So you sorted your attic, garage and basement, and shook down the cupboards and the closets. What do you do with the piles, bins and boxes of excess stuff? You can donate it all, or have a garage sale. You may be leery – it can seem like a lot of work for the cash. AHRN.com can show you how to make the work worth it – and even make it fun. Check out these tried and true tips for success.
SET THE DATE
Look into whether your neighborhood has restrictions on tag sales. Plan your sale on the Saturday after payday for any big employers in town. Check local event calendars like the Chamber of Commerce to be sure your date doesn’t conflict with something major going on. If you live in a place with lots of seasonal tourists, it might be better to do this slightly off season, as they won’t buy things they can’t take home and the locals are less likely to venture out.
You want the most people possible to find you so do advertise on Craigslist under “For Sale >> Garage Sales” and through free listings in local online papers. Pin fliers to your community boards (grocery stores, churches, coffee shops) and check for local yard sale Facebook pages on which you can post.
Make big, clear signs that are easy to read and hang them in highly trafficked places in all directions near your street. There may be laws that govern where you can put signs, so check into it… though you may be fortunate and live where enforcement is lax. Put the signs up the week in advance if you like, but be sure the day or night before that they are still there.
Display your goods like a store would. Put the biggest and best in full view to attract people. Plan a layout to make things easy to navigate. Have a rolling rack for clothes, folding tables for dishes, bins for books and media, and tarps or rugs on the lawn to spread larger items out.
- Line book, CD and DVD titles out and upright for easier viewing.
- Be sure to check all pockets of clothing for things (like money!) and display them on wire hangers on a rack if possible.
- Put tools, electronics and things like snow blowers or lawnmowers in front so guys who are not usually treasure hunters will stop!
- If you can, play pleasant background music. Your customers will stay longer, and your helpers will not fade as fast.
- Set up what you can the night before. People will come extra early and a big crowd can hit before you’re ready, resulting in frustration and lost sales for all.
- Keep scissors, twine, tape, pens, sharpies and trash cans on hand for needs that pop up that day. It’s great if you can have a cache of bags to give to folks who purchase a lot.
- Have good change, as many will hand you a $20 for something that cost .75 cents. You can start with about $100 in quarters, $1 bills, and a few $5’s. Do it a few days before so you are not rushing for that all-important thing at the last minute. Be prepared to stash cash safely inside when it begins to accumulate.
- Ask your helpers to wear aprons with pockets or fanny packs for safely stowing money, and leaving hands free. Pant pockets alone don’t tend to work well enough.
- Have coffee/water and easy things like muffins, granola bars and bananas to keep your helpers from fading. If it’s hot, why not let the kids set up a lemonade stand or sell mini water bottles for customers.
Be warned! Some folks do this professionally, and you will find early birds knocking in your door at the crack of dawn, wanting to get to what you have before anyone else. You can discourage or accommodate them, depending on how ready you are.
Expect to be bargained down. Be willing if you want to get rid of stuff. If you want to make money, there may be some things that you hold out on for the right price. Also, do not let them total what they have in their hands and tell you the price. Look it over yourself and tell them!
Generally, set average items at ¼ to ½ of what they’d sell for in a store, depending on the condition. And I say yes to tagging visibly on each item, where people can see, otherwise you will be asked every minute for the price. You can also have boxes saying “Everything .50 each” (kids books, CD’s, costume jewelry) and signs saying “Clothes $1 each” and “Everything On Table $1.”
If an item is current and in good condition, print off the catalogue picture and price and tape that to it with your ask. They will see what it goes for new and know they are getting a great price.
Baby/kids clothes do well but adult clothes need to be cheap. Take your nicer things to consignment stores.
For large items, put index cards or 8 1/2 X11 signs stating the price and any plusses – like only X years old, firm mattress/sofa, manufacturer name, horse power etc… And if something is in bad shape, state it: “Toaster $2 as is, one side out, but fixable.”
Some folks can use garage sales to scope our your place. Don’t allow people in to use the facilities. Keep the doors locked, even though your helpers may want to run in and out. As the hours pass, stash the overflow profits somewhere safe and hidden in the house.
Lastly, have fun by gathering friends as well as family to help. Invite them to sell their stuff too. The more there is, the more people it will attract. If the music is good, all are well caffeinated and you get to chat with new people who stop by and neighbors alike, the day will pass quickly and you’ll get to see how much you made. Then everyone can help you put what’s left into cars and trucks and do the good deed of donating it.
Putting a little effort in to how you market your items, making the whole shebang look desirable, being easy to find with the proper signs and having good friends help or stop by can make letting go of your things enjoyable as well as profitable. You’ve got this!
We want to know:
Do you have a garage sale before you PCS?
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review,The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com.