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Great Garage Sale Tips

Updated on November 26, 2013
Making a good clear and easy to read Garage Sale sign can bring in the customers by the car load!
Making a good clear and easy to read Garage Sale sign can bring in the customers by the car load! | Source

Where Do I Get Stuff to Sell at my Garage Sale?

If you have rummaged through your house, garage and storage unit, for past garage sales, then you are probably in need of a new source for your garage sale inventory. Your friends, family, and neighbors, more often then not, will have an old refrigerator or dining set they have replaced sitting in their storage unit or garage. The knowledge that you are more than happy to share your garage sale with them—for a 20% cut—saves them the hassle of setting up their own yard sale, and gets the clunky old stuff out of their hair; while putting that extra 20% from the sale item in your pocket. You may not wish to charge your family, but your friends and neighbors will be grateful for the chance to dump some of their old stuff.

Things to get in writing when selling other people's stuff:

  • A list of their items (What stuff belongs to who?)
  • The amount contributors want for each of their items (Pricing, with price tags, each piece of inventory is the best way to sell unwanted stuff and keep customers coming back.)
  • What their bottom price is for each item (You need room to negotiate with customers, so be sure the price tag allows you some room to play the barter game and still get the amount you want for each item.)
  • You will get 20% of the sales price for each item (Saving people the hassle of setting up their own garage sale is worth at least 20% of the sales price).

Garage Sale / Yard Sale Poll

How Often do You Have a Garage Sale or Yard Sale yearly?

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Tell People About Your Yard Sale

Another reason it's a good idea to let people know you're having a garage sale is that the more stuff you get people to add to your inventory, the more customers are going to show up for the sale. It is a fact that the most successful yard sale and/or garage sale proprietors have large inventorys to choose from. If you advertise that you have hundreds of great items for sale, like 10 fly fishing poles, hundreds of pieces of office quality clothing, 15 power tools, and dozens of miscellaneous items, you will find a better turn-out at your yard sale then if you advertise an end table, two chairs and a tool-belt. Again, the more stuff, the more customers.

Make sure you have enough cash and coin on hand so you don't miss a sale because you don't have the right change!
Make sure you have enough cash and coin on hand so you don't miss a sale because you don't have the right change!

Buy From Other Garage Sales and Bargin Sales

If you are a regular garage seller, you are going to want to get going to other people's garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, and flea markets yourself. This can help yield a larger inventory for you in the long run, and as discussed earlier, the more stuff you have to sell, the better your customer turn-out will be. Often you can find bulk purchases at flea markets, close-out sales, or regular stores. By later splitting these things up and selling them as individual items, you not only expand your inventory, but increase your money making potential.

What Is The Most Popular Garage Sale Item That Always Sells?

Tools are the most popular item at garage sales (along with good fishing gear). The more good stuff like this you have to sell, the more buying customers will attend your garage sale!

How To Make More Money From Your Garage Sale

A Simple Profit Making Example

Purchase a tool chest with several pieces at a bargain price. Most often, people will only be looking for a single tool to buy at a yard sale. Let's say you bought a 25 piece tool set for a sale price of $8.50, deciding to sell each item for $1. The beauty of the bargain is that you only have to sell 9 of the 25 pieces to make a profit. You don't need to sell every piece of the tool kit, only enough to cover your purchase output. By planning a meaningful way to put money in your pocket—buying low, then selling each piece individually—You create a great garage sale item!

How to Price Your Garage Sale Items, so They Will Sell!

This has to be one of the more difficult aspects of the garage sale. How do you know if you have something priced too high, or worst, too low? If you keep in mind that what you don't sell, may well have to be hauled away (for a fee) and that you really have no further need for this stuff, then pricing becomes far less difficult and far more fun. You're getting people to pay you so they can haul off your unwanted stuff! Leave your sentiment behind, because your customers don't really care that you got that paisley recliner from uncle Dan. More likely, the buyer just wants to get some cheap furniture to fill their kids college dorm room this semester!

However, just because your customer didn't know uncle Dan, doesn't mean you should give the chair away for $3. So, how do you know how to price things? There is actually a formula to figure the price for things like furniture, televisions, stereos, lamps, and other items that have real value. You need to take a moment to figure, in your head, what the item would cost new in a store. Then, use the starting point of a 75% markdown from the store price. Here is an example:

If uncle Dan's recliner cost around $240 bought new at a store, then we would make the starting price $60-$75. You are going to want to make the price something the buyer can not match. You know, make the buyer an offer they can't refuse! Keep in mind that the people who go to garage sales are smart, they know pricing and are looking for a deal. If they know you have marked something too high, they are going to assume that everything is too high.

Good Garage Sale Bulk Purchases Include:

  • socks
  • Pens and pencils
  • printer paper
  • Office supplies
  • New Blank CD's / jeweled cases for CD's
  • Canned sodas or water (your shoppers may get thirsty)
  • Arts and craft items
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Batteries

Further Pricing Expectations:

These items can act as loss-leaders, making people think everything you have is priced really low!

  • Shoes and sandals - $2.50 a pair or less
  • Clothing - $1.50 to $3 (DO NOT sell things that are damaged unless you mark them as such.)
  • Old glass ware and vases - $1 to $2 (Make sure your not selling Tiffany lamps for this price though!)
  • Trinkets - $1 to $2 (Costume jewelry, key chains, kitchen wear, place-mats, etc.)
  • Books - .50¢ to $2 (Know what you're selling/ no first editions at this price!)
  • Nice outfits or suits - $5 to $20 (Hang these items. Also try putting slacks and dress shirts nicely folded on display together with a sign that reads, "ANY THREE ITEMS $5 - or - $2 each.")

90% of Your Garage Sale Customers Will Negotiate!

A little give-and-take in negotiations can improve profits; providing your starting price is more than you really want for an item!
A little give-and-take in negotiations can improve profits; providing your starting price is more than you really want for an item!

The Garage Sale Negotiation

90% of the Time Garage Sale Customers Will Negotiate Over Your Pricing

Knowing you are going to be faced with a day of bartering from 90% of your customers can help you set your prices accordingly from the beginning. You will want to mark your prices with this in mind. If you have a bamboo fly fishing pole you want $20 for, then you need to mark the fly rod $30. The customer who offers $15, gives you an opportunity to counter offer with $20. This gets you the price you really want, and gives the customer a sense that he/she has gotten a better deal for a cool fishing pole because you have negotiated a deal below the marked price tag!

Remember that the things you put in your garage sale are those things you want to shed from your household or storage inventory. So, have fun selling the things that are in your way, get as many things from around the neighborhood that you can, add your family and friends stuff to the inventory, get 20% of the sales price from peoples stuff you sell, and price your garage sale things with room to negotiate; and you will find that at the end of the day the only stuff you have to haul away, is the money in your pockets!

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