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Top 10 Ways to Frustrate Garage Sale Goers (and Lose Potential Customers)

Updated on January 27, 2015

1. No Time Frame in Ad

It’s frustrating to see an ad for a garage sale with a date and location, but no time frame. On Saturdays, people assume in the morning. On Fridays: afternoon. But the specifics are still important. Garage sale goers will go out of their way to a garage sale, assuming it's ready when it isn't. How are people supposed to know when to come by?

2. Unreadable Signs

This happens too often. Someone takes an 8.5 by 11 inch piece a paper and writes with a thin marker. People need to be able to read the sign 20 feet away, or at least 10 feet away if located at a stop sign. Use bright colored paper and a black thick marker. Use as little words as you can, and make the letters as big as possible.

3. No Arrows

You make a garage sale sign with an address, but no arrow. People are driving; they don’t have time to look up on their phones to see which direction they are supposed to take. This can be fixed by simply adding a big black arrow under the address, pointing in the direction of the sale.

4. No Sign After Initial Sign

So a person turns down a road because of your garage sale sign. They keep driving. And driving. And driving with no reassurance, because there are no signs in sight. If your garage sale is located a ways down a road, that’s fine, but have a few signs with an arrow pointing up, letting people know they are heading in the right direction. For all they know, they’ve missed the turn because no other sign was provided. If I don't see a garage sale or a sign within 30 seconds of driving after the initial sign, I turn around.

5. Price Everything Near Retail Value

Boy, is this annoying. Garage sales are supposed to sell items for really low prices. Why not just pay a few bucks more for a brand new item, than a few bucks less for used?

6. Don’t Price Anything at All

Not only is this really lazy, it’s frustrating for people who don’t like to haggle. If I really want something and I don’t see a price, sure I’ll ask. But if I am only mildly interested, it’s not worth asking. It’s also annoying having to ask for the price of every single item you are interested in. So many people will merely glance at your tables and move on.

7. Use Different Signs for the Same Sale

This confuses people. A lot of goers just read the words “garage sale” and the arrow; it’s all they rely on. So there needs to be consistency in your signs. Don’t have your first two signs be orange and then switch to green—people will think the green signs are for a different sale, especially if the writing on the signs is small. Use the same type of sign or the same color paper for one single sale (or trademark it with a specific colored ribbon or illustration).

8. Keep Signs Up Before or After Sale

A lot of first timers will put the signs out just to get it out of the way. If you don't have a time and date written on your signs (in bold, readable letters), always put the signs out after you have set everything out. You’ll get a lot of people showing up and immediately leaving your sale because you are not ready. And some won’t come back later.

Worse is leaving your sign out after the fact. First timers may forget, but laziness is shown when days pass and drivers still see you haven’t put down your garage sale sign. The sign tricks people and will upset them when they realize the sale has long been over. The worst part is they know where you live.

9. A lot of Advertising and Trouble with Little Payoff

Nothing is more disappointing when someone does everything right when it comes to advertising, but the sale itself is a dud. If you only have a small table of items, why not just sell them through craigslist? Why go through the trouble of putting up signs and placing ads, making people think this is a huge sale, but you literally have 15 items? Most of the people who were drawn by your advertising will merely drive by once coming upon such a weak sale.

10. No Vital Description

Actually, there is another disappointment like number 9, and that’s a garage sale that advertises its sale, but fails to mention that it is all baby items. There is nothing wrong with having this type of garage sale, but if you have an ad for it, warn people. Call it a “baby-clothes sale” or a “tool sale.” Don’t be vague when it is specific.

Now this is a garage sale sign! It's really close to the road too.
Now this is a garage sale sign! It's really close to the road too.

Close Contenders for the List:

11. Having Items Out That Aren’t For Sale

12. Stickers That Just Don’t Want to Come Off

13. Faulty Appliances For Sale (but what do you expect for two dollars?)


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