The good ol’ garage sale. While we don’t think it’s quite a relic yet, there is no doubt the internet has changed the way we think about reselling our household goods. Now, reselling just about anything can take place 24/7/365 through websites like Ebay and Amazon.com. But there is nothing like a “real” (as opposed to a “virtual”) yard, garage or tag sale to free up some much needed closet space and bring in some quick cash. But even though it’s a tried-and true method for easy money-making, there are some pitfalls. Here are some pointers to make your good ol’ garage, yard or tag sale an easy success.
Find out from your town or city if you need to get a permit in advance.
Ask if neighbors might be interested in having a sale on the same days. This will draw more people.
Best Days are Thursday through Saturday on a non-holiday weekend.
Advertise in the local paper, online, around the neighborhood, on local bulletin boards. Be clear if you are allowing ‘EARLY BIRD” visits or not. Mention any big ticket items or special collections you may be offering.
Make sure your location is clearly visible from the street and/or marked with something like streamers, a flag or a sign. If you use balloons, please make sure they are environmentally friendly.
- Try to not be alone, have someone else visibly on site. Never leave your items or money unattended.
- Avoid having people come inside your home, and if anyone does need to do that, make sure they are accompanied.
- Keep your home locked.
- Provide as little personal information about yourself as possible.
- Make sure all personal papers and personal records have been removed from anything you intend on selling: drawers, suitcases, boxes, file cabinets, folders, computer & mobile devices, check inside books, magazines,etc. You’d be surprised what may have been forgotten.
- Make sure all bundles of clothing, all pockets, all shoes have been searched and are clear of anything that might have been stored there or have fallen in.
- Keep the smaller more expensive items close by so you can keep a watch on them.
Don’t be a pesky seller. People like to know they have been acknowledged, but also like to feel free to consider their purchase without having to explain, be pestered by questions, or pressured to buy. A simple “Hello, let me know if I can help you.” should suffice.
- Arrange similar types of objects together ie: picture frames and art objects together; entertainment items like video games, VCR’s, DVD’s together; furniture together. And/or you can organize by room, ie: kitchen items together; bedroom items together; living room furniture together.
- Display items at table top height; this makes it easier for people to view and connect with pieces. It may be worth it to borrow or rent tables.
- If items need to go on the ground, place them on a blanket, or sheet.
- Have bags or boxes available for packing up and carrying out purchases.
- Place anything children may be interested in far away from the street, and away from fragile items you may have on display.
- Pleasant and non-intrusive music playing never hurts!
- To avoid any hassles later on, post a clearly visible sign that says, “All Sales Final.”
Allow testing for products:
- Have light bulbs on hand.
- Have batteries available.
- Have an extension cord running from the house to outside, so items can be tried out without having to bring people inside.
Does it work? You should indicate if an item is in working condition or not. Anything damaged or not in working order should be marked “as is”.
Appliances such as used kitchen equipment should be as clean as possible. If you have the product packaging, manual, directions, warranties or accessories, include them.
Clothing should be in decent shape, and CLEAN. The more accessible and identifiable, the quicker they will sell. Arrange by men’s, women’s, and children’s. Consider using the “bulk” pricing method: Have shopping bags available and mark one area of clothing, “One price for all you can fit in the bag.” You can do the same for accessories. A mirror is great to provide if you’re selling clothes, jewelry and/or accessories.
When pricing… There are opposing theories about what brings in a higher yield. One school of thought is to have everything, and we mean everything, priced with a sticker or a very clear sign. The other is to have nothing priced. No matter which method you select, you still can negotiate, and offer to sweeten the deal by including an “extra” something they may be interested in. Either way, make things easier by pricing in whole-dollar amounts or increments of 25-cents for easy change-making. Have plenty of small bills and coins on hand to make change. Only accept cash, bad checks are not worth the risk.
Price Tagging Everything:
- Having everything priced, may make it easier for you to be more firm about the listed price, but being too inflexible could cost you sales.
- You can still take an offer or reduce the price on the spur of the moment if you feel inclined.
- It frees up your buyers, especially those who may not be comfortable negotiating a price or making an offer.
- It frees up your time because you don’t need to be involved with negotiations on every single transaction.
Price Tagging Nothing:
- You have complete and total flexibility.
- Let the buyer make the initial offer. More often than not, it will come in higher than what you probably would have marked it.
Bundle the bulk. This is an effective way of clearing out the smaller items or clutter quickly, and it works with either pricing technique: group similar objects together and sell as a bundle for one flat rate. If you are not specifying prices put a sign up that says “Entire contents of this box all sold together as one. Name your price”
A spin on that is to have a big box or blanket or table full of little items. Hand people a bag or a box and say “Fill your bag from anything on this table for $5.00″
Another option is to price the items on the table at the same price, “All items on this table, $2. each”
Designate anything that is special, unique, unusual, historic, or has a noteworthy story attached to it. Even if you are not price marking, you need to make sure people are aware of your knowledge on the items and what makes them of value.
Sentimental or emotional attachment to an object? Some questions to ask yourself: How long has it been since I’ve even thought about this? If I took a picture of it would having the photo allow me to still retain the memory and feel the connection? While you are organizing before the sale, try placing those items onto a “maybe” table, and keep re-visiting it over a few days prior to the sale. Eventually several items may end up migrating to the “sale” table over those few days.
What you don’t sell, donate; remember to ask for a receipt so you may claim your donation as a deduction at tax time. Find out ahead of time BEFORE the day of your sale: where you will donate, if you will need to pack up the items to send or to drop off, or if they will come to pick up your items. If you are expecting pick up, you will have to make an appointment for that ahead of time. You won’t want to end up with a pile of giveaway items sitting in your driveway for two weeks in the rain while you wait for pick up or try to locate a place to donate (Trust us, we learned that the hard way). If you are looking for donation options, please consider our suggestions:
- Clothing: Men’s clothing: CareerGear.org Women’s clothing: DressForSuccess.org. All types of clothing: Good Will Industries
- Prescription eyeglasses can be reused. There are many local retail shops and organizations that will accept them; you can find a good list of resources in this article from VolunteerGuide.org.
- Books: If a local school or library is out of the question: BetterWorldBooks.com accepts all types of books. For children’s books only: BridgeOfBooksFoundation.org
- Musical Instruments: If you cannot locate a local school or music program willing to accept your used musical instruments, consider CharityMusic.org which accepts musical instruments, sheet music and music books.
- For just about any and everything: Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up your donation in several states across the continental US.
More yard and garage sale pointers in these videos:
- How to Have a Great Yard Sale – Lynda Hammond
- Garage Sales 101 - Nicolle Camarata
- Yard Sale Signs Make or Break Your Sale - WeekendTreasure
- Make Money from Spring Cleaning - BillSavings.com
- $50 Closet Makeover – Kristen Hartley
- Declutter and Donate – Paige Wolf
- What You Don’t Sell, Donate – Adam Glassman
And more the Garage/Yard Sale Tips in our Channel : House & Home.
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