Presentation is a key to garage sales. Make sure you have plenty of tables and display racks to show your merchandise. You can probably rent or borrow tables if you need more.
Clothing: A clothing display rack can usually be rented or borrowed if you have a lot of clothes to sell. Folded on a table is fine for baby clothes, but adult clothes get lost piled on a table and require constant straightening; hung on a hanger is the better way.
If you have a carport or garage doors, you can use the rails or framing for hanging. Don't just bring out boxes or trash bags full of clothes and set them on the ground. You will have a tremendous mess to pick up and sell very little for your trouble.
Media: Books, CDs, and DVDs display best with the spines facing up so people can see what you have. Small stacks of CDs and such can be put in piles of 8-10, but more than that they need to be properly displayed. People going to garage sales are usually impulse buyers. If they have to dig very much, they will just move on to another sale.
Small Items: Tools, knick-knacks, dishes, and such can be displayed easily on tables. Group like things together, and don't crowd them too much. Men usually look at tools and inspect them carefully and don't like to be crowded.
Sets of dishes should be all together so a buyer can see what he is getting. Knick-knacks seem to appeal to all, but everyone wants to inspect for damage. Leave room.
Large Or Valuable Items:
If you have large items like furniture or exercise equipment, it should be out in the driveway so people can see it coming to your sale. Keep the smaller and/or more valuable stuff up closer to the cashier where it doesn't wander off.
Genuine antiques should be close to the cashier table so they can be watched, the same with costume jewelry. Fine jewelry should either be shown privately or in a low glass display case.
Make sure your signage is superior. A local shopper ad is great, but don't overspend on it. Use the suggested meat trays on a stake or brightly coloured poster board. Very little detail is needed on your signs. The letters should be large and bold to be seen by people driving by. Consider the speed of the street where your sign will be displayed. Something as simple as "G.S. - 1234 5th Street - Friday 8 to 4" is sufficient.
Don't try to write your offerings on the sign unless it is on a local bulletin board and then it should be typed or carefully hand-written. If needed for clarity, you could put an arrow of direction on your sign. Heavy black Marks-a-lot on a light colour background works best. If your signage is addressing a busy street, put the sign at least half a block back from where the turn off is to the street. Face the sign to oncoming traffic and put it before the turnoff, not after. If you place your signs on property other than your own, get permission.
You should enlist enough help to properly run your sale. You would need a minimum of two people. One person can't properly run a sale of any size. If you only have 10-20 items, you might consider just donating them rather than going to the trouble of baby-sitting them all day; or run an ad on Craigslist.
Have a cash box of some sort and keep it close to the action, but not too close. Make sure there is plenty of room around it, so your lookers can look while your buyers are paying. Have writing materials and a calculator there.
Make sure you have plenty of change when you open up. Later in the day, people who started out with large bills will have smaller bills, and you will too. For a medium sized sale, $100.00 in change is not too much. Have ones, fives, nothing larger. You needn't keep all of it in the change box, but have it in a nearby secure location. Pricing things in 25 cent increments means all you have to have is quarters for coin change.
I like to see prices on all merchandise. You will too, or you will spend most of your time pricing things on the spot. Be prepared to bargain. If you are too firm on pricing, you will not sell very much. No price stickers means you will miss sales when you are busy.
Have some of your helpers either cashier or work the crowd. Engage your lookers, but don't hover. Let them look around and check back occasionally. Most of them are used to a self service atmosphere and some don't like to be bothered at all.
Open a little earlier than you advertised. Set up the night before if at all possible. Store your tables in the garage and move them out the day of the sale. Don't watch the clock on opening or closing.
If you still have customers buying at closing time, stay open until you have no one buying, if possible. This is your big chance to sell your stuff. Don't rush the buyers. If you are on a tight schedule, consider re-scheduling.
By Dan M. from Lubbock, TX
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Have change (sometimes the customers will buy a 25-cent something and have a dollar). Also, bags (someone will buy a bunch of small things).
Have a table or box with small things priced at 10-25 cents.
Something else very important to consider. As they say when starting a business one of the main points of success is location, location, location. If you live a couple miles down a road that is off the beaten path you really need to be creative with your signs. But, another alternative is ask a friend if you can use their garage or yard for the sale.
Another option, which is a bit more work but can help the sale be a success, is many cities have areas where people set up along popular roads. Some even have public flea markets (these are usually well planned and happen once a summer).
You may even know someone with a business that is closed or not busy on Sat and Sun who will let you use their parking lot. If it puts you on a main road or right off a main road it is worth asking about.
In my area there are actually two abandoned parking areas between towns that people set up on all the time. They are successful because they sit right on the main drag between these two towns and this drag is one of the major roads in and out of the state.
Like I said... location, location, location, and I'll add signage, signage, signage. I have been visiting yard and garage sales for over 30 years, and I go out of my way when someone has put up a good readable sign that stands out.
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