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Tips & Strategies For A Successful & Profitable Tag Sale:
by Cindy Wade
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P.O. Box 343, Cuttingsville, VT 05738
Pricing Your Inventory
Advertising Is A Crucial Part Of Your Sale
Pamper Your Help
Safety & Security First For Everyone & Everything
The Sale Is Over...Now What?
You’re thinking maybe it’s time to weed out all this stuff but you’re not sure how to proceed. Don’t fret. If you are reading this booklet then you’ve taken the first step to cleaning out and cleaning up financially with a well planned, well organized tag sale, garage sale, porch sale, patio sale or yard sale. No matter what you call it this booklet will help you get started on your way to a de-cluttered life with some extra cash in your pocket.
Tips & Strategies For A Successful & Profitable Tag Sale will help you plan, get organized and keep track of your progress so you’ll have less worry and hassle. You’ll succeed at getting out from under all that clutter while making a profit you can take to the bank.
As you read through this booklet write notes. Circle or highlight information. Pull out the calendar on pages 8 & 9 and hang it on your frig. This booklet is designed to be used. Use it.
Without wasting any time I’m going to tell you right now what the best kept secret to a successful and highly profitable tag sale is. It’s your new best friend...the flea market dealer. If you aren’t already friends with one, find one and strike up a friendship. Offer to pay for their knowledge and expertise. They are well worth the expense. Many have knowledge of item values, item pricing and they have tag sale equipment available you would otherwise need to purchase or rent elsewhere. They also have access to a large list of potential customers. Their experience could net you even bigger profits at your next tag sale.
-inventory list (see page 16)
Start here with this booklet. Read it thoroughly then, using the checklists and calendar, start getting organized and ready for the big day.
First you need to start the cleaning out process. Dig through closets, cupboards, drawers, under beds, your child’s toy box, the attic, basement, garage and any outside barn or shed you have. While pulling out stuff from every nook and cranny you can find begin the sorting process. Gather your boxes and label them ’Tag Sale’, ’Keep’, and ’Trash’. Be aware though that what you think is trash may be considered a treasure to someone else. Even chipped or cracked dishes are sought after by artists who make mosaics from them. Some people love old clothing.
Don’t trash anything unless it really is disgusting or too far gone, especially if the mice have made a home with it or you could grow mushrooms on it or in it. Start this process about 3-4 weeks in advance of your sale to give yourself plenty of time. You can always trash items later on that didn’t sell.
Write on your Inventory List (photocopy as needed) all your ‘Tag Sale’ items. Items that sell well are: adult and children’s clothing, children’s books, glassware, CD’s, DVD’s, pottery, tools, lawn ornaments, garden tools, vintage items, books, furniture, post cards, costume jewelry, collectibles, religious items, linens, funky & unusual items, knick-knacks, musical instruments, sports supplies, art, games, and toys.
~Prepping Your Inventory~
-small clear plastic bags
-dish detergent, laundry soap & furniture polish
-paper towels & cleaning rags
-wire coat hangers & clothing rack
Now that you’ve finished digging out and creating your inventory list you need to prep your inventory. Here are a few ideas:
*wash clothing and linens to freshen them
*dust and/or polish wooden furniture
*wash glassware & dishes if they really need it
*if an item has multiple pieces match them up, especially games and toys
*put small items such as jewelry in small plastic bags
*wipe down greasy or dirty items & tools with dry rags
*put clothes on hangers & hang on clothing rack (create a clothes rack by securing a metal pipe between 2 stepladders) Check with your dealer friend to see if they have a clothes rack.
~Location, Location, Location~
Check with your local government to be sure a tag sale is permitted where you live. Check to see if you need to collect any sales tax.
If your location is a go you will want to consider how you will handle traffic flow, in and around the sale and on the street.
Set up your tables (lots of them if you have a large amount of inventory) so the buyers can flow freely in and around without crowding. Again, check with your dealer friend for use of tables. Our local volunteer fire department rents tables. Set up a pattern so your cashier is located where buyers can make a last stop on their way out. This also helps with security. Put ’Private Do Not Enter’ signs on doors you wish to keep people from entering.
To prevent drivers from trampling lawns and blocking traffic put up brightly colored plastic tape or yellow caution tape (found at hardware stores) around perimeters the day before the sale. This tape can be mounted on dowels or wire coat hangers that have been straightened. They push easily into the ground.
-removable stickers & labels
-string tags large enough to write descriptions on (make your own with index cards, paper punch & string)
-price guides (found in your dealer’s private library)
-small clear plastic bags
Most people expect to find bargains at a tag sale. If you think you may have items better suited for sale on eBay withhold them from the sale and list them online. Never whine to your customers that you can get better prices on eBay and never print out an eBy auction to display with your item. Most of us already know buyers at a tag sale are looking for bargains they can resell. Don’t be offended. If the person is willing to pay your price then you’re ahead of the game and you’ll both be happy.
Use collector reference books or pick someone’s brain to find out what prices you should charge. This is where your very own dealer friend is helpful. They have experience selling at flea markets or online so they can help determine prices for you. Visit some antique or thrift shops to get an idea for pricing and for what sells. Never put book price on any item. A fair price at a tag sale is usually 30-50% of book price and only if the item is in good condition.
Use descriptions on tags to discourage price/tag switching. When someone brings you a $50 footstool and the tag reads ‘$10 rug’ you know the shopper has been up to no good. Unfortunately, this does happen so stay alert.
Place your stickers and labels on the items where they will do the least damage. Remember, many buyers are looking for items to resell. A sticker can ruin the cover or original box an item is in and you may lose the sale. Never, ever use duct tape or masking tape to mark your items. Tape is a nightmare to remove and can ruin items, especially when the item is sitting in the hot sun.
Don’t sell anything for less than $0.25 cents. You won’t need nickels and dimes in the cash box and you can gather up any real cheap stuff and sell it by the bag full. Just imagine if you sold everything for a dollar and you sold a thousand items. You’d have $1,000.00!
~Advertising Is A Crucial Part Of Your Sale~
-pen & paper
-advertising checklist (inside back cover)
-white or brightly colored card board
-thick black marker
-hammer & nails
What if you threw a party and nobody came? Let’s face it, without buyers your tag sale will be a complete bust. A tag sale should be as festive as a party so you’ll need attendees.
The best months for conducting a sale are June through October. If you live in a town that is home to a college or university August and September can be profitable months with students looking to furnish apartments.
Place classified ads in your local papers. With enough pre-planning you can get an ad into your weekly papers as well. They’re good for priming the interest but expect a few early inquiries or drive-by snoops. If you’re computer savvy you can create and print some great flyers to place on bulletin boards, car windshields or hand out to friends and family. Putting flyers on telephone poles is a no-no. Post an ad online at free sites like www.craigslist.org; www.yardsalesearch.com or www.garagesalehunter.com. Talk up your sale on your own blog and be sure to include some digital photos. Never include your telephone number.
I recommend you run your sale on Friday & Saturday and start your ad on Thursday. Depending on how much inventory you’ve managed to dig out you can usually run a sale for two days instead of three.
Choose a time for your sale. I recommend the hours between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. but expect to stop the sale around 5:00 p.m.. Advertise from 8-4 then take down the signs at 4:00. This way the buyers who are still shopping can finish up while you start the process of packing up for the day. If you leave the signs up I guarantee folks will keep stopping by until you take those signs down. Be sure to take ALL your signs down each night. This will prevent confusion, street clutter and theft.
Make several street signs using your poster board and marker. Write in large lettering that can be seen from a moving car and use correct spelling! Write TAG SALE TODAY or GARAGE SALE TODAY (or other type of sale) with the date & times. I would say adding the street address is optional but a big black arrow pointing in the proper direction is a must! Nail your poster board to the wooden stick and hammer your sign into the ground in strategic places that will funnel traffic to your sale.
Remember, if you advertise a specific item you’d better make sure it’s there when the sale starts. Otherwise, that’s false advertising even if you are a mom & pop operation. Advertise ‘Rain or Shine’. You’ll be ready so don’t postpone due to weather. It takes the fun away and can make dragging the sale out another week a drudgery. Rain or shine, customers will still be there. Just plan to have cover from the start. This is where a flea market tent and lots of tarps come in handy. Rolls of clear plastic are also very useful.
Don’t discourage the early birds. These are the people with the cash in their pockets and your most eager buyers. Most of them are dealers looking for items to resell. Yes, they’ll try to haggle with you over prices but mostly they’ll pay your asking price and go away happy. Many of them will show up 1-2 hours before the sale starts. Sometimes earlier. I’ve had them waiting as early as midnight for my sales.
Don’t panic. Consider offering (or selling) them coffee, donuts and a newspaper to keep them there. They’re used to waiting an hour or two or three. You can put up a rope across your driveway so they know their boundaries.
You can also conduct what is called a ’numbered sale’. This is when you give out numbers to the early birds, they go away then come back just before the sale starts. The person with #1 gets let in first, then person #2 and so on. Just remember to advertise you’re having a numbered sale or it might irritate a few of those who arrived at the scheduled sale time. This is especially good if you have a large sale that is being held inside a small space. Many estate sales use this method. You let just so many people in at once and the rest must wait their turn. I would recommend only using numbers for a super-duper sale with huge amounts of inventory being held inside an entire house. If you’ve just inherited an estate and you’re brave enough to conduct a sale yourself I highly recommend the number system or call in an estate sale coordinator instead.
~Pamper Your Help~
-food & drink
-pen & paper (to write up assignment sheet)
-proper weather gear
Tag sales are fun but can be frustrating if you don’t have enough of the right help. Get the family involved early on. Tell the children they need to clean out their rooms and toy boxes. Tell them once they’ve done that you’ll inspect to make sure they didn’t miss something that can be parted with. Tell other family members to start cleaning out and they can add their goodies providing they are available to help the day of the sale. Make sure they bring their items to the sale at least a few days in advance and not the night before. This is also a good time to contact the neighbors and encourage them to have a sale too. Multiple tag sales in one area bring in more shoppers.
On a piece of paper write an assignment list. Assignments for the day of the sale will include but are certainly not limited to:
-cashier (an assistant for the first 2 hours is helpful)
-set up tables, tents, etc.
-set signs and take them down after
-watch over and help in the different areas such as toy section, clothing section, electronics, furniture, housewares, tools, etc.
-runner to run food and water to those too busy to leave their post
-pack up at the end of day
Make sure you have on hand a cooler or fridge ready with water or other drinks. Make sandwiches and snacks ahead of time or have someone make a food run to a take-out restaurant. Smoking in front of shoppers and around non-smokers is a definite no-no.
~Safety & Security First For Everyone & Everything~
-metal cash box that locks
-locking display case
-properly working extension cords & power strip
-someone who knows how to properly handle power tools & other ‘boy toys’
-portable or cell phone
Have enough cash in small bills and change for the cashier. Two hundred dollars is a good starting point. Have $170 in $1’s, $5’s & $10’s. Have $30 in quarters. Write down the amount of your start cash for accounting purposes when the sale ends. Make sure your cashier has a counterfeit money detector pen to check for counterfeit bills and uses it! These days you can’t be too careful. Scammers are everywhere, even in your quiet little town and they’re just itching to catch you off guard when you’re too busy to notice.
If you have small valuable items and jewelry get a locking case with a glass cover. Again, this is when your dealer friend comes in handy. Keep the case next to the cashier and KEEP IT LOCKED when it’s not being attended to. With the glass cover buyers can look without touching. If they’re truly interested they’ll ask to examine the item. Don’t let them paw through the case when it’s open. Take out the item, hand it to the shopper, then close the case. If they want to see something else repeat the procedure.
Lock all the doors and windows to your house during the sale so no one can wander into the back yard and enter when you’re distracted. Make sure your crew is aware of their surroundings and keep an eye out for light fingered shoppers. Notify your neighbors you’re having a tag sale so they can take precautions with strangers in their neighborhood. They’ll appreciate your concern for them.
Keep those extension cords out from under foot using duct tape and make sure all displays are sturdy. Keep the family pooch inside or at a friend’s house for the day. Even the friendly ones have been known to bite strangers and the cute and cuddly ones have disappeared into a shopping bag or two.
~The Day Of The Sale~
-sense of humor
-CD player & CD’s
-sold tags (make with index cards & string)
-pens & clipboards with lined paper
-extra price tags
-calculator and/or adding machine
-boxes & plastic bags for shoppers
-newspapers for packing
-tarps & canopies
Younger children and infants should be left with a sitter for the day and possibly overnight. Your sale will need your full attention and you’ll probably be too exhausted by the end of the day to see to anyone’s needs but your own.
Get up early and be sure to have breakfast. You’ll need the added energy. If everything is ready to go then all you should have to do is set the signs, open the door and start the process of pulling things out into the driveway for viewing. Put some larger eye-catching items closer to the road so drive-bys can see what you have and be tempted to stop. Be prepared for those early birds to start running after items they spotted from the end of your driveway.
Serve those hungry early birds some coffee and donuts and let them peek as you pull stuff into the viewing area prior to sale time. Make sure your staff is ready to go on time and took their potty break before the sale starts. Pull the tags off items as they sell to keep track of what sold and for how much. Initial any price changes on tags for the cashier. Use a different colored pen to change prices on tags. Play background music for shoppers. You can create either a relaxed or festive atmosphere by doing this.
-plastic storage tubs
Sort what is left over for trash, donation or what you plan to keep for your next sale. Heavy duty plastic storage tubs are great for this and the better quality ones can take the heat and cold if you store them outside in a shed or barn. They’re also mouse proof.
If you decide to donate your items be sure to remove all tags and stickers first. Find out ahead of time if your local non-profit organizations take the kind of items you have. Your flea market friend might know someone who will take leftovers off your hands for free saving you a dump fee. Thrift stores are not the only ones looking for donations. Our local fire department has an annual tag sale and is always looking for good donations.
Now, the work is done and you’ve thanked your crew. Everyone has gone home and it’s time to enjoy the peace and quiet. Best of all you’ve got a good size chunk of change to add to your bank account. Count your money and count your blessings then start planning for next year’s big event.
Newspaper Ad Size Cost Dates
Flyers Size Quantity Cost
Online Ads Quantity Posting Date Cost
Sample Classified Ad:
(type of sale)
(location & directions)
(items for sale)
(design your own signs)
_cleaned and sorted all closets
_cleaned and sorted all kitchen cupboards
_cleaned and sorted all bedrooms
_cleaned and sorted all bathrooms
_cleaned and sorted kitchen
_cleaned and sorted living/family room
_cleaned and sorted attic
_cleaned and sorted basement
_cleaned and sorted garage
_cleaned and sorted barn
_cleaned and sorted shed
_completed inventory list
_took trash to dump
_called family & friends to help with sale
_invited family & friends to add their own inventory to sale
_explained guidelines for sale to family & friends
_assigned duties to helpers
_called dealer friend for assistance
_cleaned & sorted inventory
_tagged the main items
_bagged up smaller items & tagged them
_acquired tables for displaying inventory
_acquired hangers for hanging clothing
_acquired clothes rack for displaying clothing
_gathered newspapers & plastic bags for sale day
_made arrangements for baby sitter
_made arrangements for pet sitter
_placed ads in newspapers
_made tag sale signs for roadway
_have CD player & CD’s ready for sale day music
_acquired sold tags for sale day items
_made ’Private Do Not Enter’ signs
_acquired metal locking cash box
_acquired petty cash for cash box
_acquired locking glass top display case for small items
_ recruited 2 guys for sale day lifting & loading
_stocked up with food & drink for sale day staff
Profitable Tag Sale does NOT contain the Tag Sale Calendar Time Line.
For a printed copy of the 1-page Tag Sale Calendar Time Line
send your name and address plus $1.00 to: Anna Q’s Attic, P.O. Box 343 Suite 27, Cuttingsville, VT 05738.
To order a printed copy of Tips & Strategies For A Successful & Profitable Tag Sale