Each spring, I get the itch to declutter my house. I go through each room and clean out things we no longer need/use and clothes my children have outgrown. Sure, I could just donate it to the Goodwill or other charity. I could even just haul it off to the dump. However, I always do a garage sale? After all “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure.”
Before you just throw everything onto a table or your driveway, there is some prep work that you need to do. I am in the process of getting ready for my own sale, so I thought I’d pass along some tips that help me to have a successful sale.
1. Pick a good day(s) and time. This all depends upon where you live. In my area, Friday nights and Saturday mornings are the best times for sales. For other regions, it my be a Wednesday. You can easily look in your local newspaper for listings to see what is the norm for you. As far as the time of day and length to run your sale – that is really personal preference. However, if you are going to have it on a weekday, try to run it into the evening so that you can catch those people who have to work as well.
2. Clearly Direct Traffic to your Sale. Make sure you place signs helping shoppers find your sale. It is best to start close to major intersections close to your home, followed by additional signs (with arrows) directing them to your home.
3. Organize your items for display. I know when I go to a garage sale, if everything is thrown onto a table or things are dirty, I tend to walk away rather than take the time to even look through the items. Just taking the extra time to have several tables and items split out can yield you even more money.
I set up tables and aisles for my sales. They include these sections: Home Decor, Electronics, Housewares, Linens, Toys, Baby Items. They are all on their own tables and set up nicely on the table so that my customer can easily see what I am selling. Remember that garage sale shoppers shop like you do in the store – if it is disorganized or hard to sort through – they will leave without buying.
Another plus of having a nice display is more appeal. It comes across to the buyer that you take pride in your items you are selling, showing that you took care of them when you own them.
4. Make sure your items are clean. As you set your items out for your sale, take a minute to make sure that everything is clean. If your clothes or toys are dirty or your picture frame is coated in dust, it can really turn off potential buyers.
5. Launder and fold/hang clothing items. If you are going to sell clothes, you will want to spend time getting these items ready. I actually launder everything before I sell it. This helps me find those hidden stains that seem to appear after time. Plus, but yourself in your buyer’s shoes — Would you really want to purchase a coat that you can tell a 2 year old enjoyed his chocolate ice cream cone before Mom put it up for sale? Probably not. However, if it was clean, you may have more interest.
I take the time to wash and fold all of my items. I display them nicely on a table and fold and sort according to size. This makes it very easy for my buyers to find what they are looking for. Plus, it is clean and they are more willing to purchase.
As far as outfits go, I take the extra time and press everything. I know, ironing is NOT fun. However, a nicely pressed outfit could bring you $1-$2 more. So, it is worth it. I also HIGHLY recommend to hang outfits. I then use small paper plates and cut out the center and add sizes (like the rings you see in the store). My shoppers LOVE this because they can actually find the size of clothing they are looking for. Here is how my clothes look during my sales:
Doing this helps you in more than one way:
ONE: It helps your customers to look through all of your items without rummaging through a table resulting in a mound of wrinkled clothes.
TWO: It can increase the value of the outfit. By hanging an outfit all on on hanger or grouped, it makes it worth more to the buyer. It also helps you as all items are already together at the time of the sale and you aren’t looking over 3 tables trying to find the matching hat or socks.
THREE: People feel like they are shopping in a store rather than a garage sale.
6. Clearly mark all items with a price tag. While you may be willing to negotiate your price, having your entire sale marked “Make Me An Offer” can turn many people away. Most need to know what you are asking. Of course, you can hang a few “We Negotiate” signs, so people know you might be willing to haggle on the price a bit. If you are not sure what to price things, you can go and check out Ebay or Craigslist so that you can be sure you are asking a fair price for your items. Just be sure you don’t under price your stuff!
7. Make sure you have plenty of change available (and only take cash). It seems that most people pay with cash, moresoe than change. That can mean that your $0.25 items may require $0.75 in change for each purchase. I get $100 in change before I start. I start out with $20 in change in my box at a time. Just make sure that your box locks or rather, wear a carpenter’s apron and keep the money on you – to avoid theft.
Protect yourself and bank charges by accepting only cash. I’d also recommend you accept nothing larger than $20 bills. If you are selling a large ticket item, you can ask your purchaser to please go and get $20 bills. You would hate to get counterfeit bills given to you and then you’ll be out your cash — and your item!
8. Lure in the shoppers. If you place some larger items in your driveway and some items inside of your garage, it can draw people in. If you have it all indoors, people may feel you do not have much to sell and may just drive on buy. It is all about appeal!
9. Offer 50% off of “Goodie Boxes” Toward the End of the Sale. If time is drawing close to ending your sale and you have items to move, you can offer 50% off of all marked prices or even build goodie boxes and sell them for $1 or so. People love a good bargain and a discount at a garage sale is too much for some to turn down!
10. Price Items to Sell and Be Willing to Negotiate Those Prices. If you really want to sell your items, make sure that you remove emotion. If you are attached to a baby blanket, you will think it is worth more than it really is.
Make sure you also price items with built in negotiating room. If you have a rock bottom price you want to accept on an item, price it a bit above that so you can come down and meet the buyer in the middle. You might actually make a little more than you even anticipated by doing so.
11. Hide items not for sale. You will still have items in your garage which you will not want people to try to purchase. Cover yard tools, sports equipment and toys with a blanket or tarps. If the item is too large to cover, mark it with a “NOT FOR SALE” sign. It is best to try to move kids’ toys to your back yard as out of sight - out of mind.
12. Donate the “good” leftovers. When your sale is over, donate the items that are in good shape to a local charity. If it is junk – just send it to the dump (no reason to push it onto someone else). Make sure to keep an itemized list of everything you give to them and then ask for a receipt. This helps you clear out the things you don’t need, helps someone who can use it, plus you can save a little bit on your taxes at the end of the year!
By following these steps, pulling together a sale can be manageable and help make you some money. The only left to do is to figure out what to do with all of that cash!