It’s that spring cleaning time of year – time to refresh the house and get rid of the clutter. Did you ever start to declutter, only to realize that you’re sitting in the middle of a huge mess? You’re not sure what to keep and what to throw away. You have a multi/tiered solution to this dilemma. You can use self storage for the items that you definitely want to keep, and you can have a garage sale for the rest. Turn those unwanted items into cash, and buy new stuff that you can store next year!
Garage Sale Genius
Have you ever heard of Aaron LaPedis? His mother left seven-year old Aaron to tend her garage sale while she made lunch. The garage sale was moving along nicely, so Aaron decided to take advantage of the brisk sales. He went into the house and grabbed everything that he could carry from the living room — lamps, end tables, and other small decor — and sold those items as well. His mother would eventually notice that half of her living room furniture was missing, but she probably wasn’t upset for too long. Aaron eventually turned this into a profitable enterprise for himself by flipping items that he purchased at garage sales. You can read all about Aaron’s rise to garage sale fame in his book, “The Garage Sale Millionaire.”
Make the Most of Your Garage Sale
A garage sale can seem a bit overwhelming, but the following tips will help you to organize, price, and advertise your items. Do it right and you can end up with an orderly home and/or self storage unit, as well as some big bucks.
Clean: Go through your home room by room looking for items you don’t use or wear regularly. Don’t forget the garage, basement, attic, and shed. If you already have a self-storage unit, make time to go through those items. There are typically a number of long-forgotten goodies in your self storage unit.
Sort: The next step is to sort your items into the ever-present categories: Keep, Sell, and Discard. Your goal is to sort and organize; get rid of the junk and find a permanent home for the keepers.
Set the Date: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings are typically the most opportune times to hold your sale. That doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box and consider a different time to have less competition. There are dozens of Saturday morning garage sales, but how many do you see scheduled for a Tuesday morning? If you time your sale during early morning or late afternoon commuting hours, you could attract commuters, car-pooling parents taking kids to school, and anyone else looking to score a deal.
Stock up on Supplies: Buy basic pricing stickers and blank labels at your local office supply store or the dollar store. If you’re on a tight budget, just pick up some masking tape and a permanent marker. Use a card table or any small table and chairs so that you have a designated place to comfortably cash people out. Make sure you have some boxes, and stable, inexpensive shelving to display one-of-a-kind and breakable items.
Price the Merchandise
Price it Right: Don’t attach sentimental value to your item, and overprice it in the process. If you’re not sure how to price an item, ask a friend for an objective opinion. Check current value by doing an online search. A good rule of thumb is to sell items at one quarter to one third of their original value. Most people aren’t looking to spend a great deal of money at a garage sale, so try not to price anything over $100. You’re better off selling big ticket items online. Toward the end of the sale, consider posting a “half off” sign. The goal is to get rid of your stuff!
Price Visibly: Don’t make a buyer search for a tiny sticker. Use large enough tags so that potential customers can easily see a price tag. Another option is to use colored stickers and a chart that specifies cost by color. If you do this, hang several large charts in different areas to make them easily visible.
Bundle Items: If you offer DVDs at 4 for $5, they will get more attention than if you’re asking $1 each. You can also bundle things like small kitchen gadgets, tools, or holiday decorations. Get creative.
Don’t Overprice and Expect to Haggle: Buyers will walk away from overpriced items. Garage sale shoppers like to snag a deal, but they won’t haggle over unrealistic prices. You’ll lose a sale.
Spread the Word: Use fliers in your neighborhood and online ads. Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Close5 are good ones. Forums like GarageSaleHunter.com and Yard Sale Search are forums directed specifically to garage sale regulars, and don’t forget about garage sales groups on Facebook.
Use Signs: Use 15 to 20 large, brightly colored signs. They should be at least 3 feet square. Keep them simple with large arrows pointing in the direction of the sale. They should be easy to see when driving and simple enough for a first grader to read.
The Big Day
Organize Your Checkout Area: Be sure to have plenty of small bills and coins on hand to make change. You could lose a sale over not having change readily available. Have enough plastic grocery bags and moving supply wrapping paper for fragile items. These details go a long way in showing your customers that you are organized and ready to sell.
Make it Look Like a Retain Store: Group items together: kitchen items in one area, tools in another, and clothing and accessories easy to sort through and hanging on racks. If you do have any big ticket or specialty items, place them near the street so that people know you’re selling more than mismatched dishes and outdated CDs. Reorganize throughout the day to keep things looking fresh.
Go for Appeal and Ease: Before you try to sell things, make sure they are clean and free of dust. Be sure that your shopping area doesn’t look disheveled. Borrow or rent tables so shoppers don’t have to crouch down to look at your items. If something needs batteries, insert them so that the buyer knows the items will work. Keep extension cords handy for small appliances, Christmas lights, and electronics. Place a mirror near the clothing and accessories. These details will go a long way in making customers feel comfortable and increasing your sales.
Elevate the Mood: Take a lesson from retail stores. They play music to encourage customers to stay longer and spend more. Make people feel welcome with bottled water, soda, lemonade, and don’t forget the cookies. People are far more apt to buy if you put them in a “buying” mood.
Stay Safe: Most shoppers are good people looking for a good deal, but you need to be practical and aware of what is going on around you. Most of these people will be strangers to you. Keep your doors locked during the sale, don’t let anyone in your house to use the bathroom, and don’t leave your cash unattended.
It’s time to put these tips into action. Organization is the key so that you’re ready to go when the first customer pulls up to the curb. If you remain calm, happy, and vigilant, you’ll have a successful sale and be ready to do a victory dance at the end of the day. Remember, any left over items can go into your self-storage unit for your next sale.