Set Prices Beforehand
You should have two prices: the list price, and the lowest you’d be willing to accept. The list price should be stickered, and it should be an amount you’d be very happy to get, but not so high that you’d scare people off.
For example, if you have a three-year-old IKEA lamp that still works, but just doesn’t match the vibe in your new place, maybe, in your heart of hearts, you’d take $15 for it, no problem. List it for $25. You may find a taker – and it’s unlikely that someone would flat-out leave if they thought the price was too high – instead, they’d likely start dickering.
Don’t Sell Things That Might Scare People Off
For example, in New York, don’t sell sheets, pillows (for the bed or couch), mattresses, etc – bedbugs are a real concern, and if a New Yorker sees you selling pillows, they’re going to wonder. Don’t sell something that’s obviously broken – it may have some use as a broken object, but, um, if you’re selling a broken toaster as a “fixer-upper” people aren’t going to trust anything else you’re selling.
Also, don’t sell items that are offensive – this includes Nazi paraphernalia (which I’ve encountered in NYC flea markets), anything that has a Confederate flag on it, and pornography (even if it’s old Playboys, or what you think are kitschy VHS tapes).
Tell your friends a few days before, and let them know that they’re welcome to drop by. Around the neighborhood, advertise day-of. The best way to do this is through chalking and posting small-ish signs on telephone poles along the nearest major streets.
Also, get creative: If you have a neighbor or friend with a small-ish child who might want to set up a lemonade stand, volunteer to help supervise and have adjoining sales. Not only will the kid have a great time selling lemonade, but you’ll attract far more customers as a result.
If you follow these steps, you’re guaranteed to have a relaxing afternoon chatting with neighbors and passersby … and hopefully selling a few things. While you should never count on making a set amount from a stoop sale, with any luck you’ll earn a little spending money and de-clutter your apartment in the process.
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