Part 1 of our 9 steps to a successful garage sale covered the importance of having a clear objective and then collecting & assessing your items, then targeting the date & time & putting an advertising plan in place. Part 2 of our 9 steps will walk you through the logistics of the garage sale itself: item displays, pricing, sale day, and after.
5. Plan your item displays
- Start by having plenty of tables. For hanging items, consider a rod across 2 ladders. Be forewarned: you will get offers on the ladders! Consider simply putting clothing on tarps on the ground (so more items can be seen at a glance), separated by size/gender (baby, toddler, kids, etc.). Resign yourself to the fact that things will get mixed together.
- Plan to create shade if it’s hot, or shelter if it rains. If you have access to pop-up canopies, use them. People will be more likely to shop if they are comfortable.
- Decide if you will actually use your garage or your yard. Many garage-salers may wander into your garage looking for further bargains. Be sure to drape off items with a sheet to notify shoppers that those items are not for sale. Of course, there may be a great deal waiting to be made if someone starts looking around! Decide in advance how you will handle this scenario.
- Plan to have some – but not all – of your most valuable items near the street. You need some things farther back so folks need to wander through the other items to get to them. If possible, try to stage your items on their displays prior to the morning of your sale, so it’s simply a matter of moving the tables outside. Avoid putting things in a big box. It is much better for everything to be visible.
6. Decide on pricing
- Remember your objective. If you have lots of smaller items, we recommend pricing those more aggressively, maybe coming up with some pricing like $0.50 each or 3 for $1.00 so people are incented to buy multiple items at once.
- We suggest stickering items with individual prices as much as possible, particularly on the lower-priced items. It saves people having to ask how much each item costs. Avoid using price signage related to tables, because it avoids confusion. But pricing like items similarly makes sense, and you can save time by making signage to that effect: all books 4 for $1; kitchen gadgets $0.10 each. This article offers some great tips on garage sale pricing.
7. Plan for the garage sale itself
- Cash: Run to the bank the day before and get plenty of $1, $5 bills and quarters (and smaller change too if you plan to price things lower than a quarter). Find an old tool box or shoe box for managing your money. Have a calculator handy for quick help with the math.
- Helpers: it will be critical that you have at least one helper, if for no other reason than to give you a chance for biological breaks. Be sure they are briefed on your pricing strategies so they are empowered to sell on your behalf. If there are certain items only you want to negotiate, be sure they are informed in advance.
- Decide how you will respond to early birds (some may show even if you put in your ad “no early birds.”) Will you simply tell them you are not ready until you’re ready? Will you have your helper out to handle the final set-up while you start doing business? It is a good idea to anticipate this so you don’t turn off your shoppers. Remember to be polite!
- Get your signs out the evening before. Collect plastic or paper bags your shoppers can use to take their items with them. Be prepared with additional materials to make quick signs, or to reprice an item. Have an extension cord available so customers can test electronic items as needed.
8. Garage sale day!
- If you have lots of things to move into place, be sure to get an early start!
- Be prepared with water for yourself, and consider offering refreshments for your shoppers as well.
- Have music playing to create a fun and pleasant atmosphere.
- And of course, smile and be friendly.
9. After the garage sale
- Collect up all of your unsold items and assess if you really want to hold onto them, or if you are ready to donate them. Then as soon as possible after your sale, drop of your donated items with a charity in town.
- Collect up all of your signage in the neighborhood.
Then count up your money and enjoy the newly found space in your garage!
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