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Garage Sale Tips Part 2: Having a successful sale

Click here to check out Garage Sale Tips, Part 1 – Going to garage sales!

Garage sales can be a lot of work, but they can also be a great way to get rid of some of your unwanted items while making a few dollars in the process. Plus, the people-watching possibilities are priceless. Case in point: a couple of years ago, we were having a garage sale at my house and I’ll be damned if a teal Chevy Caprice with spinning rims didn’t roll up. Oh yeah. Spinning. Rims. Don’t pretend you’re not jealous of that car.

Anyways, a good garage sale does require a bit of preparation, but with a few tips, you can have a fun, successful sale.

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TIP #1: Consider organizing a neighborhood sale or asking friends or neighbors if they’d like to join you. The more items you can have at a sale, or the more sales you can have in one area, the bigger the draw.

TIP #2: Advertise! Some people don’t want to pay to advertise, and that’s fine – you don’t have to. There are a number of good, free outlets such as Craigslist and Garage Sale Finder, and many towns have their own local websites where they offer free classifieds {like StateCollege.com, for you locals}. Be sure to list out specific items, particularly those that you think will be the biggest draw. {At one garage sale I held, I was selling a number of Thomas the Tank Engine and Baby Einstein DVDs, so I mentioned those in the Craigslist ad. I had two people email me the night before the sale to inquire about them and at least four people show up specifically because of those!}

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TIP #3: In addition to ads, be sure to put up signs. I recommend making your own signs and not using the small ones you can you can buy {like these}, because someone driving past is not going to be able to read the address. Instead, use a large piece of foam board or cardboard {paper or poster board is too flimsy and will bend and roll} and make a simple sign {in large, black letters} with your address and arrows pointing people in the correct direction. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of turns or multiple entrances, be sure to guide people the whole way there, and post signs at the busiest intersections near your home.

When the sale is over, be sure to go back and remove all the signs.

TIP #4: Price everything. People don’t like having to ask “how much is this?” 50 times, and if the customer is shy or reserved, they may be intimidated to ask at all, and you may miss out on a sale. As tempting as it might be, don’t just put a sign on something that says “Make Offer.” That can be frustrating to both parties; buyers may have no idea what a reasonable price would be, and you might get insulted if someone offers you $5 for something you feel is worth $50. If you really have no idea how much to ask for something, check out resale sites such as Craigslist, Ebay, Furnishly or Kijiji, or visit a local thrift store to get ideas on what people are charging for similar items. Keep in mind, though, that people are most likely looking to spend less at a garage sale than they would on one of those sites, so price accordingly.

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Before you begin pricing items, decide what your goal is for the sale: do you want to make money, or do you just want to get rid of your stuff? Price your items accordingly.

TIP #5: Be willing to negotiate. If someone seems interested in a particular item but doesn’t want to pay the marked price, ask what they would be willing to pay. If you can’t agree on a price, offer to take their phone number and call them at the end of the sale if the item hasn’t sold. Getting a lower price for an item is better than not selling it at all!

TIP #6: Presentation is everything. Clean dirty items, and organize items as much as you can by category. If it’s possible, put together items that require assembly, rather than leaving them in the box. Put items you think will be big draws up front, so they can easily be seen from the road. Separate clothing items by size and/or type – especially children’s clothes.

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Use tables whenever possible, so people don’t have to bend down and look at things on the ground. If you don’t have enough tables, borrow from friends or neighbors.

Keep displays as tidy as possible throughout the sale, as things will get moved and/or shuffled around.

TIP #7: Try to stage items if you can. For example, if you’re selling a couch, a coffee table and an end table, set them up like a little living room in your driveway or yard. A buyer may see them and decide it looks so good that they need to buy them all.

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TIP #8: If an item requires electricity, have an extension cord available so people can test it out. A sign that says “Works!” is all well and good, but let’s face it, salespeople aren’t always the most honest of individuals, so allowing people to see for themselves is always a good idea.

TIP #9: Never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances, sell women’s bathing suits {unless they are brand new with tags and liner sticker still on} or undergarments of any kind. Ever. If you need further explanation of why, then you need way more help than this blog will ever be able to give you.

TIP #10: Be prepared. If your ads state that your sale starts at 8:00, have everything out and set up by 7:45 at the latest. Be sure to have enough change – you don’t want to miss out on a sale because you can’t make change. Have newspapers handy to wrap up fragile items, and recycle your old plastic grocery bags by giving them to people who buy multiple items.

TIP #11: Be friendly. Don’t hover or badger people, but make sure you say hello when people show up and thank you when they leave, even if they don’t buy anything.

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TIP #12: Have a plan for unsold items. If you don’t, you may end up with a pile of unwanted stuff in your garage for months {not that I know this from experience or anything…}. If your community has a Freecycle group, consider posting a time for people to come and take what they want. If anything is left over after that, you may want to consider posting individual Freecycle offers, taking everything to a thrift store, or arranging for an organization like Purple Heart PickupSalvation Army or other local thrift shop to come and pick up your unwanted items.

Hopefully these tips can help you have a successful garage sale!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Kellye
    March 9, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Hi! I love the sign you made for your sale! Would you mind telling me what fonts you used?

    • Jenn
      March 12, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Hi!! Thanks so much, but that is actually a stock photo, it wasn’t a sign that I made, so I have no idea what the fonts are. Sorry!!
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