Garage sales are a lot of work. But if you do them right they can be fun and profitable.
Like most things in life, the secret to a successful garage sale is careful planning. A favorite motto of mine is: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. For my no-fail Garage Sale plan…
The MUST DOs
DO sell “smalls”. In the antiquing and collecting world “smalls” are items that are smaller than a breadbox. They can be trinkets, tchotchkes, tools, cassette tapes, perfume bottles, jewelry etc. These small items might seem like junk to some. However, in reality, smalls are what keep antique stores and second-hand stores in business and they will help you make more money and get more people to stop and shop at your sale.
Pricing smalls can be a challenge. Just use this simple rule. If you think the items are worth less than a quarter, set them aside until you have enough to sell the entire lot for $1 or more. For instance, one Christmas ornament might not sell. However, you could probably unload a whole small box of Christmas decor for a $1 or $2. Don’t dabble in small change. It’s a waste of time.
The Price is Right
Do Price items. You’re probably thinking: piece of cake. But just wait until you start putting a price tag on every little thing… without one of those slick, automatic pricing guns. After an hour, or so, writer’s cramp sets in and your tags become illegible! You may even consider abandoning pricing all together. But here’s why you shouldn’t. Garage sale shoppers regularly haggle over a price that’s clearly marked… but they will avoid approaching you if they don’t know what your starting point is. That’s why I’ve included instructions for a simple and effective pricing system in my Garage Sale Kit.
Garage Sale Kit:
8-10 Sheets of Neon Colored Poster board (18”x24” to be used for both signs and pricing)
2 Markers (Black – broad tip)
1 Marker (thin tip)
Color-coded label dots (5 different colors)
Staple gun & Tape (for hanging signs)
Write large and legibly. Include words like SALE, DATE, ADDRESS and maybe even a category of items: TOYS, FURNITURE, and KITCHEN ITEMS.
Create a ledger in the middle of one or two poster boards and label the top PRICES. Place a colored sticker in column and next to it assign a price. Assign each sticker a different price, 25¢, $1, $5, $10 & $20.
Stick the right colored dot on your item and now, it’s like you have a pricing gun! No more writer’s cramp or illegible numbers. You may still have to write a few prices out. Example: if an item is a big ticket item use the sticker that is colored coded for the $20 items and write the appropriate price on the sticker.
Do put up signs & more signs! Don’t skimp on advertising. Putting up signs is a must but I also always advertise my sales for FREE on Craigslist.org. It’s a great place to get thousands of potential shoppers. Any avid garage-saler will tell you that getting a cup of coffee, and driving to where the signs lead is always the best way to find sales.
I look for signs at major intersections that point right down into a housing tract. The signage should lead me every step of the way to the designated house, as if I were Gretel following bread crumbs. Place signs at ever major intersection and every cross street leading to your home.
It’s important to be consistent with your signage. If the first sign is on bright poster board sign and the next one is scribbled on a cardboard box, I might think it is a different sale and miss it all together.
The No You Don’ts!
Don’t forget your manners. In the retail industry, store employees are instructed to greet each customer within 15 seconds of entering a store. There is actually more than one reason for this. The first reason is that people like to be acknowledged. A pleasant hello can put shoppers in a buying mood. The second reason to greet your customers is that people with sticky fingers like to remain anonymous. If you look each person in the eye and greet them with a friendly smile and a hello, you will have fewer items that disappear. It’s called loss-prevention and it works.
Don’t forget tables. There is nothing more annoying than a garage sale spread out on the grass or driveway in boxes and on blankets. This can be difficult as not all of us are lucky enough to own 8 foot long folding tables. That’s where churches and community centers come in. If you are a member of a church, ask them if you can borrow some of theirs. Most churches have no problem “signing out” a few tables. Just be sure to take care of them and return them promptly. Not a member of a church? That’s okay. Local community centers often rent tables for a small fee. Or, you can ask around to friends and relatives. Usually you will find someone who can help you get the tables you need.
Don’t sleep in. Guess what? The early bird gets the worm! It may be an old cliché, but it is true when it comes to garage/yard sales. People who are devoted to garage sales get up early so they can be the first to find the great deals. Get some sleep the night before and be up by 5 a.m. to be ready to sell at 6! Your peak selling hours are going to be from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. so be up and at’em!
With these six Dos and Don’ts your planning should be easier and your next garage or yard sale should be a huge success.