Yard Sale Safety
Every weekend in communities across the
country signs go up on street corners advertising garage or
yard sales. While there are no actual garages or yards to be
sold, people drive around looking for these very signs in the
hopes of finding a treasure in someone else’s cast offs.
Those who have thrown a sale can tell the uninitiated how difficult
it really is to organize, price and sell everything. What they
may not tell or possibly be unaware of are the safety measures
the seller should take to prevent robbery, theft or assault.
While there is no way to be 100% safe in any situation, the
following tips will help sellers stay safe.
— There is safety in numbers. Whenever
possible, have someone at the sale to assist you.
— Have one designated cashier so no proispective buyer
can claim they paid someone else.
— Set up the cashier’s table where they can see
anyone leaving the sale
— Have the assistant walk around the sale as a shopper
while watching for shoplifters.
— Keep a very limited amount of money on you! Fanny pack
or cash box is your choice but only keep enough money in it
at any given time to make change for a $20.
— If someone wants you to break a large bill, like $100,
for a small item, simply a tell them you will be happy to hold
the item if they want to go get change. Don't open your drawer
or pack and check for money in front of them.
— Hold the sale out in the open, not in the garage. A
garage can be a dangerous place! They are usually set back,
have limited visibility from the road and neighbors, and often
have an entry into the house.
A garage holds tools, equipment and other items that offer a
tempting prize for someone casing the house for possible burglary
then or in the future. Shut the garage door and lock the doors
to the house.
It's easy for a person to slip into the house, take what ever
they like or look to see what is there for future reference,
all while you're busy helping a customer.
— Dogs are a double-edged sword and should be treated
with caution. Dogs are protective and a natural deterrent to
an assailant, however they are protective and could easily believe
an innocent shopper approaching their owner is a threat.
If you are going to keep a dog outside as company or protection
during a sale, make sure he or she is on a leash.
— Cut down on possible theft by having a 12-15 foot buffer
zone between the road and the very last table. Don’t have
things at the end of the driveway where someone could drive
up; grab an armful and then speed off.
— Sales are a great way of teaching monetary values to
children BUT the parent needs to be cautious with their child.
If they are setting up a lemonade or soda stand to earn money,
be sure it is very close to you. NEVER right next to the street.
If the children are very young, be sure you are the one making
change. Let them watch but don’t give some quick-change
artist the opportunity to ruin your child’s day.
— Set up tables so you can see every one of them from
where you sit. If you hang clothes up for sale, do it on one
side of the sale and use them as an outside perimeter. Don’t
allow them to block your view to your house or other items for
— Keep a cordless or cell phone with you at all times.
— Have everything you want to sell outside and ready to
be seen. Never walk into your house with a stranger to show
them an item.
— While setting up, run extension cords from the house
for fans to help keep you and your customers cool. If you have
any electronic items, put them all together on a table near
the fan. People want to know if items work. If you go inside
to hunt for a cord, they could easily walk away with the item
while you are gone or follow you in the house.
HOW TO HANDLE A ROBBER
The number one rule in handling a robber is to remember that
nothing is worth your life. If they have a weapon and want the
cash drawer or fanny pack, your only response should be to air
mail it to them. Take it off, pick it up and toss it to the
Try to physically keep a distance from
the person. If you have consistently taken the income and put
it away, then you will be out very little money. If you give
them nothing at all, they are going to become angry and possibly
hurt you. If they get the change and a few dollars, you can
always tell them, “This is a garage sale, what do you
expect?” or “See all the stuff on the tables? If
I had sold it, I would have HAD more money.”
Again, the chances of this happening are drastically reduced
if you have a second person on hand, if you have the sale out
in the open where any neighbor or passerby could see you and
of course, if you have your canine companion nearby. Remember,
hand over the money, if you can get a license plate number great,
if not, consider yourself lucky that you only lost a little
bit of money.
Yard sales are part of an American tradition. As the saying
goes, “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.”
They are enjoyable, bring in a bit of money and allow you to
get rid of items you no longer have a use for. Having fun and
meeting people are what they are all about but in doing so,
even in the most rural or neighborly areas, basic safety rules
should be observed.