Most people who love garage sales, not only hunt for them, but also hold their own. Below you will find a few buying tips and quick guide for preparing for your own sale. This information is especially good for people who are just getting started with garage sales or people who haven't had as much success with their sale as they had hoped.
1. Start early
2. Bring Cash. You are going to need some change and small bills. Don't expect to be able to break a hundred, fifty or even twenty dollar bill at a garage sale. Some people will take local checks but most would prefer cash.
3. Bring a friend, it's more fun.
4. Get a paper to look for garage sale ads and plan your route. Don't be afraid to stray from your plans to stop at other garage sales along the way.
5. Make a list and try to stick to it. You are always going to find things you don't need at great prices, but you may just end up selling them at your next garage sale. When you come home with stuff you actually needed at great prices it's a great feeling.
6. The early bird gets the worm but the late birds gets the closeouts! The last day of a garage sale often provides the best bargains. If you thought they were asking a little too much for an item on the first day and it's something you really want, check back towards the end of their sale and they probably will be willing to part with it for less.
Below is a day by day guide for how to throw a successful garage sale, by starting a week before you plan to have the sale. Generally, it's best to have your sale on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so the best way is start preparing the week before. You can always throw a garage sale together at the last minute and you might have some success, we feel this schedule should maximize your results.
A Quick List of Items You Need
A Change Box
A clothes line or hanging rack to hang items
Sign Making Materials (card or poster board, marking pens)
Table, Blankets and/or Tarps
Saturday and Sunday (the week before the sale)
Set a date for your sale. This schedule uses Friday through Sunday as a guide for your sale. This schedule will still work as a general guide even if you are planning on having your sale on more or less days. Some people prefer Thursday through Saturday because in their area Sundays are very slow. So, it really depends on where you live and what days you are free.
Set a location for your sale. Sometimes to generate more traffic you can have a multi-family sale. If that is your plan, have the sale at the house that is most likely to get the most traffic and has the best area to display your items. You want to be able to spread the merchandise out so that people don't feel crowded as they browse.
Get your merchandise together. Do most of the work the weekend before the sale. Get everyone in the family involved. Find everything you want to sell and price it. Having everything priced makes your sale a lot easier. If you absolutely love to haggle you can leave everything unpriced, but pricing your items makes it possible for anyone to watch the sale and collect money which is especially nice if it's a hot day or you want to be able to take a break.
Plan your layout and find tables you can use in your yard and/or garage. If you don't have enough tables, be creative, old doors on saw horses make great tables for this. Or you can just lay old blankets or tarps on the ground. When planning your layout make sure to put all small and valuable items in clear sight of whoever is watching the sale to discourage shop lifting.
If you are doing a multi-family sale try to take all the merchandise to the house where the sale will be during the week instead of the morning (or the night before) of the sale. If you can't arrange this or if there is not enough storage space make sure to start very early the day of sale.
This is a good time to make signs. The number of signs you make will depend on how out of the way the location of the sale is and how many other sales you are competing with. Keep in mind that the more signs you put up, the more you will have to put take down after the sale. A good garage sale sign has your address, the times and dates you sale will be running and an arrow pointing towards your sale. You may want to make arrow separately so they can be applied to the bottom of the sign when they are being put up. The word "SALE or GARAGE SALE" and the arrows should be visible from a long distance away.
Monday through Wednesday
If you did a lot of work over the weekend you won't have much to do on these days. One thing you can do is go to the bank and get change. It is best to have about $50.00 in change and bills. At the very least, make sure you have at least 20 one dollar bills on hand each day when you start your sale and plenty of coins. 10 quarters, 20 nickels, 20 dimes is a good way to start. Make sure you write down the total of the change you start with so you can accurately calculate how much money you have made. Inevitably, someone will always come at the opening of the sale and want to buy a $2 item with a 20 dollar bill.
This is also a good time to order a classified ad or start posting your sale on bulletin boards in your area or on free local community sites if there are any available. You will probably need to order your ad by Monday to have it show up in Thursday's paper. Before you go to the expense of buying a newspaper ads make sure to check the seven day forecast in your area and make sure weather the weather isn't going to ruin your sale. Some of the best days for sales are slightly overcast, people tend to browse longer, but if heavy rain is in the forecast you probably will want to have your sale on a different weekend (unless of course it can be indoors).
If the weather is nice, and the forecast is nice, you can set a lot of your items out the night before. You won't want to bring valuable items out, unless you are only setting up in the garage, but generally (depending on your neighborhood) your items will be safe if you have them covered outside. If nothing else, you should get all your tables set up and ready to go so you have less work to do in the morning.
Put up the signs on Thursday evening to save yourself time on Friday morning. Make sure to make a mental note of where you signs are so you can take them down after the sale. Leaving garage sale signs up really ruins it for people the next weekend who follow arrows to find that there is no sale. Also they tend to fall off and become litter. Some areas have ordinances about garage sale signs so check this with local officials.
If you do advertise in the paper, dealers and early birds will come and say "Oh, I can't be here tomorrow, can I see what you are going to have?" This is a common ploy. It is normal for people to want to scoop your garage sale. Whether you let them in early or not is up to you. If you do not want to bother with them make sure you put in your ad "No Pre-sale" or "No Early Birds."
Start your sale early, but not too early. You have everything ready to go, but you don't have to rush to get everything in it's place. It's nice to still be bringing a few things out as the early people come. If they think more is coming out they will browse for a little longer before they jet to the next sale. You can even brew some complementary coffee for buyers which tends to keep people around a little longer.
Depending on where your live, Saturday can be just as successful or even more successful than Friday. Towards the end of the day you will need to decide if it's worth having the sale on Sunday. If you are out of stuff to sell the decision is easy, take your signs down and go to the park on Sunday. If you still have good merchandise Sunday is a good day to cut all your prices and have clearance sale.
Now you have made it to the last. This is a good day to sell everything you don't want to take back inside at rock bottom prices. It may be a good idea to 50% to 75% off everything that you just want to get rid of. You also may want to make a free pile. Some people will come back on the last day of the sale to buy something that they thought was overpriced when they came earlier.
When everything is winding down it's time to take stock. Divide the remaining items into three categories.
!. Items to donate - Box these up and make plans to take them to a local charity or thrift store. 2. Items to sell at the next garage sale 3. Junk - Leave these items in a free box at the end of your driveway anything that doesn't get picked up can be thrown a way or recycled.
And last, although you are tired, take down those signs.
About The Author: Copyright 2000 ThriftyFun!
Fisher Swanson and Susan Sanders-Kinzel are writers and editors of the ThriftyFun! website and email newsletters. The website is dedicated to thrifty, frugal and ecological living.
http://www.thriftyfun.com This article was first published in 2000.
Garage Sale Tips and Tricks
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Great information! I learned some new things from this posting. We are having our sale in 2 weeks and will try some of the tips that were suggested. Thanks!
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