by Josh Jones
If you are interested in hosting a yard sale for your short term missions team, this article is intended to help you maximize your efforts and see some of the behind-the-scenes effects it has on a short term team.
The basic idea is to get everyone on your team involved in collecting enough yard-sale junk like old household items and that exercise bike that was never used that you can put together a nice size sale on a saturday morning. Since yard sales are so common, I would like to skip the basics and look at some key factors to keep in mind.
More Benefits than Money: Team Unity
Yard Sales are an excellent way to build team unity. Group activities like this really build relationships and begin to help the team gel. Its always fun to watch everybody trying on outrageous old clothes! Also, for team leaders, keep in mind, this will be a good opportunity to see who your hard workers will be and who your slackers are. If you do this fundraiser early enough on, it can help you weed out potential problems. 6 months away is the best time to confront people who aren't interested in working as a team, and can help alleviate the stress of realizing this once you are on the field!
Factor Number 1: Stuff!
Collecting junk is a team effort, and will take everyone clearing out their attic to start. Also consider putting boxes in your sponsoring church(es) and asking for donation in the Sunday morning anouncements. Getting your church behind the effort can be a huge boon and really increase the size of sale you have. Also remind people that if they donate it to the church, they can receive a tax-free donation receipt. Many people would prefer this over the hassle of having their own yard sale.
Factor Number 2: Location
The next most important thing you can do for your yard sale is to host it in a good location. Since you are most likely operating as a team, either your sponsoring church or one of your team members should have an ideal location. Usually people think of high traffic roads as ideal, but also consider many middle-class residential areas. If they are known for always having yard sales, you are more likely to catch people just wandering around. Another key factor in location is parking and space. You don't want to create a nightmare traffic jam by having a yard sale in a barely accessible location.
Factor Number 3: Advertising
There are few different aspects to advertising you want to be sure to cover. Always go with the local newspaper's classified section. Many yard-salers use this as their map and this could certainly pull a lot of traffic your way. If you have any large items, be sure to list them here. Usually, the listing will be due the day before the paper is printed, and it is sometimes wise to print it on Friday and Saturday, even if your sale will just be one day. (Print: Saturday only)
You also want to make sure you have sufficient signage. Its usually wise to find every major street that is within 10 blocks or so and post a high visibility sign. Using posterboard of neon colors is often a good idea for attracting attention. Make sure to be clear in your directions and arrows, and have other team members give their opinions on visibility.
Additional Factors: Pricing
Its always a good idea to get your church's yard sale gurus to help you with pricing. These are the people that are at yard sales every weekend. They are the best people to ask about pricing, and usually love to offer their opinions. If you price everything too low or too high, it could mean the difference of hundreds of dollars.
Additional Factors: Time
Regardless of when you advertise your sale to start, people will show up early. If you don't want to have to start too early, advertise your sale for an hour later than you would normally, but no later than 7am, as peak yard sale times tend to run between 6-9. After that, people are looking for large discounts. Often times, we will set everything at half price after 10am, and offer grab bags after 12.