By Brenda Owen

Daily Journal

It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and Margie Burch is sound asleep when she hears a noise in her carport. Rubbing her eyes, she sits up in bed and peeks out the window. Her driveway is full of people, some of whom are scrambling through boxes on her carport loading their arms with many of her possessions.

No, it’s not a gang of burglars descending on Burch’s house. It’s just some early bird arrivals to her weekend yard sale.

“I advertised the sale to begin at 6:30 this morning,” the Tupelo resident said later. “So I did not turn on the light and come out of the house until that time. I tried to be firm. But there were people standing in line with things in their hands when I came out the door.”

Later in the morning, Pat Hudson stopped by Burch’s sale on her way to work United Methodist Senior Senior Services.

“I collect bells,” she said, her eyes scanning the tables of knick=knacks for an item to add to her collection. “Bells, bells and more bells.”

Nearby Shirley Adams and Linda Pitts of Fulton look over some Home Interior¨ pieces, discussing whether the candle holders will match items they already have.

“What I get goes to my house,” said Adams. “then when I get tired of it, I have a yard sale of my own.”

Lela Ashby of Pontotoc also stops by on her way home from her third shift job at Aircap Industries. “For me, this is a hobby,” she said. “It helps me relax. Besides I find a lot of great bargains.”

And bargains are the incentive for Melissa Jones of Tupelo who scours yard sales looking for quality used clothes for her 3-year-old daughter, Kristen.

“She just grows out of them so fast, I can’t afford to buy all new things,” Jones said.

Across town Sylvia Harris also is hosting a yard sale, trying to eliminate the clutter which resulted from her move into a smaller house.

“We just don’t have room for all this stuff anymore,” Harris said with a wry smile, as customers carted off “treasures” and she collected cash for her unwanted “trash.”

That’s the most important rule of a yard sale, Harris said. Your junk is never too junky” for a yard sale. People will buy anything. The things that you think will never sell are often the first things to go.

Even old blankets, spreads and sheets with spots or tears are snapped up by crafters who recycle them into pillows, place mats and other items. Odd pieces of china or glassware may be just the piece someone is looking for to replace a broken one in a set.

Getting organized

Yard sales are fun and profitable if they are properly organized. Save yourself some last-minute headaches by taking a year-round approach to garage sales. Every time you clean your house, throw things you no longer use or need into a box in the garage that is reserved strictly for yard sales. Inside the box, keep price stickers and a marker so you can mark a price on an item as soon as you toss it in the box.

This way, you won’t have to worry about staying up all night pricing things before the yard sale. A few days before the sale, clean everything that’s going on display. Clean items will probably bring twice as much as dirty ones.

And remember, yard sales are pretty much seasonal. Plan your sale for spring or fall, the most popular yard-sale seasons. But, whenever you have a sale, you can expect die-hard garage sale fans to stop. They can’t resist.

The ideal site for a yard sale is on a major thoroughfare with plenty of parking or on a side street located just off a major thoroughfare. In either case, parking is imperative. If your house or apartment isn’t located in such a spot, get together with friends and hold a multifamily yard sale at the home of a friend with a terrific location.

In fact, it’s a great idea to involve other friends and have a multi-family yard sale whenever you can. Not only will you have more junk to attract people driving by, but you’ll have your friends to talk to. And here’s another good reason: A friend can stay with the sale while you escape to eat lunch.

You also might want to check with your homeowners association or apartment complex. Some have yearly yard sales that will bring in many more people than just your small one. Plus, the advertising is usually handled by management. All you have to do is set up your tables.

Once you’ve decided on when and where to have your sale, check with your local government about regulations concerning yard sales. Many cities require you to get a permit for a yard sale. Usually the permit is free, but the city of Tupelo, for example, charges $5.

Ask how often you can have a yard sale on your property. Most local governments limit residents to one yard sale every six months, but in unincorporated Seminole County, residents can hold one yard sale every two years.

While you’re at it, check with your municipality regarding yard-sale signs. Some towns and cities forbid signs in the right-of-way; others require that the signs be taken down within 24 hours of the sale.

Get the word out

To get the best results, you probably should advertise your yard sale. Classified ads will attract yard-sale junkies, but signs pull in the cruisers. That’s why your signs should be made from brightly colored poster board. Don’t forget to list the address on the sign and use arrows to point drivers in the direction of the sale.

Of course, the down side is that by advertising your yard sale in advance, you’re alerting flea-market vendors, antiques dealers and other yard-sale professionals” to your sale. And they’ll come banging on your doors hours before the sale is scheduled to start. Some even show up the night before.

One veteran yard sale holder said she puts orange traffic cones around the edge of her yard to keep the early birds at bay.

However you deal with early arrivals, remember the reason you’ve having the sale in the first place is to make money, so don’t turn anyone away. Most early birds will be patient if you are polite.

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