Tips for A Successful Garage Sale

This past Saturday we had our first ever garage sale at our home. I was pretty nervous wondering if people would come, and then I was wondering if we had enough stuff to get people to stop. It turned out to be a huge success and we sold out my entire stockpile in a few hours, including all those vitamins we got for overage on all our trips. I had 2 paper boxes full of just vitamins. We made $470 and we could have made more if we would have had more product. I had previously sold my extra product at a friends yard sale in November, so we only had stuff we bought in three months time.
 
TIPS for Success
  • About two weeks before your sale, take pictures of items you want to list on http://www.craigslist.com prior to the sale to try to get the most money for them. I posted ads for golf clubs, an HP scanner, an Ipod Nano, fax machine, chainsaw, and weed whipper.  See my craigslist tips HERE, this way you'll be more comfortable haggling at the sale when something has already been posted with little or no interest, and you really just want to get rid of it.
  • List FREE garage sale ads online with the www.flyer.com, www.craigslist.com and www.garagesaletracker.com a week before your sale, and again on Craigslist the day of the sale.
  • We put a sign in our yard on Thurs and Fri prior, stating "Yard Sale Here Sat." so people in the area would know to look for a sale. We were actually hoping one of our neighbors would capitalize on the traffic and have a sale too on the same block. We discovered that many people love to get up early and drive around to multiple garage sales. We heard of another sale on the next block and directed people to that one if they were interested.
  • Put a price tag on EVERY single item you display. If you don't have a price people will walk by all day. I had a partial roll of insulation out there with no price and had no idea what it was worth or what someone would pay. I noticed a few people inspect it, but they didn't inquire. So, I just put a $5 sticker on it. A while later a man asked if I would take $2, and then it was sold.
  • If you have brand new items in great condition, if it is priced right everyone will just pay the asking price. We sold the majority of our stockpile items for $1.00 and $0.50, with a couple higher priced things like trash bags, razors and candles for $3. We didn't budge price on any of the stockpile products because they were selling quickly as priced.
  • Provide bags for people to hold all their items. As soon as people picked up a couple things I used the opportunity to offer them a bag and encourage them to get more product. Many people quickly filled their bags and then I moved their items into paper boxes. We had several people who purchased a couple boxes of stuff.
  • Organize your product so that like items are together, it is not damaged, and so all products are visible. This will keep people from rummaging through boxes of stuff and making a mess.
  • It is amazing what product will sell at a yard sale. EVERYTHING! Don't worry that you have too much pasta, or poise or vitamins or phazyme. If it is priced right, it will all go. In the past I have not purchased stuff that is free after coupons because I didn't want it to clutter my shelves, but now my point of view has changed. If its free to me, I'm getting as much as I can. It really doesn't matter what it is. I had a bunch of Finesse hair spray that I didn't think would go because so many people are brand specific, but not at garage sales. They will buy any flavor of any product.
  • We had about 15 boxes of food and products and it mostly was gone between 8am and 10:30 am, We could have sold twice that much stuff. So when you're planning on having a sale, make sure you have enough stuff to sell.
  • If you price everything at 0.25, 0.50 and 1.00 you'll be able to quickly sum up a bag of product in your head without making mistakes. Stay away from weird prices like 0.75 or 0.40 or 0.65 if you can. I tried to price my stuff at about 25% of retail. So if something sold for $1.50 in the store, I charged $0.50. We sold Special K cereal for $1 a box that is normally $3.99.
  • Prepare and clean your tables and surfaces the night before so they are easy and accessible to put up.
  • We loaded all our boxes into the vehicles in the driveway the night before so all I had to do was pull out the box and place it on the table to sell it.
  • Invest in some good signs. I purchased 5 garage sale signs from www.flowerfactory.com for about $4 each. We wrote in our address on the sign and my DH went around the neighborhood entrance points. One sign was on a busy main thoroughfare and I think we got most of our visits from that one sign. We had probably over 100 customers stop. I didn't even get 2 boxes out of the truck before people started coming. It was a mad rush for about 2 hours. We asked everyone how they found our sale and 98% said they saw the signs. Only a couple people said they saw it on craigslist or the flyer. One lady said she thought we had such nice signs that we were sure to be organized and have some good stuff.
  • Make sure you carry a marker and price stickers to make any adjustments to prices - increase them if stuff is going too fast, and decrease them to get rid of stuff you really don't want around any more. Also to write prices on full bags or boxes once you've added them up and set aside so the customer can continue shopping.
  • Set up your driveway so there is a circle of items to corral your shoppers. We had some sporting goods, Christmas decorations, tool, yard and garden stuff and household stuff too. Most of this was on the perimeter or near the street so people could see big items. We also had our display of food and personal care items near the street so people could see that too. It was the biggest draw of the sale, so be sure people can see your stockpile table from the road.
  • Make sure you have about $40 in change of $1 and $5 bills. We had several people early on who only had a $20 so we had to run in the house to get some ones to make change. Have a couple dollars in quarters too.
  • As the sale winds down and you've emptied some tables and space, move stuff around so that your main display appears stocked. Remove empty tables and move the other merchandise closer to the road. Start cleaning up while you wait for stragglers to show up.
  • We closed up shortly after noon. DH went around and picked up our signs and that pretty much stopped the traffic by our house. We packed up what little stuff was left for our next sale in a couple months.
One thing we didn't do this time, but I'm going to do next time is get a piece of paper where customers can write down their email address if they want to be notified of upcoming sales. We might also try selling some clothes prior to just donating them.
 
So that's about it. We had a big day and needed a nice nap afterward. But it was exciting and happened so fast, I can't believe I was even nervous!
Watch for more garage sale stories about some of the interesting folks we met.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE garage sales. Both hosting and shopping them is my fav. thing to do in the summer. Your post makes me jealous..our temps are in the 20s..so no shopping.

    You hit on some great points. I sell alot of new items at my garage sale and they are always the quickest to go. I've started prepping for a garage sale this spring..but my stockpile is low...so I gotta get busy. Thanks for the motivation.

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