Money Saving Articles

The Ultimate Guide to Throwing an Awesome Garage Sale

With spring comes the re-introduction of many things. Flowers (accompanied by a whole slew of allergies you didn’t know you had), sunshine, time spent outdoors, and the realization that you have a lot of stuff that you don’t really use, let alone know you had. Unintentional hoarding is still hoarding at the end of the day (you do know that right?)… So, how about you go through the wasteland that is your unused junk, and see if it can make you some money. Well, here we go, time to make your next garage sale the most awesome garage sale ever thrown.

Make sure you have enough stuff to sell

One of the prerequisites to any garage sale is having stuff for people to buy. This may seem obvious, but you can’t make money off of the things you don’t sell.  To figure out if you have the resources to throw a successful garage sale, do an audit of your stuff and figure out which things you can afford to sell and which things you want to hold onto.  To help you determine whether or not an item deserves to stay, ask yourself these two questions:When is the last time this item was used

When is the last time this item was used?

If you find yourself not being able to answer this question chances are you can part with it. (Unless you’re like me and misplace things. Finding them can be a real treat!) My own personal rule of thumb is 4-6 months. If I haven’t touched that item in the last 6 months, it’s gone.

Do I really need this?

This is where you really need to be honest with yourself. Often, the hoarder in all of us will hold on to items that have outstayed their welcome. Make sure you’re honest with yourself, don’t allow rekindled memories of that item’s glory days cloud your judgment. This piece of advice excludes sentimental items like family heirlooms. Personally, I never consider these items as things that can be sold because they hold true value to me.

If you find yourself LOOKING for things to sell but end up answering yes to the second question, PUT IT DOWN! The last thing you want to do is sell something that you actually use. Don’t let the potential of making money allow you to part from things that are actually useful, especially if you end up re-buying it later.

Prioritize items by value

After you have scavenged your neglected items from the dark places in your closet, go through and categorize them.

For example:

Electronics = TV’s, computers/laptops, speakers, old phones, video games, etc.

Appliances = washer & dryer, fridge, microwave

Clothing = pretty self-explanatory

Jewelry = rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc.

Toys = anything your kids play with

Power tools = drills,  saws, sanders

Furniture = couch, desks, chairs, nightstands

Organizing your garage sale items will give you a better idea of what your selling, and will allow you to price certain categories accordingly.  Generally, electronics, appliances, power tools, furniture, and jewelry are some of the big-ticket items that can really bring in the cash. Make sure that these items are properly priced because they are the ones that will attract the largest number of people.

One way to make sure your items are priced properly is to check how much they’re worth online.  Going to sites like eBay, Amazon, and Best Buy will give you a pretty good idea what other people would be willing to pay for your stuff. It’s important to note that when searching for your items on these sites, to look for the used price. If you price it as if it’s new, people will think twice about buying it.

Another important side note is to understand that just because you say that TV is selling for $50, does not mean that you will actually get $50 for it. It is a garage sale after all, and with that comes haggling. Most garage sale shoppers are pros at haggling, so it’s important to expect it. DON’T FEAR! We are here… to help protect you from losing too much money to a vicious negotiator. Mark your prices up a little bit so you have some wiggle room when the haggler shows up. Make sure you’re prepared, because you will encounter these formidable adversaries!

Team work makes the dream work

Want to know one of the biggest not-so-secret success factors that will make your garage sale a hit? The answer is simple. Variety. We inherently, as people, love having the ability to choose. The more options and variety you offer, the larger your garage sale audience will be.

Well, you might have gone through the first two sections of this article and realize that you just don’t have all that much stuff to sell. You obviously want to get some money for that old stuff but need some more variety for your garage sale.

The solution is pretty simple, it’s called framily sourcing  (This is a term I made up, all it stands for is friend & family sourcing. Which really just means seeing if your friends and family have anything they would like to contribute to your garage sale.)

Talk with your friends and family to see if they have any old items that are just collecting dust and find a weekend that most of them would be free. Have them go through the first two steps of this garage sale guide and get them to bring their collected items they want to sell over to your place (or the location of the garage sale).  Not only will framily sourcing allow you to add variety to your garage sale, it will give you the help you need to throw the perfect garage sale. Have everyone pitch in and help label/organize the things being sold.

One way to make sure everyone’s stuff stays organized and accounted for is to use a color-coded label system.  All you have to do is assign a color or pattern to each person or group. Let’s say that Uncle Bob wants to sell his old TV. You would assign Uncle Bob the color red, so all he would have to do is mark his item (TV) with a red mark, whether that be duct tape or a sticker. Make sure that you have a list of which color belongs to which person.

To make sure the money made from each item is going to the right person, just take a small piece of colored tape that corresponds with that individual (red in Uncle Bob’s example) and put it on the money made from that persons sold item.  This makes it easy to keep track of who sold what and how much everyone earns.

Tell them and they will come

This may surprise you, but people won’t come to your garage sale regardless of how awesome it is, if they never hear about it. Above everything else, if people don’t know you’re having a garage sale you can’t expect it to be successful, that’s why it’s so important to advertise it properly.

But… I don’t have a background in marketing or advertising; where do I begin?

To start, figure out what the mission of your message is. In this case you want people to come to your house and look at your old stuff and buy it. Give them a reason to come, make it hard for them to avoid it. To help you get started we have made a mini garage sale advertising checklist. All of these suggestions are just ideas to help get people engaged and curious about your garage sale.

  • Use bright colored poster board, something that will catch their attention (use bright green and blue, these will stand out on a street corner)
  • Make sure the message is visible (use solid bold text that can be read from a distance)
  • Use code words on certain signs for special discounts on certain items (for example: put the code word: play-all-day on certain signs advertising toys. If someone comes to your garage sale and uses this term, they get 5% off a toy. You can break it up and have code words for each category like electronics, and furniture.)
  • Give them a reason to come right now (for example: offer a special 5% discount on a big ticket item for the first person to come)
  • Lead people straight to your garage sale location with directional arrows at popular intersections
  • Create a Facebook event for your garage sale; invite your friends and family to like it (you can use this page to advertise some of your larger ticket items like furniture and appliances.)

Try some of these ideas out and see if they work! The best way to have a really successful garage sale is to think outside the box. Get creative, and make sure that you give your garage sale the best chance to be profitable.

Create a cool experience

This is where the fun stuff comes in. How creative can you get? Ask yourself, “What things would make a garage sale stand out to me?” Refreshments? Shade? It would probably amaze you how big of a difference the small things can make. People will be more likely to stick around if you give them a reason to. To help you create a cool garage sale experience for your potential customers try out some of these tips:

  • Have a table set up for refreshments and snacks
    • All you need is lemonade, water, and some chips and dips. These things are pretty inexpensive but might make the difference between someone sticking around and leaving. If you’re really feeling ambitious, bake some cookies, after all, who doesn’t like cookies?)
  • Create a garage sale playlist in Spotify
    • This one will require some discretion on your part. Your best bet would be to pick a neutral genre; you wouldn’t want to offend any potential customers will vulgar or loud music. A few safe options would include: Mumford & Sons, Jack Johnson, and Jason Mraz.
  • Reduce the impact of the elements
    • Don’t let the overbearing heat of spring/summer ruin your garage sale, or even worse – rain. Make sure to check the weather forecast for the week of your garage sale, and plan accordingly. If you see it’s supposed to be really hot, set up a tent shade and some fans to keep your visitors cool. Don’t be afraid to postpone your garage sale if the weather isn’t willing to cooperate, it will be worth the wait.

Creating a fun experience will make people want to come to your garage sale (as long as they know it’s happening). Sometimes it’s the smallest things that really make the biggest difference.  Make it fun for your visitors and they will be more likely to stick around and check out your stuff!

Most importantly, have fun

A garage sale should be a fun event. Use it as a time to hang out with family and friends and meet new people! Keep it light, stress free and enjoy everyone’s company. Plus, you get to make some money off of your old useless junk.

Do you have any other great tips to make your garage sale great? Share it with us, we love hearing about new tips that have worked for other people.

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