My last blog post talked about clearing out the garage. Now that you’ve identified those items you no longer want, what do you do with all of your castoffs? One option is to hold a garage sale. Here is a list of tips to hold an organized and successful garage sale.
Designate one room or area as your assembly/holding area. You may want to have several large boxes or bins in this area for sorting. Prior to the sale, conduct a thorough room-by-room search of your home, including attic, basement and garage areas, collecting items to sell. As you find items you want to include in your sale, put them in this room. It’s an awful feeling to come inside after completing a garage sale and discover items you meant to sell that never made it out to the sale.
If an item hasn’t been used in two years, it’s potential garage sale fodder. It is amazing what will sell at a garage sale! Don’t overlook things like leftover fabric, half filled containers of paint, broken appliances and carpet remnants. (I’ve successfully sold all of the above items at garage sales).
Leading Up to the Sale: A month prior to the sale, check with your town to determine if you need a permit. Also find out if your town has regulations about posting fliers on trees or telephone poles. A week or so prior to your sale, call your local newspaper with ad copy. Include some “best sellers” in your ad (i.e., furniture, toys, sports equipment, camera equipment). General statements about merchandise can also be effective (i.e., Moving Sale; Everything Priced to Sell; 20 Years of Accumulation). Be sure to include directions to your home in the ad. If you have a rain date, be sure to include that as well.
Consider pricing items by using color-coded stickers (i.e., a red dot for $1, a blue dot for 50-cents, a green dot for 25-cents). You can also price by category (i.e., all paperback books $1, all hardcover books $2) rather than pricing each individual item. Post a chart explaining the color-coding system at the check-out point.
In the weeks prior to the sale, save your newspapers so that fragile items can be wrapped. Save empty grocery store bags to use for customers’ purchases.
Cleaning up merchandise prior to sale increases the amount you will get for an item. But use your judgment – it’s not worth spending $8 to dry-clean a dress that will fetch less than that. However, an investment of a little elbow grease is always beneficial. Items that are dirt and dust-free or polished are more attractive to a potential customer.
If an item has multiple parts, make sure they are all put together for display. You can use zip-lock bags, tape items together, etc. If you have an instruction manual, include that with the item. The key is to ensure that a potential buyer knows he is getting all the pieces.
Two days before the sale, get lots of change — singles, 5’s, 10’s and quarters. Pricing things no lower than 25-cents minimizes how much other change you need on hand. You should have a minimum of $100 in change.
If permitted by your town, the morning of the sale, or late the night before, post signs/directional arrows at major intersections within a six-block radius of the sale to help people find your home. You might also put a large sign with an arrow on your car and park a block away from the sale.
If you have school-age children, a garage sale is a great location for a lemonade stand. Let them earn a few dollars, too.
Plan to wear a waist wallet – the safest and most efficient means to keep your change and proceeds. Other items to have on hand include a calculator, pens, receipt pad (optional), an electrical outlet (or extension cord leading to one) to demonstrate that electric items function, and a measuring tape for customers to use.
Arrange to have a charitable organization such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs or the Vietnam Veterans come the day after the sale to take donations of any items that did not sell. Once you’ve made the decision to part with things, do not bring any remaining items back into your home.