15 Steps to a Successful Garage Sale


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The weather is finally warming up and so is garage sale season. There are many ways to sell your unwanted items, but a garage sale is a great way to sell them all at once. Just follow these simple steps and soon you'll have extra cash in your pocket and plenty of room to park your car.

Holding a group garage sale with neighbors has its advantages. A group sale makes advertising more efficient and it usually results in larger crowds. The downside is that you will have lots of competition, and if you live far from your neighbors or you don't have much to sell, you may have trouble attracting buyers.

Garage sale season kicks into high gear in spring and we recommend holding your sale on the first nice spring weekend. A sale early in the season attracts all those garage sale junkies who are itching to buy. Summer months can also be good, but beware of the heat. Most single-family garage sales can get away with a one-day event, usually on a Saturday, lasting anywhere from three to six hours. A multi-family sale will benefit from longer hours or a second day.

Always check with your homeowners association or town to see if you need a garage sale permit. Every area has its own rules, and you don't want to get a fine or be shut down in the middle of the sale.

There are lots of ways to get the word out. Yard sale apps are becoming increasingly popular. We like Yard Sale Search, Garage Sale Tracker, and Garage Sale Cow. You can also place a free ad on Craigslist and put notices on local Facebook groups.

Homemade signs are a good way to advertise your sale. Signs should be clearly written in bold marker and big enough for drivers to read in passing. Place signs at busy intersections nearby a few days prior to your sale. Make extra signs because you may need replacements thanks to rain and wind. Be aware that advertising makes it likely that you get some garage sale fanatics who show up a day early to scope out the best items. Be prepared to say no -- or, if you're comfortable with it, let them shop early. It's up to you.

On the day of the sale, get up early and be completely set up at least half an hour prior to the start time. There will always be early shoppers, and you don't want to keep a shopper with money in hand waiting.

Make sure your sale items are displayed properly. Use plenty of tables (borrow some if you can) and arrange items in an organized way. Place similar items, such as books, together and keep them tidy throughout the day. Use your lawn, carport, driveway, and tree line to display items, too. If you have a long driveway, use its full length to entice people driving by to stop.

Garage sales are a great way to get rid of a lot of stuff at one time, but you won't usually get as much per item as you would on Craigslist, eBay, or private Facebook groups. Garage sale shoppers expect to find low prices, so keep them happy by keeping prices down. Remember, the goal is to get rid of stuff.

Even when prices are low, shoppers will often ask for a deal. Negotiation is perfectly fine and to be expected -- it's part of the fun of a garage sale.

If your sale is drawing to an end and you still have stuff left you want to get rid of, consider marking everything half off. Garage sale shoppers love to find a deal and this is a good way to entice them.

As your sale progresses, don't just sit and wait for people to come to you. Work the crowd. Get up and talk to people, offer help, answer questions. People will be more inclined to buy from you if you're friendly and helpful.

Make sure you have plenty of petty cash -- ones, fives, a few tens, and plenty of coins. You need to be able to make change for small and large bills throughout the day.

A rookie mistake is hosting a garage sale all by yourself. When will you get a chance to use the restroom or be able to help multiple customers if you're flying solo? Enlist family members, friends, or neighbors. Consider offering them space to sell their own items and attract even more shoppers.

Cater to the customer from beginning to end by providing bags and boxes for carrying purchases, especially for multiple items, and help shoppers load larger items into their cars. It creates a feeling of goodwill and helps move the merchandise.

A fun way to attract shoppers is with a lemonade stand. If you have kids, let them run it -- it can be fun for them and profitable, especially on a hot day. If you have time, bake some cookies or brownies the night before and offer them with each transaction for a small price. Those 25-cent cookies can add up in the end.

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