If you're moving, downsizing or just getting rid of clutter, running a garage sale is a great way to make money from all that stuff you wanted to trash or give away. Sellers need to know how to organize and run the sale, how to set up displays, and how to price items, not to mention how to advertise, how to negotiate with potential buyers and what to watch out for. And, if you're a buyer, you'll need to know when to go to a garage sale and how to negotiate a bargain price for whatever you buy. Here are ten tips to help make you a garage sale pro.
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
1. Get A Permit if Necessary
Many cities and local governments require permits to hold a garage or yard sale. So get the permit early, avoid problems later. (For more, see In A Cash Crunch? Hold A Yard Sale.)
2. Arranging Inventory for Easy Sales
Display clothing by size and season. Use a rack suitable for hangers, if available, and hang up the clothing for easy browsing and retrieval, with prices clearly marked. If you don't have access to a rack, fold the clothing neatly and display flat on a table. Be sure to wash all clothing before offering for sale, and iron if necessary. Arrange everything by category for easy visibility - household appliances, lamps, tools, books, furniture, dishes and other items.
Keep in mind, data shows that kids' clothing sells well at garage sales because kids keep growing. Among other goods easily sold are toys, household appliances, tools and bikes. Adult clothing and books do not sell well. (For related reading, see The Best And Worst Ways To Raise Cash Quickly.)
3. Bargain Prices Mean Success
Affordable pricing is the key to success. Before deciding on what to charge for your inventory, do some research in your neighborhood to see what other garage sale entrepreneurs are charging for similar items and price yours competitively. If you've got items with sentimental value that you'd like to price higher, they may sell for what you think they're worth. Withdraw the item or be prepared to sell it at a reduced price. As a general rule, experts advise pricing items at about 20% of original retail cost.
4. Be Prepared to Negotiate
No matter what the price of an item, don't rule out discounting it if a prospective buyer wants to negotiate. It's better to sell the item for 20-50% less than its original price than not to sell the item at all. Be open to negotiating, especially in the final hours of the sale. Experienced garages sale buyers will show up in the eleventh hour knowing that prices fall when the clock is ticking toward closing time. (For related reading, see How To Live Rich For A Lot Less.)
5. Bargain-Priced Tables
To move miscellaneous items with little value to you, but with potential value to others, set up bargain-priced tables. For example, a table clearly marked "Everything On This Table One Dollar," will attract lots of customer attention. Tables marked "Two For A Dollar" or "Buy One, Get One Free" will also draw interest. These are retailing efforts that have proven to be successful both in major national retail chains and at neighborhood garage sales.
6. Concerning Cash and Security
Have plenty of change available - bills and coins. And keep an eye on the money. You'll be dealing with lots of strangers and not all of them may be honest citizens. So keep the money on your person, in a deep pocket or fanny pack. A cash box can be snatched, even in a brief moment when you look away. Keep your doors locked and don't let anyone into the house.
7. It Pays To Advertise
Make hand-lettered signs announcing your garage sale and place them at strategic locations around your neighborhood. Best spots are on your front lawn, local supermarkets, corner lots, telephone poles and wherever else the signs would have high visibility. Be sure to get permission before posting a sign on private property. Check your local newspaper to see if they have garage sale announcement listings. Many newspapers provide this service, sometimes for free and sometimes for an affordable price. Broadcast and online media such as Craigslist.com may also offer opportunities to advertise your garage sale.
Don't neglect social media. Send an announcement to all your Facebook, Twitter and other friends. List your address, the times and dates of the sale, and list the general merchandise for sale and some particularly attractive and affordably priced item. For example: Clothing for adults and kids, household items, furniture and a like-new baby grand Steinway piano. (For related reading, see Social Networking Your Way To More Money.)
8. Where and When to Buy
To find out where the garage sales are in your neighborhood, check your local newspapers, Craigslist, and other online sources. Garage sale junkies and experts say the best time to buy is during the closing hours of the last day of the sale. Sellers are eager to get rid of their remaining inventory and are more likely to accept lowball price offers. So make an offer they can't refuse.
Go for the Deal, but Be Cautious
It's advisable not to buy mattresses, upholstered furniture and stuffed toys because they could be contaminated with insects and or potentially deadly bacteria. Wash all clothing thoroughly and use an antibacterial soap and or bleach to wash every item purchased.
Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of things you don't want, and get a bargain on things you do want. These tips will have you on your way to ruling the summer garage sale market. (For related reading, see 6 Things You Shouldn't Sell At A Garage Sale.)