Tips for a Successful Garage Sale!

ADVANCED PREPARATION:

  1.  Start a couple weeks in advance!  As you go through your home sorting out what you want to sell, designate a place in your home or garage for everything that will be in the sale.
  2. Clean everything that will be sold, and price items as you clean them.
  3. As your pile of stuff starts to grow, think about what you will need to display them: tables, racks, shelves, clothes lines, etc.  (borrow tables from your neighbors or friend if necessary, hang a clothesline or rod from a tree to display clothing, etc.)
  4. You may want to post a sign saying “All Sales are Final” (people have been known to come back wanting to return items they bought).  Also, consider having a receipt book, or print out a few “receipt forms” from your computer to have handy if people ask for one.
  5. Start saving plastic grocery bags, boxes and newspaper.  You can use the newspaper to wrap breakables, and have bags and boxes ready for customers that buy a lot of items from you.
  6. Most garage sale “pros” recommend that you do not use a cash box, but instead carry change and cash on you at all times (using a fanny pack, a carpenters apron or money belt).  Occassionally, pare down the amount of cash you carry, by storing some of it in the house when time allows.
  7. A day or two before the sale, go to the bank and get some cash to be able to make “change” for your customers.  The amount and type will depend on the price of the items that you are selling.  Small bills are best (nothing over a $20)- and more small bills than large.  If you are selling items for $1.00 or less, get a roll of nickels, dimes, & quarters.  I would recommend a starting “cash on hand amount” of maybe $50 total.  (If you have items for sale over $100.00 you may want to have more than that).
  8. Work with a partner, if possible to allow for a break, trips to the bank for more change, or to be able to assist more than one buyer at a time (also helps discourage theft).
  9. For safety reasons, I recommend that you not let anyone inside your house- not for the bathroom or to try on clothes.  If they ask to use your bathroom, I would suggest directing them to the nearest fast-food restaurant or public restroom instead.
  10. Having a calculator on hand can also be very useful for totaling up a bunch of small item purchases.
  11. Have a “free pile” of something (old paint/stains worked well for me in my last garage sale, maybe something like mismatched glasses/plates).  If prominently displayed and labeled, the free pile, acts like a “loss leader” in helping  you get more people to stop at your sale, and increase your chances that they will shop the rest of your sale and purchase other items.
  12.  Keep your pets (even the friendly ones) inside for the sale.  Even if they don’t bite, many people are afraid or allergic to animals.  This my prevent them from stopping at your sale.
  13. Decide in advance  whether you will accept checks (not recommended), or “hold” items for for shoppers that need to leave to get cash to pay for something at your sale.  If you do agree to hold an item for someone- give them a time limit before you will sell it to someone else.

PRICING

  1.  Some people use different colored labels (the little sticker circles you get at the office supply store), and then post a large chart defining the price associated with each label color.  Most garage sale websites, advise against this method, as it make more work for the buyer- also, if they don’t see the chart, they will just be asking you the price on everything anyway or find it annoying to have to keep looking back at your chart for everything.
  2. Tan painter’s masking tape is an inexpensive way to mark your items, without being too sticky.  Just be careful not to use ink on the price tag that will bleed through onto your item (some magic markers/sharpies will do this).
  3. Most garage sale “pros” suggest putting a price on every item, to make thing simpler for your buyer.  They also suggest, putting the price tag on the top of the item so that Buyers don’t have to pick up and handle everything (less chance for breakage).
  4. Recommended pricing on items should be about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of new to start- depending on it’s condition (expect to haggle).  High-dollar items, may be better sold on Craig’s List, as people generally expect low prices at garage sales.
  5. Consider discounting everything that is left in the last hour of your sale.  (Or perhaps plan on arranging for a charity pickup for what is left over from the sale).

DISPLAYING ITEMS AT THE SALE:

  1. Display “like” items in the same area of your garage sale (e.g.- baby & children’s items, electronics, house wares, clothing, décor items in groupings).
  2. If you have small similar items that “go together”, consider bundling them together in clear plastic bags for your display and selling them as a set (think doll clothes, pet toys, action figures, etc).
  3. Try to have items off the ground (other than maybe children’s items).  Many adults cannot bend or squat down to pick up or sort through items that are low to the ground.
  4. Hang clean & pressed clothing on inexpensive hangers (people may ask to include them as part of the purchase).  Hanging the clothes makes it easier for buyers to see them and makes them more attractive than a rumpled pile of clothes.
  5. Place large items in the front of the sale space (gets people to stop).
  6. As you start to sell more and more items, consolidate your items and “tighten up” your display area, so that tables look fuller (people won’t stop, if it looks like you have nothing left to sell).  Move your tables closer in to your garage as you start to sell out (makes it easier to shut the sale down when it is over).
  7. If you are selling electronics at the sale, have an electric cord and/or batteries available so that buyers can see that they are working before they purchase.  If they do not work or need repair- let buyers know or make note on the item and price it accordingly.

OTHER TIPS:

  1. Greet your customers when they arrive, but don’t hover over them or talk about every object unless they express an interest in it.  (Sometimes and interesting history of the object can help it sell).
  2. Considering playing a little soft music in the background, to avoid awkward  silences (this is especially uncomfortable when there is only one customer at your sale at a time).
  3. On a hot day, consider offering cold beverages for sale and providing shade for your buyers, as this may keep them shopping a bit longer at your sale.

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