You can easily throw together a garage sale, but if you want to make it worth your time and increase your profits check out these 10 tips.
Declutter your home early and often
Create a spot in your house (garages or basements work well for this) where you can put your unwanted things. This way you can slowly declutter over time and you don’t have to think about the garage sale until later. Start in one room and work your way through the house getting rid of things you no longer want or need. If you are debating getting rid of something put it with the unwanted pile and if you find yourself searching for it then you know you still need it. Remember the more you have to sell the more enticing your garage sale will be.
Price everything and price things well
Keep prices easy to read (legible) and prominent on the item being sold.
DO NOT put “make an offer” on anything. People are less likely to buy something if they have to ask how much it is. If you see someone picking something up and putting it down multiple times you can tell them that prices are negotiable.
If all clothes are a certain price you can make signs that indicate this. Be sure there are many large signs so people aren’t left wondering on prices.
It’s a garage sale – be prepared for people to barter on prices. Remember you want to get rid of this stuff, not keep them. However, it does not mean you have to accept super low offers, especially the first morning of the sale. Sometimes when an offer is too low I have told the buyer that if it is still here tomorrow I will take that price. I’ve had people come back the next day. If it’s a high ticket item—meaning it’s worth your time to do this—you can take the persons contact information and call them if it’s still there at the end of the sale.
Create a sale that is appealing to the eye
Many people will judge a book by its cover so you need to make sure your garage sale is appealing to the eye and from a distance as well as up close.
Put some bigger, enticing things where people just arriving to the sale or driving by can see. Don’t put clothing at the start of your garage sale that is not what entices people to stop. If the bigger, more enticing items sell you need to keep rotating things to that premier location.
Don’t allow your sale to be too cluttered. You want it to be easy for people to walk around and look at things. This means, if at all possible tables, shouldn’t be too close together and you shouldn’t pile items on top of each other.
Put as many items as possible at eye level (some people can’t bend down and some just won’t). Do not put items for sale underneath tables. Most people will not realize those things are for sale
Books should be on bookshelves or other similar shelves if possible. If that is not possible, use boxes, but at eye level. If they are in boxes keep them neat and have the spine showing so people can easily see the book titles. If time allows and you have lots of books organize them by type of book.
You can never have too many tables or shelves to display things. Here are some simple ideas to help you display items.
- Use “A” frame ladders and pipes to hang clothes
- Lawn chairs and boards can be used to create extra tables
- Empty storage containers can be used to display boxes at eye level
Group items to sell
You need to take the time to sort like items and display them at the sale together. Think like a store where like items are in specific sections (housewares, clothing, decorations, etc.)
Group similar items in Ziploc bags or rubber banded together for sale. This can make it easier to increase the price and move more stuff.
If it is possible, DO NOT hold a garage sale alone. The first morning of your garage sale you will probably be bombarded with shoppers. One of you can be putting things out and the other handling the cash box.
When you have at least 2 people one can answer questions or help people while the other handles sales.
You will need a beverage, a snack, and a bathroom break at some point during your sale and you don’t want to leave it unattended.
Having a few people is very nice, but don’t have too many. It can become intimidating to some shoppers if it looks like six people are waiting at the table to wait on them. (Or maybe it’s just intimidating to me)
- Advertise well
Good signage and advertising are keys-you can’t sell things if people don’t come.
If your neighborhood or town does a garage sale weekend be sure to do yours then because you will be able to take advantage of all that free or inexpensive advertising. If your town or neighborhood doesn’t already have one organized consider doing one yourself. 14 Steps to Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale.
Consider multiple ways of advertising: Facebook, Craigslist, Varage Sale, etc.
Don’t underestimate the use of signs on busy streets to draw traffic. It helps to direct people to your sale regardless of if they heard about it through other means.
Consider your local paper, but take into consideration how much the ad is in comparison to how much you have to sell. You don’t want all of your profits to go towards advertising.
A little bit of smart advertising can go a long way.
Make shopping easier and more enjoyable for your customers
Provide shopping boxes or baskets for people who are picking up lots of things. Sometimes when people’s hands get full they decide they should be done. You want to encourage them to shop your entire sale.
Offer EVERYONE, even if they only buy one thing, a bag to put their item(s) in. People appreciate this. Many times they are going to other garage sales or maybe they are walking home and it makes it easier. All you have to do is save your plastic grocery bags for a while and you’ll have more than enough. You can always ask your neighbors and friends for their extras. Most people have more plastic bags than they know what to do with.
Make the checkout process easy. If your sale is a multiple family sale make sure each seller puts their initials on their price tags. Then all you have to do is take the sticker off and put it on a notebook page. You can sort through later to see who sold what. Waiting while someone flips through different pages in a notebook or totals each seller’s items separately is very annoying.
You will want to straighten things up throughout the day as shoppers sort through items and unfold clothes to look at them. You want it to look as nice and neat as possible all day long.
Be strategic when it comes to selling clothing
Hang everything that you can—clothes that are hung are easier for shoppers to browse through
Continue to reorganize clothes throughout the day because shoppers will mess them up as they look.
Organize clothes by size and type (i.e. 3 month baby clothes in one spot and men’s clothes in another).
Clearly mark the size of the clothes so it’s easy for shoppers to find the section they want.
Consider grouping things to be sold together (i.e. 4 pairs of newborn pants).
Only sell non-stained, good condition, in style clothing. If shoppers see even one piece of stained clothing they will usually stop looking because they don’t see quality clothing for sale.
Take time off work, but find a place for the kids to go
If you usually work Fridays you need to take the day off so that your garage sale can be open on Friday. It is usually the highest traffic day for garage sales, especially in the summer. I’m hearing Thursdays may top it now, but I know most people can’t afford that many days off work.
If you have the vacation time, take the day before the garage sale off of work. You need time to finalize set-up, finish pricing things and be ready to go. If you take a day off you will be less stressed on the first day of the sale.
If you have younger kids have someone else watch them during the sale. You need to be free of distractions. You will be busy enough cleaning up messes shoppers are making; you don’t need to be cleaning up messes your kids are making. You also don’t want to have the inevitable breakdown when your child discovers you are selling their favorite – hasn’t been played with in years – toy. (When this happened to us last year I told my daughter she could keep the item she so desperately wanted, but she had to put two items up for sale in its place – she did it.)
Older children can help out with the sale or may choose to have a lemonade stand.
Consider a last day sale-especially if it’s a Saturday or Sunday.
If you really want to get rid of all of that stuff you should consider a price markdown on the last day or the last few hours of the sale.
When people are leaving your sale, be sure to remind them of the upcoming price cut.
In the last 3 hours of our sale last year we tried this. Typically, a Saturday after 10 gets very slow at a garage sale. I made signs that said “50% off” and I stood at the end of our garage sale and waved them around. We turned the last 3 hours of our sale into a bustling event. People were parked up and down the street once they saw the sign.
If you decide to do a sale of some kind, keep it simple. 50% off works well or Buy 1 Get 1 free of something.
Remember this is all stuff you decided you don’t want anymore. If there are items that you think you can get a higher price for by selling another way set them aside during the 50% off sale.
Side tip: Make breakfast and lunch ahead of time so it’s easy to grab a bite to eat and get back to the sale. Last year I put food in the crockpot and we could eat at whatever time we wanted and it didn’t disrupt the garage sale. Doing this also makes it more economical. If you go out and grab something to eat you are spending more money – the opposite of our goal with this sale—than if you just cooked something at home.
Oh wait I should have added a #11…..Have fun!
If you follow these 10 tips you will be on your way to a more profitable garage sale. Now stop reading and get started decluttering for your next garage sale.
If you liked this you may like other articles related to garage sales:
14 Steps to Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale
Organizing a Neighborhood Garage Sale Part I
Organizing a Neighborhood Garage Sale Part II
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