10 Magnificent Yard Sale Tips

Moving… everybody loves it right? Now supersize-it and make it international. It goes without saying that having as little as possible, essential possessions, is the way to go! After all, how much do we really need? Just re-buy it. What is worth the cost of shipping it overseas, or long term storage? Some mementos and family heirlooms worth keeping – yes. But slimming down can be very liberating. It’s human nature to build-up, tear down, and start over.

Getting started with a big, fat yard sale helps a lot.

Having done these a few times now, there are a few suggestions or “rules of thumb” that I’d like to pass along.
And so so I present to you my…


    Yes I know it sounds obvious, and then you have Craiglists and other ways to advertise. But if you live in an area with foot traffic, the good old fashioned sign will be your best source of traffic. Try BLACK text on YELLOW paper, or BLACK text on HOT PINK. The signs must both pop-out and be readable. Attach paper to cardboard backing so you
    can re-collect and RE-USE them multiple times. Nobody wants to make signs twice! And it should be obvious WHICH house you are at from a distance – use balloons, or anything visible!
    Ok this isn’t 100% possible, but you can limit the number of non-buying people taking your time.
    EXAMPLE: Jewelry is a very HOT ticket item in our area. If you don’t want people pounding on your door hours before the garage sale starts – simply don’t advertise it! Especially if it’s just a few pieces of costume jewelry. Advertise accurately.
    This one is debatable, certainly. But who wants to put price tags on everything? Live in the moment. As you gather your items the day before, you should have some idea in your head. Communicate the items that matter to your helpers.
    Also, why limit your negotiating ability by setting a price in advance? Nobody will pay asking price anyway.
    I’m talking at least 100 in 1’s and some rolls of quarters. 10’s and 5’s. It all depends on what you have to sell. But yes, if you don’t have change – people will use this to their negotiating advantage. Write down how much you are starting with somewhere! Keep your change in a secure, portable location like a satchel with a buckle/snap.
    Why? Because yard sale patrons are in a rush – to get to the next yard sale. That means they will double-park (probably in front of your neighbors driveway), make noise, and leave some sort of mess to clean up. It’s just simple courtesy to keep neighbors in the loop. They might even be your best customers.
    You probably won’t have time to take a break for lunch – especially if it’s during a wave of buyers. Make easy-to-hold, ready to eat snacks you can have at an arms-reach. And don’t forget to set the timer on the coffee maker the night before – if you need it like I do.
    Everyone likes to haggle for the lowest price. This is fine and expected. You want to get rid of as much as possible, right? But there will always be those who want everything free and offer a dollar for that prized possession. For things you really care about, you don’t have to give it away. Being ready to say NO THANKS always gives you the upper hand if it’s something you are willing to hold on to.
    I’m as guilty as anyone. The best way to get a good deal at a garage sale is to make a pile and get a discount on a bundle of items. Just be aware of this technique. It’s in your benefit to get rid of a lot, but make sure you SEE every item, and spell out the original cost of each item, out loud, before applying your discount. Never apply a discount before they are completely done shopping.
    It sounds ridiculous right? Who would steal from a garage sale? It’s almost comical, but it’s pretty common. I’ve had people attempt it on me multiple times. I think maybe that they think it is justifiable because it’s low-cost, or nor a real store… or something. It is not OK. Beware of people putting things inside of other things, and trying on items and… leaving them on!
    Yes, this is impossible – but try to imagine different scenarios. If someone needs packing material, or a bag to carry their stuff, do you have it to offer? If someone asks you to hold an item for 2 hours – what will you say? If they need help carrying something to their car – is this something you are willing to do? Who will watch over things when you need to use the restroom?

Ok! Now you’re ready! Go get rid of some junk – i mean… valuable antiques! Have a good tip, or a funny yard sale experience? Leave me a comment.

What is the first step ?

The first step is the decision.

Once the decision has been made, and the psychological switch has been flipped – we’ve entered the planning mode.

I won’t lie, the reality takes a little while to sink in. Wiping the slate clean – starting fresh somewhere entirely new. Thinking about everything that needs to be done can be overwhelming. For us… living in a house with kids, one in preschool, and 3 cars, and multiple jobs and a house full of accumulated stuff – where does one even start with preparing for an international move?

When eating an elephant take one bite at a time. – Creighton Abrams

It’s important to break the pieces of such an endeavor down into small, achievable pieces. More than that, it’s important to maintain a clear and positive state of mind and live in the moment while completing each steps, with each one bringing you closer to the final goal.

For those considering such a transition, my recommendation is to:

    1. Start with a date. Mark the calendar. Now you have a timeline. There is an end to your time here – no matter how distant it might seem. One trap I could see falling into, is letting this seemingly distant date make you think… “Hey, I’ve got plenty of time!”. Because let me tell you – that date will arrive faster than you think.
    2. To combat this way of thinking, you’ve got to have  some short term goals. Monthly, and preferably weekly or daily. Get this up on a calendar and post it UP at EYE LEVEL where you are forced to see it daily. Want to rely on your cell phone? That’s your choice. But I don’t recommend it.  I’m a fan of big changes to my current life, which remind me that the date is coming – and force me to consider things differently, every single day – outside the normal daily grind.
    3. Start consolidating. I’ll go more into this later – but it’s time to start thinking about what you really care about. Is anything worth saving? Is anything work paying $2000+/YR in storage? Maybe you have a place to store things with family. Regardless, if you are anything like us, you probably have a ton of things you don’t need. Don’t get stuck having to scramble at the end. Craigslist, Ebay, Selling Apps and even a big fat Garage Sale (or three) can be your friend!

The Pre-Blog History

You may be asking, “what is the point” of this Blog. Let me try to make a long story – short;

As a kid i always had some curiosity about other cultures, especially Japan. But it wasn’t until I was an adult, around the age of 25, that I took my first Japanese language class on a whim (at SBCC), and really enjoyed it. I ended up making few language partners who became life-long friends and further engaged my interest in the language and culture.

Then the trail kind of goes cold for a while. I had quit my job in technology, and went back to school for audio & video, and chased the dream of a career in the music industry. After going on to help make many amazing records, and still being quite broke – i met my future wife, who at the time had been living in the US for about 5 years.

Fast forward a few years, and we we’re married, with me in marketing as my primary career, with plenty of time spent with her amazing family in both the US and Japan.

Fast forward a few more  years – Ive got two kids, and my Japanese language skills are still basic. But with a few Japan trips under my belt and a love for the Japanese countryside, the people, and the culture – the decision was made to move. Will my language skills ever be passable? Will my kids grow up truly bilingual? When will they pass me up? There are many questions .

The decision to move;

Seeing my son as a toddler enjoying the pristine countryside on a Japan trip, rather than having to prevent him from touching everything (like on a walk through Los Angeles) was certainly thought provoking. Yes – having a support system of family, rather than always “going it lone” in LA was a factor. But the “Aha!” moment was probably when seeing our son play at a Japanese pre-school, and how happy, and healthy he looked – It really got our brains working.

As humans we’re always looking for “what’s next” or the next challenge to overcome. Knowing that raising two kids in Los Angeles was not what we wanted for their younger years, we’ve opted for something different. Selling it all and starting over. The rest is details. But like everything – it all starts with making the decision.

I hope that you follow along with our experience.