Garage sales have to be one of the easiest ways of getting rid of stuff you don’t want or need anymore, with the added benefit of making a nice bit of extra money. I've personally hosted one or two garage sales in my time and have always been surprised at how easy it is to make a tidy sum of cash for unwanted stuff I was never going to use again anyway.
If you are part of a social community or happen to have kids at school then this can be a much more affordable way of selling goods compared to paying to market your products on sites like eBay. Facebook's new Buy and Sell functionality gives you another great alternative for selling old items or simply to advertise the fact that you are hosting a garage sale.
One of the biggest advantages of selling your stuff offline though is that it eradicates the hassle of having to photograph all of your items and upload them to auction websites. That’s why I want to give you a quick break down of how you can prepare properly to ensure that you maximise the efficiency of your first/next garage sale.
The following steps will help you organise yourself correctly to make the most out of your garage sale.
1. Organise your Items
First and foremost you need to assemble all of the items you're looking to get rid of into a single area of your house. This is similar to a spring cleaning exercise and keeping your house organised. If your items don’t amount to enough to justify a garage sale alone, consider partnering with any willing neighbours or friends.
To get the most out of your garage sale you need to be able to offer small “impulse buys” that attract the attention of your customers. As you prepare your pile, maintain the mentality that you will not see these items again, so whatever you don’t sell you should give to charity. This makes the exercise a good cleaning practice for both your house as well as your wallet.
2. Set Sales Prices
To really rake in the money you need to set desirable prices, whilst also pricing your items so that there's still room left to barter with. Another great tactic you can use is to have a bunch of items that you are prepared to give away for free and use them to sweeten a higher priced sale. In my experience the majority of the traffic comes in the mornings when the most items are available, compared to the afternoons where it tends to dwindle. Therefore it’s a good idea to mention on your sale that after 2pm you will sell all items at a 50% discount to keep continuous traffic coming in throughout the day.
To attract passers by, try to use big bright signs that advertise great deals to entice cars to pull over. Finally, of course do not forget to provide shopping bags and newspapers to wrap up delicate items with.
3. Select your Date
Be smart with your date selection. Does your local neighbourhood have any pre-planned fates, fairs or arranged walks? These are the best times to plan your sale because you will maximise exposure. However, if you live near a university or a college then a weekend can be an opportune time to market your garage sale and get rid of furnishings and décor to students.
4. Create Awareness
Having a sale without letting people know is a useless exercise. Create a Facebook page and add all of your friends and family because this is the easiest way to keep everyone up to date on any adjustments and changes. At the front of your house it’s also a great idea to attract drivers with signs and balloons. The buyers who are attracted by these visual stimuli are most likely impulse buyers and will also be looking for a good deal.
If you have children, this can be an opportune time to keep them occupied with their own little cake sale whilst also being an attractive opportunity to invite their friends and parents.
On your Facebook page try to be creative as well, post your most desirable items to get people excited and to generate as much interest as possible ahead of time.
5. Early Bird gets the Worm
Obviously the sooner you get rid of your stuff the better, so entice early-bird deal hunters with early-riser incentives such as coffee or special discounts. Certain people may be willing to arrive as early as 7am if you plan and advertise to a wide enough audience, so be prepared for willing shoppers to arrive in the AM and rest well the night before. If all goes well it should turn into a long day, but hopefully worth it in the end.
6. Deal or No Deal
If you feel that bartering is not your cup of tea then don’t shy away from simply making a deal. Ultimately, the person buying your item is giving you money and saving you the hassle of taking it to the dump or driving to a charity shop (so remember to stick to the mindset of 'everything must go').
If you have a tablet or smartphone then you can use this to your advantage and show potential buyers how much a similar item costs on eBay for example. This can help you justify your price without haggling too much. If a stubborn customer is refusing to budge on a price for a particular item, it's time to whip out some of those free items (mentioned in point 2 above) to sweeten the deal as a last resort.
7. Recruit Helpers
Get your friends to tell all their friends and family about your sale so that you get the word out as much as possible. Use the kids to invite their friends and family and anyone else you can think of that can be useful. With so much to organise it can also be handy to get someone to go and change up notes so that you have plenty of change for when customers purchase your unwanted stuff. This is something that's often forgotten and can be a real pain throughout the day.
If you plan on having a large garage sale it might be worth paying a friend to cash the money and look after the payments and bagging of items whilst you attend to customers. Ensure they have a calculator and a measuring tape to assist with field questions.
And lastly, good luck!