There is a "method to the madness" or a few ground rules that the avid tag sale-er should follow. Because it often appears as a silent battle between buyers and sellers I have a few tips for both buyers and sellers.
Buyers tip #1 — Map it. You may be the spur of the moment type, but unless you are familiar with a wide area I recommend using a map or GPS to plan your route. It will save on gas and you will spend less time looking for that mystery side street.
Sellers tip #1 — Whether you post your sale here on Patch, on Craig's List, or in newsprint consider your audience. Scanning quickly for the items they seek you can attract more visitors if you categorize your pile of saleable items. Be accurate, meaning don't list "books" if you only have a few. The same goes for tools, antiques and electronics; rather than list these categories it is OK to list these individually. It is a good idea to determine your "big ticket" item (Picasso, signed copy of the Bible, washer/dryer, etc.) and place that prominently in the ad.
Buyers tip # 2 — Don't trust every sign you see. If you don't know the area (and you ignored buyers tip #1) stop looking if the signs disappear. I have chased many a wild goose from one connecting road to another only to find a dead end. I could have asked someone for directions, but my chromosomes don't allow it (hence tip #1).
Sellers tip #2 — When it comes to signage: BE BIG! BE BOLD! BE PROUD! (sorry for yelling) and use lots of arrows. Usually all you need is a sign off the main roads leading to your neighborhood followed by large-ish arrows of similar size and style. A shoebox top is a good gage for size and stability.
Buyers tip # 3 — "Is it okay if I park here?" There's a good chance you'll shock a seller if you ask this question, but I recommend it for two reasons. First, kindness kills... any sense of mistrust a seller might have for allowing a stranger on their property, in their home. This is just a really good icebreaker. Second, it will reduce the chance your car could be damaged from the volume of cars coming and going and may get you a better spot overall.
Sellers tip #3 — You may not realize it (or want it) but when you host a sale you are really hosting a social event. Admit it, how often do you know the people at the parties you go to? I recommend greeting everyone that stops by. Make small talk and try to learn something about them, in the end it will improve your chances of having them hand you cash for removing your unwanted items.
These are just a few of the tips I've gleaned from years of digging for treasure. The most important tip of all is to have fun. You may not find the Holy Grail or break the bank, but you will be richer for the experience.
Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.