PEI

Tips for getting the most out of P.E.I.'s yard sale season

It's that time of year again, and the faithful are chomping at the bit for a fresh crop of yard sales. Whether you're a seller liquidating because you're moving or de-cluttering, or a buyer who loves to collect (fill in blank!), here are some tips and tricks for yard sales from those in the know.

'Most sellers expect a bit of haggling, but do not lowball'

A customer considers this vendor at the 2015 70-Mile Coastal Yard Sale in southeastern P.E.I. (70 Mile Coastal Yard Sale/Facebook)

It's that time of year again, and the faithful are chomping at the bit for a fresh crop of yard sales.

Whether you're a seller liquidating because you're moving or de-cluttering, or a buyer who loves to collect (fill in blank!), here are some tips and tricks for yard sales from those in the know.

For buyers

Audrey Shillabeer runs the Annual 70-Mile Coastal Yard Sale in southeastern P.E.I., a 19-year tradition that brings customers from all over eastern North America and includes 150 registered vendors as well as hundreds of non-registered ones.

Her top tip to enjoy your yard sale experience?

"Go and have fun! Go with your friends or your spouse, someone you enjoy spending time with," she said. "Enjoy the scenery. Go with a positive attitude."

And don't get too caught up in finding that perfect treasure, she adds.

"Do your research," advises avid yard saler Marcia Gardiner of Crapaud.

She looks at local newspapers and goes online to look up potential sales, then builds a list, separating sales into areas and pinpointing unfamiliar areas using her GPS. 

Change is good

Experts advise bringing along boxes and bags for your purchases, as vendors may run out. 

And take plenty of small change in various denominations.

"Many items are just 25 cents, and not all vendors can give change," Shillabeer said. "And if something is marked 50 cents you can hand it to them quickly — vendors are very busy on yard sale day." 

Handmade jewelry for sale in Wood Islands, P.E.I., at the 70-Mile Coastal Yard Sale. (70 Mile Coastal Yard Sale/Facebook)

Take water and snacks. If you're gone for the day you'll need them, especially to keep kids happy. 

Layer your clothes and wear comfortable shoes.

"If you like it, pick it up," advises Gardiner.

"Even if you are unsure about the item, pick it up and carry it around with you. Too many times, another browser will swoop in and scoop the item I had my eye on. Once you have made up your mind you can either purchase the item or return it to where you found it."

For sellers

Shillabeer suggests vendors take some time planning their table for maximum appeal. 

"Place items on your table in logical groupings," she said.

"Studies say to use a semi-circular arrangement — psychologically it's snug and inviting, and it gives buyers less chance for have their attention diverted or to move on."

If things aren't selling, she advises vendors move items around a bit.

"When your stall is set out, take a look at it from the front as a customer sees it — would your products appeal to you if you were passing by?" Shillabeer asks.

For safety, she adds, vendors should not allow yard salers to use their home washroom. They could steal while the seller is distracted, or, sinister as it sounds, they could be scoping out your place for a future burglary.

"Keep your money on you at all times, not in a cash box on a table," she said, as it's too easy for someone to walk away with it when your back is turned. Likewise, don't flash your money, either as a buyer or a seller. 

Have extension cords running from your house so buyers can test electronic goods, but place them so shoppers won't trip over them. 

The art of the bargain

"Be friendly and polite. Sellers are more likely to give you a good deal if you greet them upon arrival, and when you speak politely to them," suggests Gardiner. 

Arrange similar items in groupings on your table, and rearrange them if people are passing by them, experts advise.

"Haggle, but be respectful," she adds. "Most sellers expect a bit of haggling, but do not lowball. Very low offers — like half the asking price, for instance — on a reasonably-priced item is not respectful of the buyer."

But Belinda Mackeigan-Woods of Miscouche takes a different approach.

"When making an offer, I always split the price in half," she said. "If they are asking 10, I offer five. Often it works, but never do I pay full price!" 

If sellers refuse to negotiate, Mackeigan-Woods said she walks away.

"It's meant to be fun. We both get to help the environment as well," by recycling. 

Audrey Shillabeer is not a fan of bargaining at all, but does advise vendors to ask slightly more than they'd like to receive so there is room for those who do expect to negotiatie. 

Pricing your things 

Do some research on your items and find out what they're worth, advises Shillabeer. Gardiner adds sellers can browse sites like Facebook buy-and-sell pages to get an idea of what others are getting for their wares. 

"Some people are liquidating items and want to get rid of them, and others know the value and want closer to it," Shillabeer said, pointing out more valuable items might fetch a higher price if advertised to a wider audience on a different platform such as Kijiji.

Mackeigan-Woods advises sellers mark their prices, be negotiable, make sure items are clean and all parts are with it, and not to get sentimental about what you are selling.

"The buyers won't and will walk away if the price is not right," she said.

"You want to get rid of it ... For me, once I have decided to get rid of it, I just want it gone."

If you've had the item for a number of years and had your use from it — assuming it's not a fine antique — you should be prepared to sell it for lower than half the cost, Gardiner recommends. 

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