Spring has sprung and you’re ready to turn some of that clutter into cash. Having a garage sale is a great way to keep things out of landfills, give someone a bargain and make a little money in the process. But, having a successful garage sale is more than tossing your stuff onto a sheet in your driveway. It takes planning, organization and a little sales savvy.
Get the word out
You could have the crown jewels for sale, but if no one knows, no one’s going to come.
- Put an ad in the paper. This will cost you a bit, but a lot of old schoolers still look in the paper first. Choose your words carefully. What sounds better? A junk sale or an estate sale? If you have a few high ticket items, mention them. You don’t need to put your street address out there for all and sundry to see. The block or intersection will do. Be sure to put a date and time.
- Put an ad on Craigslist. It’s free and easy to do. You can even link to a map.
- Put up signs on bulletin boards at grocery stores and rec centers in your neighborhood.
- Tell your friends and have them tell two friends, and so on and so on.
What’s your sign?
Good signage is crucial to a successful garage sale.
- Don’t use construction paper. It’s too floppy. Use cardboard and make sure your lettering is clear and BIG enough to be read from a speeding car 30 feet away.
- Don’t cram all the details of your glorious sale onto the sign. Keep it short and sweet. Something like: GARAGE SALE. SAT 8-12 -->
- Arrows are your friends. Help people navigate your neighborhood. If you live on a small side street, guide people through each turn.
- Put big signs up at all major thoroughfares near your house.
- Put balloons or a large, colorful sign in your front yard so people know they’re at the right spot.
- Don’t forget to be a good neighbor and take your signs down after the sale.
The price is right
It doesn’t matter how great your stuff is if it’s overpriced.
- Even if something is new and unused, don’t expect more than half of retail.
- Put price stickers or tags on everything. It’s time consuming, but will keep you from having to answer, “How much is this?” every ten seconds.
- Clean everything. Not surprisingly, something covered with schmutz isn’t going to sell as well as something that’s clean.
- Be prepared to bargain. Haggling is half the fun.
Make them want it
Think like a shopper. Create an interesting and relaxing atmosphere.
- Put on some music. It helps people relax and spend more time browsing.
- Put a few of your most interesting items at the front of the sale by the curb. Furniture, art and power tools are great lures.
- Display your items with care. If you have a camera and accessories, lay them out with a printout of the features. Make sure people can read the titles of books, CDs and DVDs.
- Put items at different levels. Use tables and racks to vary the displays and keep it interesting.
- Group like items and consider selling things in sets.
- If you’re selling electrical items, have a power cord out to show they work.
Everything must go
As the day wears on and you wear down, the prices will begin to shrink. That’s normal. Be strong early in the day, but be prepared to make concessions as the sale nears its end. Remember, everything you don’t sell you have to schlep back inside.