Sunday, August 7, 2011

(even if you have no yard)

Living in NYC, the term "yard sale" is thrown around somewhat loosely, as rarely anyone actually has a real yard, unless you count a square of grass with a sad little tree in it, covered in dog whiz and crumpled Poland Spring containers, just barely managing to cling to life in front of your building.

But we city people still hoard and collect too much stuff, too, even in a typical 300-500 square foot city living space, and we also want to get rid of it and make a few bucks on a lazy afternoon. So what are we to do? Well, since I've got a little pro experience with the YS, as regular yard sales have helped to subsidize every creative project I've ever indulged in, here are my tips on how to make your "yard" sale rock 'n friggin roll.

#1. Figure out the deal with the po-po. In my lower Manhattan neighborhood, it is illegal to have a yard sale. We are required to get a permit, lest we may bring in a cool tax free $50 smackers, and the gov can't have us doing those kinds of shenanigans! Since permits run from $30-$200 depending on the situation and may take up to 6 weeks to secure, just try calling the police station, ask for the permit department and try to work out a situation with the police for a one time approval to have a stinkin' yard sale. They will probably say, "No biggie" and ignore you for the day. If you don't call them first and try to just go for it, you run the risk of them showing up and ruining the party, which, in case you're not sure, is always what happens when the cops show up to the party. It's happened to me more than once and the police don't have much of a sense of humor about it. They can give you a $150 ticket or arrest you, neither of which are how anyone wants their crummy little stoop sale to turn out. So do yourself a favor and make it legit.

#2. I'm not kidding - Figure out the deal with the po-po. Tip #2 is also about the police, because you have to make sure this end is covered or else your end will be covered by some fella named Bubba in the big house. OK so maybe I'm over-exaggerating for fun and yuks. What, you don't think jail rape is funny? Fine, sorry, I'll just get to the tip. If you can't get the permit situation worked out, get a PBA card. A PBA card is a card you get from a friend who is a police officer. They will give you the card, and then if other police officers give you a hard time, you can whip it out like the "buy yourself freedom" credit card that it can be and potentially keep your lily white laurels on the mean streets and out of the cool cellars of jail town.

Disclaimer: PBA cards will not get you out of public crack smoking or that illegal bootlegging ring you're running every Wednesday and Sunday. It's really only for the little stuff, and then there's not a 100% chance it will work, so, really, the best tip of all is, just get a job and don't do a yard sale in NYC at all.

#3. Advertise. It's really simple, still, people don't really do it. Make flyers. Make posters. Hang them up in your neighborhood a few days before hand. Post the info on your blog and your FB page. Hang flyers in the coffee shop and the laundry room in your building. Put a posting on Craigslist. Tell your friends via email a few days before hand. People will come and they will give you money. Isn't that awesome? Another good trick is to put signs up near a local flea market, getting the bargain hunters who are done there and want to find a little more sweet yard sale action.

#4. Have Good Stuff To Sell. From doing yard sales for years, I know what sells. Clothing that is vintage, interesting or in good condition sells, electronics sell, sometimes vintage glassware sells but not so much. Jewelry that isn't crusty and gross sells. Books don't really sell unless they are classics or coffee table books. Your old make up and lotions and half used bottles of shampoo will not sell. Throw them away, they are garbage. Your shitty paper backs of crappy proportions will not sell. It's important to know the difference between stuff you should toss and valuables. The old saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" is just not true. Everyone knows what trash is. It's stuff that no one will buy. Be willing to negotiate. You're not going to get a lot of money for stuff at a yard sale. Be willing to part with things for a few dollars and be willing to negotiate within reason. Obviously, don't throw away stuff that doesn't sell. Upload photos to your Ebay page instead, and charge twice as much for it.

This vintage Anna Sui dress sold today for $4 to the
lucky lady who happened to catch me in a good mood.

Though these skis are worth at least $75, I wouldn't
ask for more than $20 for them at a yard sale, and I
wouldn't put them out in a summer yard sale unless I
felt like carrying a pair of skis outside and then back inside again later.

These gorgeous vintage Italian size 8 pumps were for sale
at my yard sale for $8 today. A nice lady tried to get them
off me for $3 but I wasn't having it. So now I will upload them
to my Etsy page and I will sell them for $25 to another even nicer lady.

#5. Set Up Chairs And Bring A Guitar Outside. People are drawn to a crowd. If a few people start to gather around, others will gather, too. If you set up a few folding chairs and invite a few friends to come and drink some lemonade, pass a guitar around and enjoy the day, before you know it, the day will be over and you'll have a few hundies in your pocket.

BONUS: You are allowed to have yard sales on private property. This includes the foyer of your building, the back yard of your building, your own apartment and the side walk in front of your building as long as you are not blocking pedestrian traffic.

Happy yard saling!

Got any great yard sale tips of your own? Got a yard sale coming up in NYC? Paste your tips and info below.

Wanna come to my yard sale? Venture to the intersection of Ludlow Street and Canal Street and look around for a rack of awesome clothes and a happy lady wearing pink and playing a ukulele. I will be there for every Sunday in August if it is sunny.


Anonymous said...

You're so cute.

Jessica Delfino said...

Thanks! I take cute pills.