Fluorescent pink and green…these are the colors of my garage sale signs.
My husband has mastered and rocked our garage sale signs for years! He is king of mapping out the best placement of where our signs should be hanging in our neighborhood. It is fool proof! I will say, I had to give him some coaching at first on his super-girly and super-loopy handwriting, advising how it is NOT appropriate print for garage sale signage. Now, he is tops!
This entry is the “HOW TO” and “HOW NOT TO” have a successful garage sale.
SPOILER ALERT! I am about to share that, in one instance, we made upwards of over $1000 from one garage sale! (We were moving at that time, looking to sell a bunch of furniture…and FURNITURE = CASH!) Regularly however, we do about $400-$600 on average for our garage sales. Think about what you could do with all of that CASH! Maybe some My Little Ponies for your princess? Or Hot Wheels for your prince? Perhaps you just need to pay the bills? Whatever your goal, follow these tips and you’ll be all glitters and gold.
Preparing for Your Sale
Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs
No, I am not endorsing the song, but I will say that your signs are your bread and butter! There should be a sign on every entrance to your neighborhood that leads to your street. Be sure that if you live in the heart of your neighborhood, that you leave a sign on every other light post so that those of us trying to find your street (which happens to be off of the longest, windiest road to Never Never Land), don’t give up on your sale before we’ve even started. You have to have bright, easy to read signs. They should be placed with duct tape on poles and at eye-level; not on the ground, taped to a box that blows away with the first wind gust. And this goes WITH saying – please take down your signs when your sale is over. This way we aren’t chasing a phantom sign into oblivion while Missy Do Right takes our treasures at the next garage sale because we were out chasing your old sign from last week! Did I type that out loud?
Time: There’s Never Enough Time
Give yourself time to prepare. I like to start at least 2 weeks ahead of time. I go through my house, purging each room along the way. It is always a magical time in my house. I get goose pimples just thinking about it. Seriously, commit to purge items from each room in the house (including the closets, ladies). My rule is simple: if it hasn’t been touched in the past 6 months, it’s a goner. Now, there are some small exceptions to the rule. I keep “memory” items boxed up in the garage along with seasonal items and baby keepsakes. These “forever” items fit nicely and are safe from the “elements” inside those handy plastic bins with lids that you can find at your big box stores. I have them stacked and labeled in my garage, but that’s a post for another day regarding my first love: “organizing”.
During the purging process I like to make four piles: one for giveaway, one for trash, one for garage sale, & one for Craigslist/eBay. The Craigslist/eBay pile needs to be cataloged and photographed immediately. These items should be placed online ASAP. Craigslist/eBay is definitely a way to get more bang for your buck! It’s a fact that people will pay more for a used item online than a used item from a garage sale. Try to sell these items 2 weeks BEFORE the garage sale. If your item doesn’t sell online, include it in your sale. Your giveaway pile is mismatched items, toys missing pieces, things that people might not pay money for. Some people consider it to be a good idea to put all of these items in your garage sale and then once the sale is over, pack them up with your husband and send them to your local Goodwill. You’d be surprised what people consider a “treasure.”
I’m hoping that your “trash” pile needs no explanation. Let’s continue…
I’m Sorry, You Must’ve Forgotten to Clean Off the Old, Crusty, Baby Food Before You Tried to Sell Me This Highchair”
Don’t do it. Please don’t sell your items without cleaning them first. By the way, this includes dust. Not only can you ask for more money per item, but a side of courtesy is nice too! Throw tennis shoes in the washer beforehand. You’d be shocked at how brand new they look! You might even decide to keep them!
A Kindergarten Lesson in Sorting
Try to put like items near like items during set-up. It might be weird to put grandma’s erotic novels near the kid toys. Just a thought!
Tagging & Pricing Your Items
Use stickers to tag your items. If you have many items for the same price, you might consider taping a piece of paper to a table and labeling the entire table “.25”, “.50” or “$.100.” This helps me when I am also pressed for time and can’t label each individual item in my sale. The key here is to make sure there is a price for everything. One of my personal pet peeves when I am out at a garage sale is when there isn’t a price tag on the item. I almost never buy.
Accessibility is Key!
Make sure clothes are clean and hung on hangers and are easily accessible. Hang the clothes on your garage lip, a clothes line or a ladder. Of course, if you have a handy portable closet on wheels, then that’s the way to go! If you run out of hangers (as I almost always do), consider displaying your clothes on a table top or lid of a plastic bin. I did this when I sold my daughters baby clothes. I made $500 at that sale. I had 12 gray plastic bins full of her clothes from infant size to 3T! I put the lids on the bins, folded her clothes nicely and laid them on top with “like” styles all together. It made shopping so easy for my garage sale bargainers.
I still remember one of my favorite shoppers that day. He was a grandfather to 10 grandchildren He told me that he felt like he hit the lottery while shopping my garage sale. He left with bags of clothes and toys for his grandchildren. I was filled with joy!
Dedicate a good portion of time to setting up your garage sale. Use large, long tables if possible. If you don’t have sufficient table space, then send out a quick email or message to friends and family asking if you can borrow card tables and folding tables for your garage sale. I also like to use my extra, unused plastic bins with lids as table tops too. To hang clothes, I use the lip of the opened garage door, as well as our ladder. I guarantee you, you will get shoppers asking if you are selling the ladder. Your answer should be “no”. Unless of course, you are selling your ladder.
Enjoying your Sale
Have a Smile on Your Face!
Be inviting. Remember: your shoppers are BARGAIN shoppers and so are you. So, don’t be offended if they try to negotiate the price of your items with you. Most people will do this. Remember that you are selling these items because you don’t want them anymore. If you aren’t open to your bargain shoppers, then you will be stuck with the item(s) and you will have no money to show for it. Some exceptions to the rule would be with large furniture or electronic items. With these items, you might want to be a little more inclined to getting the most for your money. These are also items that you should’ve listed online. If you did list the items online, either via eBay or Craigslist, and the items didn’t sell, then perhaps you listed them too high. Be realistic. Just because you think your couch is gorgeous (and it very well may be), you’re not going to get hundreds of dollars for it in a garage sale.
I’d love to hear how these tips helped you have a successful garage sale. Please leave any comments or suggestions if I’ve left something out!
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