Planning a Garage Sale

It’s that time of year again! The weather is changing, the children are playing outside, we are harvesting our gardens and people are jogging outside. Time for a quick fall clean out! Today is about what to do after the cleaning, organizing, and sorting is finished. Those boxes that you have marked “sell” now need to be merchandised for a garage sale. Here are a few tips:

  1. Find out if your neighborhood is having a garage sale. There are many pros and cons to neighborhood garage sales. Many people like that they have their neighbors outside selling their stuff at the same time so they can talk across the street to one another. Also, advertising costs are usually paid by the association or at least split amongst the participants. A few things that make it less desirable are the fact that your neighbors probably won’t be shopping because they have their own garage sales to run. You may have people that only want to spend a particular amount of money through the whole day and if you are the fifth house, their budget is low. Finally, parking can be a pain for your shoppers. They may park two blocks away but they want to buy the heavy bookshelf. Unless they REALLY want it, they may leave it behind. So your best bet is to host two sales, probably on back-to-back weekends or throughout the week. This way, you get the benefits of the neighborhood sale in addition to the benefits of a solo sale.
  2. Advertising for your sale is really important and it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Of course the costly way to go is to buy posters and set them out throughout the neighborhood. This is a great way to gain traffic but you are going to want to do a few things with the posters:
    a. Check the weather. If it rains, cover the posters with a clear bag.
    b. Write clearly. The posters made by kids are cute, but not effective.
    c. Make sure the arrows are pointing in the clear right direction and still write your address.
    d. Place the signs strategically to pull people in from the main streets around you and to help guide people.
    The other, cheaper, form of advertising is though social media. Text, tweet, and message all of your finds and family to let them know some of their favorite pieces from your home are now on sale.
  3. Set your price. Remember your things are used so don’t charge what you paid for something even if it is in great condition. People don’t spend much on things at garage sales so be realistic. Also, consider whether or not you would like to negotiate. Often people negotiate at garage sales so be prepared. If you are willing to bargain, then have an absolute bottom line that you will let the person walk away if they don’t pay. Also, label everything so guests don’t have to ask.
  4. Organize your merchandise. Your most expensive products should be in the garage. You want these things to be protected from sticky fingers so keep them inside.
  5. Do it with a friend. Spending 8 hours a day for three consecutive days in a lawn chair by yourself can be dreadful. Ask your fiends and family to come help. This will also be useful when the crowds come. One of you can handle the transactions while the other can help shoppers. You may want do it with several people and take shifts.
  6. Don’t let anyone you don’t know in your house. I’m all for hospitably, but I’m also for safety and stranger danger is real.
  7. Make sure you have change and a good place to hold your money. A lot of office supply stores have lockable boxes for just this sort of occasion.
  8. Make it enticing. I went to a garage sale one that had music playing and the daughters of the owner selling lemonade. That garage sale had people in it all day because it felt like a fun shopping experience.
  9. Have a plan for the things that don’t sell. It is likely that you won’t sell everything by the end of the weekend so consider your options:
    a. Keep everything and try having another garage sale later in the season.
    b. Try selling the stuff on eBay.
    c. Donate everything to charity.
    d. Leave your garage door open a few nights and let people come raid your garage.
    e. Throw everything away.
    My advice would be to try selling on eBay then donating everything else.
  10. Determine what you’ll do with the money. Remember to calculate the cost of the garage sale (advertising, equipment, change, etc. ) and reimbursed yourself for your investment. After that, spend it, save it, invest it, donate it, split it amongst those who helped you. I’ve heard of some parents giving the teenagers all the junk they want gone, then the kids organize the sale and keep the profit. I’ve also heard of people putting the money toward the vacation fund. It’s all up to you.

My final tip is to have tons of fun! Yes garage sales are work and they are exhausting, but fall is about hard work so we can rest in warmth in winter. Happy selling!

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