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07.26.2004

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this saturday only! how to have a yard sale by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 3

You can pretty much bank on early birds, even if you've gone the recommended no-exact-address-in-ad route. The diehard yard sale crowd will descend en masse beginning about hour before your specified start time. If you've advertised and provided good signage, you'll find that the first hour of your sale is just a crazy busy time. Folks will be asking you questions about items you barely remember putting out there in the first place, bargain-hunters will be pestering you for a better deal, money will be thrown at you before you can process what actually sold -- and all this time, you'll have to keep an eye out to make sure that no one's trying to walk off without paying, switch price stickers, or otherwise rob you (yes, some dishonesty is entirely likely, though it's not the norm -- be vigilant without getting all paranoid). Making sure that all of you involved with the sale are covering different sections helps.

Start off with plenty of cash and coins so you can make change (make a run to the bank the day before if necessary). Decide in advance whether you're going to accept personal checks or not. We began the day with a communal pot of money for change, taking note of how much each household contributed to the starting stash. As the sale progressed, we kept a very careful running list of which household had earned what. Customers would approach any one of us to check out, and we'd not only tally up the total for them, but also record what portions of the money should eventually go to whom. The system worked fairly well, although we did end up with a chunk of extra cash that went unaccounted for. To deal with the extra, we figured out what percentage of the total accounted-for sales each household had earned, and divvied up the remainder based on that percentage.

Sometime around 2 in the afternoon, it was clear that the sale was pretty much over. For the past two hours, we'd mostly just been sitting around, chatting with each other, watching the drive-bys do the slow-down and look, then keep trucking. With mostly just the dregs of our initial offerings left over, and the arrival of fresh buyers having slowed to a pathetic dribble, we called it a day. We were tired, we were bruised, we were dehydrated, we were sunburnt. We'd gotten rid of way over of our junk -- and earned a sum total of over $1100 amongst our three households. It was a good day.

o

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10 tips for furniture foraging | shopping thrift stores | estate sales | restaurant supply stores

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