After weeks of planning and organizing taking over a good portion of my time, we hosted our yard sale fundraiser on Saturday! I know many, many, many adoptive families have done yard sale fundraisers with great success who can also give you awesome advice. But for what it’s worth, here’s my 2 cents on planning and executing ours:
1. Start early. Tell everyone about the yard sale and start collecting donations from family and friends 1-2 months ahead of the planned date. I made a Facebook flyer that advertised the yard sale and also asked for donations. We received donations from many people that we don’t keep in touch with on a regular basis, and they were thrilled to support us in this tangible way! Many people have clothes, toys, books, and household items to donate. Some have bigger ticket items like furniture that attract attention. Accept it all graciously, you never know what is going to sell! More donations = more sales. Don’t be afraid to keep taking donations, even the day of the yard sale! Over 25 families contributed and our 2-car garage was filled. We sold a lot of the donations. I know space can be an issue, we are fortunate enough to have a garage where we stored and sorted everything. I would suggest having people bring donations to you. In trying to make things as easy as possible for our contributors, we did many pick-ups and it was very time consuming – I would do that differently in the future. During the week prior, everyone brought donations to us and that was so incredibly helpful.
2. Ask for prayer warriors. This was so important! I asked people to pray for the weather starting several weeks ahead of time and the Lord listened. We had a not-so-nice looking forecast several days before, but it completely cleared up and we had a super awesome day. We also asked for people to pray for the event’s success, and again, God totally heard us.
3. Organize your donations. Everyone has their own way of organizing, but I’ll share what worked well for us. We organized items by type, and then by price (also by size for children’s clothing). For example, all of the toys were grouped together in my garage, but were sorted by price in larger boxes. The kids actually helped me sort the toys by price, and it was really fun to have them (and their friends) help! Children’s clothes were also sorted by gender and size in large bins. We hung adult clothes by gender with borrowed racks and donated hangers (Old Navy and Macy’s). This made set up easier because we marked tables by price, starting with $1.00. Then when all of the donations were brought out, all we needed to do was get the $1.00 toys on that table, $2.00 toys on the next table, etc.
4. Ask for help organizing and tagging. I would have been completely overwhelmed if I had organized and tagged by myself. Although I did organize a lot of the clothing and toys myself as we were collecting donations, the bulk of the organizing/tagging happened the week of the yard sale. When sorting, we didn’t keep some of the donations that were very stained or in very poor shape. We mass-tagged everything – all children’s clothes were $1.00 a piece, all books were $1.00 for hardbacks, $0.50 for softbacks, all small frames were $1.00, etc. When sorting toys and households, we tagged by organizing in large boxes labeled with a price – that worked out extremely well. We also priced everything aggressively to sell. We were going more with selling quantity over getting the best price (and we didn’t want to pack everything up to bring home!).
5. Advertise everywhere. Seriously. We had a strong & steady stream of people coming until about 11am, and they started showing up at 6:15am! (Advertise “no early birds” if you don’t want that to happen – lesson learned.) We raised so much money in just a few hours partly because of the sheer volume of people coming through. I posted a yard sale fundraiser flyer to Facebook and asked people to share it (make sure the flyer is made “public” so even people you don’t know can see it). It was shared 67 TIMES the few days prior to the event. That was huge and I was in awe of how supportive people (many whom we didn’t know) were! It was a nice surprise to see many, many friends who had seen the Facebook flyer! I advertised on Craigslist many times starting 2 weeks prior, making sure to explain that it was a 25+ family yard sale with loads of stuff. I did the same on every other yard sale website I could find when googling for them. I did not advertise that it was a fundraiser on those venues – I was more worried about simply getting people there. Also, our friends advertised for us on all of the local mom/totswap groups and Facebook yard sale groups for us. Lastly, we put signs up at the big intersections with bright neon pink poster board and large black lettering.
6. Pick your location wisely and organize your yard sale efficiently. Although it was a good amount of extra work, we hauled everything to the entrance of our neighborhood, which is on a major road. We put the bigger items that would attract attention on the main road and it worked. Not only did we sell almost all of those items, a lot of people stopped by simply because they drove by and saw the yard sale. I’ve heard of other families hosting yard sales in parking lots (with permission of course!). Chose what you think would be best for where you live. It is worth the extra effort if you don’t think hosting at your house will get a lot of traffic, trust me. We also organized all of the items in a logical way, starting with what we thought would sell most. Bigger items and clothes were on the road so people could see them, and then we had a long row of tables set up (borrowed from family and our church) in order of price and type of item. We started with the toys, a $1.00 table, $2.00 table, $3.00 table, $4.00 table, and $5.00, then a few miscellaneous tables with different items, and then household items, also organized by tables/price. We set up a bake sale and drinks at the very end, covered by tents (also borrowed from a friend).
7. Ask for help the day of the event. A lot of help. And take care of them while they are helping you! We started setting up at 5am for a 7am yard sale. That seemed to be good timing. We had several friends with trucks and family members here at 5am to help us load and haul everything to the yard sale site, and then had other people join us later to help with taking payments. We also had Grammy spend the night before to take care of the kids in the morning. I pre-made breakfast sandwiches to be popped in the oven in the morning (by Grammy) to feed all of our amazing volunteers. We also had coffee, water, and lemonade available for them (Grammy was also on coffee duty). I purchased bright neon orange shirts ($3 each) for our volunteers who were collecting payments. This made our “staff” easy to spot, and we gave everyone free reign to haggle with customers as they saw fit. Some of our friends brought aprons to hold money, others (including me) just used pockets. DH carried a backpack.
8. Take credit cards and advertise it. You can get a square reader for free and then you pay 3% of sales. We had $200 in credit card sales, which may have been missed had that not been available as a payment option. And it only cost us $6.00.
9. Sell baked goods, coffee, water bottles, and lemonade. Although selling these didn’t bring in a ton of funds, we’re guessing we probably raised about $40-$50. It was also a great opportunity to chat and share our story with customers who didn’t find anything at the yard sale to purchase.
10. Be willing to make deals. That is, after all, the art of yard-saling. Part of our deal-making came from the result of tagging in volume. For example, there were some clothing and toys that we probably could have gotten more from if they had been individually tagged, but we just didn’t have time. And especially as the day went on, we made even more deals simply so that people would take some of the more difficult things to sell. Having said that though, don’t allow yourself to get intimidated by professional yard-salers. Some people can be very forceful and we definitely said no to the more ridiculous haggling (especially earlier in the morning). All of this paid off in the end. We sold almost all of the toys, as well as all of the furniture and bigger items that we didn’t want to bring back.
Some of my adoptive family friends have had great success with a “donation only” yard sale and we seriously considered doing this. But knowing our area, we ultimately decided to tag the items. We still shared our story openly and many people felt moved to give more. One dear, sweet woman from our old church gave me $40.00 for $12.00 worth of items, and I heard several other similar stories from our awesome volunteers who collected money too. The yard sale was such a wonderful way to have others partner with us in many different ways. The amazing people who donated items and contributed baked goods, our prayer warriors, the precious volunteers who helped us organize, set up, and host the yard sale, and the customers who purchased donations all partnered with us! Hundreds of people worked together to help us raise $1900 ($2000 with an anonymous $100 donation) to help bring home our son. We still have a lot of nice children’s clothing leftover also, so we are going to consign them and hopefully raise a few more hundred.
Although it was a ton of work, this yard sale was such a huge success! Raising $2000 in just a few hours is overwhelming! Our God is so good! I had a secret goal to raise $1000, not really sure what to expect. But God’s plans were so much bigger, doubling what I hoped to raise. We considered doing another yard sale day, but ultimately decided against the extra effort and time. I do wonder how much more money we could’ve raised if we did that though! I know several families who have raised $4000-$6000 doing multiple-day yard sales, so if that’s an option for you, I’d highly consider it! I have been so humbled by this experience and am eternally grateful for how He used so many family, friends, and acquaintances to come around and support our family!