Successful Garage Sale 101
Go to the dump first. That is right – get rid of the genuine junk before you begin. I know all the stories about you will be surprised what people will buy. It has been my experience people will not buy broken-down junk. It just makes your sale look ‘junky’. Don’t send the message you are selling junk.
Set up. Clean it up. Even bargain hunters aren’t interested in a highchair with Cheerios stuck to the tray. (Unless you plan on selling it for next to nothing.) Wipe things off…clean it up…shiny bright. It may be your junk but it won’t be someone elses’ treasure if it is dirty.
Anything smaller than a breadbox…put it ON a table, even if it is an improvised table. (saw-horses and an old door) Get it up off the ground. Nobody is going to crawl around on their hands and knees on the sheet you have thrown out on your lawn to paw through your old clothes.
Arrange your sale by category. Like things by like things, the tools/garage type things together, kitchen/household, kids things together etc.
If selling clothes arrange them by SIZE. When I am shopping for my 6 year old granddaughter I don’t want to dig and look through every pair of pants this family of twelve has worn over the last five year. Put all the size 6 together and I will gather up an arm full.
Pricing: Price everything! That is right, have a easily seen price for every item.
Shoppers are there for a bargain. You are not E-bay, so price it to sale and plan to do some dickering. Do you want to sell it or keep it in the garage another 10 years? Get you mind right.
Clothes. Make it easy for the shopper! Price them all the same – the good the bad the ugly. All the same price. (An exception might be a mink coat or an absolutely wonderful $500 snowsuit you are selling) But for the most part everything priced the same. Shoppers are there for a bargain and don’t want to have to sort by price their purchase. And really is this t-shirt worth $2.00 and the next one $3.00? Come on already. Every item of clothing is the same price. Easy to figure. Stickers aren’t falling off on the ground or sticking to the wrong t-shirt so it ends up with three stickers, and you are trying to bluff like you remember how much you put on each shirt. When the customer is ready to dicker, it is easy for you and them.
Getting shoppers to your sale: Advertise in the local paper. I know it costs money but it is worth it. Make your ad appeal to the shopper you want.
Mention the types of things you have for sale.
Good ads read like this:
- 12 month old baby has outgrown clothes.
- Married – combined family – selling duplicate appliances and
- Grandma downsizing – collectible and vintage items.
- Outdoorsman – too old too tired – selling out.
Poor ads read like this:
- HUGE yard sale,
- lots of miscellaneous
- don’t miss this one
- something for everyone!
That is wasted advertising. It will not bring your shopper with his cash to your sale.
A word about the word HUGE. Everyone’s idea of huge is different. No matter how much stuff you think you have – it is not huge. Unless your stuff will fill like five parking lots at the local high school – don’t say huge. When your shopper comes you want them to be pleasantly surprised – not disappointed when they get out of the car.
Like I said, huge only counts if you can fill five parking lots.
Length of sale. ONE DAY. Nobody wants to come the second day after all the ‘good stuff’ is picked over. You are wasting your time and energy.
If you are selling a lot of bigger items and feel you have them priced fairly and don’t want to dicker with the first offer at 7:00 a.m. Have a big sign: At NOON everything will be half price. (Then really have it half price at noon!) Then you can tell the customer, if you think it will still be here at noon come back and it will be half price. Most times, if you have priced it fairly, they know it won’t be there at noon and will be willing to pay your fair price.
Start early. Be ready! If most garage sales in your area start at 8 – you advertise to start at 7 – and open your garage door at 6:30. If you advertise earlies welcome – plan on seeing people the night before. That is great! Come on in. (No dickering the night before…full price, folks.) Your best business is the first couple hours. Those who garage sale - love to come to your early one before the rest begin.
Signs. DON’T put your address on your signs. When a car is going past as 35 miles an hour they cannot read your address written in size 12 font on the bent over sign taped to the box. Instead…use an easy to recognize symbol or color - a star, smiley face and a BIG arrow pointing in the direction you want the traveler to go. One word is sufficient:
SALEThen have another arrow using the same color and/or symbol (no longer need a word) to lead them along to your garage.
I am running a garage sale next week. Here is my newspaper ad:
Happy little garage sale. Grandma downsizes - vintage and collectible things. No clothes. 123 Anywhere Drive ONE DAY Saturday June 19th. 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Earlies O.K.
I will have bright yellow signs with big black arrows and a big smiley face on each sign.
I bet you wish you could come, huh? It already sounds fun!
The money: Decide if you will take checks. If not put it in your ad. The day of the sale if you have a large item and they want to write a check, you’ll have to decide. Have something to say, if you won’t take a check. “I am so happy this might work for you. I’ll put a sold sign on it for ONE hour while you go to your ATM. Oh, I’m excited you found this..I’ll hold it for you.”
Have lots of change. Be able to break $10’s and $20’s.
The day of the sale:
(Actually the day before the sale)
Mow your lawn. Have curb appeal. Before the customer gets out of the car – prepare their mind, help them to think. “Oh, this is a good sale…there will be good stuff here!”
NOW...the day of the sale...
Be happy! Have fun. Invite folks in… “Hey, out bargain hunting?"
"I bet we have something you’ll love.”
“Come on in, we’re waiting for you.”
Be like the WalMart greeting.
DON’T hide in the corner afraid to speak to someone. Sell your wares, have fun. There are bargains to be had, and cash to be collected.