Having a garage sale is a great way to declutter, get more organized, plus make some extra cash. However, having a successful garage sale takes some planning.
While preparing for a garage sale, you’re house may feel like it’s being turned upside down. Plan for it.
1. Go through your house (closets, drawers, cabinets), garage, and/or storage unit, and collect all items you no longer have a use for. Make it a family event and encourage your children to get rid of some of their unused toys or games. Let them keep the money they earn by selling their “stuff”.
Store all items in a central location. Don’t try to sell “junk”, i.e. broken toys, empty margarine containers, empty glass jars, etc. – if nothing else, either put them in a “free” box, or throw them away.
2) If you’re planning on selling clothes, do not sell clothes with permanent stains, holes, or rips (either throw those clothing items away, or cut them up and use them for rags)
3) Pick a day, or weekend for your sale. Watch the forecast-due to the weather, you may have to delay your sale.
4) Plan how to display your items, i.e on tables, shelves, on drop clothes (or old sheets), on hangers, or in boxes. You may have to borrow, or rent folding tables.
5) Get your signs ready, and plan where to place them. Need a permit to have a garage sale? Do your homework. Get any needed permits ahead of time.
A few days before the sale
6) Advertise in the local newspaper. In your ad, target big ticket items, or if selling clothes, advertise sizes, or say “baby clothes”. Include your address and the day(s) and time for the sale. Do you need to include directions? If so, add those as well.
7) Price your items. Important: Price your items to sell. If you price your items too high, you’re going to be left with them.
I usually price in $.25 increments, may have a “dime” box of small stuff, and I always have a “free” box. Kids love to rummage through the free box and I allow them to choose one item each. It also keeps kids occupied while their parents are “shopping”.
At my last garage sale, I priced all clothes (adult), hard cover books, and bedding items at $1.50. (I also advertised that in my ad) Hint When pricing, ask yourself, “What would I pay for this, and feel like I got a deal?” Don’t get hung up on what you paid for it. Remember, you want to get rid of this “stuff”.
8.) Go to the bank and get cash for your sale…small bills and change ($100 worth should be more that sufficient), and set up a “cash box” or fanny pack. Do not put all of your cash in a cash box. Keep extra cash either in your pocket or in a safe place.
9) Start setting up for your sale, and be done pricing by the night before the sale starts. If you can set up inside your garage, set up early.
Group like items together, i.e. kitchen items, picture frames, books, etc. Decorating items look great when grouped by color. Keep breakable items on higher shelves or near the back of the table, so they don’t accidentally get broken.
If setting up inside your garage, cover all items that are not for sale by either using tarps or old sheets. Garage salers will often ask if you’re selling something they see in the back of your garage. Some people can be very rude, so be prepared. If using only half of your garage for your sale, block the back half by using tables, hanging a tarp, or whatever works for you.
Morning of the sale
10) Put up your signs. Having good signs, with the address and directional arrows, can drive more traffic to your sale. Avid garage salers will “chase signs”. Don’t scrimp on signs.
11) Be prepared for “early birds”. If you advertise that your sale will start at 8:00 a.m., it’s not uncommon to see people showing up at 7:30. You can decide how to handle the early birds. Either tell them you’re not open for business yet, or if you want, let the sale begin.
12) Try to have at least two people working the sale. One person can be the cashier and the other person can be helping customers, or moving inventory around as items sell. You can give each other a break, grab a bite to eat, etc… It’s also a safety issue.
13) If using a cash “box” Do not leave your cash box unattended. Many people have been ripped off by leaving their cash box unattended.
14) Be willing to negotiate on your prices. Don’t take a check, unless you know the person. Be willing to “Hold” items for someone, but, only for a very short period of time.
15) Keep small or expensive items, such as jewelry, close to the “cashier” table. It’s not uncommon to have unscrupulous people steal at a garage sale.
16) If you’re cash box is getting full, take some of the money out and put it in your pocket, or take it inside the house to a safe place
17) Keep your house locked. Don’t let people use your bathroom or go inside to try on clothes.
18) Near the end of your sale, be willing to drop, or start marking your prices down. Remember, you don’t want to be left with too much.
19) Take down all signs You don’t want people showing up at your door, uninvited, because you neglected to take down your signs.
20) When the sale is over, box up what’s left and take it to your local charity. Write down what you’re donating and use it as a tax write off.
21) Take some of your profits and treat yourself to a nice, relaxing dinner. You deserve it.
You’re done. What a great feeling to have that behind you. Your house is less cluttered, your garage has more room, you may be able to get rid of that storage unit ($$$$), and, you made some extra cash in the process.
What to really have fun with a garage sale? Organize a neighborhood sale. Make it an annual event.
Hint I’ve had garage sales many times. I usually have them for two days. Friday and Saturday. My most successful day has always been on Friday.