The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

May 18, 2013

Yard sale season means big business

PENDLETON, Ind. — They’re coming.

“You’ll see them out there, roaming the streets,” Ginnie Clevenger said. “They’ll be out there driving around the neighborhood, usually really early in the morning, just scoping things out.”

Yes, they’re coming: With circled newspaper ads, wads of cash and an insatiable taste ... for the clutter in the back of your garage.

Yard sale season is upon us, again.

In Clevenger’s Pendleton neighborhood, it’s been a Pendle Hill homeowners’ association tradition since 1977, marked every year with a big banner and balloons tied to mailboxes. Saturday, between 15 and 20 homeowners had signed up to price-sticker their old clothes, video tapes, whats-a-whose-its and thing-a-ma-bobs, and spread them across their front lawns.

“I always look at it like people are paying me to haul (clutter) away for me,” said Clevenger, who coordinates the sale. “It’s a win-win: They get stuff, and I don’t have to find a place to put it.”

Since there’s no such thing as the U.S. Bureau of Yard Sale Statistics and most transactions are done in cash, definitive data on yard sales is a little tough to come by. But according to the folks over at the Statistic Brain Research Center, about 165,000 Americans hold sales every week.

They sell an average of 4,967,500 items to 690,000 people, for $4.2 million in total revenue per week. Assuming the sales only operate during the warm, spring-summer months of May through August, that equates to over $67 billion — yes, with a ‘B’ — per year.

For a little perspective, eBay, a sort of online yard-saler, made about $10.72 billion last year.

“There are some people who make it a business,” Clevenger said. Pendle Hill’s sale is usually a once-a-year thing, but there are many shoppers who “do it every weekend. It’s almost like a profession.”

But, hey, where else can you buy a box of souvenir T-shirts, a dozen DVDs and a clown-shaped cookie jar for less than $10? Those steals can be resold for profit — a margin of about 460 percent, when posted on eBay — or used to furnish a homes, for gifts or to update kids’ wardrobes.

Serious yard-salers often pre-shop, targeting homes whose owners have similar tastes or wear roughly the same size clothes.

“I had one woman who did that every year,” Clevenger said. “She’d always come looking for her kids.”

For sellers, over 20-year yard sale veteran Clevenger advised the best day is Saturday, when most people are off work and looking for something to do. She said shoppers tend to start in the early morning, although her neighborhood doesn’t usually get selling until about 9 a.m. Things tend to drop off after lunch.

To maximize profits, she recommends labeling things well, selling cold drinks and putting primo items out front to drive foot traffic.

And don’t be afraid to haggle. “It’s better to sell five things at $1 a piece than sell nothing at all and have to take it to Goodwill,” she said.

Most importantly, whether things sell or not, enjoy the time with family and friends, she said.

“If I had a good day, I’d usually take the family out to dinner; let them cut into my profits a little,” Clevenger said. “If it wasn’t a good day, we’d still go ... only my husband has to pay.”

Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam, or call 648-4250.

By the numbers

  • Average number of garage sales each week in the US: 165,000
  • Average number of people who purchase something at a garage sale each week: 690,000
  • Overall average price of a garage sale item: $0.85
  • Total US weekly revenue from garage sales: $4,222,375
  • Best time to start a garage sale: 7 a.m.
  • Best day to hold a garage sale: Saturday

Source: Statistic Brain Research Center


Text Only
Local Business
  • NWS - HB0820 - Kennedy Google- JC 2 Google X captures heart, imagination of AU professor After spending the summer working at Google's secret research laboratory in Mountain View, California, Scott Kennedy has decided to stay.

    August 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Residential electric rates increasing by 9 percent The electric rates for residential customers of Anderson Municipal Light & Power will increase by 8.96 percent for the final three months of the year.

    August 19, 2014

  • Indiana experiences growth in manufacturing sector Known for its strength in traditional and progressive manufacturing, Indiana gained more than 5,500 jobs in the manufacturing sector last month and has maintaining a 5.9 percent unemployment rate from June.

    August 19, 2014

  • NWS - HB0819 - Mounds Reservoir - JC 1 People get a view of proposed reservoir

    Local residents are being given the opportunity to discuss the benefits and challenges that face the development of the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir.

    August 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • FEA - HB0819 - Mommy Monday - JC 3 Mommy and me time

    Babette Bargo of Anderson said she brought her daughter to Community Hospital’s first Mommy Monday to meet other mothers and children after her sister-in-law told her about the event.

    August 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Reservoir would reduce tax revenues If the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir becomes a reality by 2021, local taxing units could lose an estimated $1.9 million in revenues.

    August 18, 2014

  • Ambulance provider to leave communities

    Area hospitals say they are not sure what to make of Rural/Metro Corp.’s announcement to end ambulance services in some Indiana communities.

    August 18, 2014

  • Grant intended to lift college completion for 21st Century Scholars Fall classes at Ivy Tech Community College aren't set to begin for another week, but "college success coaches" from a company called InsideTrack are already contacting 21st Century Scholars to help them transition from high school to college.

    August 18, 2014

  • Jesse Wilkerson: Change is not always good, but sometimes necessary

    Remember when you graduated from high school? You and others started preparing yourself to take on more responsibility. A change occurred. Ready or not you were faced with more decisions that would have greater impact on your life.

    August 18, 2014

  • NWS - HB0817 - beef production - 041 Sticker shock for meat The price of beef is up, costing the consumer about $1.50 to $2.50 a pound, as the nation experiences record high cattle prices as fewer cattle are headed to the market.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide