Thinking of holding a garage or yard sale? First, check out these words of wisdom - and warning - from folks who've been there. And get more great ideas from our article Garage-Sale Savvy.
Color-Code Your Prices
In order to quickly organize items by price, I purchased colored "dot" stickers and placed them on each item on sale. Then I made a quick chart on the computer listing the corresponding price for each colored dot (for example, red = 25 cents) with the stickers on the poster. I placed several price charts on various tables. This helped unnecessary (and unending!) price questions from shoppers and helped me quickly tell the price. I also avoided the problem of items being mixed up on the wrong table.
Save Those Hangars!
I have found that I sell a lot more when I organize the clothes by gender and size in a garage sale. I even have signs that separate the items. When you buy your children's clothes, keep the hangers that have the age on the plastic tab on the top -- these work great for their closet and for the garage sale. Throughout the garage sale I go around and make sure everything stays in place, so that way people don't have to "dig" as much. It's amazing how much one person will buy when they are faced with a big selection in the size they need.
Organize a Group Sale
Several of my co-workers and I got together and had a big yard sale in the parking lot where we work. We got a permit and advertised in the newspaper. Everyone labeled their items with a number and initials so the person collecting the money could keep track. One co-worker's daughter set up a lemonade stand. After all was said and done, we called Goodwill to come collect unsold items. We had a lot of fun, made a few dollars and donated to charity all in one day!
Build Up Your Kids' Bank Accounts
I made little stickers with prices and my children's initials on them. When I sold an item, I could immediately tell who the money would go to and put it in their bank accounts.
Know How Low You'll Go
If it's the last day of your yard sale, and someone is offering you a price on something that you think is worth more, ask yourself if you want to take the chance that it won't get sold. If you don't mind storing it again, then stick with the price. If you want to get rid of it, then take whatever is offered.
Group Items, Gab, and Give Bargains
Since we have triplets, we have had quite a few yard sales. I've learned that presentation (grouping items not only by size but also in groups of complementing items) and getting potential buyers to converse can make a huge difference in the amount of sales. I've even used the "buy one, get one free" technique since we usually have three of each item for sale!
Plan for Bad Weather
Be prepared for rain. We planned our biggest yard sale and it rained -- no, it poured. We had tarps ready to use. Luckily the rain only lasted for 1 hour. And have lots of singles and change!
Get It Done Early
My husband and I had a yard sale when our daughter was around 7 months old. What seemed to help us the most was making sure we had everything ready to go the week before. Every time I found something that we didn't need anymore, I would price it right then and there. We also kept most of our money in the house so we didn't have to worry about it. We ended up making more money than we ever thought we would!
Top 5 Secrets from Garage-Sale Junkie
I am an admitted garage-sale junkie, and so is my 4-year-old daughter Erin. We can't wait for the first sales of the season and go out rummaging virtually every weekend we can. It's a great way to spend time with her and she is learning how to read a map as well as just how far her "mad money" will go (usually $2 or $3). After attending countless sales and putting one on myself every year, I have learned that the following tips are really helpful.
- If you are selling your children's toys, make arrangements for them to go to a relative's or friend's house for the duration of your sale. This will eliminate the tears that often occur when they watch a total stranger walk away with their toy--even though they haven't played with it for years.
- Don't sell stained, ripped, or otherwise damaged clothing. If anything, put it in a box labeled "Free." Someone may have a use for it and take it off your hands, but don't expect them to pay for it.
- Advertise your sale in the local paper with specific times, dates, and location. If your advertised hours are from 8 am to 2 pm, then stick to that. Don't close early because you've had enough or think no one else is coming after the initial rush. It is very frustrating to go to a sale and find that it's been shut down before the announced closing time.
- Clearly mark the way to your house with signs or arrows if it is off the beaten path. If you do put up signs around the community promoting your sale, then take the time to remove the signs when your sale is over.
- If you are selling electrical or electronic items, have an extension cord or batteries on hand to prove that an item is in good working condition. If possible, try to include any manufacturer's directions or even the original box an item came with.
New Windsor, NY
What Goes Around Comes Around
I was living in a small town, where yard sales are a way of life. I learned many skills from those who were raised in this town. Before learning how to buy selectively, I was lured into buying an ice-cream maker. I thought of the fun I would have with my preschool children making ice-cream at home! The following summer, I was going to have my own yard sale. I went through my storage room and stumbled upon that ice-cream maker. I realized that it had not even been out of the box in the last year. I removed the sticker that said $5, and replaced it with a sticker that said $8. Telling myself that if I was meant to keep it no one would buy it. About an hour into the sale the following morning, a woman who was browsing the tables shouted, "Oh how wonderful!" She was holding my ice-cream machine. She finished looking and approached the table with her choices in hand. She began to talk to me while I bagged her things. She thanked me for having the ice-cream maker in my sale. She went on to explain how she had sold one just like it last year at her yard sale for $5 and her husband had never forgiven her! I smiled and told her I was glad to help.
The Early Birds Got Ruffled Feathers
I held my first garage sale last summer. I had everyone over to help out and had everything set up inside the garage the night before. My mother and I went out the morning of to put up the signs and when we returned it was just 9 am, the time I had planned to open the sale. I found 20 or more women in my garage, running over each other and glaring at me as I tried to finish the set-up. A lot of them yelled at me when I couldn't think fast enough to get their change out so they could leave. I even had one woman sitting in front of my house at 7 am asking if we would open early. When the rush was over 15 minutes later, I was told that all these people were banging down my garage door yelling "It's time to open your sale. Open the door!" I couldn't believe the nerve. I guess they were just quite fanatical about going to sales. The moral of this story is to be totally prepared with calculator and change in hand promptly at 9 am. Then open your door and be ready for the mad rush!
St. Paul, MN
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