Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tips for Having a Garage Sale

We had our garage sale on Friday and Saturday. I admit, I was disappointed that there wasn't a better turnout, and that we had so much stuff left when we were done, but it was a holiday weekend, and I think that was a bigger factor than I had imagined it would be.

After it was all done, I felt reflective. It was so much work. Was it worth it?

Well, yes and no. In two days, we made a little over $100. We went in with another family and they made a little over $150. In terms of how much money we made per hour, it was pretty pathetic. So what did we get out of the whole experience if it wasn't money?

First off, I think we had a couple of things really going for us. We had a great location, great weather, great advertising, and great goods. Going in with an older couple meant that we had diversity in our sale. We had several people compliment us on our sale, saying it was well-organized and had great variety.

Cleaning out so much stuff from our house was exhilarating for me. Surprisingly though, one of the best things about it was hanging out with the other family and chatting with our neighbors. We really did have fun! The boys loved playing outside all day, though admittedly, the store in our front yard was a little stressful for them. I think it was good and concluded that it was worth it. I can see where it may not be worth it for some.

But if you do decide to take the plunge, here are some tips on making it a success!

  • Advertise. Take out an ad in a local paper, especially if there is a classified type paper that is known for listing garage sales. List your sale on Craigslist. Make posters.
  • Choose a good location. If your house is way out in the sticks, you probably won't have very many people show up. Try joining up with a friend that lives in town if possible.
  • Wake up very, very early the morning of the sale to start setting up. Expect people to show up a couple of hours before your sale officially starts. If you don't want people to do this, write, "No early birds" on your advertisements.
  • As much as possible, get things laid out in an attractive way, preferably on tables. Spreading things on blankets on the ground is ok too. People aren't going to want to dig through boxes though.
  • Price your stuff. Even people who like to haggle like to have a ballpark idea of what you are asking. Shy people like me just won't buy things that aren't priced unless they are really desperate.
  • Price your stuff to sell! I get very annoyed going to a garage sale and seeing consignment store prices. It tells me that people really don't want to sell their stuff. Devoted garage salers will not pay high prices at a garage sale. People who go to garage sales like great bargains, so give them what they want! If you have expensive clothes or antiques, take them to a consignment store instead.
  • Price in simple increments. The lowest price I have is $.25, and everything is in quarter increments. It makes it so much easier to calculate in your head and make change.
  • If in doubt about how to price, shoot for about 1/10th of the original price if something is still in good condition.
  • Clothes do not sell well, especially adult clothes. It's so chancy that someone will come who wears just your size and likes the style you are getting rid of. In the past, I have priced different items with different prices and it just made more work for me. Now, I make ALL clothes $.50 each and offer to sell a grocery sack full for $3. Again, if you have nicer things, take them to a consignment store if you want the money.
  • I make all books $.25 too. You could ask more for hardcovers, but I'm willing to let that go to keep things simple.
  • Hang clothes on a rack. They are much easier to go through than when they are on piles and you will sell more that way.
  • Don't try to make money. Do try to get rid of stuff. If someone offers you a lower price, give it to them. We had a piece of furniture that we were asking $5 for and before the sale even technically started on the first morning, a woman asked if I would take less. I hesitated and said, "We haven't even really started selling yet, I don't think I can go down on the price right away." I ended up not selling that piece and setting it out by the curb for free when it was all over. I learned my lesson. Take whatever anyone offers, whenever they offer.
  • Before the sale, get about $50 in change - mostly $1's and quarters. A few fives are good too.
  • During the sale, keep all money on your body. Never set it down. If you get some large bills, put them in your house in a safe place. Cargo pants are handy for storing your change.
  • Have a little table where you keep supplies like labels, tape, a couple of sharpies, tags, bags of bags, etc...
  • Plan simple meals. This is one of the only times I break down and buy lunch meat. If I'd really been thinking ahead, I would have had some sandwich fillings ready, but I didn't. Expect that you won't feel like cooking at the end of the day. Make pita pizzas or something else super simple.
  • Have a free box, but try to keep it easy to rummage through. I like to throw in cheap little toys for the children. It makes their day!
  • I like to advertise that the last hour of the last day, everything is free. It didn't work out so well this time around, again, holiday weekend, but during my last sale, I only had one large box of stuff left to donate at the local thrift store. Everything else was gone! It was soooooo nice! And it really made people's day to get free stuff. I had several people trying to give me money because they felt badly about it, but I reassured them that they were helping me out, since I didn't have to haul everything away when it was all done. It's a win-win.
  • Plan and advertise a rain date, just in case! Trying to sell in the rain is rather miserable and you won't have as many people show up. Better to just postpone the sale for better weather.
  • Wear sunscreen!!! Drink lots of water!!!

That's all I can come up with off the top of my head. I'm sure some of you have some great tips to add, so please share!

1 comment:

  1. "Don't try to make money. Do try to get rid of stuff." This, completely! My area's far away (in a small country, haha) so I can't really hold a garage sale, but just a few hours ago I put up some really good condition (expensive! haha) books for crazy cheap, and my friends are buying. I even offered freebies for every purchase and it feels so liberating just to get rid of them even if I spent SOOOO much money on them in the past. Lesson learned: don't spend so much in the first place! Haha.


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