10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale
Beit a garage sale, yard sale or estate sale – the season is here! (YAY!)
Now is the perfect time to plan your strategy and earn the most cash for your unwanted stuff!
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You can also learn insider secrets and find the best yard sale deals from your neighbors at their garage sales!
Selling your unwanted stuff at a yard sale is also a great way to recycle, rather than throw things away. I enjoy an occasional yard sale, but actually HAVING a yard sale seems like SO much work it makes me cringe! It’s hard to get motivated! So, here are the TOP tips for yard sales to maximize your return on investment and your hard work.
Gimmie’s Top Yard Sales Tips – How to have a successful yard sale
- NEED A PERMIT? – if your area requires a permit, be sure to get one in advance to avoid potential fines! Call NOW and see if there are any updates to yard sale laws in your area. Before I moved from Southern California to Wisconsin, I planned to have a few yard sales to get rid of everything I could. Unknowingly, I had a yard sale on a weekend they weren’t allowed. Luckily I didn’t put up any signs (because a neighbor had signs all over directing traffic past my place), but when a city worker stopped by and shut us down, he told us that putting up signs without permission carries a fine of $100 for the first and $50 for each additional sign. OMG! And, the city I lived in did not issue permits but did allow anyone to have sales ONLY on the first weekend of each quarter. Thankfully that was the weekend following my attempted first sale, so I packed up that day and just did it later.
- ADVERTISE / SIGNS – online and in the newspaper – be specific; include pictures and prices when possible. There are MANY free resources such as your local Facebook Garage Sale groups, Marketplace, Recycler, Cheapcycle, Craigslist or find local sites on which to list your sale!
- Post signs at strategic locations, heavily traveled intersections near your sale, and even in local markets! Invest in some brightly colored paper at the dollar store for eye-catching signs, and please take them down after your sale! If you’re going to make your own signs, make sure they are readable!
- While you’re at the dollar store, grab a few helium balloons to tie to the signs to draw more attention to signs.
- WORD OF MOUTH -Tell friends/neighbors and ask them to spread the word! Ask customers that day to tell their friends too.
- ORGANIZE MERCHANDISE / STAGING– Group like things together to make it easy to find. Just like a store, you could have different areas for different items, such as a clothing section, shoes, household, electronics, etc.
- HANG CLOTHES when possible (garage sale idea: a closet pole between two ladders works well, or tie up a closet pole to the rafters in your garage)
- TABLES – Make displays and table space (yard sale idea: if you’re low on big banquet tables, saw horses and plywood, or an old door on boxes works great!) Consider windy days might knock over breakables, so set up accordingly.
- CLEAN YOUR STUFF! Nobody wants to pay for dirty, dusty crap that should have been cleaned up. 😉 Take some time and clean things so they display better!
- STAGING – When you position your stuff, think about window displays. Window dressings are a way stores and shops lure customers in to check out their stuff. Put your brightly colored items, cute, unusual or eye-catching things out front. And, be sure to stage the lower priced things by the entrance to your sale! When customers arrive, they’ll see low prices and think, “wow, these prices are great!” and be more likely to enter and buy something! It’s also a good idea to have a “FREE” section out front to lure people in!
- SHADE – if you have a canopy or EZ-up, it’s a welcome relief to shoppers who may linger longer if they have a spot out of the hot sun!
- BAGGING AREA – this is the perfect time to use that huge bag of plastic grocery bags you have! Have them on hand for customer’s purchases. Another great idea is having newspapers handy to wrap up breakables.
- GROUP / MULTIFAMILY SALES – Join or organize a neighborhood or multifamily yard sale. Sale-goers will be more likely to visit if there’s more stuff for sale. However, city-wide garage sales aren’t always the best for sellers! Surprisingly, from the people I’ve polled and from my own experience, when you have a sale during a huge city-wide sale your competition is so strong that you might not sell as much as you’d think. That’s the time to price things really low and make sure your sale is one that can be easily found by potential buyers.
- ACCOUNTING – Keep track of what you’ve sold (especially if you’re collecting for multi-family sale), and be sure to make correct change! For multi-family sales, you could use different color price tags to note who the item belonged to. When item is sold, remove the price tag and stick it to a notebook. At the end of your sale, tally up each family’s earnings and divvy up the proceeds.
- PRICING – How much should you charge? The key is pricing fairly: not too high, not too low. You can loosely compare to thrift store prices, although garage sales are typically priced much lower.
- MAKE CHANGE – Make sure you have cash to make change ($1 dollar bills, quarters, etc.)
- CLEARANCE – Consider marking everything down on the last day (and be sure to make BIG signs showing that!) For example: “Last Day! Everything is 50% off!”
- PRICE TAGS – make price signs such as “clothing $1 per piece” or “everything’s $1 unless otherwise marked.” Or, put prices on each item. Masking tape works great as price tags, just write on with a marker! Feel free to use our FREE Printable yard sale price tags (scroll down), or, buy “dot” stickers at any office supply store for under $3 per (example: Avery Permanent Color Coding Labels, 0.25 Inches, Round, Green, Pack of 450 (5791)) People will be more likely to buy if they know what things cost. I’ve been to lots of sales where nothing is marked, and I usually just leave. 🙂
- ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS – more people will shop, and shop bigger, if they can pay with their credit or debit card! Get a FREE card reader we recommend and turn your smartphone or tablet into a mobile credit card machine!
- CLEAN UP – plan to have Goodwill or Salvation Army pick up unsold items you don’t want, at the end of your sale. If you itemize your income taxes, charitable deductions can be a great write-off! Or, post the items on Craigslist or Freecycle (if your group allows).
- LEMONADE STAND – don’t forget to offer refreshments! You might just make more on lemonade than any other item! Check out our cheap-yet-amazing lemonade recipe, and consider offering cold cans of soda pop, water, cookies, hot dogs, etc.