Yard Sale Tips: Recognizing Professional Buyers At Your Yard Sale
Yard sale tip: Professional buyers can turn your yard sale into a disaster by showing up early, haggling for bargains and clearing out the good merchandise. Here's how to spot them.
A good yard sale takes plenty of preparation- you must price your items, set up display stands, obtain the proper permits from the city, and advertise your sale in the local newspaper and on the streets. The one element you can never prepare for is the element that shows up on your lawn an hour before the official starting time of your sale. They are the 'professional buyers', a group of value-savvy shoppers who make a decent living reselling goods they buy at deep discounts from unsuspecting sellers. Before you know it, your yard sale can be stripped bare without much in the way of profits. Here's what to look out for when holding a yard sale, and some ways to prevent being ripped off by these yard sale gypsies.
1. Professional buyers almost invariably arrive earlier than the posted start time of the sale. If you posted an advertisement in the paper in the newspaper with an expressed starting time, be prepared for several people waiting for you when you put the first item out for sale. Some may simply be early-bird neighbors who happen to pass by, but the majority know precisely what they are looking for. One trick to make your day easier- if you really want the sale to begin at 9am, then advertise 10am as your starting time in the paper. Professionals like to start early, so anticipate a rush of customers at 9am. You may still fall victim to a rushed sale by a pro, but at least you started when you wanted to.
2. Professionals almost always want the higher-ticket items that will be easier to resell. Your magazine collections and old toys may be fun to look at, but will not be the most attractive items to a professional buyer. Tools, automotive parts, quality clothing items, electronics- these all have a better chance at reselling and will be highly coveted by the buyer looking to turn a fast buck. Beware of browsers who don't appear interested in any other bric-a-brac except the higher-valued items. The more unscrupulous pros will feign interest in some items, but will make every effort to discuss your bottom line on those tires, or that old computer.
3. Package deals almost always hurt the seller. If a buyer seems anxious to throw together several items for a 'package price', be aware of what items are being discussed. A common trick for resellers is to offer a fair price for two smaller items, if the seller would throw in a more valuable item for free. Some items have hidden resale values that the average person does not realize. For example, that old office chair may seem relatively worthless without decent upholstery, but the casters alone may be worth more than the entire chair to a furniture restorer. Professional buyers live off the idea that they are 'just doing you a favor' by taking unwanted items off your hands. If you want to maximize profits, don't fall into the package deal trap too early. Later in the day, you might consider offering deeper discounts to customers you trust, but trust no one for the first two hours of the sale.
4. Professional resellers look like everyone else, so don't depend on your eyes alone. Behavior and buying patterns are what will give away a pro, not their breezy small talk or their efforts to blend in with the crowd. You don't want to turn down a fair offer for an item just because the buyer looks too eager or offers you a little less than what you had hoped. Yard sales are seen as bargain opportunities by the general population, so don't let your suspicions get the better of you. Haggle and deal with your customers at will, but keep an eye on those who seem too at ease with the haggling process.
5. Know the value of your merchandise ahead of time, and stick to your guns. Pros have a busy day ahead of them, so if you know you can get your asking price on a high-ticket item later in the day, refuse to accept deep discounts early. Once the pros sense a backbone, they generally move on to easier pickings. If someone expresses interest in a high-ticket item early, ask for a way to contact them later if the item is still available. Pros won't do it, but genuine customers will.