Pricing your merchandise is one of the hardest parts of having a yard sale. It's time consuming, and it's easy to get hung up on sentiment or the prices you originally paid. If you set the prices too high, you'll have to drag everything back inside. If your prices are too low, you lose money you could have made. To make the process a little easier, here are the dos and don'ts of yard sale pricing:
Do price everything before the sale starts.
Do price each item individually. The only exceptions are groups of like items, such as books, that are all priced the same. Using the books as an example, put them all on a table together. Make a simple sign with huge block lettering that says "Books $1" or something similar, using the price you've set. Hang the sign on the front of the table or on the wall behind it.
Do use a fine- to medium-point marker to write your prices on plain stickers. It's easier to read than a ballpoint pen, especially for shoppers who forgot to bring their reading glasses.
Do price your merchandise with neon-colored stickers, except for paper items that may be damaged by the adhesive. It makes the price easy to find, and some stickers even come printed with common yard sale amounts. It's also faster than tearing pieces of masking tape from a roll. Opt for low-tack stickers if you find them, which makes them easier to remove from porcelain, wood, and glass.
Do visit some area yard sales before the weekend of yours to get a feel for the usual pricing on different types of merchandise. Watch the shoppers too. If they're buying, the prices are reasonable. If name brand blue jeans typically sell for $2 in your neighborhood, you don't want to mark yours at 25 cents per pair. If most sellers price hardbound books at 50 cents or $1, you'll get to keep most of yours if you price them at $3 each.
Do research items that might be valuable. Check a price guide and do a completed item search on ebay. If you find an identical piece, you can print the listing and attach it to your item to educate customers on the value, but don't expect to get the listed price at a yard sale. If your piece is worth quite a bit of money, you might do better selling it via another venue.
Do assume shoppers will try to haggle. On pricey pieces and large items such as furniture, build some negotiating room into your sticker price. Adding an additional 10 or 20 percent to the minimum you're willing to accept gives you some room to lower the price.
Do mark the price tags on large pieces, such as furniture, as "Firm" if you're not willing to haggle at all.
Do use color coded stickers or mark the price tags with the sellers initials if you're having a multi-family sale. When someone is checking out, peel off the stickers and affix them to a clipboard or notebook page. You can tally the results later. It takes too long to keep a written log as you go, and your customers have other sales on their yard sale routes.
Don't display your yard sale goods without prices. That's the single most irritating mistake sellers make. Yard sales get hectic, and nobody wants to wait in line just to get a price. Shy shoppers may leave without asking. Even dedicated shoppers may limit their purchases because they're tired of asking about piece after piece.
Don't put stickers on vinyl album covers, collectible magazines, the dust jackets of hardbound books, or on vintage paper goods, such as postcards or Valentines. The adhesive on price stickers may cause damage. Opt instead for pieces of low-tack painter's tape or bookmarks with the price. The latter category of merchandise is called ephemera, and it's quite collectible.
Don't pause before giving a price if a customer asks. Even if a tag has gotten lost or you missed an item, you should have already determined how much you want for each piece. When you hesitate before answering, the shopper assumes you're sizing him up for his ability to pay.
Don't base your price on what you paid for the item. Remember, you are selling used merchandise. You may see the strappy designer sandals that cost you $200 at the department store, but your customers sees them as used shoes that have had a strangers feet in them. Antique or vintage pieces that have held their value or appreciated are the only exceptions, and then you might want to include a photocopy of an appraisal or the original bill of sale.
Don't create a complicated pricing system where customers have to refer to a chart or a particular color of price sticker. It's annoying to the customer, and you'll spend most of the day answering questions about price. Make it easy for your customers to buy your stuff.
Don't skip individual price stickers in favor of arranging the items by price. It only works if every item is of the same type, such as books or shoes. If you put a price on a box or table and then fill it with different merchandise types, that merchandise will end up in the wrong place at some point, whether it's intentional or accidental. Honest shoppers will feel like you're scamming them when you correct the price, and con artists will try to scam you. Just don't do it.
Don't price your goods based on sentiment. The customers don't care about your memories, and they're certainly not willing to pay a premium to purchase them. If it's that valuable to you, maybe you should keep it.
Don't wait until the day of the sale to get prices for merchandise that doesn't belong to you. When a shopper asks for a price, she doesn't want to wait while you call your daughter or best friend. If other people want to sell their stuff at your yard sale, make them price the pieces in advance. Period.
Don't put inflated prices on your yard sale stickers and then announce a 20 percent discount. Most shoppers aren't fooled by that trick when furniture stores do it, and they won't believe you either. The half that heard you will be annoyed that you're making things complicated. The other half wasn't listening because they were eager to browse your goods. They'll just walk away because your prices are too high, or they'll want to haggle over every item.
For more dos and don'ts of having a yard sale: