In yesterday’s post I spoke about how I made $1700 at my last garage sale, within an 8-hr period. That statement had several people asking me exactly how I did that, and would I please blog about it. So here it is: my guide to throwing a successful garage sale.
1. PICK A DATE: First off, you need to pick a date, so you have a clear deadline with which to work with. I would suggest giving yourself about a 2-week period to allow for getting everything ready and for the online ads to be seen. My suggestion is to ALWAYS do it on a Saturday, and ALWAYS start early. I always start my garage sales at 6 a.m. for several reasons. Most garage sales don’t start this early, so you are guaranteed to get the early crowd. Also, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish which is always nice.
2. Once you have the date and time picked out, ADVERTISE. You need to get the word out, because if no one shows up, you’re just a loser with a whole bunch of old crap on your front lawn. I advertise in the paper, online and with signage in and around the neighborhood.
- LOCAL PAPERS: I place a small ad that starts with the location, date and time. I always list the bigger items that could potentially draw a crowd, along with some general items like kid’s clothing, etc. Also, you should definitely make sure to say RAIN or SHINE, if you are willing to do that.
- ONLINE: I place my own FREE ads on Kijiji, Craigslist and any other local sites or forums that draws people. I can’t tell you how many people I had stop by, that mentioned they had seen it online.
- SIGNAGE: I hit the dollar store, buy the brightest colors of bristol board I can find, a permanent black marker, heavy-duty tape and some GARAGE SALE signs, and get to work. Once the signs are ready, I go out the day before the sale and post them throughout the neighborhood and all entry/exit points in the neighborhood that intersect with major streets, so I can also get the attention of people who happen to be driving by.
3. Now its time to ROUND UP ALL THE SALE ITEMS. This is the time to scour your home, your crawl space, your storage areas and your garage for items that you don’t use, don’t need, and have been gathering dust. Once I decided that I was going to have a garage sale, I went from room to room with an empty box and filled it with the stuff we really didn’t need or use anymore. Once I had pulled everything out of my house, I also asked my mom if she had anything that she wanted to get rid of as well. This is your opportunity to be ruthless!
4. PREPARING your stuff is next. It is really important that you CLEAN the stuff you’re going to sell. You might be able to sell a dirty plate, but you’ll make more off a clean one. So CLEAN your stuff.
- Kitchen Items/Toys – CLEAN THEM! Smaller items can be sold together – use ziploc bags, ribbon or tape to sell as a bundle.
- Linens/Clothes – FOLD THEM and use ribbon or string to attach similar items. For example, tie similar items together, such as sheet sets, onesies or bibs. Its so much easier to sell 5 onesies for $1 than 5 onesies for$.20 each.
- Appliances – Clean them, and make sure they work. If you have the instruction booklet, even better.
- Larger Items: Again, make sure they are clean and in working order.
5. Once all the items are ready to go, its time to PRICE them. You have to price your stuff – It’s a MUST. Take the time the night before and put a sticker on everything. This allows the shoppers to really check out your stuff without having to keep asking what everything costs. Its also helpful when people buy more than one item, so you don’t have to come up with a price on the fly. I have a simple philosophy when it comes to pricing and its nothing new. Price your items slightly higher than what you would ultimately like to get, that way you can barter down to your final price. Do not overprice your stuff – its a garage sale. The last time I went to one, this woman was selling kids paperback books for $2 each and no one would buy them. I sold mine for $.25 and sold every book I had. Also, the smaller, cheaper items I NEVER barter on. I can’t be bothered to barter with someone over something thats a dollar. That just annoys me – even I have limits.
Also, PLEASE, do not let anyone intimidate you into selling something at a price you’re not comfortable with. I was selling a large tv shelving unit, that someone clearly wanted. When I told her the final price, she tried to make me accept a lower offer by telling me she would walk if I didn’t give her that price. I asked her if she needed directions out of the neighborhood. Please honey – the only person that intimidates me is my father – go use your weak tactics someplace else. She left and came back 10 minutes later, and bought it. Maria kicks garage sale ASS!
6. Everything is priced and ready to go, next up is SETUP! This is also really important. If everything is set up in a clean and organized way, people will want to buy stuff. If it looks gross and messy, why would anybody stop. I use tables I have, such as my patio table, and I borrow tables from neighbours so that all items are off the ground (except the larger items). Put like items together and arrange it so that it looks organized. As you sell items, keep rearranging so it looks clean throughout. I promise you, its the little things that make a big difference. As the day progresses toward the end of day (especially the last hour), I tend to try to get rid of as much as possible so I’ll lower the prices at least half. I also remember at my last garage sale, this little old lady came by just when I started packing up. I let her pick out everything she wanted, I put it all in a bag for her, and when she asked how much it was, I told her just to take it. Little did you know, I am also a philanthropist, what can I tell you.
7. Yay. Its over. Now what? DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING BACK INTO YOUR HOUSE! PACK IT UP RIGHT THEN AND THERE, put it in the car, and drive to the nearest Salvation Army, Value Village, March of Dimes or any organization that will take it. You may need to arrange this ahead of time. If you were willing to sell it, then there is no reason to keep it. And on your way home pick up all the signs that you put out!
8. COUNT YOUR MOOLAH!!! WOOT WOOT!
AND REMEMBER –
THINGS YOU MUST HAVE:
- Price stickers
- Signage (bristol board, signs, permanent marker, heavy duty tape)
- Bags – I can’t tell you how many people are thrilled to have the option of putting their goodies in a bag.
- Money Belt (HOT!) for all your cash!
- Helper – Don’t go it alone. You have to have someone with you in case nature calls (and by nature, I mean Starbucks)
SURPRISING THINGS THAT WILL SELL:
Honestly some of the things I put out that I thought I could never sell, were usually the first to go, and usually vice versa:
- Beauty Products: I’ve bought hair products, shampoos, and similar items, that I wasn’t happy with and only used a bit of in the end. I put it all on a table, priced it up, made sure people knew which ones were brand new and which were used and they were gone first- couldn’t believe it.
- Kids clothes sold easily. I had it all bundled and displayed by size and item. I sold nothing with stains or any kind of damage – no one wants that.
- I had a sheet set that had pen marks on it. I put a large sticker on it, and made sure the seller would know it and it sold.
- I had odd items, like single pillowcases or a scrabble game with a couple of tiles missing, and people still bought them.
- Adult clothes, shoes and handbags do NOT sell, although coats always do.
- Books, and movies sell well, as long as they are CHEAP. No one is willing to pay alot for these items
There you have it – a foolproof way to make a ton of moolah on your next garage sale. I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten anything. Please let me know if you have additional suggestions that you can offer on garage sales. Also, would love to hear stories about experiences you’ve had selling your crap too!