So you have a lot of stuff around your house, apartment, or whatever you are living in and you do not have the time nor want to go through the hassle of listing each item on eBay. How about having a garage sale? Or maybe you call it a yard sale, and some call it a rummage sale (slightly more refined). Well, where to start? Follow the tips below to ensure you make money from your sale and more importantly get rid of some of the items that are taking up space, collecting dust, and that are just plain “in the way”.
Well, let’s look at a few simple must haves that lead to a successful garage sale. It is kind of like in Real Estate, the old rule applies “location, location, location”. However, don’t be discouraged if you are living in the sticks or in a large apartment building, because there are promotional tools that we can employ in this age that can help promote your sale- and thus bring throngs of people.
Have signs. Signs are probably the number one thing that you will need to display to attract drive-by traffic to your sale. If you are fortunate to live near a major road or intersection then you have a leg up to others that are buried in neighborhoods requiring drivers to follow your signs like breadcrumbs through a maze of streets. In either case, signs will bring the bulk of your potential customers.
Make your signs simple and large enough to follow (an arrow helps). You do not need to load your sign up with text describing your items or even an address (unless you want to put the days you are having the sale and your street address in small and legible print Example” SAT & SUN 1234 Main St”). What you need to do is convey a message, for example YARD SALE -> (the arrow tells the driver where to turn). Now this might sound a little too basic to you, but that’s what we really want to do, we want to make it obvious and easy for people to find us.
Garage sale hunters are really not interested on what you put on you sign- they will come to your sale no matter what (or at the very least drive-by slowly to check it out), so you do not have to write “bikes, old fridge, slightly used septic tank, etc.” on your sign. Let’s also make the signs easy to read with big letters and a big arrow.
No need to buy signs either, we are looking to make some bucks not spend them- just go behind your local supermarket or big box store (Costco, appliance store, etc.) and make some out of cardboard boxes (if you make nice signs the first time- hold on to them and use them at your next sale). You can fashion a stencil with card board and use spray paint or any way you want to- get creative- just make it clear for drivers on where to turn. Hopefully they will have no problem finding your sale because there will be so many people and cars around your house that nobody could miss it if they wanted to.
You can put the signs up on a Friday evening if your sale starts Saturday morning. Of course, if you are worried they will be ripped down or something, then just get up early and put them up. Besides signs there are many other ways to promote your garage sale. Post an ad on sites like Craigslist, community bulletin boards, and other areas where people post advertisements. You can also post ads in print, like in newspapers or the Penny saver or whatever small periodicals your community has, but let’s keep it free- if they charge to put an ad in then I would forget it.
Be prepared. Nobody likes to show up at a garage sale when it was supposed to start (8am-8:30am) and the sellers looked like they just rolled out to bed and are frantically shoving boxes from their garage onto their driveway expecting people to pull stuff out for them. Not only is that a really bad way to start off a garage sale, but it almost assures you a lot of missed opportunities at making money and getting rid of your stuff. If you are reading this page, then you are already preparing- so you are off to a good start.
Tips to help you prepare for your garage sale
1. Decide what you want to sell. A week or so before the sale choose what items you want to sell.
2. Get change. Have some small change on hand to change money (dollar bills, fives, and tens). During the first hour of your sale you might have to break a bunch of 20 dollars bills.
3. Mark your items. With little stickers or masking tape- put some prices on your stuff. A lot of people do not want to nor feel comfortable bargaining, so give them a break and let them know how much you want for it. There will probably be some times during your sale that you are swamped and you will be thankful to say “It’s marked!” after 20 people ask you, “How much is this?” Believe me, you will thank me. You can always start marking things down (in price) when it slows down or is not selling.
4. Get Help. Employ your family and friends to help you. They can help out a lot and keep an eye out when it becomes busy. Some items have a tendency to “walk-off” especially when it is busy.
5. Get a secure place to keep your money. Have a cash box and guard it with your life.
6. Have enough stuff to warrant a sale. Have enough stuff to sell that is going to make you money and make people stop from driving by. This guide is not for the person who has three or four items for sale, if you do list it on an auction site or on a site like craigslist. That does not constitute a garage, yard, or any other kind of sale. Put out clothing, cookery, and anything that might bring a buck your way. If you have never had a garage sale- you will be shocked on what people buy and what they don’t.
7. Don’t waste time on frills and extras. I do not bother with selling drinks or cookies at garage sales (I have my own drinks- I don’t need to buy yours). That being said, if you have kids maybe that would be fun for them, otherwise I would skip that one. A lot of rookies seem to think that baking and putting can drinks on ice will drive sales, I do not think it does at all. Feel free to tell me if I am wrong.
Have a goal. Whether your goal is to make $500.00 or clear out enough stuff to put in that game room you always wanted, having an idea of what you want to accomplish with your sale will keep you moving in the right direction.
Be flexible. Put items out that you really want to sell. A lot of people who have garage sales get offended if someone offers them half of what they are asking or are reluctant to sell their stuff for less than they think it is worth. For Example, a customer holds up a picture frame and says, “Hi, this picture frame says its $6.00, would you take $3.00?” The owner of the garage sale replies, “Oh, no, sorry…I really like that frame, so I would rather keep it than selling it for $3.00.” In this situation, the seller is making it clear that they really do not want to participate in the sale and as a direct result will be hauling all of their stuff back into the garage and into their house at the end of the day.
Be flexible with your pricing, a little negotiation goes a long way. Also, if the buyer is really interested they will play ball. A better reply to the above scenario would be for the seller to reply, “How about $4.00?” If they buyer doesn’t bite when you have come down on your price and still insists on $3.00 and you don’t like the offer then just politely decline, “No…sorry, I will let you have it for $4.00.” and turn your attention away from them. If they really want the frame, then they will pay your $4.00.