Garage sales and I have a love/hate relationship. I love getting great deals. I love browsing through people's junk in the hopes of finding that one great item. I love making money on my junk. I HATE planning, setting up and having a garage sale.
My mom loves them. I mean really, really loves them. As a kid, I can remember she and my grandmother having garage sales every summer. And now that grandma is gone and I'm grown, we have one every year. Don't get me wrong, I love it when it's over and I have a few hundred bucks in my pocket. But I despise the process.
Over the years, we've become garage sale pros. We've learned the hard way what not to do and what makes our life easier. I'd like to share some of that wisdom with you...
Don't wait until the week of your sale to start planning. Decide on a date and begin collecting things around the house that you want to sell. Every year, we have our sale during the citywide garage sale in our town. It's always at the end of April or first week of May, so we essentially plan all year. I keep a tub in my craft room and drop stuff in as I clean or re-arrange my house. Once that one is full, it goes to the garage and I start on the next. The last couple of weeks before the sale, I do a quick run through of cabinets, drawers and closets and make sure there's nothing else I want to get rid of. After all, the point is to get rid of stuff and make money! It makes me no money sitting in my closet.
No matter how valuable you think your stuff is, other people will not feel the same. Remember you're selling used items to folks looking for bargains. I can only speak for myself, but a lot of my garage sale purchases aren't because I really need the item, but more because I think it's a great bargain. Also, make sure you price everything ahead of time. Customers don't like to have to ask for prices and usually they won't. You will miss out on a lot of sales if you don't price things ahead of time. If you're having a multi-family sale, remember to color code your price tags or put your initial on each tag so you can keep track of sales.
Advertising is your best friend. No one will come if they don't know it's there. Before the sale, take out an ad in the newspaper for your sale days and utilize social media. You can advertise on Facebook, Craigslist and Twitter. Send a text to all your friends and let them help spread the word.
On the day of the sale, be sure to put out bright, legible signs. Make sure each sign has your address and dates/times of your sale. You should plan to put a sign at your house (on the mailbox or by the curb), at the entrance to your neighborhood or the end of your street and one or two at a main intersection close by.
No one wants to shop in a messy, gunky garage. Set up tables and place like items together. Don't pile things on top of each other and try to arrange everything neatly. Try to keep everything on the tables, but if you have to put items on the ground, aim for bigger items. This will keep your patrons from having to crouch down and dig through boxes on the ground. Put "teaser" items outside so they can be seen from the street. Many people will drive by and look before coming in, so you have to catch them with your set up.
If you have things in your garage that aren't for sale, make sure they're covered or out of sight. Years ago, my dad purchase a brand new weed eater and decided to sell the old one in the garage sale. My mom ended up selling the new one for dirt cheap. That did not set well with the padre. Needless to say, after that, we learned to put away things that weren't for sale.
Checkout can be a giant mess. In year's past, its been feast or famine at our sale. You may have no one in the garage, then BOOM, twenty people are ready to check out. If you have a good set up, this will go smoothly.
At your checkout table, you want to have bags and/or boxes, a calculator and a money bag with change. When we run our sale, one person bags and calls out prices while the other writes it down and tallies it on the calculator. If someone gives you a large bill, it's wise to leave it on the table until you count their change back so there is no confusion or accusation from the customer.
Since we all accumulate junk (way too much of it, too!), a garage sale is a great way to earn some pocket change and de-clutter your house. If you do it right, your sale will be successful and fabulous!