By JB Clark
LEE COUNTY – Almost every Saturday there are hundreds of people wandering Lee County neighborhoods, starting as early as 5 a.m., looking for old clothes, used furniture, kitchenware, baby toys and gnomes.
And, it isn’t very hard to convince one of them to swing by and take that old mattress off your hands while they pay you a few bucks in the process.
To make money on the guitar no one ever learned to play and do so without being fined, sellers must get a yard sale permit from their city, advertise the sale so customers are aware and make sure they are selling items of some value or in high enough demand to attract a customer base.
Each city has it’s own policy but in all Lee County municipalities, sellers must pay a small permit fee to secure a permit. The permit fees range from $5 (Guntown and Plantersville) to $10 (Tupelo, Saltillo, Shannon and Verona). Failure to register for a permit can result in a warning or fine.
Municipalities also regulate how often a seller may conduct a yard sale with as little as two weeks between each sale as in Guntown and as much as 90 days in Tupelo.
Saltillo’s Lyn Walton said she tries to organize a yard sale with her neighbors a few times a year. She said having a group of people on the same street helps with advertising and also gives customers a much larger selection.
“If you organize, they can walk from house to house,” Walton said.
Stacey Swann, Walton’s neighbor, planned for about two weeks in advance of their Aug. 3 yard sale. Organizing in advance is a good idea because she said the opened her garage at 5:45 a.m. and had people lined up at the door waiting.
Sharon Kreitenstein, who is trying to sell most of her things before moving from Saltillo to Florida, said she wasn’t going to cater to the extremely early birds.
“I’m not opening the doors until 7 a.m.,” she said. “I don’t care if they’re banging on the doors.”
She set her items out on tables and shelves Friday night so Saturday morning she would only need to open the garage door and move some tables outside.
Customers often will offer less than the listed price and sometimes try to buy items not for sale, like a lawnmower or tools stored in the garage. Kreitenstein said she will listen to offers on most items, especially if the person offering is nice.
“Most of the time I’ll negotiate but I didn’t once last time because it was a $2 item that still had the tag on it and she didn’t have a good attitude so I said, ‘No,’” she said. “If they’re nice I’ll work with them and that’s just the way life is.”
As far as what to sell, Kathy Parker of Guntown said baby clothes and baby items go quickly. She sold most of hers during her garage sale earlier this month.
Walton agreed, “If you’re trying to sell stuff, the best things to advertise are baby clothes, children’s items and toys – that brings everyone in. Big items like furniture kitchen items and household items are good sellers too.”
In Tupelo, Nancy Fruge helped a friend, who is combining households with her father, sell most of the things in her South Thomas Street house.
“They had a lot of furniture which is a big draw,” she said. “That helped a lot to have the furniture because knickknacks don’t really go as well.”
She, like Kreitenstein, said she wasn’t going to start selling until 7 a.m. but had sold much of the furniture by 6:45 a.m.
Fruge said advertising the days leading up to the sale in the classifieds section of the newspaper is important so shoppers can plan their routes.
While many people are out browsing for good deals on big items like furniture, some are looking for anything and some are looking for something very specific.
Denise Rollins traveled from Mantachie to Tupelo in search of clothes and other interesting items but had her mind set on thing.
“I came down looking for a gnome this morning,” she said with a satisfied look on her face and a gnome in her hand while paying for items at a North Church Street yard sale in downtown Tupelo. “I found a gnome and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
• Try not to show up before 6 a.m. so the seller has time to wake up and prepare.
• Strike early and strike fast, the good stuff goes first.
• Be kind and reasonable when requesting lower prices. Buyers will be more inclined to sell.
• Bring a truck and cash, most people don’t have credit card machines or delivery services.
• Eat a big breakfast and bring a lot of coffee.
• Plan a route the day before using the classifieds ads in the newspaper.
• Bring a GPS.
• Be set up and ready to go at 5:30 a.m., buyers are always early.
• Organize items on tables and shelves so they look nice and are easy to see.
• Advertise what is for sale in the classifieds and on Craigslist the week before.
• Be willing to negotiate lower prices and take offers for items that aren’t for sale.
• Set up in advance so the morning of the sale is less stressful.
• Make large, interesting items visible from the street.
• Put up signs at nearby intersections so the house is easy to find.