Want to make some money AND clear out dust-collecting clutter?
Plan a garage sale, put some time and thought into it, and have the most successful one you’ve ever had! If you’re someone who does a yearly spring cleaning, this is the perfect time to gather items you no longer use, want or need.
- Plan a date for your sale. Don’t have one on a holiday weekend and if possible, plan it around most paydays like the 1st or 15th of the month. Call your friends and family and tell them the date so they can participate and have enough time to gather their items. When you have lots of various items, you’ll have more people who stop to shop.
- Go through every room in the house. Have boxes handy and put everything you don’t want anymore in them. If you haven’t used an item in over a year, ask yourself if you really need to hang on to it. If you’re “iffy” on something, go ahead and put it in the box…you can always pull it out before the sale.
- Clean the items if they’re dirty. You don’t have to scrub and scour everything but if something’s really dirty, clean it…it’ll sell faster. I like to wipe everything off as I put them in boxes or bags and that way it’s already done.
- Price everything. I use the blue painter’s tape because we always have it around, it’s easy to write on and I can make the “tag price” as large or small as I need plus it peels off easily without leaving a mark. People are more likely to buy when they don’t have to keep asking you the price of something. If you have a lot of similar items like books, CDs, 50 cent t-shirts, etc., you can put them in boxes and just write on the outside or make a sign that says, “all paperback books 50 cents” or ”CDs $3.00 each or 2 or $5.00″. I always price and clean my items for a sale as I gather them. It makes getting ready the night before a lot easier and if a friend calls me up to say she’s having a garage sale, I have items ready to put in her sale.
- Price to sell. More and more people are shopping at thrift stores and getting good bargains. If you really want to get rid of those items taking up room in your house, price them to sell.
- Advertise, advertise, advertise. We used to advertise in the local paper, which you still can, but it costs money and it’s not cheap. If that’s the way you want to go, lower the costs by having multiple friends participate and split the cost of the newspaper costs. You can post on Craigslist in the garage sale section for free. Another free site you can advertise or find garage sales is www.gsalr.com. If people don’t know you’re having a garage sale, you shouldn’t expect too many showing up.
- Signs, signs, signs. Signs are going to bring you customers (not everyone goes to the trouble of looking up garage sales but if you have good signage, you’ll grab a lot of business that might not have even planned on stopping at a sale). Make them bold, easy to read and simple. For example, “”HUGE sale TODAY” with the times and street name and an arrow pointing the direction is sufficient. Make sure you post your signs legally and take them down after the sale is over. If you don’t put specific dates and items on them, they’re easier to read and you can use them again.
- Be prepared. The day before make sure you have plenty of change (coins and small bills). Keep it in a fanny pack, a small tackle box or even a shoe box-it should be something that’s easy to carry and that you can’t see through (no need to tempt strangers with your wad of cash that you’re making from your fabulous garage sale!) When someone pays for something, keep it out until you’ve made change so there’s no confusion as to if they gave you a $5 bill or a $10 bill. You also want to have plenty of grocery bags and or boxes to make it easier for shoppers to load their purchases in. It’s also nice to have a calculator and tape measure available. I keep batteries out if someone wants to test something (in case it doesn’t have batteries included) and an extension cord for electronics.
- Have someone help you. It’s very difficult to have a great garage sale by yourself. You need someone making change and bagging up items and someone helping customers with questions and keeping an eye on things. Plus, if you’re thirsty, hungry or need to go to the bathroom, you really need that extra person!
- Arrange and display items. Arrange similar items together like household goods, books, clothes, accessories, tools, toys, etc. Place eye-catching items closer to the road so people can see them and tempt them to stop. Hang adult clothes if possible - it’s much easier to see and read the sizing without having to dig through a pile. You can use a garment rack if you have one or tie a rope or clothesline between two trees. You could also use a ladder or fence to hang clothes from.
- Put “hot-selling” items (like toys, tools and children’s clothing) near the back of the sale so people have to walk by everything else you have to offer in order to get to it.
- Group children’s clothing by size. Makes it much more convenient for the customer and they’ll be more likely to snatch up items when they don’t have to dig through 4 different piles to find all the 18 months clothes (or whatever they’re looking for).
- Use tables. The more easily people can see an item the more likely they’ll buy. If they have to get on the ground or bend way over to hunt for purchases, they’ll be less likely to. I have run out of table space before and have used crates and boxes turned upside down and chairs for display space. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to shop.
- Bag up loose items (like small toys) and price the whole bag. It will save you time on pricing all those little items and kids love them.
- Know your city’s law on garage sales. Here in Colorado Springs, city zoning requirements restrict garage sales to two a year per household. And they are limited to two days in length per sale. I don’t know how strictly they enforce this law but it is the law.
- Have a “free with purchase” box if you have lots of odds and ends to get rid of and keep next to your “checkout” area.
- Let your children (if applicable) have a booth where they sell sodas, bottled waters and snacks.
- If something is broken, make sure you write “as is” on the tag. That way you don’t have someone showing up at your house later wanting their money back because the item doesn’t work and they didn’t know it.
- Don’t accept personal checks unless you’re willing to take a chance (or you know the person). I have taken checks in the past and honestly have never had a problem with it but I have other friends who have had lost money this way.
- Know that it’s actually illegal to sell products that have been recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is an act recently created that makes it illegal to to sell recalled items. There are two sites I like that have a list of recalled items so you can check to make sure you’re legal and the item’s still safe. (This is especially important for baby and children’s products). One site to visit is www.wemakeitsafer.com which is a website that does charge BUT they have four plans and “Plan A” is free (it’s a free 45-day account that’s perfect for a single sale) and you can also go to www.recalls.gov for a free list of recalled items.
Do some planning and prep work, invite your friends to join in and make some money and have fun!