A few years ago, I lived in this great town that had a yearly town wide garage sale. Although I never participated in the selling end in this town wide sale, I did love walking thru the streets and stopping at all the houses that did participate. I love going to garage sales. I did however, help one of my neighbors while she planned her garage sale and she was organized.
Who doesn’t love taking unused items cluttering the basement, garage and attic and turning them into cash? These days, with the internet, there are so many ways to do this: online newspaper classifieds, setting up auctions/sales thru eBay, and then there is Craigslist. These options are great, but I found that a garage sale typically works best when you have so many items, especially small items, to sell.
Garage sales however, aren’t always that easy to pull off, especially when you don’t know what you are doing. I was lucky to have a neighbor who did. She followed her plan from beginning to end. The better your plan and then sticking to that plan make for a successful garage sale. That in return, puts more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
To help you host your own successful garage sale, I wanted to share with you the best practices on organizing, pricing and advertising your big day.
Planning Your Garage Sale Planning for a garage sale is a great way to declutter your home
1. Picking Your Date
The first thing you will want to do is set the dates and times for your garage sale. Most people go with the weekends, of course, to host their garage sale. The majority of people hold their sales Friday and Saturday mornings. If you wanted to extend that to multiple days, I would recommend Thursday-Sunday. If you are hoping for a larger crowd, start early. Most people would like to carry on with their weekend without interruption to their normal schedule so the earlier the better. Hosting between the hours of 6 am to 2 pm, will usually get you the bigger crowd. It is also much cooler in the earlier hours. TIP: Garage sales are usually more successful and you will get larger crowds when they are held in the later months of spring or early fall.
2. Collecting Your Items
Planning for a garage sale is a great way to declutter your home. Get together some cardboard boxes and make sure you go thru every room in the house. That includes the closets, attic, basement, and garage. If there is an item you no longer want, or as a rule of thumb, haven’t used in months, add it to the sale inventory. Never second guess the items you put in the box. You never know what people will buy. You could even keep a separate box for old chargers, power strips, USB cables, any old wires lying around. Someone may just buy it.
Some cities will require you to have a permit to hold your garage sale. Check the website for your town and look under permits to see if needed and how to apply. If you can’t find it online, visit your local town hall for the information. If you hold the garage sale without one, you could be fined for not having it.
Advertising Your Garage Sale Keep the add short and to the point
1. Creating Your Ad
One way to make sure that you will have foot traffic for your garage sale in to pay for an ad in your area/local newspaper. Keep the add short and to the point, as some newspapers will charge extra if you go over in words. Depending on the ad, the biggest MUST for the add is your address, dates and times. Some people go for the bigger ads so they can include the larger ticket items such as collectibles, furniture, clothing, and electronics.
2. Advertising Online
There are also many sources online that you can advertise your garage sale. They are a little more accommodating with the word count and space so feel free to describe your bigger items. The best part is these are typically free. Post on as many as you would like but aim for minimally for 3. Craigslist Yard Sale Search Garage Sale Hunter Yard Hopper Garage Sale Source
One tip I have is to create your ad in Microsoft Word. This will save you time in the end as you can copy/paste the same ad on all the sites you advertise with. Only place the add about 2 days prior to the sale. You don’t want to place it to early.
3. Make Yard Sale Signs
Before you get to creative with your signs, take a trip to the local police station or town hall and find out if you are permitted to posting them. Some towns have banned this practice. As for the signs themselves, they are sold in most home improvement stores. I have found that all you really need in neon/brightly colored poster board, a permanent marker, and a friend with good handwriting. Make sure to include on the sign, large enough to be seen, the words “Garage Sale” with either your street address or large arrow if close by.
Prepping for the Sale
Sort before your price.
1. Getting Supplies
The day prior to the sale, you will want to make sure you have everything you will need to make it a smooth experience. You will want to make sure you have chairs to sit on, a table for yourself where you can exchange money, and plenty of space to display your inventory. Please don’t go out and rent or buy tables for this. If you don’t have enough, be creative, there are plenty of ways to achieve display space.
I round up all my patio furniture, my card/spare table, an old garment rack, and keep some old milk crates in the garage. The milk crates easily can hold a board for a table top and if stacked properly can hold books or old movies. If you don’t have a garment rack, hang the clothes on the open garage door or run a clothes line between two stationary items such as trees.
2. Making Change
I have personally used a fanny pack to carry the money so it is never left alone. You will need to go to a local bank to ensure you have enough change for the day. I take $150 and get at least $20 in quarters, $50 in singles, $50 in tens, and the remaining $30 in fives. I try to round everything to the quarter so there is no need for dimes, nickels, or pennies. You can also keep a box of Ziplock baggies on your table so when you have an abundance of money, you can take the larger bills, place in the baggie, and run into the house for safe keeping.
3. Sort Your Items
Sort all the items before you start pricing. I use my living room and sort the items by category. Book, home-wares, toys, clothes, furniture, etc.… I also make it convenient for the shoppers by organizing the clothes by men, women, and children.
4. Price Your Items
My neighbor taught me to price all the items individually. While it would be more convenient to sort clothes and books for example by the box, and only price the box, people may confuse which box and the right price may be overlooked. Also, there is no need to buy fancy price tags. Either use a roll of masking tape or the little dots, and a sharpie.
When pricing the items, don’t assume everyone likes to haggle. Keep your prices moderate as some people may just walk away if the price is too high.
5. Organize and Arrange Your Sale
Arrange the tables and put all the clothes on hangers the night before the garage sale. The more you can do the night before the better. Time will go to quick in the morning. Create a plan where you would like to place everything, keeping it logical and organized for your shoppers.
Holding Your Garage Sale
Saying a quick hello makes shoppers more comfortable about standing in your driveway.
1. Get Ready
Make sure to give yourself at least an hour to set everything up in the morning. Put signs up in the front letting everyone know this is the house, especially if your sale area is hard to see from the street. Keep your change in a safe place and find a shaded area for your chair and table so you are comfortable.
2. Host with the Most
When hosting a garage sale, people are going to be very interactive with you. They are going to ask you a lot of questions, they are going to try to haggle, and they are going to pick up everything. First piece of advice is not to act pushy. Second piece of advice is to stay close to your table and allow the shoppers to come to you.
When it comes to haggling, don’t settle for $5 on the couch. Especially if it’s the first day of a multiple day sale. You can start the heavy haggling the last day of the sale.
3. Dealing with the Leftovers
Don’t panic, everyone usually has leftovers when the sale ends. There is always the option of putting a free sign on the curb with the leftovers but there is another great strategy. Find a local Goodwill store and use them as a charitable donation deduction. List all the items and their worth on a sheet of paper and ask for a receipt when dropping them off. Once the items are finalized at Goodwill, as for a receipt. File this away with any other tax documentation for the deduction at tax time.
If there are still larger electronic or furniture items, sell them on Craigslist.
If you are not used to hosting a garage sale, they can seem like a lot of work. The sorting, the organizing, pricing, selling, setting up and cleaning up. The end result though should be worth it. The extra money you have in your hand, and the extra space from decluttering the house should put a smile on your face.
Did you have a garage sale and want to share any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments.
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