13 Tips to Make More Money at Your Garage Sale
There are so many things that I love about spring – the flowers blooming, the birds singing, the spring cleaning. That’s right, I actually look forward to spring cleaning! Every year I clean out the house and put aside all of the toys that the kids have outgrown and items that I no longer want or need and have a garage sale. This is a great way to make a little extra cash and get rid of the clutter around the house. Having a successful garage sale takes some work, but it is definitely worth it! Here are the best tips that I’ve learned over the years to have a successful and organized garage sale.
1. Make pricing easy and label everything This is really the number one tip when it comes to having an organized and lucrative garage sale. If items aren’t marked and you look busy, people may not want to wait to ask you how much something is. Make sure that every item is clearly marked with stickers or signage. One way to keep pricing simple is to make each category a different price. For example, make all clothes $3, all books $1 and so on. Use stickers with the price on them for higher-priced items.
2. Advertise! Post your garage sale on Craigslist as well as your Facebook page. Make sure that you list the different types of items that you will have and post pictures of the larger-ticket items. Don’t forget to include an email address or phone number so people can email you with any questions or offers. Last time I did this, I sold $200 worth of stuff before the garage sale even started! Also, pique interest by the language you use. “Grab the girlfriends and shop ‘till you drop!” was the first line in my newspaper ad for a garage sale last summer, which did quite well. Avid garage-salers sift through dozens or even hundreds of ads, so it pays to make yours stand out. Be quirky (“I moustache you a question: Do you need a facial hair trimmer? A twin bed? A blender? Sale at 123 Main Street has it all!”) or fun (“Famous-label gently-used clothing bargains: don’t be late! Garage sale starting at 8 a.m.”), and watch customers roll in.
3. Signs, signs and more signs! Advertising online is great, but you also want to catch those folks just driving by — so make sure that you’ve placed plenty of signage in the area, especially at major cross streets. If possible, make all of your signs the same color and in the same handwriting. Sometimes there can be multiple signs at cross streets, and you want people to be able to easily follow your signs to your house. You can also pique customer interest by creating particularly eye-catching signage. Have a blow-up plastic guitar? Attach it to the sign at the end of your street announcing the sale. Or, catch attention another way: a neighbor who has an annual sale sewed a cute cloth garage sale flag that she hoists up her front yard flagpole on the day of her sale.
4. Have a preview sale Friday night Saturday garage sales are popular in my area, but 2-3 hour “madness” sales the night before are increasing in popularity. The strategy takes a cue from department store evening presales: think of this as an opportunity to help you refine prices, see what sells and consider adding more (if available) of that type of item, or even have customers “preview” big-ticket items that will be for sale the next day — for furniture and antiques for which you haven’t yet decided on a price, gauging the interest level can help. The preview sale can help you attract customers who wouldn’t normally be early-morning Saturday shoppers, such as teenagers, people commuting from work, or even groups of friends heading out for a fun evening together.
5. Have a “free” box Yes, I said a “free” box! Put some of the lower-priced items, such as DVDs, books or little toys in the free box. Make sure that you mention in your advertising that you will have a box filled with free items, and, believe me, people will come! Just make sure that you advertise it as first-come first-served, or if you prefer, one free item per person.
6. Have change ready Convenience is very important at a garage sale, so you definitely don’t want to make people wait while you run in and out of the house to get change. If you do, you risk them leaving before you come back. I’ve found that the easiest option is to wear a fanny pack or some sort of holder around your neck. I know some of you are probably laughing about the idea of wearing a fanny pack, but this way the money is on you at all times. No one will have to wait on you and you won’t need to worry about someone running off with the cash box (yes, this does happen at garage sales).
7. Have the kids set up a lemonade stand This is a great way to get the whole family involved in the garage sale. Let the kids set up their own area where they can sell lemonade, soda or candy bars. I know that most of us Krazy Couponers usually have a pretty good stockpile of these items, so your out-of-pocket should be minimal — and the kids will have a blast and even make a little money of their own!
8. Organize like a department store would It’s pretty simple, really – just place like items with like items. Make a table for all media items, a table for all decorative or knick-knack-type items, a table for toys and so on. Many times people are on the hunt for a certain item or a category, and this makes it easy for them. If someone comes to your sale looking for baby items, you want to make sure that they don’t miss anything because those items are too spread out.
9. Add an “impulse-buy” area near the pay station Whether you have a card table set up for making change or a saw horse on which customers place their items for bagging and checkout, consider adding a final grouping of items people can look through for a possible last-minute purchase. Think about small grab-and-go items that wouldn’t take a big commitment. For instance, nail polish and pieces of costume jewelry have worked well at my previous sales. People may pick up a few items to add to their existing purchase, netting you more sales!
10. Consider a benefit sale item Consider donating the profits of the sale of, say, a furniture item or expensive but rarely-worn piece of jewelry to the local Relay for Life chapter of American Cancer society. Place a poster near the item briefly explaining the organization and how/when the money will be donated. The money, of course, won’t be in your pocket, but this helps people think about your garage sale differently and may give you the opportunity to make a large contribution to a favorite charity you perhaps couldn’t have made otherwise.
11. Get up early You might be surprised to know that many people start hitting garage sales before the scheduled time. Whatever time you had planned on opening, have everything set up and ready to go at least an hour early. Last time I held a garage sale, I had posted 8 a.m. as the start time. I started pulling everything out at 7 a.m. and I was shocked to see folks already coming up! People were trying to shop while I was still bringing everything outside! It was a little hectic, but I ended up selling about $100 worth of stuff before my opening time! For my next sale I now know to have the alarm (and the coffee pot) set extra early!
12. Start slashing prices towards the end of the day Once you’ve decided that it’s time to wind down and end the garage sale, it’s time to really start wheelin’ and dealin’! There are several ways to go about this. You can make everything half price or you can sell by the bagful. If you want to sell by the bag, have grocery bags available and make select tables “all you can fit in the bag, $4” or whatever price you’ve decided on. Whichever way you go, have your signs pre-made so you can just pull them out once you’ve decided you’re ready to wrap things up.
13. Donate the leftovers Once the sale is over, don’t lug all of the unsold items back into the house! After all, isn’t the point of a garage sale to get rid of things? Instead, pack them up and take them to your local Goodwill or another donation center. Not only will you get a tax deduction, but you’ll end up helping out someone less fortunate.