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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hosting a Garage Sale
Guest Post from Coupons Make Cents

It's garage sale season! If you're planning on hosting a garage sale, you'll want to read today's post from guest blogger, Elizabeth of Coupons Make Cents. Also, check out Elizabeth's previous post for tips on how to get the most for your money when checking out other garage sales.

Thanks for these great tips, Elizabeth!

Garage Sales — How to get the most for your stuff when you’re the one SELLING.

If you read my previous post, you know how to get the most for your money when you're the buyer, but what if you're the seller?  How do you set up and conduct your sale so that you get the absolute most for your stuff?  There's lots you can do, and here are some great tips.
  • Plan carefully.  Host your yard sale on a day that is supposed to be sunny and warm.  We can't control the weather, but we can take our best shot.  Rain will absolutely ruin your sale.
  • Group yard sales always work out better than single yard sales.  See if you can talk your neighbors into hosting one on the same day.  That way you save on signage too!
  • Be CLEAR about whether you will accept commercial offers.  There are people who own businesses who will come in early and offer you a low price on a large amount of your stuff.  If you want to get out fast, this might be a good thing, but bear in mind that these people almost always are trying to get your things at a price that they can mark up and sell again at their shop.  If you are ok with that, then go for it.  If not, be CLEAR in your ads (newspaper, Craigslist, etc) that commercial offers will not be accepted.
  • Advertise, advertise, advertise. Clearly marked (in BIG DARK LETTERS) signs with your address and subdivision name are absolutely required.  Most newspapers offer free advertising for yard sales, and PLEASE take out an ad on Craigslist.  There is a great new tool out called Yard Sale Treasure Map (it's a site, you can google it) that interacts with Craigslist and a map for the user to plan their trip.  Make sure you're on there!  Be as detailed as possible in naming what you have for sale.  Consider posting on Facebook to your friends that you are having a yard sale, and let them know whether it's ok for them to share that info with their friends.
  • Be clear in your ad that you will/will not accept early birds.  They can show up as early as 5 am...are you ready?
  • Prepare. Make sure that you have small bills and PLENTY of change on hand.
  • Offer coffee and donuts/cookies/Cokes to your customers.  Word will spread like wildfire that your sale has food and drink, especially if it's hot out!
  • If you are hosting a group sale, be sure to keep a ledger.  Keep note of item description, whose it was, and how much it was sold for.
  • Don't bad mouth your items.  You should be truthful -- if someone asks if the camera works and it doesn't, you should tell them it does not work.  But if it does and you just upgraded, don't be the guy who says "yes, but it doesn't have x, y, or z."  Chances are, your buyer already knows what the camera has/doesn't have, and items at a yard sale are sold on an as/is basis.  The buyer won't be coming back to you later asking why you didn't tell them it didn't have a telescoping lens.
  • DO tell the positives about your items!  Don't overdo it, but mention that your kids loved that game, that skillet makes great pancakes, cake doesn't stick in this pan!  etc.  As a buyer, it would make a difference to me if I knew that the china was only used once or twice and really looked like it.  I'd be inclined to give you more for it.  No sense in telling me that it breaks really easy and that's why you only have 7 plates instead of 8.  ;)
  • Make CLEAR labels.
  • Organize clearly.  There are lots of ways to do this -- you can organize according to price, according to content (clothes here, toys there, etc) but please make sure your items are organized so that the buyer can see FROM THE ROAD that you have some good stuff.
  • Bargain.  Negotiate.  Think of your labelled price as the sticker price at the dealer.  Lots of folks will be willing to pay that, but you will always get the hagglers (especially if I come to your neighborhood!).  Don't price too high.  A reasonable price for items at a yard sale is anywhere between 10-40% of what the item would cost new.  Age, wear, and timeliness will also come into play here.  For example, if you have printed encyclopedias to sell, I know how much you paid for them and how much you'd love to get for them, but I have news for you -- .25 might be about right.  They just aren't going to sell.  If technology has come along and made something nearly or completely obsolete, you have to take that into consideration.  As a seller, you have every right to be firm on whichever price you set, but please understand that the buyer has the right to walk away as well.  If someone offers you a price early on in your sale that you aren't willing to take at that moment (thinking that maybe someone else will come along and pay more) tell them that you'll take their name and number and if the item is still there at the end of the sale, you'll call them.  It doesn't mean you have to take their offered price, but it does open the door again to negotiation, and you'll know that your price has been too high to sell.
  • Collectables.  Label and group them clearly.  Someone may not understand that your bronze teapot is part of a collection - the other parts of which are scattered across the driveaway.  Price your collectables carefully -- check completed items on Ebay to see what something similar has sold for, because you can guarantee that your buyer, if they have a smart phone, is doing the same thing.
Overall, have fun!  Enjoy your traffic, and hope for the best.  You're clearing out your house, and you're going to love the decluttered rooms.   Revel in the idea that someone else is going to find joy and get use out of something you were clearly finished with.  And end your sale with a smile on your face and cash in your pocket.
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What are your garage sale season tips?


  1. I replied to your post from the buyers' perspective, so it's only far that I comment on this one as well. ;)

    - What's your goal? If it's to get rid of stuff, price everything to SELL. If it's to make money, be realistic. If your day is half over and your tables are still full, your prices are likely too high.

    We can always tell when a sale has high prices by how full the tables are late in the day.

    - The words "GARAGE SALE" or "YARD SALE" don't have to be the biggest words on the sign. Your address does.

    - Pick up your signs when the sale is done.

    - Pick up your signs when the sale is done (worth repeating).

  2. Great tips for running a garage sale. I also recommend getting the kids involved. They can sell their stuff they don't want and keep the money. It's a great way to learn about $ and finance!

  3. Kelly, great tips!

    PragmaticMom, I love the idea of getting the kids involved. I agree it's a great way to teach them the value of money and they'll have a better appreciation for what 'stuff' costs... well, at least what second-hand stuff costs.