My wife loves to hold garage sales. She has one nearly every fall and another every spring. On top of that, she loves to go shopping at garage and yard and moving sales. The motivation to sell is often highest at moving sales and estate sales, but we especially love neighborhood garage sales.
If you want to know how to maximize making money from a garage sale, read on for the best tips available for maximum profitability. And if you're having a moving sale, check out this article for how to move with the greatest of ease.
Start things off right
1. Plan Ahead
Credit: Flickr user comedy_noseWhen will you have the garage sale? Start by planning your sale during a time of good weather. Depending on where you live, this could be from late spring through early fall in the Northern Hemisphere or from late fall through early spring 'down under.' In many climates within the tropics, garage sales can be easily held year-round.
Who will host the sale? If you're planning a multi-family yard sale (a really good idea, btw), decide early who will host the sale. Some factors to consider are accessibility, local traffic patterns, and amount of space available for the event. Where you host the sale matters a lot.
Order things you'll need like organizing kits or lemonade stands for your kids. Make it fun!
Pro Tip #1: Perhaps when you host the sale matters even more. Are there other events you can schedule your sale alongside, such as a nearby neighborhood garage sale, a parade route, or a local festival? Even if you can't host it in proximity to a particular area, try to host it in accordance with another event that will draw large crowds.
2. Decide What You Will Sell
Do you have a lot of kids' clothes? A sizable gun collection? Some things are better sold off line, or at specialty events like gun shows. Those are popular in the Midwest area of the United States.
How much will you sell your stuff for? To make money in your garage sale, you have to price your items so they'll sell. Remember, used items typically have a maximum value of about one-fourth their original value, even if they're new and in the box. This of course varies with what you're selling, but a good rule of thumb for maximum profitability is to price your items at or below this mark.
Don't go too low, however. If your items are priced at less than a tenth of their original retail, you'll be leaving money on the table, so to speak. Leave yourself room to negotiate when you're pricing, because you'll probably have to do at least a little bit of negotiating with your garage sale visitors. More on this in step four.
Label items clearly. This could be with individual price tags (not recommended) or grouping things together by price point whenever possible. A good example of group pricing is with clothing, books, CDs and DVDs. These all have the same approximate value, so it would be easier to put them on a table with a sign that indicates a fair price.
Have you ever walked into a retail store where things were out of reach? Did you buy anything? It pays to put things where it's easy to pick them up. Use tables. A lot of tables. Borrow these from your office (get permission) or your church (again, with permission) to place as many things as possible within easy reach.
Pro Tip #2: If you have items for small children, place these on a blanket where they can reach them easily. By putting your garage sale items within easy reach of your customers, you increase your chances of selling those items by a tremendous margin. Ever notice how easy it is to buy a candy bar at the checkout line? The world's retailers aren't perfect, but they are smart.
Credit: Flickr user EastlaketimesThis is perhaps the biggest key to making money from garage sales that we've found. If a tree falls in the forest, who hears it? Don't take the chance that people will wake up in the middle of the night with a vision of your garage sale. You have to plant that vision for them.
Online advertising is cheap if not free, and very easy to do. Use your own network of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites.
Pro Tip #3: Make sure and list it on Craigslist. We sold more than half our stuff early by following this one tip!
Some cities and neighborhoods have their own events calendars; take advantage of these often free services for promoting your sale. Use your email list, too. Your friends already trust you, so this could be your easiest traffic driving event. Don't miss out on this, but don't be annoying.
Announce your event about a month before your planned date for the garage sale, remind them a week prior, and then again the night before. Ues sites like Facebook to spread the word. Use common sense, first-person statements like:
"Friends, we're having a garage sale on (date) at (address). We'll be selling (stuff, general categories plus some specialty items like a particularly popular electronic device or piece of workout equipment). If you want to sell your stuff, too, give me a shout. You can drop it off and we'll split the proceeds or you can hang around and earn 100% of your sale price. Either way, it's going to be fun! See you then!"
Offline advertising works, too. Pick the three or four busiest intersections near where you'll be holding your sale, and put up garage sale signs up to a week before. If you put them out early, make sure you put the dates and times on there. If you put them out the night prior to your sale, just put the address, but remember to take them down after your sale.
Don't be that guy (or girl) who leaves their signs up for a week after the garage sale is over. That's called littering in my book.
If your house is difficult to get to, include more signs along the route, starting at those busier intersections. Use big arrows for turns, and include your address. Use the same color for all your signage, that will help people identify your route, and include one final sign in your yard to give them a sense of closure and accomplishment when they arrive.
The Main Event
4. The Big Day!
The morning of your garage sale, put out your stuff in your easy-to-reach layout. If it's raining, move your cars out of the garage and move everything indoors. Decide who will do the money handling, and make sure you have plenty of coins and smaller bills available. Most people are honest, so be OK with accepting a check. If you have an uneasy feeling about taking a check, ask for ID and write their Driver's License Number on the check and get their phone number.
Be willing to negotiate. As a professional salesperson, I've lost my fair share of sales because I was unable to negotiate a lower price for my prospects. You're in charge here, however, so be willing to give a little. Remember the goal is three-fold: Sell your stuff at a profit, clear out space in your house or garage, and provide something of useful value to others. A win-win-win.
Credit: Flickr user Scott and KimberleyPro Tip #4: Nowadays, everybody is connected to Facebook through their phone, and it seems that's all they ever do with their phone. Get the attention of your friends and their friends by posting pics of unique items in your garage sale. Take silly pictures and post them. Remind them of your address and closing time. Create a sense of fun and also urgency. I can't stress this enough: This stuff has to go already!
Have some add-on items like snacks and drinks. If you have kids, have them sell the snacks and make lemonade. It will be a learning experience that will last their entire lifetime!
5. The Day After
Post your unsold items, all in one picture, to your network of friends. Offer them to the highest bidder. Or simply donate them to charity.
Thank all your customers and friends for stopping by and helping make your garage sale a successful event. Post a shout-out on Facebook, thanking everybody for stopping by. Offer to donate a portion of your proceeds to charity if you haven't already; this is like service after the sale in some respects. Be thankful. Relax and swim in your money like Scrooge McDuck.
That's it! Those are the best tips available for making money from a garage sale. We've used these tips twice a year for several years running, and they continue to provide amazing results.
Did these tips help you? Please leave a comment and a thumbs-up. This will help other readers find this article. Thanks so much, and good luck!
Credit: Flickr user Scott and Kimberley