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Tips for the Best Garage Sale Ever
A garage sale can be fun for the whole family, but it involves detailed planning and follow-through. As a potential seller, you need to know how to advertise, organize, merchandise, price and negotiate. Following these tips will help ensure you have the best garage sale ever!
Get these things together a month in advance of your garage sale:
-Rigid poster board, wooden stakes or boxes and wide-tip permanent markers to create signs
-Heavy-duty tape and stapler to affix signs to stakes or boxes
-Balloons to draw attention to your sale
-Folding or stationary tables for item display
-Cheap hangers for clothing, inexpensive clothing racks or cording to hang clothes
-Self-adhesive stickers, hanging tags and marker to create price tags
-At least $75 in small bills and change
-A locked cash box in a secure location and a fanny pack for small change
-Calculator, pens, spiral notebook
-Electrical outlet to test lamps, small appliances and electronics
-Boxes for merchandise display
-Newspaper or ink-free wrapping paper for breakables
-Supply of grocery bags for shoppers’ purchases
- Drinks and snacks for your hard-working helpers
Pick the Best Days
Hold your garage sale on Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday. The hours are up to your discretion. Garage sales between 9am and 3pm take advantage of prime weekend hours when shoppers are likely to hit up your sale. Always expect to open earlier to accommodate the early risers looking for the best merchandise selection. Choosing the right time of the month can also bring in more people. Consider having your garage sale at the beginning or the middle of the month. This coincides with payday for many of your shoppers.
Choose the Perfect Season
The prime seasons for hosting a garage sale are spring and fall. Temperate weather brings out bargain hunters en masse. In climates with mild summers, June garage sales can be as successful as spring and fall sales. Early spring garage sales draw the buyers out of winter hibernation. Fall garage sales bring out those buying for the holidays. And don't completely rule out summer months--they can also work in your favor if it's not too hot. Before selecting a weekend, check the extended forecast to make sure you have the best weather for a good turnout.
Inspect Your Items
Make sure you do not overlook hidden treasures. While you may not score a first edition Hemingway or antique emerald brooch, certain items may be more valuable than you think. Anything from old toys to costume jewelry can fetch handsome prices from the right collector. Put these items aside and do your research before tossing them in with your garage sale castaways.
Develop a Pricing Strategy
Now that you have culled through everything, you must decide on fair market garage sale pricing. If your starting prices are too high, you might discourage buyers. Check out pricing at garage sales in your area. Go to local thrift stores and see what they charge for similar items.
City-specific websites such as Craigslist will give you good insight into what people are charging for household items. These pricing strategies will work on everything from appliances and furniture to baby clothes and kitchen utensils. Always price items at least 20 to 30 percent higher to get the price you ultimately want.
Post your prices prominently. Tag each item individually, so there is no question as to the asking price. In the case of damaged items, mention the defect on the tag. You may want to sell some items in lots—like books, CDs or dinnerware. In this case, place the items in a box with a sign indicating the price for the entire lot.
Spread the Word
Start by creating a buzz among your friends and family about the upcoming sale. Word of mouth is an effective and cheap form of advertising. Send emails and promote your sale via social networks. Place an classified or display ad on Craigslist with a teaser photo of some of the items you will be selling.
Go low-tech by taking out a classified ad in the penny shopper, or post your sale on community bulletin boards at local grocery stores and businesses. If you have permission, tuck garage sale announcements under the wipers of cars in parking lots.
Consider Signage and Access
The day before the sale, make and distribute your signs. Intense colors and bold lettering make them easy to read from a distance. Include dates, hours, address, directional arrows and a couple balloons for added impact. Attach your signs to stakes or weighted boxes and place them at intersections to guide shoppers in from every direction. Include a sign in front of your house letting buyers know you'll only accept cash.
Be a considerate neighbor. Do not staple signs to utility poles—most cities and towns have laws that forbid nailing, taping, tacking or stapling anything into power poles. The same applies for municipal sign poles. Notify homeowners in your immediate vicinity a week before the garage sale. Give them a flyer with the dates and hours of your sale. On the day of the sale, post signs along the street telling shoppers not to block driveways or walkways.
If you live in a covenant-controlled community, check with your homeowners’ association regarding rules for garage sales.Gated entries will require special access on the days and hours of your sale. Use signage to direct cars to guest parking areas, if applicable.
Practice Creative Merchandising Techniques
Pretend you are a store owner. Create attractive and easily accessible displays. Arrange similar items together in groups, i.e., lawn and garden, children’s toys, clothing, sporting goods, housewares, jewelry, etc. Avoid overcrowding clothing racks. Put large items like furniture on the driveway or front lawn to draw interest. During down time, straighten and reorganize merchandise. Maintain a neat and orderly shopping experience for your customers.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
People shopping garage sales want to find bargains and negotiation plays big part in the success of your sale. Dropping the price between 20 and 30 percent is better than not selling an item. Professional garage sale shoppers may even wait until the last hour to get the lowest prices, so be prepared to do some deep discounting at the end of the day. If someone appears to be a serious buyer, offer to bundle several items to lower their overall price. Consider throwing in a freebie if the buyer will agree to the asking price of an item.
Donate Unsold Items
Avoid hauling items back into your house by giving away all unsold merchandise to late shoppers or simply donate to a local charitable organization. This relieves you of having to organize another garage sale and it helps those in need. Schedule a pick-up the day after your sale, or load up the truck or SUV with the items and immediately take them to a donation drop-off site.
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