Lessons in Yard Sale Marketing

Yard sale!The big yard sale this weekend went pretty well: I made about $105, mostly on crummy DVDs, CDs, and books. My two compatriots also took in a rather nice haul in the cause of getting rid of unwanted junk.

In the process, we observed some important lessons in marketing.

First, we had a nice division of labor working for us. I thought up ideas for the signage; Erin, the graphic designer, made the signage look great; and Kimberly, our "people person" engaged customers and, when necessary, hand sold many items for a good (by yard sale standards) price. Lesson: Identifying each other's strengths and deploying them appropriately is the essence of great teamwork.

Books for RepublicansI viewed my greatest challenge as selling old books with politically conservative themes to the commie pinko treehuggers of downtown Ann Arbor. I had a lot of books of all types for sale, but I believed these would not sell without some kind of special effort. So I separated them from all the others and put them in their own box with a simple sign, "Books for Republicans." Even without Erin's artistry, the sign worked wonders: There were just four books left unsold from a box that had been packed with paeans to Ronald Reagan, policy analyses from the Heritage Foundation, and other suchlike. I strongly believe had those books been just scattered throughout the rest of my literary offerings they would not have sold. Lesson: Suggestive copy is key.

Summer getaway tableA similar example arose when on Saturday I failed to sell three of my old Hawaiian shirts (and Kimberly her "Hawaii" t-shirt). On Sunday we decided to group those shirts with thematically similar items (swimming trunks, a beach towel, and some plastic tiki cups) and create a special sign: "Too broke for vacation? Check out our summer getaway table." The trunks, towel, and cups didn't sell, but at least all the shirts did. Lesson: Adding a touch of humor also can bring great results.

Kimberly had a container full of plastic combs she received from the widow of an old comb salesman, and she and Erin created a sign for it: "Free Gift with Purchase!" Almost without exception, people took their combs. Lesson: Incentives are a great idea; customers always love a freebie (or lagniappe, as they say in New Orleans).

Ayyyyyy!And, finally, the best lesson of all: If someone offers you 35 cents for an awesome Fonzie t-shirt, laugh at him. You'll sell it for a dollar a few hours later.


Anonymous said...

That dude was whack...trying to buy the Fonz for 35 cents. I mentioned this at the CB on Sunday and the dude was roundly spanked in absentia. The Fonz is now resting on my dresser...I just couldn't throw him down the chute or in with the rest of the laundry...it seemed wrong, somehow.

PS: For anyone viewing the picture, please remember that the camera adds 10 pounds!!!!!

Kimberly said...

Even though I was there, this post makes me relive the weekend with fondness (or is that "Fonz"ness?).

I say we do it again in late August when the students are around to appreciate your ideas, Erin's artwork, my ability to engage ... and more of our collective junk. :)

Teach Patti, your comments cracked me up. Ha!

Anonymous said...

That was my favorite garage sale ever. Especially the "free with purchase" beer for special customers!

Dave said...

Oh yes, free beer works, too.

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