If you’ve said (or heard) the following, it might be time to have a [successful] garage sale:
“Look at all this stuff.”
“How did we get so much stuff?”
While excessive consumerism is a post for another day, today’s focus is one of the methods for dealing with ALL THE STUFF. I know this varies in how “normal” it is, depending on where you live. But here in the Midwest United States, the garage sale is king of spring-autumn.
This is often especially true for trying-to-be-thrifty-mom-who-also-shops-at-Aldi.
A little backstory…I have been shopping at garage sales essentially since birth. Both with my parents and extended family, this was considered weekend fun (back when sales began on Saturday). I would truck around with my little coin purse full of change, and find some special bargains. Usually another old prom dress to play princess in at home.
On to adulting…
I don’t think I fully grasped the joy of HAVING a garage sale until we became parents.
All my fellow moms out there…you know that babies come with STUFF. Even if you attempt to keep it to a minimum, often their dear grandparents CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES. Fortunately, most baby gear is helpful and/or ridiculously adorable. (You decide which of those is a more key factor.) But, eventually, most of us reach the point where it’s no longer necessary to hang on to all things baby – just in case. (That’s also a post for another time.)
So you have all this stuff. I’ve seen/used a few different methods of getting all I can out of it. We’ve receive/given hand-me-downs — especially awesome for baby clothes, when they outgrow before they destroy. I’ve had a tub of maternity clothes circulate between me and some friends — which can save a ton of money. Just find some friends roughly the same size as you. But when all of that has run its course…it’s time to sell.
Now that I’m done reminiscing, here are my 5 tips for a successful garage sale!
1. Prep, prep, prep.
I recommend starting this WAY before you think you need to.
First off, throughout the year between garage sales (where we live, you’re allowed one every six months, but we generally do ours annually), we make a garage sale pile. For us, this was the waaaay back corner in the unfinished part of our basement. In earlier years, it was part of a closet, or some plastic tubs in the actual garage. If you’re really organized, you could even price items as you put them in the pile. That being said, I never have. But you totally could.
Part of my process for prepping sale items includes purging whatever is just NOT going to sell. For example, we have had mountains of baby and toddler clothing in our past couple of sales. Prior to pricing anything, I went through it all, pulling out and tossing anything that was stained up. I don’t want low quality clothes — that most people probably don’t want — obstructing their shopping through all the super cute (and unstained) other things for sale. This brings me to…
2. Keep it Organized
No one wants to work too hard to find what they’re looking for. That’s just human nature.
Even if it’s a killer deal, if customers have to excavate a massive pile of baby clothes on a folding table, many of them just won’t bother. This is where using your resources comes into play. If you already own plenty of tables, hanging racks, etc., good deal. You’re set. If you’re like me, find friends or family to borrow from. The more ways you can spread out your items and make them visible, the better!
Once your garage door(s) are open, clothes can be hung on hangers from the door tracks. Works especially well for adult clothes. For our last sale, I literally stole ALL the hangers from our closet in order to use them during the garage sale. Worth it.
3. Price Your Stuff
This is important for a few reasons:
a) some people just will NOT ask you how much something is *raises hand*. They’ll simply move along, and you’ve lost a potential sale and
b) a clearly marked price gives you a starting point if [when] a customer wants to haggle.
c) when you’re in the middle of a rush (let’s say, lunch hour on Friday), it’s harder to serve customers efficiently when you’re answering a lot of pricing questions (or trying — on the fly– to decide how much that pair of shoes is worth)
Personally, I like individual pricing on most stuff. But we ALWAYS have at least one tub of 25 cent items.
Side note: this usually includes a bunch of small toys, and serves as the candy-at-checkout-lane when kids walk by it on the driveway.
We always use directional “Garage Sale –>” signs, and position them at the entrances to our neighborhood and on our street corner. Bright colors, clear lettering/arrows. Enough said.
We generally put a sign at the end of our driveway, along with streamers or a banner. Sometimes this will attract customers who didn’t even see your sign, or who live on your street.
Put your most exciting, unique, and appealing items out on your driveway, where they’re easy to see as people drive by. This is curb appeal for garage sales. Some examples would be strollers, furniture, large toys, or bicycles. Many people will drive by and, if nothing catches their eye, keep on going. It doesn’t matter if you have amazing stuff in your garage. If they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. If it’s impressive, show it off!!
This next part is easy, and can be done in just a few minutes. After we set up our sale, my husband or I go around and take pictures of some of our most appealing items. Then we each write a Facebook post, and one of us usually posts on Craigslist. I like just making a list of some of the items/categories we have to offer. Doing a sale alone, our family has a very niche customer – parents, mostly. This way, they know what to expect and if it’s worth their time.
5. Be Ready to Make a Deal
This isn’t eBay.
Your garage sale is most likely not the place to sell your collector’s edition whatever-it-is. Garage sale customers are looking for bargains (possibly something THEY can turn around and sell on eBay), and if you’re priced too high, you will lose sales.
Take the haggle culture into consideration when you price, as well. If you’re hoping to get a certain amount from something (like a bigger item – hello strollers and cribs), you could price it to give yourself some bargaining room without losing too much money.
Last Day of Sale Tip!
We always offer special deals when we’re about to wrap up. Double-whammy here: we make some sales we may not have otherwise AND we have excited customers who are getting AWESOME deals.
Here are some of our favorites:
a) fill a bag (or box, or whatever) for $5. This is especially effective with clothes.
b) EVERYTHING is half off the marked price.
c) make us an offer
Are you ready to host a sale of your own?
Can you share these tips with someone who is?
What advice would you add to this list?