Last weekend I was in New Jersey helping a nice family put on their first a garage sale. We’ve been in contact for the last month, getting things prepared and going over all types of tips and tricks. I think it’s safe to say that they learned a lot from their first sale, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I learned (and re-learned) a few things myself.
It’s not every day that you help someone throw a garage sale from start to finish. I’ve obviously thrown dozens and dozens of sales on my own, but when you’re working with someone else, there’s always a few surprises along the way that you don’t anticipate. Not everyone lives in the same kind of area as I do, and not everyone has the same type of items I do. This means that some strategies have to be modified. At the same time, there are certain tips that hold true no matter where you live or what you’re selling. I’d like to use this experience to share some things that I learned and reinforce a few of my most important tips for throwing a garage sale.
The biggest thing to note is that no matter how great your sale is, if people don’t know about it, they won’t show up. You need to advertise as much as possible in as many places as possible. You should use every avenue possible, including the internet. Facebook, Twitter, and Tagsellit.com are all free and can give you priceless exposure. In addition, you should never discount the need for physical signs. The family I was working with waited until right before their sale to put up signs, and this put them at a disadvantage. I always recommend putting up signs a few hours before the sale to give shoppers the chance to locate you. Not only that, but I would have put out twice the amount of signs the family had. You can never have too many, and they can never be too big. All of these factors will affect the number of people who show up to your sale. To top of it, some of our signs were yanked down at some point during the day. This doesn’t always happen, but it does reaffirm my advice to never put signs up the night before your sale. You need to make sure they’re out a couple hours before the sale, but putting them up the night before will open up the chances for someone to pull them down or for mother nature to ruin them.
The size of the sale is another factor to consider. If you only have a few items, you should probably hold off before having a sale. People don’t want to waste their time on a small sale, so they might not even stop at your house if you don’t have a large-enough looking sale. If you are low on items, do another sweep of your home; I can guarantee you will find more items to put out. If you still don’t think you have enough, try soliciting friends and neighbors. Combine your sale with someone else’s to make a really large display. The bigger, the better.
Once your sale is underway, you should make sure you have at least two people with a fanny pack of change. We only had one, and it significantly slowed transactions. I also recommend that you have as much change available as possible. Most items will require singles or even coins. If you don’t have a large supply handy, you’ll lose sales.
Lastly, spend the time to go through your items and see what can be easily cleaned or repaired. Unfortunately, the family I was working with did not take the time to this, and it meant we had to mark prices lower than we could have. If it will only take a minute or two to wipe down or fix an item, the value will be paid back four-fold.
In the end, we had a pretty great garage sale. The family was able to make a good amount of money and clean out a lot of unneeded items from their home. Hopefully they (and you!) picked up a few tips and will be able to make their next sale even better!
Good luck, and happy hunting!
PS, If you live in the Toronto area, catch me on the Marilyn Dennis show on Monday at 10am ET.