By Ann Poorboy
This summer I sat in the driveway of a good friend for her yard sale. We had a few visitors, but most of those were her friends. It’s a shame because she had some seriously nice stuff at ridiculously low prices. I left with a mini-van full of stuff that I’m currently enjoying.
So what went wrong? It took some quick research to find this article from EveryDollar, and as I should have expected, you just can’t fake being prepared.
Getting garage sale ready takes a little patience and prep work. But the profits will be worth following this simple process:
1. Do a speedy spring clean. Set aside one weekend to skim through your entire house. Look in closets and under beds, open every drawer and cabinet (especially the junk zones where stuff goes to be lost forever), and spend some time getting to know the items in your basement. You’re on the hunt for everything you never use or forgot you even own.
2. Keep a box handy. Okay, you covered (and uncovered) every surface of your home— but, chances are, you missed a few things, or maybe someone in your family needs convincing before parting ways with their stuff. Keep a box in the basement marked “garage sale” and add to it as you go.
3. Consider hosting a multi-family sale. Ask neighbors, family and friends to join you for a multiple-family yard sale. Buyers are drawn to larger yard sales because they’re more likely to find what they’re looking for. And more foot traffic could mean more sales for you!
4. Clean up for more cash. If you’re selling a large item such as an elliptical or dining table, clean it up and make it look ready to use. Wipe away any dust or dirt. People are more impressed with—and are willing to pay more for—items that look well kept.
5. Watch the weather. Select a couple weekends that work for you and your garage sale crew. Then, as best you can, look for clear skies before giving your sale day the go-ahead.
6. Advertise. Mix some new ways of advertising—like Craigslist, your neighborhood association’s Facebook page, and your personal Facebook page—with old-fashioned ways such as posting signs around the area. The more you get the word out, the more people will stop to shop.
7. Name your prices. Determine which items are common and which are rare and set prices accordingly. Know up front that most paperback books and tiny kids’ toys will pull no more than 50 cents and be okay with that. For bigger items, decide the minimum amount you’ll take; then price those items slightly higher so you have room to negotiate. When in doubt ask yourself, What would I be willing to pay? Use your answer as your guide.
8. Get organized. Treat your garage sale like a pop-up shop. Imagine what might make the experience easier for a shopper and what might make things more difficult. Strategize how you can best group similar items together, leave plenty of room for walking, and station yourself in a visible spot—ready to answer questions and take money.
What to do the Day of Your Garage Sale
Aka, how to run your garage sale like a boss. The big day is finally here. You’ve done the groundwork—now it’s time to hit the ground running! Make the most money at your garage sale by remembering to:
1. Start your sale on time. Garage sale pros are known to hit the streets with the sun. Be ready for your most serious shoppers by being outside with both yourself and your stuff ten minutes before the advertised start time.
2. Have help at the ready. Remove any lingering buyer doubts about large purchases by providing a strong guy or gal who can help with heavy lifting. Keep a stash of grocery bags near the cash box for folks with handfuls of smaller items.
3. Offer light refreshments. Providing free cookies and lemonade gives your kids a job, brings customers closer to the stuff you’re trying to sell, and encourages conversation. Refreshing your shoppers gives them good reason to stroll around a bit longer—and buy a bunch more!
4. Accept multiple forms of payment. When it comes to garage sales, paying with cash is the classic, old-school way. So, of course, you’ll want to have plenty of bills and coins ready to make change. But if you really want to snag every potential buyer, you should also accept payment via Paypal or with Square Cash.
5. Re-merchandise as you go. Sometimes shoppers can be both your best friend and your worst enemy—buying your stuff but leaving behind a big mess in the process. Be sure to clean up as the day moves along. Hang up clothing, rearrange books, and move furniture around to keep the feeling of a full yard.
6. Be open to package deals. If you have similarly themed items, sell them together. Someone may not want to buy a set of weights for $50, but they might change their mind if you throw in workout DVDs or a yoga mat. Or if you notice a customer holding multiple, unrelated items for a while, offer a discount if they buy it all.
7. Bargain with the best of them. Garage sales are a great way to test out our bargaining skills. And while you may have lots of bargaining experience as a buyer, selling isn’t something we get to try as often. Be kind, but firm, when an offered price dips below what you’re willing to take. Consider your options for selling the item elsewhere and proceed accordingly.
What to Do After the Garage Sale Ends
The sale is over, your lawn is empty, and the leftover items are back in the basement. Now what?
1. Take your garage sale online. Left with some stuff you think you can still sell? Post your items online through sites like Poshmark, Craigslist, Varage Sale, eBay or your local buy-sell-trade group on Facebook.
2. Visit your local consignment shop for cash. Take clothes, shoes and accessories to a consignment shop. If you can, choose to receive cash up front instead of a trade or after-purchase repayment.
3. Donate your items to a worthy cause. Of course, you can always drop your items at a thrift store like Goodwill or contact Habitat for Humanity to schedule a pick-up time.
4. Give your hard-earned cash a home. Count up your earnings and do a little celebration dance. Then sit down with your spouse to talk about how you’ll use the money. Be sure to include the cash as income in your monthly budget, and then put that cash to work!
A good yard sale gives you a jolt of money momentum. You can earn enough to pay for a quick summer vacation or polish off your starter emergency fund in a single morning. In the end, your house will be cleaner, and your wallet will be greener. This opportunity is closer than you think—in fact, it happens right outside your front door!
Make sure to put your yard sale earnings into your EveryDollar budget to maximize how you give, save or spend your extra money! Don’t have an EveryDollar budget yet? It’s free and takes less than 10 minutes to set up!