Tag sales

A pre-move tag sale of items you no longer want or need will save moving expenses, make your house look better while it’s on the market, and maybe even bring in an extra couple of hundred bucks. Here’s how to make sure your tag sale is a smash.

Plan ahead
Put some effort into the planning. Set a date several weeks in advance so there’s time to sort and tag lots of stuff. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the best days for sales; try to avoid holidays. And don’t forget to check whether your community requires a permit.

If you’re holding a winter sale indoors, a clean garage, basement or other uncarpeted area is usually best. Just be sure to put away anything that’s not for sale and cordon off private areas.

Let your neighbors know about the sale and suggest they have one on the same day, so you can split the cost of advertising and attract more people. If you have a group sale, use different colored tags for each person and let everyone deal with his or her own pricing and bargaining.

Get the word out
Bargain hunters always comb the local newspapers for tag sales, so it’s worth spending a few bucks to take out a listing. Here are some other ways to lure customers:

  • Make bright cardboard signs with the date (and rain date), time, address and directions, as well as a general description of what you’re offering -- small appliances, children’s clothing and CDs usually attract customers.
  • List any specialty items, such as Wedgwood china. Your REALTOR® may be able to lend you professionally printed sandwich-board style signs.
  • Post the signs near busy intersections and drive by to make sure you can read them. Cover them with clear plastic if you’re worried about rain.
  • Post notices on bulletin boards in high-traffic spots such as supermarkets and community centers a week before the sale.
  • Use balloons to mark your driveway. Have a large sign out front, too.
  • Have a box of freebies and nicer items such as furniture near the curb -- both draw people in.
  • Put out water, coffee, even donuts.
  • If you don’t want people showing up early, specify “No Early Birds.” But don’t be surprised if they show up anyway.

Keep things moving

Make sure people can move comfortably around at your sale -- browsing is easier if you display things on tables. You’ll likely have to borrow extra folding tables from friends and family or from a local church or community center.

Do an inventory of items you’re selling and make sure everything is clean and clearly priced. If you’re selling valuable items but you’re not sure what they’re worth, you can hire a pro to catalogue and price items for a commission.

Some tips for moving your stuff:

  • Fold clothing or put it on racks. Put a hand mirror -- marked “Not For Sale” -- by hats and jewelry. Straighten up the display during lulls in the sale.
  • Have batteries and extension cords on hand to demonstrate that items work.
  • Group tableware together and sell it as a set rather than individually.
  • Lay a blanket on the ground with some 25-cent toys to keep kids busy.
  • Pick your best item and raffle it off.
  • Provide bags and boxes to pack purchases.

Show me the money
When the sale gets busy, you’ll need friends or family to assist customers. Anyone accepting cash should be ready with plenty of small bills and change -- at least $20 worth.

Some people like to be firm with prices, but tag-sale customers enjoy haggling and like to walk away feeling they got a great deal. So it’s usually better to set prices high and allow bartering. Remember, you have more bargaining power at the beginning of your sale, or when it’s busiest. As the sale comes to a close, move remaining items together and be prepared to reduce your prices.

Unsold items? Don’t lug the leftovers along to your new home. Donate useful items to a thrift shop -- you may even get a receipt for a tax deduction.

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