Mastering the Art of the Deal: Tag Sales

Whether you're the seller or the buyer, knowing how to have a successful experience at a tag sale takes 80% planning and 20% luck from the gods of found treasures. Much like a consignment shop, rummage sale, or sidewalk sale, tag sales can produce lots of hidden treasures if you know how to look. The definition of tag sale is a sale where used and unwanted household goods are tagged with an asking price to be sold. But really whether you call them yard sales, garage sales, or tag sales, it's all about finding something you don't really need but absolutely must have at a discounted price.

Garage sales and yard sales are pretty interchangeable in how they work. If you have a garage, you can set up folding tables inside the night before and place all your best crap...I mean collectibles...out for sale when the garage door opens. To make it an official tag sale, price your stuff a little higher than you'd like to get for them so bargainers have a starting point. You can use colored circle stickers or even bits of masking tape as price tags to write the prices on.

If you're having a yard sale, driveway sale, or front lawn sale, prepare for the early birds. Early birds are really into tag sales. Often they may have a resale shop of their own or run an online auction. Their goal is buy your best stuff for as cheap as possible so they can resell for a profit. The early birds will come hours before your sale is supposed to start and just start digging through your stuff. They're pretty brazen but hey, you wanna sell your stuff, don't you?

Town-Wide Garage Sale

A community or town-wide yard sale is a great way to get a lot of traffic to your sale. Often it's organized by the town hall, chamber of commerce, or homeowners association. Register your address with the organizer and get your sale included on a yard sale map for that weekend. Some towns require a permit to hold a garage sale. Those fees are usually waived during a town wide event.

Advertise Your Sale

Social media has made advertising for a tag sale super easy. Make sure to join the Facebook community page of your town and post the details there. If you're more of a twitter or instagram user, take a few pics after it's all set up and tag surrounding town pages, schools, churches, mom's group pages, etc.

Setting up and running a tag sale is a lot of work and you will be surprisingly exhausted when it's over. So make sure you have an end time and plan what to do with unsold stuff. Is there a goodwill nearby to bring it to? Or a junk hauler that can come by the next day? If it's okay with your town and no rain is expected overnight, leave it all out with FREE signs and you'll be surprised at how fast it all disappears.

Plan to have your sale the week before a town wide bulk pickup. I lived in a town that called our twice yearly bulk pickup "Sparkle Week." That's a fancy name for throwing away tons of stuff, and man that's a good feeling. Plus, driving around the neighborhood at a snail's pace with a flashlight is a whole other sport during bulk week. My brother found brand new snow shoes that way, but that's a whole other story.

No matter how cool your stuff is, you've got to advertise or it's all a flop. Craigslist, supermarket community boards, Facebook pages, church bulletin boards, Starbucks, the local diner. There are yard sale and estate sale apps too that will get people spending their dollars on your collection of snowman themed home decor.

You could also hire an estate sale company to run your tag sale. If you're downsizing your home or doing a big move, you want to sell as much unnecessary stuff as possible. One of the additional benefits of using an estate sale company is they have regular buyers who attend their sales. Even though they're taking a percentage, you get guaranteed foot traffic. Plus if you're dealing with the liquidation of a loved one's belongings, having a non-emotional person help with the mechanics of the sale makes it a little easier.

Put your signs out on the main roads with thick arrows for those impulsive drivers. Make your signs from neon-colored poster board, and write your information with thick, black, block letters. Signs with a white background aren't as noticeable. Don't write too much information on your signs. It's too hard to read driving past at 45 mph anyway.

Balloons will help draw attention to your yard sale. Plus they help buy more time for the adults shopping when kids get impatient. What kid doesn't love a free balloon? Also have a box of small toys that you can give kids for free.

Put your signs out on the morning of the sale. This is where those friends and teenagers come in handy. Even better, put them up after dark the night before. Make sure to have more change than you think you'll need, some plastic bags and newspaper to wrap breakables in, pizza on speed dial for when it's all over, and smile. People are more likely to buy from happy people.