Whew... garage sales can be exhausting, but if done right, they can also be rewarding! If you've never had a garage sale or your garage sales usually flop, here are my tips for hosting a PROFITABLE garage sale!
1) Team UpThis may be the most important factor in your garage sale, in my opinion. Since garage sales are a lot of work to put on successfully, it helps to have more people involved, for many reasons.
*Sales: if you're solo and you get hit during a busy period, it can be confusing and stressful. Trying to make change, record what you sold, answer questions, and keep an eye on what's going on around you is a lot-- even for the best multi-tasker out there! Plus, you'll need a break at some point to make something to eat, take or make a phone call, have a "potty break", etc.
*Merchandise: I know I don't usually stop at a garage sale that only has a few tables of knicknacks out. If I'm going to take the time to stop and shop, I like to see lots of stuff for me to look at! The chances of me finding something are better! So, if you don't have enough things to sell, but still want to host a garage sale, see if a friend, family member, or neighbor wants to team up with you! Plus, then you can advertise your sale as a "Multi-family Garage sale!"
*Child care: It can be really tough for moms with little kids to host a garage sale, so be sure to have a few other adults or teens who are old enough to babysit around to help watch the little ones.
2) Signs!Speaking of advertising, make sure that you get the word out about your garage/yard sale. I remember my mom used to place an ad in our local newspaper, but nowadays, you can list for free on Craigslist! Most serious garage salers check Craigslist to plan their routes, so this is the best (and most frugal) way to advertise!
You can also send emails to friends and family, letting them know some of your "big ticket" items you'll be selling. Ask them to pass it along to anyone who may be looking for these things. You can also post it on Facebook (although I wouldn't post your address).
Make sure you put out some large signs near your location that clearly point the way to your sale. Use LARGE letters and maybe an arrow. Don't bother listing items or times on your sign- just make it very clear which way to go and they'll find it!
3) Location, Location!I'm sorry to have to tell you, but if you're off the beaten track, you probably won't get lots of business. If your house is not easy to get to, consider moving your sale somewhere else (friend's, family member's, a church sale, etc.)
Also, people like to figure out their route when they are planning on going garage sale-ing for a few hours, so it helps if your sale coincidences with some neighbors, a sub-wide sale, or when others in your nearby vicinity are hosting a sale. You can plan this by asking around, talking to the neighborhood association, or looking on Craiglist.
4) Clean House all year longI wouldn't call myself a minimilist, but I do hate clutter and I love to get rid of things. So, a few times a year (usually around the holidays when we're moving things around/decorating or during spring cleaning) I grab things that we no longer need or want and I put them in a designated spot in my basement. When the kids have outgrown their clothes, I put them in a tub and write down the sizes of the clothes contained inside and that goes to the basement too. When our bookshelves or DVD organizers are overflowing, I weed out the ones we no longer need, and (you guessed it) they go to the basement.
Come garage sale time, I'm almost ready to go! I may do a quick sweep of the house for any other items to add, but I mainly just have to bring the items I've already put aside up from the basement!
*Just FYI: the rule of thumb in our house is: if you haven't used it in a year, you no longer need it.
5) Set up a NEAT saleThis can be time consuming, but you definitely want to organize your sale so that it looks like it will be easy to browse your items. Put the same size clothes together, put toys in the same spot, have a $1 or Dime bin, and display things creatively.
You know how when you go to a store and their 75% off rack is stuffed full and sizes are scattered, it makes you feel frustrated? At least, that's how I am. I hate to have to work to push clothes aside to rifle through them and find something I like only to discover it's the wrong size and it's in the wrong section! If you can lay your things out so people can easily see them and get to them, you'll sell more!
In the past, we've borrowed tables from church and family and friends, but that can be a huge effort too! Think about what you can use in your house to display items. An old door or shelf placed on lawn chairs can become a table; a shovel, rake, or shower curtain rod placed between two ladders can be used to hang things. We've even used the tree in our front lawn to hang old prom and bridesmaid dresses- and they sold great that year!
6) PricingYou have to remember that most people who shop garage sale expect garage sale prices. If you really want your things to sell, think about what you would honestly pay for your items at someone else's garage sale. You can't get stuck thinking "But it's worth $___ new" or "I paid $___ for it"!
Also, don't assume that people with haggle. Some will (I definitely will !), but many people are too shy and you'll lose a ton of sales with that assumption.
You should also clearly mark your items. I love the little pricing stickers from the dollar store to put on items, but you can also make big signs that state prices for things, like "All clothes: $0.50 a piece". Sure, it's easier to just lay your things out and hope or expect that people will ask, but, again, many people won't.
Consider slashing prices on the last day of your sale. We've done the "stuff a bag for $5" tactic and the "Everything-is-half-off-today" promotion! Both work great and you'll increase your earnings on that last day or during those last (usually slow) hours!
7) Get the kids involvedMy oldest daughter is always very excited to help with a garage sale and loves to set up her own table of things. When other little children come to our sale, she will let them know we have a "free box" (a mother's worst nightmare, right?) and gets sooo excited when something of hers sells. We usually also have a cookie and brownie sale and they usually sell out!
I think this helps teach children learn the value of money and of their things. We also make sure to take 10% of their earnings to church on Sunday for their offering. It means much more to them when their offering is truly their own, and not from Mom's Wallet!
8) Donate what's leftAfter all the work off setting up and running a garage sale, I dread the thought of bringing any of those items back into my house. You can make a list of what you have (for tax reasons) and donate it to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, etc. You'll get a tax write off, you won't have to haul it back inside, and you'll be giving it to someone who needs it. Win-Win-Win!!
What are your tips for a great garage sale? What works best for you?