8 Smart Garage Sale Tips for Making Your Old Stuff Sell
Turn old stuff into extra cash with these expert tips on holding a successful garage sale.
By: Heather Chaet
Is your daughter’s closet so full that the door won’t shut? Is your basement so packed that you can’t even see the floor? Do you need to park your car in the driveway because the garage is piled with junk? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to get rid of some stuff. Give new life to those old things and add a little extra cash to your bank account by holding a garage sale. Although they can be a lot of work, there are some tricks to ensure that effort pays off (literally). Follow these expert tips and make your garage sale a big success.
1. Timing is everything. To score large crowds and attract more shoppers, look at the calendar for a day that other happenings are going on in your area, such as town and school events, as well as other garage sales. “Hold your sale on a date when others in your neighborhood or adjacent areas are having their sales,” says Barry Izsak, author of Organize Your Garage in No Time and founder of Arranging It All, a professional organizing service.
2. Spread the word. It’s easy to advertise your sale without spending any money using free online sites and social media, but don’t underestimate the power of the old school cardboard “Sale!” sign. “Good signage is important. The more signs you have, the more traffic will be attracted to your sale,” notes Izsak.
3. Great presentation = great sales. More people will stop and shop if they see you have put effort and care into your garage sale. Barbara Reich, organizational expert and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom, suggests putting the most attractive items out front to draw in customers, and then organizing the rest of your items by type, so shoppers can easily find what they're looking for. “Find, borrow, or rent racks and tables to hang clothes and display items. Each rack and table should be clearly marked by a sign on top, department store-style,” says Reich.
4. Prices are a must. Although folks will try to haggle on how much they want to pay, start with a set price clearly labeled on everything. “Clean and price everything. If you don't want to buy price tags, blue painter's tape works well,” says Izsak. To avoid tagging those smaller items, Izsak tells his clients to have a "Dime Box” or "25-Cent Table."
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5. Be able to show off your goods. Displaying your items in an organized way and pricing are both essential, but so is proving they are worth that number on the tag. Izsak suggests having an extension cord or batteries available, so buyers can test electronic items to see if they work. Place a standing mirror alongside the clothes tables so folks can see how that sweater or baseball cap look on them.
6. Bundle to make bigger bucks. When selling many of one type of thing, such as baby onesies or coffee mugs, try bundling them together. When shoppers see a “4 for $7” sign, they think they are getting a deal and often buy more than they would have if the items were sold separately.
7. Consider having a few “theme” sales. If you have many items because you are moving or have combined resources with other families, try breaking up one large garage sale into a few smaller sales that each focus on a select theme. Spreading the word about a book sale or a toy sale attracts shoppers on the hunt for those items, which increases your chances of making more money than holding a general garage sale.
8. Make checkout easy and safe. Always have someone manning the checkout area. “Give one person the job of collecting money,” says Izsak. “If this is a multiple-family sale, price each family's items with a different tag color or with distinct initials, so it's easy to tally up everyone’s sales.” Reich adds that you should be prepared when folks hand you a $20 bill to buy a $3 DVD. “Be sure to have an assortment of bills so you can make change easily.”
What are your best garage sale tips?
Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.
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