutorials for all the projects in these photos, everything is linked down at the bottom for easy reference!)

When you first walk in the door to the room, this is the view that greets you!

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Our office occupies the corner of the room near the window. A large desk paired with a nearby printer/storage/display station is all we require to keep our household (and this little blog of mine) running!

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My desk really is my happy place. I just love all the simple details that came together to create this fun and organized work zone. I once hated this large, clunky desk...but over time, I have really come to appreciate how much space I have to work. Not only is there space for our large computer. but there is also plenty of room to work, write, study and craft as necessary!

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I've still yet to find the perfect office chair, so as awkward as it may seem to some, I still sit upon this little stool to do all my work. Links to all projects in this space is included below!

Craft Room Office Reveal-011

On the little wall between the window and closet, I created a storage and display space by pairing a simple white desk over our filing cabinet...and then skirted the whole thing for a dose of color and to conceal our unattractive printer, scanner, and laminator! On top, I have some fun display space and an awesome memo board for keeping track of important items (like Rainbow Bright ;)!

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Just to the right of the printer station is the closet, which has undergone what feels like a million re-orgs in the 2.5 years we've lived here! When you live in a small house, you really have to make each and every inch work super hard and just right. I thought I had this closet done (bottom left), but I just couldn't get over all that wasted space in between the shelving units. Imagine my excitement a few months back when I realized how easily these white wire racks come down!!! 

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With the white wire rack removed, I now have floor-to-ceiling cube storage that holds craft supplies, my husband's work and school books, photo boxes, and more...AND we even have some empty cubbies! Major, major happy dance! It took me how long to figure this one out? Sadly, 2 years!

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As you make a ninety degree turn from the printer station and closet, you'll be facing the short wall at the end of the room that features my gold polka-dot wall treatment (one of my post popular and pinned projects ever!) and my blue storage towers. These storage towers are still one of my most gratifying furniture makeovers ever!

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These towers hold office supplies, sewing machine parts, and everything in between. With 12 generously-sized drawers, everything in this space has a proper home!

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Now make one more right turn to face the final wall: my craft space!!!! 

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We installed off-the-shelf cabinets and a stock 12' counter top down the expanse of this wall; and then filled every inch with hard-working and super functional storage solutions. The backsplash is a memo board, the ledges hold art and my most used-supplies, curtain rods hold ribbon, and open shelving supports baskets containing my least-used (but still important!) supplies and notions! The toe kicks were given a herringbone treatment, and I even gave all my boxes, bins, and baskets color-coordinated labels!

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I think fabrics, ribbons, papers, threads and other notions make the best decor...and I just get so giddy seeing their rainbow hues all on display all over this space!

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Putting this room together truly was a LONG journey--it's a real testiment that rooms don't always come together in a snap. At one point in time, I felt it would NEVER be finished nor look or function the way I craved. But after a lot of brainstorming, re-doing, stepping back and plowing through all with try-and-try again persistence...this room is truly a place where I can relax, be creative and even work hard when necessary! 

I spent A LOT of time making this room into what it is, and it's so nice to feel like I can finally stop fretting about it and just enjoy it. Because I am me, I will always be tweaking things or thinking about how the space could be improved, but nothing has really changed in here for a while...so I am proclaiming the room done...done done done...no more major updates for this room...I promise!

Here are all the projects that went into this room over the last 2.5 years! (WOWZA!!!!)

Bulletin Board Re-Do

Lamp Makeover in Gold

Gold Polka-Dot Wall Treatment

Installing the Counter

Office Desk Makeover

Modern Iris Paper Art

Stripe-Edged Curtains

Stylish File Storage

Tailored Table Skirt

DIY Golden Urchin

Striped Cork Board

Simple Paper Bunting

DIY Subway Art

Herringbone Toe Kicks

Pin Board Backsplash

Craft Station Reveal

Insta Frames

Gold-Dipped Stools

Office Storage Towers

Ribbon Rings

Organizing Craft Supplies

Gold Foil Labels

30+ Craft Supply Storage Ideas

Inside the Storage Towers

New Fabric Storage

And a few more sources for you:
  • Wall Color: Martha Stewart Cumulus Cloud
  • Stools and Towers color: custom mix
  • Black desk: Ashley's Furniture with knobs from Home Depot
  • Lamps: old, old, old but shades from Target
  • Floating shelves and brackets: Lowes
  • Cube shelving in closet: purchased in Okinawa, Japan years ago
  • Bulletin board: HomeGoods
  • Turquoise urn: Kirklands
  • Cooper lattice vase: thrifted
  • Letter M: Marshalls
  • White elephant: thrifted
  • Gold contact paper for polka-dots: Amazon
  • Cabinets and countertop: Lowes
  • Filing cabinet: IKEA
  • Desk overtop filing cabinet: Wayfair
  • Towers: West Elm
  • Drawer units inside towers: thrifted
  • Stools: purchased in Okinawa, Japan years ago

Anything you're curious about, let me know!!!

Phew!!!! 25 posts and 30+ photos later, I think this room is fully documented. (I'm exhausted!) I hope you enjoyed the full tour...and thank you for indulging me as I knock out one final post for this space! What do you think about how it all came together? What's your favorite part? Mine is still the desk area! That striped wrapping paper on the desk still makes my heart dance!

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This weekend I'm tackling yet ANOTHER yard sale! Keep your fingers crossed for me that the weather holds out - I need this last bit of junk out!!!! See you next week!


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