A garage sale is one of the great ways to cut down on volume of items that have to be moved. Plus, they can put a few extra dollars in your pocket and at the same time give you a chance to start saying goodbye to your neighbors.
Old clothes, toys, furniture and many other items can be sold in garage sales and anything that doesn’t sell can be donated to a local charity. (But let’s face it, a lot of stuff that was once – but no longer – important to you may just have to be thrown out.)
Here are a few tips for holding a successful garage sale.
Preparation is Everything
Successful garage sales are not held spur of the moment. You’ll need time to organize, price and perhaps clean up the items you hope to sell. You should select a sale date well in advance, at least two to three weeks. Weekends and Friday afternoons are popular garage sale dates, but check the calendar to ensure your planned date doesn’t conflict with a holiday, or special event in your community.
If you know your neighbors well or have relatives nearby, you may wish to hold a joint sale with them. More sale items on display will attract more “drive by” customers to stop and shop.
Pricing Your Items
First-time garage sale holders will often overprice their goods, for sentimental reasons, and less frequently, under price items that may be collectable. Before you set your prices, you should visit other garage sales to get a feel for prices (but try to resist buying anything for yourself). Be realistic when pricing your items. You may also wish to review pricing on Internet auction sites such as eBay if you have an item that seems rare or collectable.
After setting your prices, you should purchase self-adhesive or tie-on tags at an office supply store and affix a tag to each item with the price clearly displayed. Ensure that the tags are firmly attached. If you are holding a joint garage sale, remember keep a log of items sold or mark price tags with seller’s initials to ensure you fairly split the proceeds of the sale.
Garage sales tend to bring out the haggler in everyone, even the seller. Don’t be offended if you find buyers hoping to bargain with you – its can be an enjoyable part of the sale. Hold firm if you’re confident about selling your goods, but be prepared to come down in price if you really want to get rid of an item, especially as your sale comes to a close.
Advertise for Success
Even on busy streets, you can’t count on a driveway full of furniture and sales table to get traffic to stop. Ask us about the availability of attractive, functional garage sale signs, or buy a few from a local hardware store.
If local ordinances allow, you should put signs at busy corners to guide shoppers to your sale. When posting the signs, be sure to write the date, hours and address in the largest letters the sign can handle – if it can’t be read in a few seconds, many drivers will miss it.
Grocery stores, convenience stores, Laundromats and other locations often allow shoppers to post garage sale notices, as well as schools and community centers. In some communities, sites like Craigslist.org can be a good, free source for garage sale advertising.
If you’re selling a large number of items and hope for large proceeds, you may wish to buy advertising in a local paper. Be sure to compare the cost of the advertising with the likely sales income before you invest in an ad.
Remember, there are strangers – and hopefully lots of them – who are going to be coming to your house. Do not allow strangers to go inside your house to use the bathroom, use the telephone or get a drink of water. If your children have their friends over, keep them outside as well. Make sure you have your keys and lock the doors of your house while you’re outside. You and your spouse or close friend should both be tending to the sale at all times. Keep a well charged cell phone in your pocket so you can call out if case of an emergency.
Success on Sale Day
In the days before your sale, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and if absolutely necessary, reschedule it. On the day of your sale, ensure all your signs are up, and park your own vehicles far from your driveway to allow parking for shoppers.
It’s usually a good practice to have a cash-only policy, unless the buyer a particular item is someone you know. If you are only accepting cash, you should note this prominently near the garage sale sign in front of your house, and again near your sale items.
Depending upon the number of items you have for sale and your pricing, you’ll need a varying amount of change. Ensure you have a good supply of $1, $5, $10, and perhaps $20 bills. While $50 in change should be enough, you may wish to have more on hand.
Keep a close eye on your money, and store it in a firm box or banker’s envelope. Ideally, two persons should supervise the sale – one to answer questions and deal with shoppers, and one to handle the money. Don’t forget that you’ll need to take breaks from time to time, and ensure that you have a place to sit down and rest.