Yard Sale Signage: Make it Easier for Treasure Hunters!
Ah, Spring and Yard Sale Season is upon us.
As you all know by now making up-cycled, recycled, reclaimed, re-purposed and reinvented creations means that we need to keep a good selection of the raw materials on hand. And as we have said before yard sales, flea markets, estate sales and junk shops are our favorite places to hunt for the trash that we turn into treasure.
We have been chasing down yard sales for as long as we can remember. Once the Antiquing/Collecting/DIYing/Upcycling/Love-a-Bargain/Pure-Nosiness BUG has bit, it is hard to stop. Granted things have changed a lot over the years but there is nothing like a good yard sale first thing on a Saturday morning.
There have been a lot of articles written about “How to Have a Successful Yard Sale” but we don’t know if anyone has ever written about finding yard sales from the buyer’s point of view. After all, we want to find your yard sale. You want us to find your yard sale. Here are some tips to help get us all together.
In our area, most yard sales take place on Saturdays and mostly in the morning. This means that the early bird gets the worm as the saying goes. It doesn’t matter whether you call it a yard sale, garage sale, tag sale, or junk sale, it’s all the same to us.
The “Old School” way of plotting out our maneuvers was to sit down with the Friday newspaper and a map (and the drink of our choice) and figure out a route that would get us to the greatest number of yard sales in the shortest amount of time. We would literally stick pins in our map sometimes, taking into account start times and where the greatest number of sales were concentrated. These days we do our best to get to bed early on a Friday night, but back in the day we sometimes picked up the Saturday morning paper on our way home Friday night. (That is a story for another time). The newspaper could be bought off of the back dock of the newspaper building as the delivery people picked up their bundles at around 4:00 am. There were more sales published in the Saturday paper than on Friday so it was worth it to pick up the paper early.
It is great to have a co-pilot to read the map if possible (or app – more on that in a second.) We grab a to-go mug of our favorite cuppa and head out the door.
Once we find a yard sale we make sure to park where we know we will be able to leave easily and not get blocked in of course while obeying all parking signs. We walk quickly, make decisions quickly, carry a lot of small bills to pay for our finds and move on. We don’t have long before we have to get back to the ARCANACOPIA workshop so we MOVE IT. It’s good exercise too!
It’s All About the Signage!
One of the most frustrating things we have encountered is the lack of good signage to guide us to sales. Here are the main difficulties:
- Signs need to be possible to read from the driver’s seat of the car-from across the street or even intersection. Many times the writing is too small to read. Other times the sign has too much small print all over it. Sometimes the signs are posted too high.
- All signs really need to say is “YARD SALE” and have an arrow on them pointing us to your sale. Keep it simple. And big. Really big. Step back and see if you can read your sign from across the street before you make up a bunch of them.
- Feel free to use this sign or we’ve linked to some really inspired ones below.
- Don’t take up room writing the date of the sale on your signs. If you post your signs early in the morning and take them down after the sale is over then you don’t need to write the date.
- And if you put the address on the sign that does not mean that we know quickly where that address is. Nor does it mean that we will take the time to look up the address on a map or app. (Recall the part about MOVING ON.) Put a sign with an arrow at every turn and guide us in please. Some people post a sign with an arrow on it on the first sign and then just repeat the same style arrow for all subsequent turns. This works very well.
- Do not list anything that is for sale on the sign. That information belongs in your listing. (App info coming up below.)
If we are looking for your yard sale then we will come to it if we see your signs and can follow them. So write “YARD SALE” in BOLD letters at least 2 to 3 inches tall and a big arrow on your signs and people will thank you for it. It helps if all of your signs are the same color or style. We found a couple of online Saints offering some quality help with the signs!
designOrganized has an Etsy shop with an inexpensive, adorable and useful packet for yard sale hosting.
And culdesaccool has, naturally some ultra cool and fun signs offered freely for printing.
There is another problem that is the opposite of unreadable signs and that is signs that have been left up for weeks after the sale is over. (And you know who you are.) Regulars, like ourselves, remember many of them from prior weeks and ignore them. Also, in damp weather they wilt like last week’s lettuce and give themselves away. However there have been many times we have arrived at an address posted on a sign only to find that there is no sale there. We have been tempted to bang on the door and wave the signs in their faces, but who has time for that? Be courteous and take your signs down after your sale, people!
In the last few years, apps have become available to help people find yard sales using their smart phone or tablet. The one we use is “Yard Sale Treasure Map.” Any yard sale posted on Craigslist shows up on a map in the app marked with a red marker. Tap on the marker and it gives more info. You can set it to show sales on the day you are sale-ing and show sales from 2 to 30 miles away. The app can create a route for you if you would like but that does not take into account any rogue signs you might pass. You can post pictures as well, which you could never do in a newspaper ad. This is where you post all the information you want your customers to know. No early-birds? No problem, just say so. The best part about the yard sale app is that it is FREE to post on Craigslist. When posting your sale to the app be sure to position the marker on the map where it belongs. We have seen markers that were in totally the wrong neighborhood which just proves that computers don’t know everything.
UPDATE March 2021. Craigslist has cancelled their arrangement with Yard Sale Treasure Map which means that sales posted on Craigslist no longer show up automatically on the app. People having yard sales need to post them into the app directly. Yard Sale Treasure Map is working on the problem. Some yard sale angels have been reposting sales from Facebook ad and we appreciate their efforts. Yard Sales have been few and far between this past year and we look forward to going to more and the temperatures go up and the rates of COVID infections go down.
The funny thing is that now people sometimes don’t put up signs at all. We should point out that not everyone has a smart phone or tablet and not everyone knows about the app. AND, not everyone can read their tablet, or especially their phone while driving! It really slows things down to have to pull over and figure where you are and where the next sale is. It is still great to have signs to follow.
Now that we have a car with a good navigation system on it we have really started to use it. The few extra moments that it takes to type in an address often save many minutes of driving around the block looking for an address that is not where the marker in the app said it would be. Who knew that things would get this automated.
It is great that neighborhood associations have started coordinating yard sale dates so that entire neighborhoods can participate if they want. This keeps the number of independent yard sales down, we suppose, and that residents are less disturbed by extra traffic at other times. The grouping of yard sales is also great for the buyer because we can get to a lot more yard sales at once. Traffic jams are a problem sometimes but we fall back on our policy of not allowing ourselves to be blocked in even if we have to hoof it a little further. Neighborhood yard sales allow us to park once and walk to several yard sales before moving down the block.
So thanks people, maybe we will see you when we are out next Saturday morning. Hope you have a great yard sale!
All this yard sale-ing has netted a great assortment of “stuff” create with. The only problem is that we are really going to have to have a yard sale of our own someday…..