Tips for Hosting the Best Garage Sale Ever
A garage sale can be fun for the whole family, but getting it right involves detailed planning and follow-through. As a potential purveyor of household goods, you need to know how to advertise, organize, merchandise, price and negotiate. Following these tips will help ensure you have the best garage sale ever!
Supplies for Starting a Garage Sale
- Rigid poster board, wooden stakes or boxes and wide-tip permanent markers for signs-Heavy-duty tape and stapler to affix signs to stakes or boxes
- Balloons to draw attention to your sale
- Folding or stationary tables for item display
- Cheap hangers for clothing, inexpensive clothing racks or cording to hang clothes
- Self-adhesive stickers, hanging tags and marker to create price tags
- At least $75 in small bills and change
- A locked cash box in a secure location and a fanny pack for small change-Calculator, pens, spiral notebook
- Tape measure-Electrical outlet to test lamps, small appliances and electronics
- Boxes for merchandise display
- Newspaper or ink-free wrapping paper for breakables
- Grocery bags for small purchases
- Drinks and snacks for your hard-working helpers
Pick the Best Days: Weekends
Hold your garage sale on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The hours are up to your discretion. Garage sales scheduled between 9am and 3pm are prime shopping hours. Expect to open a little earlier to accommodate early birds looking for the best merchandise selection. Choosing the right time of the month can also bring in more customers. Plan your garage sale at the beginning or the middle of month to coincide with paycheck time.
Choose the Perfect Season
The best times of the year for hosting a garage sale are spring and fall. Temperate weather brings out bargain hunters en masse. June garage sales can be as successful as spring and fall sales in regions with mild summer weather. Don't completely rule out summer months—just make sure you provide plenty of shade and bottled water for customers.
Early spring garage sales draw the buyers out of winter hibernation. Late fall garage sales bring out holiday shoppers. Before selecting a weekend, check the extended forecast to ensure you have good weather for a successful turnout.
Inspect Your Items
Go over your items with a fine tooth comb before your start pricing. Who knows, you might find hidden treasures. While you may not score a first edition Hemingway or antique emerald brooch, certain pieces may be more valuable than you think. Anything from old toys to costume jewelry can fetch handsome prices from the right collector. Put these items aside and do your research before tossing them in with your garage sale castaways.
Develop a Pricing Strategy
Now that you have culled through everything you must decide on fair market garage sale pricing. If your starting prices are too high, you might discourage buyers. Check out pricing at garage sales in your area. Go to local thrift stores and see what they charge for similar items.
City-specific websites such as Craigslist will give you good insight into what people are charging for household items. These pricing strategies will work on everything from appliances and furniture to baby clothes and kitchen utensils. Always price items at least 20 to 30 percent higher to get the price you ultimately want.
Post your prices prominently. Tag each item individually, so there is no question as to the asking price. In the case of damaged goods, mention the defect on the tag. You may want to sell some things in lot--like books, CDs or dinnerware. In this case, place the items in a box with a sign indicating the price for the entire group.
Spread the Word
Several weeks in advance by creating a buzz among your friends and family about the upcoming sale. Word of mouth is an effective and cheap form of advertising. Send emails and promote your sale via social networks like Facebook Marketplace. Place a classified or display ad on Craigslist with a teaser photo of some of the items you'll be selling.
Go low-tech by taking out a classified ad in the penny shopper, or post your sale on community bulletin boards at local grocery stores and businesses. If you have permission, tuck garage sale announcements under the wipers of cars in parking lots.
Consider Signage and Access
The day before your garage sale, make and distribute your signs. Bright background colors and bold lettering make them easy to read from a distance. Include dates, hours, address, directional arrows and a couple balloons for added impact. Attach your signs to stakes or weighted boxes and place them at intersections to guide shoppers in from every direction. Include a sign in front of your house letting buyers know it is strictly cash and carry.
Be a considerate neighbor. Do not staple signs to utility poles—most cities and towns have laws that forbid nailing, taping, tacking or stapling anything into power poles. The same applies for municipal sign poles. Notify homeowners in your immediate vicinity a week before the garage sale. Give them a flyer with the dates and hours of your sale. On the morning of the sale, post signs along the street telling shoppers not to block driveways or walkways.
If you live in a covenant-controlled community check with your homeowners’ association regarding rules for garage sales. Gated communities often require special access on the days and hours of your sale. Use signage to direct cars to guest parking areas, if applicable.
Use Creative Merchandising Techniques
Pretend you're a store owner. Create attractive and easily accessible displays. Arrange similar items together in groups, i.e., lawn and garden, children’s toys, clothing, sporting goods, housewares, jewelry, etc. Avoid overcrowding clothing racks. Put large items like furniture on the driveway or front lawn to draw interest. During down time, straighten and reorganize merchandise. Maintain a neat and orderly shopping experience for your customers.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
Garage sale shoppers want super bargains. That's why negotiation plays big part in the success of your sale. Dropping the price between 20 and 30 percent is better than not selling an item. Professional garage sale shoppers may even wait until the last hour to get the lowest prices, so be prepared to do some deep discounting at the end of the day. If someone appears to be a serious buyer, offer to bundle several items to lower their overall price. Consider throwing in a freebie if the buyer agrees to the asking price of an item.
Donate Unsold Items
Avoid hauling items back into your house after the sale. It's better to simply donate unsold items to a local charitable organization. This relieves you of having to organize another garage sale and it helps those in need. Schedule a pick up the day after your sale or load up your vehicle and take them to a donation drop site.
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© 2014 Linda Chechar