Garage sales are one of the easiest and most profitable ways to get rid of the items that have been gathering dust for years. Even now, with sites such as Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon being the preferred distribution platform for bargain hunters worldwide, you can still earn a decent sum of money with a bit of thoughtful preparation. Can’t wait to get things started? Follow the 7 tips for a successful garage sale below to ensure that everything will go buttery smooth.
1. Check if you need a permit
That’s right. Before you move that old wooden furniture in front of your garage, stop by your local council or town hall for a chat. The unfortunate reality is that most cities will now require you to get a permit before you can even do as much as dream of a garage sale.
If you don’t need one, great. On the other hand, if you do need one and you go ahead anyway, you run the risk of receiving a hefty fine and having the sale shut down. The good news is that, in most cases, you can apply for an online permit by simply visiting your town hall’s website.
2. Organise the goods you are about to sell
Now that you know with 100% certainty that you can host a garage sale, it’s time to pick what exactly it is you want to sell. Those would usually be things you’ve either received as a gift and never used or items you haven’t touched for months on end. If you don’t know where to start, grab the biggest box you can find and visit your basement, garage, or attic for some inspiration. You can do this while spring cleaning around the house and thus save time.
These places are usually gold mines for all sorts of things – from small skyscrapers of old CDs and dusty books to a tangled jungle of cables and your first bicycle. Don’t underestimate any of your findings – one man’s trash is always another man’s treasure. Worst case scenario, you can always use the less popular items at you sale as “freebies” to convince the buyer to commit.
3. Choose the right day for your sale
This is perhaps one of the most valuable (no pun intended) garage sale tips you can receive. Usually, you are guaranteed a better crowd if you schedule your sale for a Friday or a Saturday morning. Try to start as early as possible, setting up shop as early as 6 a.m. This way, even busy people will still have a chance to hang around and hunt for bargains.
Another important thing to mind is the weather. Naturally, opening the floodgates on a windy or cloudy weather will be nowhere near as successful as doing so on a warm and sunny day. The same goes for seasons – the melting August sun or the biting December cold are not exactly a good place to start. Instead, push your garage sale for late spring or early fall.
4. Advertise, advertise, advertise!
There are plenty of ways in which you can advertise your mini Black Friday. The most classic way to do it is by placing a wooden arrow sign at the most busy area in your neighbourhood. However, as funny as it may sound, you may also need a separate permit for that as well. If signs are out of the question, other garage sale ideas include posting a short add in your local newspaper or printing several dozen flyers and handing them out in cafés, pubs, or clubs.
If you want to increase your customer traffic even further, the Internet is your best friend. There are literally dozens of websites on which you can advertise your event free of charge. With that said, you should aim for a high ad count – the higher the number, the better. If you don’t have enough time to do all the clicking and scrolling required, you can also spread the news via social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter. Whatever method you choose, always try to keep your ad short and only list the items that you know would garner the most attention.
5. Stock up on supplies well in advance
You cannot expect to showcase your offerings or seat your prospective buyers on the tall grass outside and expect things to work out. Make sure to gather some chairs, a table or two, and heaps of spare change at least a day before the garage sale starts. If you do not have any available, get creative and avoid renting furniture unless you have really run out of options.
There is no need to get too official. A plain coffee table will do just fine for your trading needs. As for chairs, you can always use your gardening furniture or stack a few sturdy milk crates on top of one another. It’s even easier when it comes to clothing – just hang everything on a garment rack or on top of your garage door and consider them sold.
6. Appropriate price tags make a world of difference
Take the effort to label each item with an individual price tag. It may seem like hard work, but it will help you keep better track of which items you’ve sold instead of piling everything into two boxes with a “£3 for every item” sign on them. For bigger items, such as furniture or white goods, always place larger labels in clearly visible areas to save shoppers the need to squint just to find the price tag. And never, ever leave goods unlabeled – these will be quickly ignored by the buyers or you may end up selling the item at a much lower price than necessary.
Speaking of prices, garage sales draw attention for a reason – they offer goods that are either priced at half or at a third of their original value. You should always keep this fact in mind when pricing your treasure trove. For instance, never ramp up the prices under the false impression that everyone likes to haggle. If the price is too high, you risk scaring your visitors away. Also, make sure to come up with round prices, such as £5 instead of 4.75 and £1.50 instead of £1.18. This will ensure that your math is always on point when you need to calculate totals.
7. Present your yard sale in the best possible way
Always treat the things you sell as a bargain rather than a piece of unwanted junk. This means designating different rooms for different types of items (furniture, appliances, etc.) and dividing all your items by category (clothes, books, children’s toys, etc.). The layout of your garage shop should also allow your buyers to easily navigate to the thing they are interested in buying.
Sometimes, even this is not enough to attract some of the more stubborn buyers. So, a good way to go around this problem is by pulling out your inner designer and decorating your yard with string up balloons, ribbons in between posts, small flags, and anything else you can think of that screams the message “Come this way, we have bargains you can’t afford to miss!”.
Lastly, don’t treat customers the way they do at banks or DVLA and play some uplifting music. It doesn’t matter what you go for – even elevator music is infinitely better than crickets!
As you can see, the answer to the “How to have a successful garage sale” question is a path strewn with challenges. This goes double if you’ve never hosted one up to this point. However, after several hours of writing ads, gluing price tags, and categorising items, you should come out with overflowing pockets and have more space in your home than you can ever hope to fill.