A few simple steps lead to yard sale success.
Garage sales can be big business in residential areas, particularly during warm-weather months, when bargain hunters enjoy browsing for treasures in open-air settings.
Increasingly, families enjoy hunting for items in yard sales and garage sales. From kitschy clocks to casual clothing, china cups to children’s playthings, bicycles to books, and household items to heavy equipment, garage sales can be treasure troves for those who are willing to do a bit of hunting.
Garage sales also offer an ideal opportunity for folks to clear the decks, pass along unused items and earn some ready cash at the same time.
This content is copyrighted. Please feel free to share the http/link, but no cut-and-paste copying or republishing without permission of the Madison Budget Living Examiner.
What are the secrets to hosting a successful garage sale?
Here are 30 tips for super yard sales. Try these simple steps, and watch your unwanted stuff turn into money in your own pocket.
1. Set the date early.
Gathering the goods for a garage sale can take time, so it’s important to put the date on the calendar at least a month in advance.
2: Team up with neighbors.
In many residential areas, neighbors hold garage sales collectively (or at least, on the same date). Some subdivisions plan annual garage sales. By pooling their efforts and sharing advertising costs, many neighbors find their garage sale traffic increasing dramatically.
3: Plan ahead.
Veteran garage sale hosts know the importance of canvassing their closets and scanning their storage sheds for weeks before setting out their stuff in a garage sale.
4: Advertise online.
Although garage sales have traditionally be local events, online advertising can be extremely valuable for drawing yard sale shoppers. Websites like Craig’s List and Facebook are ideal spots for alerting potential garage sale customers.
5: List the garage or yard sale in the local paper.
The local newspaper is another ideal spot for announcing a garage sale. In fact, many local publications include garage sale headings in their economical classified advertising sections.
6: Place strategic signage in visible spots.
On warm-weather weekends, shoppers are drawn to bold, clearly printed garage sale signs at major intersections and the entrances to residential neighborhoods.
Smart garage sale veterans also print flyers to announce their yard sales and hang them (with permission) on bulletin boards at offices, stores, churches, gyms and other local spots.
7: Mark the sale location visibly.
Garage sale customers appreciate the obvious welcome of a clearly marked location, which may include large signs, banner garlands or balloons tied on a mailbox.
8: Publicize your cause.
Many garage sales are held to benefit charitable causes. If so, this information should be included in garage sale advertising and on garage sale signs. Shoppers tend to enjoy purchasing more, if they know their money will support worthy causes.
9: Park your own vehicles on the street.
Here’s a simple, but critical, strategy for attracting customers to a garage sale. Removing cars from the garage or driveway and parking them in the street during the sale accomplishes two important goals. First, this clears the way for merchandise displays and shoppers.
Second, this creates the appeal of a popular yard sale, as shoppers see cars already parked by the garage sale location.
An experienced garage sale host might park his or her vehicle across the end of the driveway, adding security to the sale.
10: Keep garage sale area tidy.
A cluttered, messy display deters garage sale shoppers, no matter how attractive the merchandise and pricing may be.
On the other hand, a neatly mowed lawn and neatly appointed garage make a super showplace for a great garage sale.
11: Play background music.
Garage sale hosts can enhance the shopping atmosphere (and remove awkward silences for browsers) by playing soft background music. If a CD, tape or record player is included in the sale, why not load it up for ambiance?
12: Cover or remove all not-for-sale items.
Anything that is not for sale should be taken out of the garage sale area or covered with blankets, sheets or tarps.
13: Sort items carefully.
Even bargain hunters love organization. Smart garage sale hosts arrange items logically for shoppers’ convenience. Keeping toys together, books neatly displayed, sporting goods sorted and other merchandise arrayed appealingly can go a long way towards increasing sales.
After shoppers browse and rearrange items, savvy garage sale veterans also put items back into logical sequences for additional perusing.
14: Place big-draw items in plain view.
Drive-by browsers often peek from their vehicles for such popular items as furniture, lawn equipment, bicycles, sporting equipment, and large toys. By placing these items in the driveway, where they may be easily seen from the road, garage sale hosts may encourage drive-bys to park and shop.
15: Hang up all clothing.
Apparel items are most attractive to garage sale shoppers, if these garments are displayed neatly. By hanging all clothing items on garment racks or clotheslines (and sorting items by size), garage sale hosts can keep them appealing and organized.
Even a sturdy rope, tied from one end of the garage to the other, makes an acceptable garment rack for a yard sale.
After all, who wants to dig through messy heaps of tee shirts, jeans or other clothing – even for 25 cents apiece?
Boots and shoes can be lined up neatly (in pairs), perhaps even arranged by size, for easy garage sale browsing. Some yard sale hosts clip pairs together with clothespins.
16: Offer to test appliances and electronic items.
Garage sale shoppers may be leery of buying battery-operated or plug-in items, if they cannot try these products first. By having an extension cord and batteries (in various sizes) on hand, garage sale hosts can demonstrate product performance.
17: Price all items clearly.
Pricing is everything in a garage sale. Every item should be plainly marked, unless a sign indicates group prices. (For example, all stuffed animals might be one price.)
Plastic hang tags, safety pins, or staples are super for affixing price tags securely to wares at garage sales.
18: Welcome early birds.
If a yard sale starts at 8:00 a.m., folks may show up at 6:30. Early birds are often the best buyers in garage sales, so it pays to invite them to look around. Even if items are not yet priced, early birds may make valid offers for quick purchases.
19: Price items to sell.
Garage sale shoppers are always looking for bargains, so items must be priced accordingly. Sellers who want to make more for their cast-offs might do better with classified ads or online auctions.
20: Offer volume discounts, if possible
Garage sale hosts displaying multiples of similar items might also present buyers with discounts for purchasing sets. For example, one book might cost 50 cents, while ten books might cost $4.00.
21: Invite offers.
What is the primary goal of a garage sale? If the seller is out there to unload unneeded items, then he or she is likely to accept any reasonable offers.
22: Mark sold items carefully for later pickup.
Garage sale customers purchasing larger items, such as furniture, may need to return with larger vehicles later. Purchased items should be marked as sold to eliminate yard sale shoppers’ confusion.
23: Keep track of items sold.
Some sellers keep lists of all items sold in their garage sales for accounting and sales totaling later. Others detach and retain price tags, jotting notes on each one to indicate which items were sold.
24: Keep cash in a pocket or fanny pack – not a cashbox.
Garage sale rip-offs can be minimized, if the cashier keeps the funds on his or her own person.
25: Have change on-hand.
The garage sale cashier should have several small bills and plenty of coinage ready for making change with customers. By counting this collection ahead of time and noting the starting total, the seller can track total sales at the end.
26: Confine your pets.
Nothing deters garage sale shoppers more than a problematic pet, such as a barking or growling dog.
27: Lock your home.
Garage sale hosts can prevent unwanted entries by locking their homes during sales. On-site vehicles and outbuildings should be secured as well.
28: Encourage children to participate.
Children can help with garage sales by assisting customers or even holding lemonade stands. Some families set up kids’ tables, allowing youngsters to sell their own cast-offs and earn some cash.
29: Arrange for donation pickup.
A veteran garage sale host will call a local charity or thrift store to schedule a pickup immediately after the sale. Why put all those unwanted, but unsold, items away, when a tax receipt is available?
30: Have fun!
Of course, the number-one secret to a successful garage sale is to have fun interacting with neighbors and customers. If the yard sale host is happy and friendly, then folks are more likely to linger and browse … and purchase.