How to Organize a Garage Sale

I’ve never been a big fan of garage sales, even though I’ve had quite a few over the years. They are a lot of work—more wrk that they’re even worth! I would rather sell on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook and donate the rest to charity.

However, I know many people who would disagree with me and that’s okay! You may live in an area where garage sales are a big business or you don’t want to deal with selling stuff online and instead just want to get it done in one shot, which is okay too.

In any case, garage season is upon us and if you’re preparing to host one, this is the time to do it. Of course, knowing exactly where to start can be a little overwhelming, especially if this will be your first one.

The key is to take it one step at a time. Here are some simple steps to organize a garage sale fro start to finish.

1. Gather your items.
First, collect the items that you want to get rid of. As you’ve been spring cleaning, decluttering and organizing your home, you may have been accumulating a good sized sell or donate pile.

If you don’t think you have enough to hold your own sale, you can try partnering with a few neighbors or friends. Garage sales are most successful when they offer a lot of small impulse buy items or well-promoted big ticket items.

As your collecting your stuff, do it with the mindset that you won’t bring  anything back into your home. Say your goodbyes and resolve that whatever wasn’t sold will be donated or thrown away—and not saved for a future sale.

2. Make sure a garage sale is your best option.
When it comes to selling your stuff, there are several resources to choose fro ad each works better for different items. Check out eBay, Craigslist and even Facebook as potential sites to sell on.

As a rule of thumb, eBay is useful for collectable higher-value or easy-to-ship items. Name brand items or items that have a larger price tag will find the best buyer on eBay—if you’ve sold before and have a good rating.

If eBay seems a bit overwhelming, try upscale consignment shops that are an option for clothing and brand name goods. You can make get great returns on items like handbags, coats and even home decor.

Craigslist works well for items that you want to sell locally, like furniture, strollers, sports equipment and things that don’t necessarily have a niche market, but aren’t impulse buys. Facebook is free and you can enlist your friends as possible buyers. Garage sales are the best way to attract impulse buyers. Garage sale shoppers are often looking for  bargain that’s easy to carry out to take home. This isn’t to say that you can’t sell a piece of furniture at a garage sale, but you might not get the best return. Things like kitchenware, clothing, toys, knickknacks, books and decorative items sell very well at garage sale.

3. Mark items to sell.
Get tags and mark items so that they move. Be prepared to make some deals and consider throwing in a few extra items to sweeten the deal. Garage sales are usually hit quite heavily in the morning when the selections are best and then it starts to dwindle down later in the day. To attract shoppers and keep things moving, consider advertising 50% off at a set time of day or 2-for-1 deals.

Make sure to mark items with clear, large prices. Buyers will pull over if the see great bargains. Provide shopping bags or boxes for shoppers and keep newspaper handy to wrap up breakable items.

4. Choose a prime date
Does your neighborhood hold an annual garage sale? Does the local fair in town drive traffic through your area? Is there an art walk in your neighborhood? These are ideal times to plan your sale.  Base your marketing during the times that your town is most popular.

If you live in a college town, try to hold your sale on the weekend that the campus opens to attract students looking for furnishings and decor. The weekend that that everyone goes home after graduation also works because bargain shoppers will be looking for deals that college students leave at the curb when they unload their dorm rooms.

If you live somewhere that’s popular during holiday weekends, have your sale for travelers and weekend visitors over Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend. However, if you live in a town that people LEAVE for the holidays, you may miss your target audience during those times.

5. Get the word out.
Put your artistic and creative skills to use by making some big signs and posting flyers. Many garage sale shoppers are impulse stoppers, so make sure that they can see that you’re offering them great reasons to get out of their cars. Balloons, streamers and tables that add height also help to attract attention. This is also a great time to let your kids have their lemonade stand or bake sale.

Post flyers listing some of your best deals. If you’re offering toddler clothing, car seats or vintage barware, advertise it! Post flyers in places your target audience hangs out at—daycare centers, your local library, senior centers or your local coffee shop. Ask local store owners and restaurateurs if they’d be willing to let you post flyers. Also try college campuses or schools in your area.

Advertise on Craigslist and post your sale on your Facebook page to ensure your friends and family members know about it. Word of mouth will bring some buyers, especially if they know what you’e selling and they’re expecting a great deal in a coveted item.

6. Start early in the day.
Prime sale hours start at 5 am. Yes, you read that right. Early-morning bargain hunters usually get up at the crack of dawn to get the best deals. Make sure that you don’t miss out on an audience of shoppers by starting your sale too late.

You may even want to entice visitors by offering coffee or promoting an “early bird special” to get more shoppers to your sale right away. Sales typically last into early afternoon or until your items are sold. To get yourself ready for the early morning hustle, get plenty of rest and go to bed early. It will be a long day, but it will definitely be worth it if you plan well.

7. Don’t be afraid to make a deal.
If you’re a little nervous about being haggled or bartered with, let it go. People will try to get the best deals they can, so try to see it as two people doing each other a favor instead. Your customer gets a great item to bring home with them and you get to clear your clutter without having to haul things to Goodwill or to the dump. Plus, you’re making some money in the process.

If someone asks for a deal, go for it. If you’re concerned about not getting a fair price for your items, consider selling them on eBay or Craigslist where you have more control over the price. While shoppers look for a great score or treasure, they’re quite satisfied when they feel they’re paying Goodwill prices or less for practical items that they need.

8. Enlist help.
Enlisting the help of your friends, neighbors, husband, kids and social media network is crucial to having a successful garage sale. Giving your kids the opportunity to try their hand at selling can be a great lesson in making change and understanding  how buying and selling works.

Ask friends to spread the word, and if someone has a few items to sell themselves, let them join you—with the caveat that your friends take their stuff home if it doesn’t sell. After all, you don’t want to make your yard the dumping ground for other people’s stuff!

Enlist a few people to take cash and make change. Provide your assistants with $20 change in singles and small bills and a receipt book or notebook to record the item, price and to calculate the total sale. Also give them a calculator and a measuring tape to field any questions. You should also make yourself available to answer inquiries about the age and use of your stuff.

Set yourself up for success by having realistic expectations. If you have furniture items and your husband or friend has a truck and is willing to deliver, include that on your flyers and advertising. That can be a make or break point for shoppers who would buy an item if they can only fit it in their car.

Donate and eliminate the unsold items.
At the end of your garage sale, it’s tempting to keep items for another sale at a later date. If you’ve followed the advice above, you should be ready to part with everything you’re selling. The objective is to help you clear out the clutter in your home.

When your garage sale is over, count your earnings and round up the remaining items. Inventory the stuff and determine whether each item should be trashed or if you can donate it.

With a few smart strategies and some time and effort, you can walk away from your garage sale with a bit more money in your pocket and less clutter.

Are you a garage sale pro? What are some of your tips?

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