Spring is in the air, and garage sale season has begun. The great weather has motivated me to do a little spring cleaning and decluttering. I’m considering holding a garage sale of Friday to make a little money off my treasured possessions (aka useless junk). With that in mind, this article is all about holding a successful garage sale. Here are 10 tips to help make sure your next garage sale is a success.
It’s a fact. If nobody knows about your sale, you won’t make any money. It’s important to advertise your garage sale. Spending a few dollars to advertise in the newspaper is usually a good investment. At the very least, put up an ad on Craigslist.org, and make sure you use word of mouth to promote your sale, too.
Have you ever been to a garage sale where nothing has a price tag? I have, and I usually get back in my car and head to the next sale. Garage sale shoppers don’t like to ask for prices. Worse yet, if it’s busy, they might not be able to get your attention to ask for a price. It’s better to have a price for everything, even if it’s color-coded stickers. Just make sure that you have a big sign telling everyone what price each color stands for.
I’m also of the belief that bargain pricing is better than trying to get the maximum amount out of each item you’re selling. Presumably you’re having a garage sale to get rid of stuff. I’d rather take bargain prices and get rid of more stuff than charge premium prices and have to decide what to do with the garage sale leftovers.
Do not short-change yourself (pun intended). You should have, at the very least, a roll of quarters, a roll of dimes, a roll of nickels, 20 one dollar bills, a few fives, and a couple of tens. I usually have around 40 one dollar bills, because I hate to be stuck without change. I also seem to attract early morning shoppers who pay for $2 items with $20 bills.
If you’re working your sale alone, it’s imperative to have enough change. You’re going to have to turn people away if you can’t make change. If there’s nobody else home to do a change run for you, your sale could end up being a bust.
While garage sales are fun, they also attract less than honest people. I held a garage sale with a friend one time, and someone walked off with an expensive piece of jewelry.
If you are selling small, expensive items, make sure you position them close to you and away from the street. Keep an eye on them as much as you can.
Also make sure your money is secure. I like to wear a fanny pack that holds my change. I just feel better knowing that my money is with me at all times. That way, if someone has a question about an item, I can walk over to assist her, without worrying about whether my money is safe.
If you’re bringing in a lot of money, it’s also a good idea to put some of the money in the house for safekeeping periodically. That way if your money does get stolen, you won’t lose it all.
When you set your stuff out for display, make sure it is displayed neatly. If you are selling clothes, they will sell better if you find a way to hang them up. At the very least, fold them neatly, and separate them by sizes. Things will sell better if like items are grouped together and people don’t have to dig through piles of junk to find the treasure they’re looking for.
Having neat displays also tells people that you care about your stuff. Shoppers will be more apt to believe that you’ve taken great care of the stuff that you’re selling if it’s displayed neatly.
Many people will not come to a garage sale prepared with a bag. You should save your grocery bags in the weeks leading up to your sale, so you can offer them to your shoppers. If you see a shopper holding a few things, ask if they’d like a bag. The more people can hold, the more they will buy!
Make your garage sale welcoming. Offer coffee on a cool morning. Lemonade is great on a hot afternoon. Muffins also go over well with early morning shoppers who may not have taken the time to eat breakfast.
Serving refreshments is also a great way to get the kids involved. People love to buy stuff from kids, so have your kids run a lemonade stand. An added benefit is that your kids will learn about customer service, counting change, and entrepreneurship.
I hate following signs to a garage sale, only to get lost, because the signs stop. Make sure your signs are clear. Neon yellow paper works well for garage sale signs. It grabs attention, and black writing shows up well on the sign. Make big arrows, and put signs on every corner, so a driver doesn’t wonder if they missed a sign.
Just make sure you obey the laws of your town in hanging up your signs, and please take down the signs when your sale is over. There’s nothing more annoying than following signs to a garage sale that ended a week ago.
My favorite garage sale strategy is to offer bargains when the sale is coming to an end. If I do a sale on Friday, I will post a sign saying “Everything half price after noon!” By doing that, I get the benefit of selling things at full price for the serious early morning shoppers, and I get rid of more stuff by selling things at a discount to the afternoon shoppers.
I have two goals when I hold a garage sale. The first is to make money, and the second is to get rid of stuff. By slashing my prices when the garage sale is almost over, I accomplish both.
When your garage sale is over, you will have stuff that didn’t sell. DO NOT bring it back into your house! You don’t need the clutter. Before you even begin your sale, have a plan for what to do when it ends.
One option is to put a post up on Craigslist or Freecycle, offering everything free for whoever hauls it away. Another option is to see if a charity in your area offers a pickup service. If you’re going with that option, set up the pickup time well before your sale. I usually have to schedule pickup a month in advance.
Hopefully these tips will help you make your next garage sale a huge success!
Do you have any garage sale tips to add? I’d love to hear them!
Photo by leighblackall.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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