It is the season for barn and yard sales in New England. Instead of outdoor barbecues or trips to the beach, fall is the time of the year when people like to take a ride along the back country roads. Savvy New Englanders know this and we spend days going through our basement, closets and garage looking for stuff we want to get rid of. We wait for the perfect day or weekend when the “leaf peepers” will be out enjoying the fall color and we Have A Barn Sale.
Like all of you, I have accumulated lots of things over the years that I don’t use anymore. If you are like me and need to declutter your life, think about having a barn or yard sale. You may not make a lot of money but you will make space in your home by selling things you no longer use to people who will enjoy them.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, check with your town to see if you need a permit or if there are any rules in your community regarding having a sale. I have a long driveway with plenty of parking but if you have limited space, talk with your neighbors to let them know what you are planning. They might ask if they could join you with a table of their own things.
Plan your sale well in advance, trying to avoid any days when an event will be held that would keep people away. It’s great if you can coordinate your sale with a “town wide yard sale” in your area. I did that and I found that Saturday was a lot busier than Sunday.
I asked buyers what brought them to my sale and most said it was the signs. I made mine using 15 by 19 inch white corrugated plastic and vinyl lettering that were easy to read from a distance. It rained during my sale but the weather didn’t harm any of my signs. If I had used paper, they would have buckled and been impossible to read. Remember to take down the signs at the end of your sale or you will have disappointed buyers after you close.
Think of advertising in the newspaper, on Facebook and on internet sites like craigslist. With craigslist, you can add 24 photos which will give people an idea of what you are selling. You can start a month in advance…updating the ads every two days. If you have any unique items, be sure to provide as much information about them as possible.
Before selling items that may have some real value, check on sites such as eBay and etsy to see if you have a real treasure. If so, you might want to try placing them in an antique shop on consignment.
When it comes to pricing, remember an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, not what you originally purchased it for. Put price tags on everything and include a description when you think it might be helpful. If you enjoy haggling or expect everyone will be offering you less than what you want, price things accordingly.
I decided to sell everything in whole dollar amounts and nothing under a dollar as I didn’t want to have to deal with coins. To make change, I started out with five $10’s, six $5’s, and twenty $l’s that I kept in my pocket. I kept my cellphone in another pocket to use as a calculator or if needed in an emergency.
It is important to have everything ready the day before your sale as you may have early buyers waiting for you to open on the morning of the sale. I believe organizing the items in pretty displays makes it easier to sell them for your asking price. I had many shoppers say how neat and clean everything was…that it was like shopping in a little store. They also mentioned they loved being in our historic barn with its lingering aromas of hay and apples while they looked for a few bargains. What they found were some great deals on furniture, collectables, housewares, and seasonal decorations.
Having a barn sale is a lot of hard work but just know that you will be decluttering your life and meeting a lot of nice people in the process. Items you no longer want will be irresistible to someone else and they will happily give them a new home. What doesn’t sell can be boxed up and given to charity. It is like a fairytale where “they all lived happily ever after”.