At one point or another, we all need to get rid of some of our unwanted belongings. When that happens, it’s time to have a garage sale. How to have a garage sale, from preparing for the sale to advertising the big day, can be daunting for the uninitiated. With the right plan and time-saving tips, you can likely ensure your next garage sale is as successful as possible.
6 tips for garage sale preparation
The secret to having a great garage sale is in the preparation. To set yourself up for success, consider the following in the weeks leading up to your garage sale.
Consider having a neighborhood sale
A big hurdle with having a garage sale is making sure you have enough traffic. One of the best ways to do that is by banding together with your neighbors and having a neighborhood-wide sale instead of a standalone event in your front yard.
You’ll not only increase the chances of having someone find out about the sale through word of mouth, but you also create a bigger spectacle on the day of the sale that may help you catch the eyes of more customers.
Start out by getting in touch with each of your neighbors. Tell them you are interested in having a garage sale and would like to know if they’d be interested in joining forces. Almost everyone has items stored in the garage or attic that they are ready to part with but haven’t gotten around to doing so. Simply put, you never know who will take you up on the offer.
If you have a homeowner’s association, you may want to ask first. The association may have rules and regulations to follow before your garage sale. Plus, it can also be a good resource for advertising your sale.
Choose the right time
Traditionally, Saturdays and Sundays are considered prime times for yard sales, particularly in the warmer months. However, that may not be the case in your area. To that end, it’s a good idea to spend a few weeks keeping an eye out for yard sale signs as you drive around. Make a note of the times that seem to be the most popular with those who live around you.
In addition, keep an eye on the weather. If rain is in the forecast, there’s a good chance you won’t get the best turnout for your garage sale. Do your best to choose the day that offers decent temperatures and clear skies.
Advertise your sale online
There are plenty of free places where you can advertise your garage sale online in the weeks leading up to the event. Craigslist is a great place to start, but beyond that, you can look for local yard sale groups on social media sites such as Facebook. Additionally, don’t forget to advertise the sale on your own profiles. Sometimes family and friends can be the most dedicated customers.
Know what you should and should not sell
Once you’re ready to start organizing your inventory for your garage sale, it’s important to think realistically about the types of items you should and should not include in your event. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t buy an item secondhand, odds are that other people feel the same way.
The following types of items tend to do well at yard sales:
- Furniture (in particular, vintage or antique pieces)
- Sports or workout equipment
- Houseware, especially cookware and small appliances
- Working appliances
- Kids’ toys
- Clothes with no stains, holes and in good condition
Meanwhile, these items usually do not go over as well with shoppers:
- Intimate clothing, such as bathing suits or underwear
- Used beauty or hair products
- Out-of-date electronics
- Baby safety gear like cribs and car seats
Clean your items
After settling on your inventory, the next step is to clean every item. While this may seem like a lot of work, we’re willing to bet it will be worth it. Put simply, clean items are more likely to catch the eye of potential buyers and sell for a higher price.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most labor-intensive steps of the whole garage sale. With that in mind, do your best not to leave it to the last minute. If you need more help to get it all done, consider inviting a few friends over and asking them to help.
Label everything with price tags
When you’re finally done with all your cleaning, it’s time to label each item with a price tag. If you aren’t sure where to start with pricing, think about visiting some garage sales in your area to get an idea of the going rates. When in doubt, stick to pricing items with round numbers. Doing so will make it easy for shoppers to calculate how much they are spending.
As you’re creating the price tags, be sure to write clearly and legibly. Using a finely-pointed marker will help make writing on a small price tag that much easier.
8 tips for the day of your garage sale
By the time the day of your garage sale arrives, you should have already completed the bulk of your prep work. However, below are tips to help make the day of the actual sale more profitable.
Draw traffic with directional signs
Placing directional signs with arrows all around the neighborhood is the classic way to advertise a yard sale. Start with putting up a large sign by the busiest intersection close to your home. Then, fill in with directional signs that will point interested shoppers toward your house. Finally, put one last big sign on your front lawn so everyone knows they’ve arrived at the right place.
Creating the signs is another task you can do ahead of time. If you have children old enough to write, this is a great task to help them get involved with the project. However, keep in mind it is very important the signs are big and legible.
Create ‘departments’ with like goods
As you begin to put out your items, be sure to arrange them thoughtfully. In particular, make an effort to group similar items together. Having this level of organization will make it easier for shoppers to zero in on the specific items they intend to purchase.
If it helps, think like you’re in charge of creating the different departments in a department store. In addition to putting similar items together, you always want to make sure your price tags are pointed toward the front. They should be one of the first things people see when they begin to browse.
Leave space to browse
At the same time, it’s important to try to keep your tables from becoming too crowded. If it’s hard for shoppers to see the items that are available, they are less likely to buy from you. Be sure to leave enough space between each item for it to stand out.
By the same token, make sure there is space between the tables. Ideally, people will walk around each table with ease. Keep in mind that your yard will be crowded, so breakable items should be placed within easy reach of interested buyers but away from children and pets.
Be prepared to make change
Even though we now live in a society where it’s more common to use a credit card than to have cash on hand, garage sales are still largely a cash-based business. To that end, you’re going to want to be prepared to make some change. Stop at the bank before your garage sale starts and get a few small bills and coins to help you make it through until items really start selling.
It’s also a good idea to offer an alternative payment option for those who don’t have small bills on them. You may want to consider accepting payment through an app like Venmo or Apple Pay, especially for larger ticket items. Just do your best to complete the transaction while the shopper is on hand in order to avoid any confusion.
Start on time
Setting up a garage sale is a lot of work. It’s only natural you may be running a little behind on the big day. However, if at all possible, it’s important to start on time. Otherwise, you may lose out on early-bird shoppers who are looking to score a deal.
If you get a late start, do your best to multitask and engage with shoppers while you put out the rest of your goods. If you have multiple people helping you with the sale, designate some people to set up the items while others are in charge of interacting with the early bird arrivals.
Don’t mind hagglers
Even though you took the time to put price tags on all of your items, there are still going to be people who try and haggle. It’s in your best interest to be open to their offers. After all, there’s a reason you decided to make these items part of your inventory in the first place, and receiving some money is better than not getting any at all.
If there are one or two pieces you feel are truly worth the money, do yourself a favor and write the word “firm” on their price tags. This will give interested shoppers the heads-up that you aren’t willing to barter for those items. Plus, it will save you time and energy.
Know when to quit
Eventually, the stream of shoppers will begin to slow down. Rather than spending the whole day waiting for one or two stragglers to arrive, it’s best to know when to pack up your goods. While you have to make the decision that works best for you, as a rule of thumb, if you haven’t seen anyone in half an hour, it might be time to close up shop.
Donate your unsold items
Once your sale is over, consider donating any unsold items the same day. Not only will this help you avoid having to lug your inventory back into the house again, but it will also allow you to have the satisfaction of knowing you gave back to your community.
While the decision to donate your unsold items is an honorable one, it’s best to plan out your donation in advance. In the days leading up to your sale, you may want to call around to a few charitable organizations in your area. Be sure to ask them when and how they take donations, as well as the type of items they accept. It may take a few trips, but eventually, you will be free of your unwanted belongings
The bottom line
A successful garage sale is one where you can get rid of most (if not all) of your unwanted items, while shoppers have gone home happily admiring their new treasures. It may take a few weeks of planning, but if done right a garage sale can help you declutter and put some extra money in your pocket.
Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.