The Ultimate Guide to Having a Successful Garage/Yard Sale
Garage or yard sales are a great way to both get rid of old clutter and make some easy cash. Items such as clothing, electronics, books, toys, appliances, musical instruments and CDs can be sold. Just like the old saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
Before the Sale:
First, gather all of the items that you want to sell. Check all rooms of your house, including the attic and basement. Every few days, sweep through each room again. Chances are, you'll find more items you don't really need to keep!
Make sure that they are items that don't hold sentimental value, and that you'd regret selling later. Help children decide what they want to add to the sale. They often keep items they have long outgrown physically and developmentally.
Set a date for your sale at least one month later. Give yourself time to prepare properly.
Make sure that the items are in good condition, and aren't actual “junk”. Have a trash bag nearby and immediately dump items that would be no use to anyone. Look out for damages such as holes, stains, smells, scratches or scuffs. It's best to wash clothes before putting them up for sale. Ask yourself “Would I buy it in this condition?”
Price your items for sale. Look at each piece, and give it a price after considering factors like wear-and-tear, age, amount of usage and appearance. Items at garage sales generally have low prices, as the owner normally just wants to make some quick cash, even if only a few dollars. However, be sure not to set your price too low. If in doubt, ask a friend or family member for a price suggestion.
Displaying the price on the items is easy....You can buy a roll of sticky “dot” labels at your nearest dollar store. You can also just make easy price tags quickly by using a roll of masking tape and a thick marker. Masking tape adheres to most surfaces.
Now, begin to sort the items by categories such as books, clothing, electronics, ornaments etc. Large carrier bags and cardboard boxes would be useful for this step.
Once you've priced all of the pieces, you can start planning the actual day of the event. Choose a day when you have plenty of time available. Ask a few family members or friends to help out, and they can bring along some of their own items to sell too. If you have a lot to sell, you will definitely need a few more pairs of hands and eyes to help out and to watch for thieves. (Yes sadly, some people come to garage sales to find bargains, and others come simply to swipe things when they think that the owners aren't paying attention. Watch out for that!)
Next, start advertising for your garage sale. This is one of the most important steps, as it determines how many people come and spend money at the sale, and the profits you'll make at the end of the day. Obviously, you want to spread the word as much as you can!
Make some signs (typed, drawn or written by hand) on paper or cardboard. Be sure to make them draw attention, by using bright colours and big letters and arrows. Include your address, your name, contact phone numbers and email.Put these up all over your neighbourhood. You can put up your posters on the bulletin boards at your local community centres, schools and supermarkets. Also, make a Facebook Event, and invite all of your contacts and friends. If possible, even put up prices of available items and accompanying photos.
TIP: if you're going to put these signs on surfaces outside (eg. poles, walls, etc.) Put the signs in large, clear plastic food bags and using duct tape, put them up around your neighbourhood and the surrounding areas. The plastic bags will protect the signs from any possible rain or water damage.
Word of mouth also works. Tell your family, friends, co-workers and neighbours about the sale, promise that there will be good prices, and that you'd really appreciate it if they stopped by.
The Sale Day!
On the day of the sale, it's a good idea to start preparing a few hours early. If you advertised that the sale would start at 10AM, start setting up the booth and tables around eight. Large folding and picnic tables and carpets can be used to display items. From the night before, you can begin to stack the sale items in boxes and bags and prepare them for sorting and moving. From about a week before the sale, start collecting plastic bags and cardboard boxes that your customers can put their purchases into.
When setting up, sort the various items by category. Put all of the books in one area, the clothes in another, ornaments in another, etc. Arrange them so that every item can be seen by potential customers. Clothes can be neatly folded, or if possible, hung on a rack. If practical, you can run a clothes line to hang in the yard and use hangers to display them.
Behind the sale tables, keep a tin or closed box for money. Make sure it's in an area that's hidden from the customers. Also, keep a small amount of cash in small bills and coins so that you can make change for your customers. Alternately, a waist pouch or fanny pack can be used for keeping your money.
If family members and friends are also going to work at the sale, assign them different areas to watch or help customers with questions. Especially get someone (or yourself) to watch over the area with the money tin! As more customers and interested people arrive, greet them in a friendly manner. Show them where and what the various items are, and say that if they have any questions, you’d be glad to help.
When interacting with the customers, remember to be friendly! It’ll encourage them to buy something from you. Answer all of their questions about the articles for sale as best you can, and if they’ll need help setting it up later (especially with musical instruments and electronics like stereo systems) give them your contact details.
Throughout the sale, keep a constant check on the amount of items you have. You can start closing up shop when there are only a few pieces left that haven’t been sold.
After the Sale:
After the sale has finished, and you packed up the remaining pieces, tables and signs, here comes the best part: counting up your profits!
You can then advertise the remaining items online on applications such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist or local classifieds websites. You can read my article on how to use Facebook Marketplace to sell items here.
Having sales like these once or twice a year is a sure way to get rid of extra items in your house, plus make some money on the side.