Garage sales are like dandelions. In spring, summer and early autumn they pop up everywhere like overgrown weeds. City residents sell children’s clothes, books, electronics, furniture and many other items from their home. It’s common to see valuable items priced low, such as cherished teddies I saw at a garage sale last summer. People are decluttering their home and wanting these items gone. Follow the following guidelines to ensure your sale is a success.
1. Gather items for sale Everyone has a room in their home that is bulging with boxes of clutter. For many, this may be the basement or attic that has become the convenient in-home storage unit. Boxes, bikes and decorations may be a few of the items stored in these areas. For someone planning a garage sale, these are the places to start. Open the boxes and decide if the children have outgrown their clothes. If so, buy new ones and put the used ones in the sale. Things not to be put in a sale: anything broken, torn or too far gone. Chances are that nobody will buy these items, and they will make your other items look less valuable.
2. Create an inventory sheet Creating an inventory will give you a rough idea how many items will be sold. It might be a good idea to use several sheets of paper and separate the items into categories such as furniture, clothes and so on. You don’t have list everything, but enough items to have a general idea. Remember, you can always finalize the list later by adding prices. Don’t get too advanced at this stage when you’re gathering items. The inventory is a way to make the sale go smoother. In essence, if a sign should blow off the table, you will have the price list next to the money.
3. Price the items accordingly The general rule for pricing is to price items 1/4 of is original worth. For instance, if a sweater was $15 in the store, it’s garage sale value is around four dollars. There are a few exceptions, however, with antiques and furniture. Remember–garage salers are looking for bargains. They will not pay more than 10% of a store’s face value for an item. Overpriced items are more than likely going to be left behind on the table or rack.
4. Set a date, place and time Most cities have specified garage days. I live in Central Illinois, and our garage sale day is Friday. This is an important factor to be aware of because it will drive the most traffic to your sale. The most common times for garage sales are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 4 p.m., but not much later. Then, think about your location. It helps if you’re next to a busy street or in a subdivision because your house will be easy to find. If you’re in a subdivision, there may be multiple sales. Place your ad on several blocks and you’re guaranteed to get more people.
5. Advertise Everyone advertises in the newspapers, which gets a lot of the garage sale customers. Don’t forget about social media–Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Craigslist and many others are great places to get your sale out there. Other great places to advertise a garage sale are grocery store and laundry mat billboards. Flyers are easy to make in Microsoft Word and can be posted around town. Homemade signs may also direct garage salers to the location if they are placed on street corners and major intersections. Be sure to write in big, bold lettering and to take them down once the sale is over.
6. Set up the day before the sale It’s not always easy setting up for a garage sale. Keep a few things in mind while doing this. First, appearance is everything. Clean the yard and garage. You wouldn’t shop in a dirty store, so don’t make your customers shop in a dirty garage. Next, create enough table space. Think of how stores have their merchandise. It’s not all crammed together; your items shouldn’t be this way either. And, make sure all price tags are visible. You don’t like to hunt for price tags in stores and neither do your customers.
7. Have plenty of cash It’s a good idea to visit the bank the day before the sale. After all, you’ll be making change to your customers all day. Make sure you have several rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. It may also be wise to get smaller bills in case someone gives you a twenty dollar bill. Keep this extra cash in a secure place so the customers can’t see or grab it. It may be a good idea to straighten the bills as yo’re putting them in the cash drawer so they are easily counted later in the day.
8. Place big items in front Most customers do a drive by before stopping at a garage sale. Place furniture and other big items out in front for people to see. And, make it presentable in a way that doesn’t seem too messy. Remember, nobody wants to shop a dirty sale. They may see you have a crib, but if the yard is dirty, they may move on to another sale. Similarly, it may also be a good idea to sell these driveway items in sets. For instance, a desk may be paired with a filing cabinet for $20, and a table with six chairs may sell for forty dollars.
9. Involve the kids I haven’t ever met a kid who doesn’t like earning money. Garage sales are the perfect way to teach them the value of a dollar. They can sell virtually anything from popcorn, cookies or lemonade. Get them involved and they feel accomplished at learning something new. Furthermore, it’s important parents guide them in the right direction with their money. Teach them how to be financially responsible, while allowing them to spend a little of it. If they saved all of it, they may not want to do more activities like this.
10. Leftovers Let’s face it–not everything is going to sell. There are a few options that are available that don’t involve the items going back into your house. First, consider shelters around town. There will always be men, women and children in need of clothes. These donations will be graciously accepted without question, and they are sure to make many people happy. Salvation Army is another great place to take gently used items. They sell the items for a profit to help the needy in local communities. Finally, churches often have bizarres or thrift sales twice a year that require donated items. This would be a great time to donate your items. The money raised goes for outreach funds that help a large variety of people.