Tips to a Successful Garage Sale
When Jonathan and I first got married, one of our favorite weekend activities was frequenting garage sales. We would look forward to uncovering the occasional treasure among the trash that we thought we needed for our little apartment…and then a year later for our house. It was fun to scour the local neighborhoods for garage sales week by week. As we filled our home with the needed furniture and household items, our garage sale excursions slowly diminished. And after our big house to house move six years into our marriage, we realized how quickly we were accumulating stuff and needed to start having garage sales of our own.
So now having hosted over 15 garage sales, we have discovered many of the dos and don’ts over the years. My favorite suggestions are for clean up at the very end of the post, so make sure you check those out.
- First, I think you have to determine what your purpose in having a garage sale is. Are you having a garage sale to make money, or are you trying to get rid of stuff? Or both? Knowing your main purpose for having a garage helps you know how to price items. If you are out solely to make money, you’ll price your items a little higher than you would if you were just trying to get rid of stuff. I am out to purge, so I price to sell and sell fast.
- Have a Garage Sale Box. Throughout the year, I get rid of stuff, and give stuff to neighbors and friends. But for items I think I might sell, I have a garage sale box that I stick things in through the year. Bonus, if you can price your items throughout the year, that will make the week of the big sale less stressful.
- If you haven’t priced the items throughout the year, use the week before to price. And go through the house with eyes to get rid of stuff in this last week. We have priced items the day-of the sale before, and it is downright stressful.
- Make/buy beautiful signs for the road. The signs reflect you and your sale. Last year my kids and I went to a
junkgarage sale. The signs were ugly, nothing was marked, and it was all JUNK. We still laugh at that “junk” sale.
- So make sure you aren’t selling junk. If it’s questionable…
- Make a free pile.
- Fridays have been the best selling (and buying) day for us in the Pacific Northwest. We used to just have Saturday-only garage sales, but when we went to two-day sales, we saw how much more we made on Friday, then we did on Saturdays. Plus, if we are doing the work to have a garage sale one day, it’s best to have a two-day sale. Set up for day two is way easier than day one. And sales on Sundays…they just don’t seem to fly, plus we are in church.
- Sell iced-waters and food. We have had garage sales where food sales have been 1/3 of our garage revenue (that’s when we sold hotdogs, which we don’t do anymore, but it’s an idea). We price food to sell too. We sell the bottles of water for $.50 each. It only takes selling 6 or 7 waters to cover the cost of selling a 35-pack of water bottles from Costco. We also sell cans of sparkling water since we aren’t into soda. And now the kids like to make cookies and popcorn. It’s a great way to involve the kids in the garage sale. The kids look forward to the annual sale and can’t sleep, it’s so silly and fun! They also have sold their homemade bracelets, and one of my daughter’s has had a hair and nail stand in the past…oh, yes.
- Label prices clearly or make clear signs. Nothing is more frustrating at a garage sale than to not have a basis for negotiation (if you are one who goes that route). Which brings me to my next point…
- I like to price to sell, as I’ve said before. I price the items so that people won’t negotiate since the prices are so low. I really want to get rid of stuff, so I don’t want people to have a barrier for buying. I want to price low enough so it’s a no-brainer for them. There are those occasional items like big-ticket furniture that you may want to price higher to start. You can always come down.
- Have a garage sale with others. We have an annual sale in our cul-de-sac. It’s a fun time with neighbors and friends. And I invite my own friends and family to join in. Garage sales are much more enjoyable when shared with others. For lunch we each contribute beans, and tortillas, and one of us makes bean burritos. Not only do people make the time pass faster and funner (okay, I know that’s not a word), but they bring more stuff, which makes our sale more attractive to onlookers.
- Place the big ticket items so they are visible from the road.
- Advertise on Facebook, Craig’s List, and/or other on-line mediums. You can google “local garage sales” or something like that to see where you can advertise locally. You’ll find free ways to advertise (I’ve only done this part once) since we seem to get enough traffic from our signs.
- Put the bigger items on Craig’s List or Ebay. Honestly you’ll get much more for your stuff if you advertise on those sites. People look for specific items on-line, so you’ll make more money on your item since you’d be specifically listing it. You have to ask yourself if it’s worth it to take the time to put individual items online, though. For me, I just want to get rid of stuff so I’ll just price it lower at the garage sale and live with it.
- Organize well, so it’s easy for the customers to find the “departments” they want. Keep clothes together and nicely folded or hung if possible. Use boxes to organize. And use/borrow tables to get stuff off the ground as much as possible.
- The last day of the sale, we tell our customers “1/2 price at noon” and “free at three”. We did the “free at three” thing for the first time last year, and I couldn’t believe how much easier it made clean up. There were just a few items we put away before three that we didn’t want to give away free. Some people came back and took bagfuls of clothing and items. It made my heart happy, especially since we were Kon Mari-ing.
If you have your own tips and tricks to having a successful garage sale, please feel free to share in a comment. We’d love to benefit from your knowledge and experience.