TOPIC: Top Tips For First Time Vendors
Top Tips For First Time Vendors 7 years 3 weeks ago #67
THE WORLD’S LONGEST YARD SALE
US HIGHWAY 127 CORRIDOR
USEFUL TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VENDORS
FROM A 25 YEAR VETERAN OF OUTDOOR SALES EVENTS
So you’ve got a garage, or barn or house, or storage unit or all of the above overflowing with things you just couldn’t live without but now, for whatever reason, you’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to part with some of the “stuff”.
Or maybe you are an enthusiastic “yardsaler” yourself and you have lots of things you think other people might like to buy.
Or maybe you are a craftsman, or an artisan or maybe even somebody who just thinks setting up for the yard sale would be a good idea. What do you need to know? Here are my top tips for first time sellers.
YOU CAN’T DO IT IN YOUR YARD
The 127 yard sale started out with the idea that people could set up a sale table or a farm wagon under a shade tree in their yard and sell antiques from their barns. That worked pretty well until millions of people began to make the event their summer vacation.
Now the number of cars and people from literally around the world has made the original concept, though still quaint and good, a bit dangerous.
Few people have sufficient parking in their yards for more than a couple of cars, and driveways were never meant for two way traffic. So people began parking in ditches, along highways and trying to carry merchandise across busy roads. Not a good scenario.
Besides, a lot more people want to participate than live right on US 127, so some others began renting lots, farms, and places big enough for vendors to set up.
If you don’t think you can handle the traffic, or if you have something to sell and don’t live right on US 127, you ought to think about setting up in a vendors site.
I’VE NEVER DONE THIS, WHAT DO I NEED TO DISPLAY MY STUFF?
Yardsale buyers don’t really care much about fancy commercial tents and facilities. In fact, they like to pick through boxes on the ground or look at stuff sitting on a folding table. It’s all a part of the image of “getting a deal”. So really, what you need depends upon what you are going to sell.
Do you have glassware? A solid table is a good idea. Several depending upon how much you have.
Do you have heavy items like tools, or equipment? Use the ground.
Antique furniture does well on the ground but may need an emergency cover in the event of rain, or heavy dew so be prepared for that.
And some of what you need depends upon what you are going to do when the selling stops at dark. (see below)
WHERE DO I STAY FOR THREE OR FOUR DAYS?
A lot of vendors treat the weekend as a camping trip. Some arrive in RV’s, or motor homes. Some put up tents. What ever you might need to camp, you need to bring if you will be staying on your lot.
If not, then you need to decide if you are going home at night, or a motel. Hotel and motel arrangements should be made well in advance. Don’t forget, the buyers are traveling hundreds of miles and they need somewhere to stay too. Hotels and Motels around the area fill up fast. Check with the person renting you the vendor site. The good ones will be prepared to help you with this.
TOP TEN THINGS YOU NEED IN ORDER TO BE PREPARED.
1. Be prepared to deal with the public first and foremost. You will have thousands of people looking at your stuff, and every once in a while someone will express an interest or make an offer. Don’t get discouraged. Cracker Barrel only puts their stores near high traffic areas. Think of all the millions of people who drive by on the Interstate and don’t stop. You won’t make a sale to everybody, but over the course of three or four days, with high traffic, you will get your fair share and in the end, it will likely be profitable.
2. Be prepared for long hours. Yard Sale people typically are out and buying before the sun comes up and don’t stop until it’s down. In August that can easily mean 15 or 16 hours.
3. Come prepared to be comfortable. Something for shade is a good idea. You will see everything from tarps on poles, to pop-up canopies to full-fledged professional pole and canvass selling tents. If this is your first time, get a little pop up, make sure you get the side walls (the sun isn’t always right over head) and get some comfortable chairs to sit in.
Also, bring plenty of cold drinks, and food and PAPER TOWELS! You will get hot, and dusty and sweaty and you will be handling money and shaking hands and every time you turn around you will want to clean yourself up, clean up your table or your sellable items. And don’t forget to bring food for yourself, a few snacks and HAND SANITIZER! I promise, if you don’t bring these things you will wish you did before the end of the first day.
4. Fourth, be prepared to make change by bringing some way to make change and keep track of your sales. A little metal money box from an office supply store works well. Be sure to get a small amount of singles, fives, a few tens and some quarters. Bring a pad of paper, and a couple of pens. Maybe some price tags with strings attached, a roll of duct tape and a little first aid kit will all come in handy.
5. Fifth, be prepared for the temperatures. It might be cool in the morning and a thermos of coffee will taste good. By 2 pm it might be so hot you can’t breathe, and then a shower by 5 could make you chilled to the bone. Be a boy scout, BE PREPARED.
6. Sixth, be prepared for rain. A rain jacket or some rain gear might not be a bad idea. Nobody can predict the weather.
7. Seventh, be prepared for the dark. I would highly suggest you get yourself a little headlamp at a sporting goods store. Flashlights are a must, but once you wear a headlamp you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.
8. Eighth, be prepared for shutting down. You need to decide how you are going to take care of your stuff when the selling stops at the end of the day. Does “your stuff” need to be covered? Are you going to put it in tubs with lids? Will dew, or rain hurt it? Are you worried about leaving things out all night if you are gone? (Most reputable vendor spaces are safe for your stuff, but rain and dew are considerations.) Inexpensive tarps or plastic sheeting are a good ideas, but then, how do you hold them down? You can sit heavy things on them or get those big heavy spring gripper clips to hold tarps to tables, or use rope, or twine.
9. Ninth, be prepared to be self-sufficient. You will need a knife, I promise. And maybe a hammer, and an adjustable wrench and if you don’t bring one, somebody will probably have one they will lend you, but more likely they will have one they will want to sell you. For the beginner it might seem odd, but no matter what, a few hand tools always come in handy.
10. Be prepared to have fun. If you go into the event with the mindset that you are going to meet a lot of fun people, get out and see all sorts of sights as buyers parade by, hear many interesting stories, learn things you didn't know and in the process get rid of some of your "stuff" and maybe even make some money, they you will have the time of your life.
WHAT KIND OF “STUFF” SELLS?
Everything sells. Broken saws sell to guys making knife blades, old plastic toys sell to grandparents, candles sell, jewelry sells, antiques sell and you might even sell your tent and the tables you brought or the vehicle you came in! But what kind of stuff works depends upon your ability to be prepared.
A table full of scented candles without shade will not do well. Tools left out in the dew might look rusty and glassware that collects dust and dew might not appeal to buyers as well as the shiny ones that look clean.
It’s all a matter of the three “P’s”, Product, Presentation and Price.
IS IT ALL WORK AND NO PLAY?
No. Setting up and selling at the 127 yard sale is a great experience. Make use of the above tips and look for a reputable vendor site with an owner who is engaged in making your stay profitable, safe and fun. The ones who don’t, won’t be in business very long.
You will meet and get to talk to lots of interesting people and the whole experience can be a very rewarding, relaxing and enjoyable time And it’s a great time to shop with your fellow vendors and MAKE SOME MONEY! So come on, get out there and SELL.
You never know, it might even become more fun than shopping!
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