Clutter-clearing garage sale season is upon us! Before you commit, ask yourself this one important question, and be honest:

Garage Sale Success

Garage Sale Success

Do I have enough to sell to make it worth my time and effort, or should I just donate the stuff and be done with it?

If you decide to proceed, go through the house looking for items to sell. Pick an area where you can gather everything that’s “gotta go” and encourage other family members to add to the pile.

Here are my top ten tips for running a successful garage sale:

  1. Get  a few neighbors to join in. People are more likely to come if they can hit a handful of sales in a row.
  2. Advertise in your local paper, on Craigslist and facebook. People scan listings and plan their routes, so make sure they’ll find your sale. If you have big-ticket or unique items, include photos in your online ads. 
  3. Signs should be big, easy to read, and neatly written. Quality signs signal a quality sale – half the success is in your marketing and advertising. And remember, people need to be able to read your signs from a moving vehicle!
  4. Price everything, and price it to sell. It doesn’t matter if you paid $10 and it’s practically new; if you’re not using it, the main goal is to get rid of it, not to recoup your cost. Use the computer to research prices.
  5. Display items on tables; hang clothing on a rack/clothesline. People don’t like to stoop to the ground or rummage through messy piles of stuff.
  6. Put “like with like” so people looking for tools will readily find them, books are all together, holiday decorations are easy to see. Creating a pleasant shopping experience translates into more sales.
  7. It pays to clean things. A damp microfiber cloth works miracles on dusty glassware, dishes, and decor items.
  8. Be willing to haggle. If you know you want $25 for something, either mark it, “Price Firm” or mark it $29 so you can come down and still get what you want. BUT! It’s also ok to say “no” to a ridiculous offer. I’ve told people I’d rather donate something than sell it for what they’re offering.
  9. Make sure to have plenty of change on hand. I recommend $75 broken down like this: $27 in ones, $25 in fives, $20 in tens, plus $3 in quarters. That should be enough to get you started. People will offer you a $20 bill for a $1 purchase.
  10. Have a check-out table and keep small, easy-to-steal items near you on that table. I’m sorry to say, sometimes people help themselves to things that are easy to pocket or highly desirable, such as collectibles, jewelry or video games.

After the sale:

  • Schedule a charity pickup for leftovers the day after your sale. Promise yourself the stuff is NOT going back in the house. It’s time; let it go. However:
  • Relist leftover big-ticket items on Craigslist if you want to take another shot at selling.  Here’s a link to a post I wrote about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Craigslist.

If you can, schedule your sale to coincide with another event in your neighborhood such as a festival, garden walk, or real estate open house. Anything that attracts people is a good thing when you’re having a garage sale.

The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Make it a fun experience for people – offer treats, have some lively music playing, mix and mingle and even if it’s not true, act like you’re having fun! People are more likely to buy from someone with a smile than from Grumpy McGrump.

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