Cute & Simple: Hosting a Garage Sale

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Okay, you got me.  Garage sales are nothing even close to cute and simple.  But they can be, if you put a little time and effort in it–plus, it just might help you sell more and make more money.  And to call it “hosting,” well–you need to call it something more than, Putting-my-junk-in-the- yard-so-other-people-will-take-it-in-lieu-of-money because that will trick you and your customers into believing it really is a good deal. 

Garage sales are work.  If you are willing to “host” one, then give yourself a pack on the back!  You will need to spend some time–a good 3 weeks or so–preparing for one. Of course, the more stuff you have, the better.  Start by making piles…1) Junk (throw away), 2) Garage sale-worthyand 3) I forgot about this–I like this!  (keep this pile teeny tiny).  Next, categorize all of your stuff…kitchen, baby, furniture, toys, clothes, books.  Finally, price to sell!  Remember, the goal here is NOT to get top dollar for everything you once loved and cherished.  The goal is to toss out the old stuff you no longer love, use, or appreciate as much as you once did. 

Here’s another “rule” I live by and you may want to adapt as well, if you haven’t used it in 6 months, it’s a goner.  Of course there are a few exceptions: holiday decor, lawn and garden stuff, and hobby/craft-realted items (provided you still have the time, interest, and space for it). 

Haul it all out to your garage/yard and get started with this next set of suggestions: 

  • Get lots of tables (friends, neighbors) and arrange goods as neatly as possible, as though you were at a store.  Consider getting those cheap plastic table covers to cover your tables
  • Advertise in the paper, neighborhood newsletter, and by posting signs around.  Put a blurb on your Facebook page, too! 
  • Be ready to haggle.  Have lots of singles and change on hand. 
  • Label everything well.  Have a price tag on it or toss like items in a bin with one price tag.  Some folks may fill a box with odd and ends (mis-matched toys) and say, $3 for the whole box. 
  • That goes for things that aren’t for sale.  Cover them with a sheet if you can so it’s not even a temptation.  Consider making signs that say, “NOT FOR SALE” and placing it on your boat/lawn mower/garbage cans (people will ask)
  • Don’t ever say, “I don’t know” when someone asks you. “How much is this” while dangling a pair of Manalos in your face.  Always know your price. 
  • Be prepared to open early.  If you open it, they will come. 
  • A good time frame is 7am-12noon.  You can beat the heat by doing it early. Plus, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon to deal with putting things away. 
  • Have an outlet available for folks to try out electronic things.  If it doesn’t work, be honest.  Put a sign on that old television, “Doesn’t work.”  You’d be surprised who will take it for the parts. 
  • Set “curb appeal” items near the curb!  Weight sets, TVs, tools…anything that was $$$ to begin with and will attract guys does the trick.  So do kids’ items like playhouses and bikes
  • Consider having treats/coffee for folks while they browse (no charge).   You can make up a batch of canned cinnamon rolls, purchase inexpensive donut holes, etc. 
  • Have some quiet music playing in the background (CD player).  Better yet if that CD player is for sale.  Great marketing tool. 
  • Have bags on hand for people to put their stuff in (old plastic grocery bags or gift bags that are too banged up to gift-again)
  • Have a special area for kids to play while parents “shop.”  Of course, keep it safe and remind parents that it’s their responsibility to look after their own kids.  You may even consider hiring a neighbor for a few bucks and hour to entertain the little ones that stop by with bubbles or sidewalk chalk.  Your shoppers will be happier, stay longer, and buy more. 
  • The die-hards come early.  They are often in the resale or antique business and know just what they want.  Don’t be offended if they leave without purchasing anything. 
  • At the end of the sale, consider making a bargain with someone….”You can have all that’s left for $100″ (you decide the right amount, but make sure it’s a good deal), call up the donation folks and have ’em haul it away. 
  • Done!  Now go count your pennies….

    About leslie1218

    Author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) frantically working on a novel that should be ready for submission this fall. Mom of two spritely redheads & one chubby basset hound whose stories & images appear in my writing from time-to-time.

    2 responses »

    1. I once and only once had a sale and my friend coached me through it. I did make money enough to buy my first gold trinket from my high end jewelry friend, Jan. I did not begin as well prepared as you suggested. I did sell an “old chair” which was an unintended sale. I did not anticipate the outcry when my husband realized what happened. I did hear about it for years afterward when the perfect “garage chair” was unavailable for it’s obvious and necessary functions which were completely unknown to me. I learned from this experience. Although I have enough junk to have a magnificent sale, I’ll hold on and watch everyone else organize for the event. Your advice is well taken. Maybe . . .

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