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If you want to transform all that clutter in your house into cold, hard cash, have a garage sale.
Whether you want to call it a garage sale, tag sale, yard sale, or rummage sale, getting rid of your old junk by selling it to others has been around for a long time.
Garage sales are a thousand times better for selling your junk than eBay when you have lots of small stuff.
Maybe you want to have one, but the thought of putting one together has been just too overwhelming for you.
And, going through your house to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of can be a daunting process.
Not to mention a garage sale takes a lot of work and can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You have to wade through your closets, basements, and attics and figure out what you don’t need anymore.
Then, you’ve got to lug out your stuff to the lawn and hope somebody buys it.
That’s a lot to think about and do!
All of that can be incredibly overwhelming, but if you read this article, it will be less so.
I’ll give you expert tips on organizing, pricing, and selling your items so your sale will be a resounding success.
Have a Plan
One really great way to clear out clutter is to have a rummage sale.
But there’s more to it than slapping some price stickers on your old junk and calling it a day.
If you want your sale to do well, you’ll have to do some planning.
People who map out every detail of their garage sale make more money.
To plan effectively, list everything you need to do, such as buying material for your signs, getting a permit if you need one, and creating an inventory of what you’re selling.
And sketch out a floor plan of where you’re going to put everything.
Planning helps you stay organized and will maximize your sale’s earning potential.
Some municipalities require you to have a permit if you’re planning on having a tag sale.
To see if you’re going to need one, stop by your local city hall and ask somebody there.
Sometimes, they make it easy to get one by letting you apply for it online.
Clean Out What You Don’t Need
To start amassing stuff for your garage sale, walk through your entire house and decide what you want to sell.
Once you’ve gone through your home, sort all your junk into two piles.
One pile will be for things you want to SELL.
The other pile will be junk you want to TRASH.
If you haven’t used something since before the Carter administration, it’s time to toss it out.
If you forgot it even existed, it DEFINITELY needs to go.
If you know for sure nobody will buy it, toss it into your TRASH pile.
The more things you toss out, the more you can free up space.
Don’t be too hasty to dismiss something as junk.
People buy all kind of stuff, so even if it’s of no value to you, doesn’t mean it will be to somebody else.
You never know what will sell until you try.
The worst-case scenario is nobody will buy it, and this ain’t exactly a Shakespearian tragedy.
The Best Time to Have Your Sale
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings are the best times for a garage sale.
Pick a day that falls soon after the 1st or the 15th of the month.
That’s because that’s when many people get paid.
If you’re having a multi-day sale, add Thursday to your selling days.
Holiday weekends are great times too because lots of people are in a celebratory mood and will be more likely to buy.
You could also have a sale is in conjunction with fun neighborhood events like carnivals.
After your potential customers have had their fill of the festivities, they might see your sale and do a little browsing.
In the hot summer weather, start your sale as early in the morning as possible, before the heat makes everything unbearable.
Heat isn’t the only meteorological you have to worry about.
There’s also rain.
Make sure you closely monitor the weather forecast, so you don’t get soaked by an unexpected downpour.
If it rains, move your sale inside your house or garage if you have the ability to do so.
Have a Neighborhood Sale
Ask your neighbors are planning to have a sale.
If they are, ask if you can team up with them.
There’s so much more potential when you get others in your block involved.
Your sale will be much bigger, making it that much more enticing for potential customers.
If you’re going to do a neighborhood sale, it might help to compile a list of the types of merchandise everyone is selling and hand this out to buyers.
Generic tag sales are a dime a dozen.
If you want to bring out buyers who have a burning passion for a single type of merchandise, it might make sense to run a themed sale.
For example, your them could be books, to attract bibliophiles of all stripes.
Organization is the Key
Everything you’re offering for sale should be meticulously organized.
Lots of people, upon seeing a rummage sale that’s just a colossal mess, will quickly jump back into their car and look for a sale that’s not so messy.
This will literally drive potential customers away.
Customers are turned off by the mere sight of anarchy and chaos because it’s hard to wade through tons of stuff just jumbled together.
Can you blame them?
Organize your junk in such a way that it looks like a high-end boutique.
This means making it look chic as can be.
But at all garage sales, organization isn’t just something you do at the beginning of your event and then forget about.
It’s is a never-ending, Sisyphean task.
Because customers can’t help to mess things up, you’ll need to periodically throughout the day go back and tidy things.
Specific Organization Tips
Price your items individually.
Don’t put them in a humongous box with the price on the outside of the box.
That’s because as the day wears on, items previously in the box will end up strewn all over.
Then, you’ll have a plethora of stuff without price tags, adding to the confusion.
To make things less confusing, divide things up into neat categories.
This means alphabetizing books, music, and movies.
If you don’t own any tables suitable for outdoor use, make temporary ones using sheets of plywood and sawhorses.
Then, cover them with plastic tablecloths.
If you don’t own any bookcases to showcase your books, make temporary bookshelves using cardboard boxes.
Make Your Merchandise Shine
To maximize the chances of selling your junk, make your merchandise shine like it’s the star of its own show.
This means polishing up old knick-knacks, cleaning the dust off furniture, and washing the mud out of soccer cleats with a garden hose.
It also means pumping up bicycle tires and basketballs, so they’re plump with air and look absolutely sellable.
Set up a large fitting-room style mirror so your customer can see how ravishing she looks in that cable-knit sweater you’re itching to get rid of.
How to Display Clothing to Make it Absolutely Irresistible
First, you’ll have to wash your clothes before offering them to the masses for sale.
This way, they’ll exude a fresh smell and not a musty one.
Musty smelling clothing is definitely a turn-off for buyers.
After you wash them, iron them.
A crisply pressed shirt has ten times the money-making potential that a balled up and wrinkled one has.
Fold your clothing neatly or put it on hangers and separate by size, gender, and whether it’s for kids or adults.
If you hang your clothes, customers won’t be rummaging through tables of clothes, getting them all wrinkled.
Hanging your clothes also gives them a more professional appearance and gives your customers the feeling they’re shopping in a store.
Use paper plates to separate by size on hangers.
Write the size on the plate, put a hole in the center, and slide the plate on the hang bar.
Batteries and Extension Cords
So that people can see with their own eyes that appliances actually work, make an extension cord available.
They shouldn’t have to take your word for it.
If an item requires batteries, pre-install them so that customers can both see that these items are operational and to give your customer a little freebie.
When pricing your items, you’ll have to make two important distinctions:
- Whether it’s useless to you, so you just want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, or
- You know it’s a valuable item, and you want to get top dollar.
If you want to just get rid of it, slap a rock-bottom price on it so it will sell.
Also, keep in mind people don’t want to plunk down a lot of cash at tag sales.
It’s a tag sale, after all.
So, try not to have anything more expensive than $100.
If you have items that will fetch more than that, you’re better off selling them online.
Successful Haggling for Beginners
Some sellers play a silly game with their potential buyer by pricing their wares sky high because they expect her to haggle.
Don’t do this.
Most people will walk right out of your yard if they see an outrageously priced item.
They won’t even try to haggle, and you’ll lose the sale.
But if your customer wants to do a little haggling and you’re comfortable with that, then go for it.
Just don’t let the price get too low.
The Lesson of the Star Trek Plate
Another way your prices can get too high is when you sentimentalize your old junk.
You bought that old Star Trek plate when you first got married, and it used to hold an esteemed place in your heart.
However, you’re not married anymore, and it’s just cluttering up the house.
It’s time to let it go, so price it accordingly.
How to Get a More Objective Opinion
Have a friend come over if you’re not sure what to charge for a particular item.
She can do a little reality-testing for you if you’re about to under- or over-price your item.
A little online research might also help you price stuff with confidence.
For example, check out what similar items are going for on eBay or Craigslist.
Other Pricing Tips
If you don’t feel like doing this and just want a good rule of thumb, price your goods a quarter or a third of what the original retail cost would be.
To make transactions as simple as possible, price everything in twenty-five cent increments.
To make people think they’re getting a deal, bundle your items.
For example, sell four DVDs for $5.00.
And if it’s nearing the end of the day and you still have unsold merchandise, let your customers fill a bag for five bucks.
Make your garage sale more professional by putting price stickers on everything you’re selling.
That’s because people want to know what you’re charging for each item at your sale.
This is true even if you allow haggling.
You can buy stickers at any dollar store.
You can also color-code your items instead of writing prices on them.
For example, a green sticker on an item could mean it’s selling for a dollar.
If you want an even cheaper solution than stickers, just write your prices on pieces of masking tape with a permanent marker.
Garage Sale Marketing 101
To sell the maximum amount of merchandise, you’re going to have to do some marketing.
If you don’t advertise, people won’t be able to find you, and you won’t sell anything.
Then, all your exhausting effort to weed through your old junk and organize it for sale will be for naught.
One way to make sure your garage sale is successful is by putting an ad in your local newspaper.
Keep your ad short and to-the-point and list merchandise with top-selling potential first.
This includes furniture, kids’ toys, and collectibles.
Be sure to include your address as well as the dates of your sale.
There are dozens of websites where you can post an ad for your garage sale for free.
You’ll be able to cram in more verbiage than you can in your newspaper ad because websites allow a more generous word count.
Put ads in online forums such as Craigslist, Garage Sale Hunter, and Yard Sale Search.
And don’t forget to harness the exponential power of social media, including Twitter and local Facebook groups.
When you post your online advertisements, make sure you include appealing photos.
Don’t post your ad too early, because potential customers will tend to forget about it when the day of the sale rolls around.
That means if you’re holding your garage sale on Friday, your ad should go up no earlier than Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
Although many people will find you because of your online ads, you’re number one marketing tool is going to be signage.
So first, you’re going to have to find out if your city will even let you have a sign.
Call up whoever you have to in your local government to see about this.
If so, get your hands on a Sharpie and some brightly colored poster boards at least three feet square.
To protect them against the elements, you might even want to make them weatherproof.
Make sure your signs are eye-catching and make it easy for customers to find you with the greatest of ease.
You could even make a design in Adobe Photoshop so that your signs look particularly striking.
Some people use humor in their signs.
If you have a knack for comical marketing that will turn heads, give this a try.
Attach wooden paint stirrers to make signs you can stick in the ground.
To make your posts more irresistibly attractive, tie balloons to them.
Draw big directional arrows on your signs that will make it super easy to find your house.
How Many Signs Should I Put Up?
One of the biggest mistakes novice garage sellers make is not putting up enough signs.
So, don’t act like a novice.
Instead, blanket your area with a flurry of signs within a three-block radius.
To effectively market your sale, you’ll need about 20 signs or so.
Put up your biggest and best ones by busy intersections.
The busier the street where you plant your signs, the better.
If your yard sale is hard to see from the street, put a sign up in front of your house.
This way, people know exactly where to stop.
If the forecast doesn’t call for rain, put your signs up the afternoon before the sale.
Have the Ability to Make Change
You’re going to need to have the ability to make change, so you don’t lose any sales.
You don’t want a potential sale walk away because you can’t make change.
A good amount is $100 in coins and various denominations of paper money.
If you price things in twenty-five cent increments, the only change you’ll need is quarters.
Keep this money in a cash box, so it’s safe and secure.
Get the Kids Involved
Ask your younger children if they want to sell lemonade or baked goods at your garage sale.
Not only will they have the incredible satisfaction of earning a little spending money for themselves, but they’ll also be learning basic economics.
A fantastic way to get your teenager to clean his room is by having him gather up old junk just lying around his room to sell.
If he balks at doing this, tell him he gets to keep the profits.
The Night Before the Sale
The night before the big day, make sure you have everything you need.
This is an excellent time to arrange all your tables because you won’t have time to do it in the morning.
You’ll need a table to do your transactions, a couple of chairs, and a couple of ways to display your wares.
For breakable items, use card tables or patio furniture.
Keep these tables against a fence or off to one side.
Kids love to run under tables, so the more centrally located they are, the more you risk an unruly child breaking something.
For non-breakable stuff, use a board over two milk crates.
Put all your clothes on hangers and put them in your garage until it’s time to sell them.
The Day of the Sale
An excellent way to get your tag sale going is to crank up the tunes.
This creates a festive atmosphere.
Customers will be browsing in a stranger’s backyard, so this puts them at ease.
That way, people will stay longer and tend to spend more.
Wear comfortable clothing and have plenty of sunscreen on hand.
If you’re selling fragile stuff, make sure you have grocery bags and newspapers to wrap things in.
To draw customers in once they’re at your house, put your most stunning merchandise out by the road.
When the sale starts, find a comfortable, shaded area to sit.
Position your chair so you can greet everyone who walks up.
Don’t be pushy, but answer questions if asked.
Don’t haggle right away.
Instead, wait for someone to come along to pay your asking price.
You can haggle on the last day.
You’re going to have unsold items, so you need to figure out what to do with them.
You could sell them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.
Or, if you just want to get rid of them as quickly as possible, arrange for Goodwill to pick them up.
Request a receipt, so you can file for a deduction on your taxes.
I hope that the strategies in this article helped you transform your old junk into mountains of cash.
But besides making wads of money, having a garage sale is an excellent way to put frugality into practice.
To be even more frugal, use the proceeds from your sale to pay off your debt.
If you don’t have any debt, use it to beef up your savings.
You might be so thrilled at the results of your sale, that you decide to have one every couple of years.
This will help keep your house free of clutter.