Are you gearing up to have a fantastic garage sale? You CAN make more money by implementing some simple steps. Each year, by having a multi-family sale and in the right location, you can earn up to $1,300 or more. It is work, but by working your garage sale strategically, you can easily double your profits.
1. Invest in Your Garage Sale
Just like with any business venture, you need to invest in your garage sale to make it a success. Make GREAT signs, take the time to post on Craigslist, organize and CLEAN your items, and plan weeks or even months in advance. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL LAST MINUTE to plan. Successful garage sales are planned weeks or months in advance.
2. Planning Your Garage Sale
Collect all year long. Have a designated area/box in your home (mine is in our storage room) where you can place items that you are no longer using, clothing or toys that your children have outgrown, and anything else that you could possibly sell.
As you’re folding laundry, set some items that no longer fit aside and place them in the box. Before you know it, you’ll have several boxes full, and you’re de-cluttering your home as you go!
3. Price EVERYTHING!
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly shy person, but I will not typically ask for a price on an item at a garage sale if unmarked. I would rather pass on an item entirely, than to ask, and I can only imagine that any introverted person would be even more averse to asking than I. Take the time to price everything.
4. Price to Sell
Price things to sell – is it a bargain? Would you buy it at a garage sale for that price? If not, you may need to lower your price. By pricing on the lower side, you can post “prices firm” to cut down on haggling.
This also helps to move product. Price it too high and you’ll have 15 people pick up the same item, and all 15 people put it right back down.
5. Make Fun Clothing Tags
Have a men’s shirt in a lovely shade of pink? Write “master your masculinity” on the tag. People will get a kick out of your humor, and may take the time to look through more of your clothing.
Feature brand names if they are higher end.
6. Price As You Place
This helps to take the daunting task of pricing down a notch. I’ve found that the stickers come off easier (especially if pricing months in advance) if you place them on the tag of the clothing, instead of on the material itself.
We use color-coordinated stickers. Discussed at length below.
7. Tackle One Room at a Time
If your children are anything like mine, you could spend hours going through their clothing and toys and books to find items no longer in use. Heck, you might even find something you’ve been looking for! Ha!
Tackling one room at a time takes the mountain and turns it into a mole hill. I set a timer for 30 minutes and turn off my phone. I spend those 30 minutes in one room one day, and move onto the next room the next day with my 30-minute timer.
You could always come back to the same room if needed. Tackle gathering items for your garage sale in bite-sized pieces.
8. Price in Increments of 25¢
I’ve found that it helps to price in increments of 25¢ – not 10¢ or 5¢ etc. This helps to cut down on the amount of time needed to tally up a shopper’s total, making change is certainly easier and faster AND you don’t need to worry about getting rolls of dimes or nickels from the bank.
If you have an item that is not really worth 25¢, consider bundling a couple of similar items together to make it a better value. Use yarn or string or clear Ziploc bags to bundle.
This is also a psychological trick to lure your shoppers to buy more – better value – and chances are you would be throwing the item away or donating at the end if its not worth a quarter anyway. Why not bundle and get rid of them all?
9. Pay Attention to Neighboring City-Wide Garage Sales
You’ll want to be sure to investigate the dates of city-wide garage sales in your area. I wouldn’t want to plan my garage sale on the same weekend as a neighboring suburb, as most of the traffic for that day (or days) will be directed in that general location, pulling traffic and possible sales from mine.
If there is no city wide in YOUR area, check with your neighbors and see if they want to coordinate with you. Buyers will stop and walk the street if there are several sales happening at the same time, as opposed to stopping at just one sale and getting back in their car.
10. Location, Location, Location!
Location is everything. Paul and I live on a cul-de-sac, and off the beaten path. Even with heavy marketing, my sale may not be as profitable as if I had the sale at my mom’s house – in a busy neighborhood, in a larger city.
While moving my items to my mom’s house may not be the most fun in the world (okay, it’s gonna suck lol), you are almost guaranteed to make more money, sell more items, meaning you’ll have less leftover to lug back home – or my preferred choice – to donate.
11. Market your Garage Sale
Please, please, please take the time and/or spend the money to make awesome signs. This is an investment!
Do not use cardboard and pencil. People just can’t SEE it or READ it when driving down the road.
Just think! If you invest in great signs – with no calendar dates listed (Thursday, Friday, Saturday is fine) – you can reuse them next year and the year after that and the year after that.
This also makes it possible for you to say “follow the bright pink signs” in your post on Craigslist or in a Facebook group – including a photo of the signs!
You want people to know that they have arrived at your awesome garage sale. Pick a bright color, and make all of your signs the same or very similar – if in varying sizes.
Use LARGE arrows, advertise that it is a multi-family sale (because it is, read on), and try to place the signs the night before the sale starts – around 5:00 if you can. This way people will see the signs on their way home – and they can hit your sale on the way to work the next day, or bright and early on Saturday morning if placed on a Friday afternoon.
Check your signs at the end of each day to make sure none have blown away, or that they need reattaching. And make sure to TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN at the end of your garage sale. Nothing more annoying (as a shopper) than showing up a week late because someone didn’t take their signs down. Plus, you want to reuse your awesome signs again next year!
12. Drive the Route Prior to Placing Signs
You want to make sure that your signs follow a clear path. You might also use verbiage such as “you’re getting close” or “almost there”!
Know your town’s policy on signs – where you can and cannot place them. Try not to use staples on utility poles as this could be frowned upon by the utility companies and their workers.
13. Find Out if You Need to Purchase a License
Call your city to see if you need to purchase a license for your sale. Some cities require that you do and some do not. A friend of mine was fined nearly $100 after all was said and done – when she could have purchased a license for just a few bucks before hand. Know your laws!
14. Multi-Family Sale
Garage sale shoppers look for multi-family sales. More stuff, more diversity = more shoppers AND more sales for you. Even if one family only contributes a few boxes, this is still a multi-family sale! Plus, you get to hang out with your friends and/or family all day while you rake in the moolah. Double score!
Take turns with your partners manning the check-out table, but try to keep two people there at all times. One to watch the sale, and one to make change, record sales etc. Have some fun music (oldies? 80’s?) in the background – not too loud – but keep it FUN and light.
15. Color Coordinate Family Stickers
When having a multi-family garage sale it is important to keep track of which family sold which item and how much they earned. You could either make a simple spreadsheet on your computer OR (my preferred method) use the color coded stickers for families. Remove the sticker for the shopper, and place under the correct family’s column. Then all you need to do is tally at the end of the day and voila! Done.
16. Have a FREE Box for Kids
Find some Happy Meal toys in your child’s room? Instead of throwing them away entirely, throw them in a box that will be FREE for kids. Keep the box near your checkout stand and let children pick one item from the box while their parents shop/pay. The kids will love it and so will the parent! Chances are you wouldn’t sell the item anyway.
17. Do NOT Advertise Multi-Day
I’ve found it best NOT to advertise that you are having a multi-day sale. Everyone knows that the best things get taken quickly, and people may not bother to come on day two or day three. Instead, post a NEW ad on Craigslist every morning of your sale – with photos of the current items.
You might even hold a few things back so that you can say you’ve added new items if they have visited your sale already.
18. Making a Craigslist Ad
First and foremost: use proper grammar when marketing your sale. It goes a long way.
If you are uncomfortable giving your actual address (I AM!) just point them to the nearest intersection and tell them to “follow the big pink signs” and include a PICTURE of your signs!
They’ll know it when they see it, and can follow your awesome signs all the way to your awesome garage sale. 🙂
Post your Craigslist ads EARLY in the day. The true garage sale hounds will be up drinking their coffee and searching the postings bright and early on garage sale day, and this way, yours will be among the first they see.
You could prepare the post the night before (ready to publish) so that you can set your alarm for 5:00 am and all you have to do is click the button to make it live. No one should have to think that hard at 5AM. 😉
Include photos of your great items, and list any pertinent info/sizes.
Be thorough! If someone searches for a maternity pillow on Craigslist and you’ve included that in your posting, it will show up on their search results. More sales for you!
19. Offer baskets/bags/boxes for Easier Shopping
Save up your grocery store bags to offer to your guests. Place them near the curb (in a plastic bag holder on the end of the table etc) so that they can take one as they walk up and just keep adding more and more items as they shop. They might buy more if they don’t have to juggle a bunch of smaller items!
Tip: You might place a sign (that looks similar to your other signs!) near the bags stating something to that effect.
20. Try to Sell Larger/More Expensive Items ONLINE the Week Before
Have a nice couch that you don’t really want to get rid of for garage sale prices? How about some higher end jewelry? Try to sell online the week before your garage sale. Post it on Craigslist, on a virtual yard sale group on Facebook etc. If you don’t get rid of it that way – for more $$ – you can always throw it in the garage sale and see what interest you get.
21. Include a Bake Sale (With Your Kids!)
This is a great way to get your children involved! Sell two cookies in a Ziploc bag for 50¢, or popsicles for 25¢ each when its hot outside. The kids can man that table, teaching them the valued skills of entrepreneurship and counting back money!
There will be some people that do not buy anything at all – with the exception of cookies from your adorable children. It will make both of their days!
22. CLEAN your items!
While washing every single piece of clothing may be overkill (especially if you have already priced them as noted above) you’ll definitely want to perform a sniff test.
Febreze your items if needed before setting out. Febreze furniture before taking outside, or any large items covered with fabric. This is a garage sale yes, but no one wants to pay for nasty. 🙂
Take the time (or have your kids!) to run a damp cloth over old toys to get the dust off, clean up old canisters or knick-knacks before setting out.
23. Accept Credit/Debit Cards
Square readers are very inexpensive – and this is another investment in your sale! You simply swipe their card for the correct amount, they get their goods and you get your sale. Yes you will have to pay a small percentage of the sale in fees, but that is better than no sale at all!
Make sure you ADVERTISE that you accept cards! Put this on your Craiglsist ads AND on your signs. There will be people that arrive to your sale for the simple fact that you do accept cards – not everyone carries cash. I certainly don’t!
24. Offer Grab Bags
Have a bunch of items that may not sell individually? Consider throwing a specified number of items into a brown lunch bag. Sell them for 25¢ or 50¢ and watch them fly off the table.
25. Stay Organized
Keeping organized is a great way to let people shop. Spread your items out – especially clothing items – so that things don’t get too crowded.
I’m claustrophobic around people I don’t know. Get out of my bubble. Haha!
By spacing out, you are allowing people to linger and take their time looking, instead of rushing to get away from other shoppers.
26. Group Like Items
By placing all of your sporting items together, baby items together, kitchen items together etc, it creates “departments” for your sale. Keep any higher end items closer to you, and place attention grabbing items near the curb.
27. No One Wants to Dig
Organize your clothing by SIZE. Don’t just dump all clothing in one box and call it good. I know I don’t want to rummage through it all one by one looking for sizes, so why would I expect my shoppers to?
Yet another reason to spread your items out, and this offers a more pleasant shopping experience. Arrange children’s clothing by season AND size. You’ll sell a lot more.
You could price ALL clothing the same amount – unless it is super nice or super fancy. Do 25¢ or 50¢ per article of clothing, $1 for jeans? If it is a two-piece set you’ll get that amount for each item in the set.
I prefer to have a rolling garment rack, but in a pinch you can make a clothes rod with a shower curtain and two chairs.
A nice gesture would be to have a laundry basket near the kids clothing to make shopping easier (if you don’t offer the bags up front).
28. Donate OR a Take to Consignment Shop
Take what is leftover from your sale to donate OR to a consignment shop. I personally donate all of mine – and I am SURE to get a receipt for tax purposes! Hopefully you don’t have much left, but write a list of what you do have, with it’s suggested value (this will be higher than your garage sale price) and make sure you request that receipt.
Use it as a donation on your taxes next year!
29. $25 Takes All
Too tired after your rockin’ sale to lug it all to donate? Post an ad on Craigslist at the very end of your sale saying $25 takes it all. You’ll have a crowd of people before too long – and nothing left – with an extra $25 in your pocket!
Don’t want to sell it ALL for $25? Remove what items you want to keep or donate, or just advertise half off after a certain time. Stay FIRM on that time frame if you do!
30. Line Your Driveway with your Nicer Items
You’ll have quite a few drive-bys, and many people will not stop if they don’t see a nice variety of items. Another reason to have a multi-family sale! Diversity!
31. Have an Extension Cord
By having an extension cord ready and handy, you are allowing your customers to test their electronics or power tools before buying. You might even put up a sign advertising this!
“Test Electronics Here” with a large arrow pointing down. You’ll sell more, and they will appreciate your effort.
32. Stage Your Items
Stage them like a department store! Don’t have any inserts to place earrings on? Use index cards! You can even write on them to clarify brand or size (rings etc). By making your items more appealing, you’ll sell more.
Keep your more expensive items close to your checkout-out table so that you can keep an eye on them.
33. Fill a Bag for a Buck
Perhaps on the last day of your sale you’re just ready to get it over with. Trust me, I know! If many of the good items are gone, consider offering a “bag for a buck”. Use your grocery bags and let them take whatever they like and whatever can fit into said bag – for just a buck!
Don’t want to offer EVERYTHING for the fill a bag promotion? Move all of the items you want to include to ONE table and let them have at it.
34. Know Your Garage Sale Days
Different areas of the country have different *HOT* garage sale days. In some places the best days are Tuesdays and Sundays (who knew?!) and in others your BEST day will be Thursday, then Friday and Saturday.
35. Try Half Days
Super hot out the weekend of your garage sale? Consider have two half days. In my experience, the busier time is in the morning, take the afternoon to prepare for the next day, prepare tomorrow’s Craigslist ad etc.
Bonus: you’ll be done quicker, and you won’t bake in the heat all day!
36. What About Sales Tax and Garage Sales?
Here’s a Forbes’ article on Uncle Sam. Don’t forget to get receipts for any donations you make throughout the year, not just after your garage sale!
37. Let Them Shop!
One of my personal pet peeves when shopping a garage sale? When the home owner is all up in my business.
LET THEM SHOP! Make yourself visible and they will come to you if they have questions. Being pushy makes me want to leave a garage sale, not buy more.
38. Keep Things Off the Ground
I wouldn’t want to get on my hands and knees to look through items, and your shoppers may not either. Simply put: borrow or purchase folding tables – you will always find a use for them!
Have any tips that I missed? I’d love for you to leave them in the comments! Happy Garage Saling!!
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