A garage sale is still a great way to get rid of unwanted stuff around your house. We’ve put together a list of garage sale tips that can help you hold a successful garage sale.
The best day to hold a garage sale depends on where you live. Many locations prefer one or both weekend days. Dates near the 1st or 15th when people get paid are also good. Peruse Craigslist or local classified ads in your area to find out what days and times of the week most garage sales are held. Also, some local governments require a permit to hold a garage sale and place restrictions on where you can post signs; be sure to check with your city hall before the sale to make sure you don’t get fined.
Plan what you will do with leftover goods at the end of the sale. Some thrift stores offer pickup service, but it usually needs to be scheduled in advance.
Once you have a date, time and plan for leftover items, get busy! Here are the steps you need to take to hold a garage sale.
What to sell at a garage sale
Clean out cabinets and closets – many people look for pots, pans, and storage options for camps and apartments. You can sell them individually or in lots. Cast iron cookware is making a come-back. Clean, gently-used baby or children’s clothing, toys in good condition, and books are often good sellers. If you have broken items, sell them as a lot for artists. Most garage sale items will sell for much less than half of what you paid for it — usually 10%-25% of retail.
Advertise your garage sale to attract the most buyers
Create big, eye-catching signs using colorful cardboard and felt-tip pens or markers. The funnier, the better! Or go with a simple sign, like these free printables. Print in clear, large letters. Include arrows pointing in the right direction. Include the address, day, time and any special categories of items you have for sale such as toys, Christmas or sports gear. Include end-of-day incentives, for example, “half price after 1 p.m.”
Place signs strategically on key arterials that lead into your neighborhood. Make sure you have them posted at least a half hour before your sale opens for business. Create fliers and post them at local stores or churches. Advertise your garage sale on Facebook groups dedicated to bargain hunters.
Stage your garage sale items for maximum sales
Put most goods at eye level, on shelves or tables. Clothing should be hung on racks if possible. Never toss clothing in boxes or on ground tarps. Put big-ticket items and large items like furniture out front. If you have jewelry or other expensive items, keep them at the checkout table, especially if they are small.
Group like items such as kitchenware, tools, toys, clothes, etc. Make sure every item is priced. You can simplify pricing by grouping similarly priced items. For example, designate a $1 table, a $5 table, and a $10 table. Or use color coded stickers for set price points (pink = 25 cents, green = 50 cents). But be open to selling multiple like items at a discount. For instance, a toaster, wooden toast grabber, and a set of pretty bread plates could be displayed and sold as a set.
Group nonfiction, fiction, and children’s books together and mark accordingly. Separate clothing into sizes. Create color groupings with items that may not have a department. The more you can show your customer how to utilize an item, the more you will sell.
Manage your garage sale effectively
Start with at least $75 in cash: one roll each of quarters, nickels, dimes, 20 $1 bills, a few$5 bills, and a couple of $10s. Enlist family or friends to help ; early morning crowds can overwhelm you and make it easy for strangers to take things without paying for them.
Secure your cash — preferably in a fanny pack around your waist. If you use a cash box, make sure someone attends the cash at all times. If you are making a lot of money, take extra cash into your house throughout the day for safekeeping, but always have at least $75 in change on hand during the sale. A marketing tip: have a few grocery bags on hand for shoppers who might need them. A shopper without a carrying container will only buy what she can carry. Offer to hold items at the front for a shopper who has her hands full – then she can browse longer and pick up more items.
Consider offering brewed coffee or a pitcher of water, lemonade or iced tea along with pastries or cookies. You can charge a nominal fee to offset the cost, or simply offer these as a loss leader on your signs (“free beverage and pastry to all buyers.”) Free beverages will bring them in and give them a reason to browse.
Plan an activity during slow times – read a book, work on a craft, or have a conversation with a friend. Acknowledge shoppers when they come – your eye contact allows them to feel more welcome and able to browse longer. Consider holding a last-hour sale to move those items you really want to get rid of. When your sale is over, spend time organizing everything for storage or charities. Then count your money and start planning for the next sale.
For more Living on the Cheap tips: