Thinking of having a yard sale soon?
1. Collect Clutter Year-Round
I mentioned recently that I have an ongoing Garage Sale Stash. When I come upon something we no longer need or use and I don’t know anyone to pass it onto, I stick it in a box under the stairs. Once a box fills up, I start another. And another. Without much effort at all, by the time it’s the month of our annual garage sale, I usually have at least 8-10 boxes of stuff collected.
2. Have a Plan
A successful garage sale does not happen without organization. At least a week before the sale I go through my home from top to bottom and clear out clutter. At least 2-3 days before the sale, I take an afternoon to price everything and organize it. And then the day before the sale, I devote a few hours to final organization, posting an ad on Craigslist, getting the cash and signs together and so forth.
Do not wait until the last minute to pull off a garage sale. Either it will flop or you’ll run yourself ragged–or both. If you’re in a new location or you’re new to hosting a garage sale, I’d suggest that you start getting organized at least 3-4 weeks in advance.
Getting Organized for a Garage Sale
::How are you going to display items? Do you need to borrow or make a clothes-rack?
::Do you have enough table space? If not, check and see if you can borrow tables from friends or put together some makeshift tables out of plywood and boxes.
::What signs will you be using and how many do you need? Where will you be displaying the signs to best direct traffic to your home? Drive the routes people will be coming and decide on these locations so you’re not scrambling the morning of the sale.
::Who is going to put the signs out the morning of the sale? Designate someone for this ahead of time and let them know specifically where to place the signs.
::How much cash should you have on hand and how will you keep it in a safe location?
::Do you need to purchase a license for running a garage sale in your area?
::Do you have enough help?
3. Team Up
One of my best “secrets” for success when it comes to garage sales is that I never do them on my own. I always find friends or family to team up with. Not only does this arrangement mean you have more stuff to sell and more variety in sizes and types of things offered, it also means you have more help. Divvying up the responsibilities between 3 or 4 people makes a garage sale much more manageable. Plus, it just makes it more fun when you’re doing it with friends and family!
4. Location, Location, Location!
If you want to have a garage sale that flops, pick a location which is off-the-beaten-path and hard to get to. That’s a surefire way to lose a lot of business.
Don’t live near a busy intersection? Well, look for alternative locations like a friend or relative’s home.
This is probably the key to our garage sale success. We live right between two very heavily-trafficked streets. We put up some good signage and the crowds descend!
5. Timing is Everything (well, just about!)
I don’t advise planning a sale in the freezing cold Winter or the blazing hot Summer. Choose a time of the year when the weather will be very pleasant and try to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure rain is not expected when you’re planning your sale.
6. Clearly Mark Your Prices
It’s easy to want to just stick a big sign on a table saying that everything on that table is a quarter, but, in the long-run, it is much more efficient to go ahead and put price stickers on everything. Instead of having to make up prices on the spot, people will know exactly how much something is. In addition, some people are too shy to ask the price of an item, so you’ll lose a sale if an item isn’t marked.
I’ve found it’s easiest to invest the few dollars it costs to buy pre-priced stickers for most of my items as this makes pricing a snap. I try to have variety in pricing with plenty of $0.25 or less items. I’ve found that when people pick up one thing to buy, they are more likely to pick up other things as well, so have lots of $0.25 items and it might help you sell some of your larger-ticketed items, too!
7. Price Things to Sell
I’d rather price something on the low end and have someone actually buy my item, than to have 25 people pick up the item and put it back down on the table because it is too expensive.
8. Advertise well
The marketing of your sale is usually the number-one factor in how well your sale does. You can have great items, great prices and a great location, but if you don’t tell people how to get there, they won’t find it on their own. So put some time and effort into making a number of quality, clearly-readable signs which you put in conspicuous places to easily lead to your home. The brighter, bolder and bigger the sign, the better.
I have also found Craigslist to be the most-effective marketing tool for advertising a garage sale. And did I mention it’s free to advertise on Craigslist? I usually advertise the day before the sale and then re-post a revised ad each day of the sale. The more details you can put in your ad, the better. Tell specific items, brands and sizes.
When people search for items on Craigslist, if they are looking for what you’re selling–even if they aren’t looking at garage sales–your item will pull up in searches for them. So the more descriptive you can be in the listing and title, the better. Of course, don’t write a book; just focus on your hottest sellers. And please use proper grammar and spelling, too. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference!