I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Having a garage sale?

on April 20, 2013

garage sale 2       One of the posts I follow was asking about garage sales and I decided to share my own experiences with you.

I’m not sure when I had my first garage sale but it has been many years and I’ve held over 25 garage sales of my own and also a few for charities and some of our clients who are downsizing and moving.  I’ve learned a lot about garage sales and discovered what works and what doesn’t.

Garage sales are definitely worth the effort.  I’ve made between $50 and $1900 on a sale.  The ones that didn’t do as well had fewer items or bad weather.

Success depends on a lot of things:garage sale1

  1. WEATHER  We can never count on the weather so you need to be ready in case of rain, hot sun or cold weather.  If you have a garage, enclosed porch or the sale is inside, the weather won’t interfere too much.  Make sure you put in your ad that your sale will be rain or shine or if you need to cancel, put in a rain date.   Putting up a tarp will help protect from the hot sun or light rain.
  2. PREPARATION  Plan the sale well – advertise – plan location, time, day – prepare items
  3. ADVERTISING  Newspaper ads are good if you have a lot to sell, if not they are costly and will eat up your profit – also if it rains, you have wasted the money.  I put up signage and advertise on free websites – in Canada we have a popular buy/sell site called Kijiji – there are probably others around the world.  Make sure you advertise a few days ahead so people will be able to plan on coming.
  4. garage sale3SIGNS   Lettering should be large,  written in black marker or paint, with arrows, your address and on stiff cardboard or a proper sign.  You can get signs at dollar stores.  I’ve seen many signs that you can’t read because the letters are too small, they are not dark enough, they are in colour, they are on paper that has curled, there is no direction marked, there is no address, or they haven’t been secured properly and have fallen to the ground.  If people don’t clearly understand where they are going, they won’t be buying your stuff.  Put lots of signs starting several blocks away at main corners and at the end of your street.  Put signs out a day or two ahead of the sale to let people know.
  5. LOCATION  Location is important but wherever you have it, make sure it can be visibly seen and don’t hide it in a back yard or inside with no signs (I’ve hunted for some of those).  A busy street will have lots of traffic that will see your signs and notice a crowd gathering.  If you aren’t in a busy area, this is where good signage can help lead people to your sale.
  6. TIME  I’ve had sales every time of year but I find the spring brings out the biggest crowds where I live.   The best sales are from mid-April to June, they slow down in the summer and pick up a bit in Sept to mid-October.  Since we have winter here, we only have the odd moving or estate sale held inside which can be profitable if done properly.   If you live where the weather is nice all year, it wouldn’t matter what time of year you have your sale.   Other days can also work, but won’t likely draw a large crowd.
  7. PREPARE YOUR ITEMS  Make sure everything is clean and in good shape.   If you have any broken or damaged item, toss them out because they won’t sell anyway and they don’t look good at your sale.  If there are parts missing to some items and they are in good condition, people may buy them for parts or you can put them in a free box.garage sale6
  8. PRICE YOUR ITEMS  People are more likely to buy if the items are priced.  Some sales don’t price anything and many people won’t bother to ask.  If I see something that isn’t priced and I don’t need it, I won’t ask, but if it is priced and reasonable, I sometimes consider buying the item.   You don’t necessarily have to price all the items, but price a lot of them so people will have an idea of what you are charging.  If you have bulk items, like books, you don’t have to price these individually, just put up a sign.  Keep your price reasonable.  Overpriced items do not sell.  Consider what you would pay for this item at someone else’s sale.  If an item cost $20 new and it is still new in the box, charge $10 – if it is in good condition, charge $5 or less.  Remember that if you don’t sell your stuff, you don’t make any money and you will have to store them again or take them to the goodwill.  The idea of a garage sale is to get rid of the items, so unless you really want to get stuck with anything, price them well.  Better to make $100 on your sale, than $20 and have to pack up the rest of the stuff.   Always be ready to make a deal with a potential buyer.
  9. ANTIQUE ITEMS   Many antiques are not worth much today.  I have a lot of beautiful glassware that used to be valuable, but I took them to an antique dealer and he couldn’t even sell them.  If you think you have something that might be valuable, try taking it to a dealer or selling it on-line.  You won’t get much at a garage sale.
  10. garage sale2DISPLAY ITEMS WELL   Put up tables and make sure you have lots of space for people to walk around.  Tarps can be put on the ground if you don’t have enough tables.  Place items neatly and so they are easy to see.  People like to rummage in boxes but you will lose sales if items can’t garage sale4be seen so try to put out as much as you can.  Some bulk items can be left in boxes with a sign stating price (for example – all items in box are 25 cents each.  Books – hardcover $2, softcover $1, children’s books 50 cents)   Clothing should be hung if possible and a sign put up (tops – $2, pants – $3, etc).  If you have lots of clothing, books or other items, consider selling them as a box lot or fill a bag for $1.-your items are well displayed and easy to see – people do rummage in boxes, but a lot of things aren’t seen, so they don’t sell (boxes are where you put the junk and just price the box)
  11. SALES TACTICS   When items sell, fill up empty spaces and keep areas tidy.  When people can see everything clearly, they will buy more items.   If you see an interest in an item and the person puts it down, try giving them a deal they can’t refuse.  When your sale has gone past its first couple of hours, put out signs saying No reasonable offer refused or Make an offer.  Review your prices and mark down items.  When you are in the last hour, tell people that everything is half price or buy 1 get one free or have a bag sale (fill a bag for $1).
  12. garage sale5CREATE A HAPPY ATMOSPHERE   Be friendly with customers, smile and say hello.  Put up balloons.  Decorate.  Play some music (not too loud or weird).  People like to hang around a sale longer when they feel good and they might buy more.
  13. OTHER WAYS TO ADD SALES   Sell coffee and doughnuts, do some baking (if you make it look good, people will buy it), have a cooler with pop, juice, water (great on hot days), have a BBQ and sell hotdogs or hamburgers.
  14. garage sale7MONEY   Make sure you have lots of change.  I’ve had sales where the first 2 customers only had $20 bills and they bought 50 cents worth of items – this can take away all your change very quickly.  Don’t be afraid to ask people if they have something smaller.  Also make sure you keep the money in a safe place (money box, pocket apron) so it won’t disappear.  People have left their money laying somewhere and it has been picked up.  A good idea is to have 1 person sitting at a cash table taking money and giving change.
  15. AFTER THE SALE   Decide what you want to do with what is left over.  Donate any good items to goodwill.   You can list the items on a free site like Freecycle and people will come and get them.   Just put the items on a table or a tarp out by your curb and put a sign on it FREE – PLEASE TAKE AWAY – most of the items will be picked up.

These are just some suggestions that might help you with your own garage sale.  Have a good one!

2 responses to “Having a garage sale?

  1. lipstickchat says:

    These are great tips! Thanks for sharing them 🙂

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