Let’s face it, garage sales are a ton of work. And no one wants to do a ton of work without being rewarded, preferably in the form of cold, hard cash. Here are some tips for getting the most return on your investment for your next garage/yard sale.
In this digital age, there are several ways to reach a large audience to let them know about your upcoming sale. Combined with the traditional advertising methods, you can make sure that everyone in East Baton Rouge Parish knows to hit up your sale.
- Facebook Marketplace – The book of faces is a great way to reach your local friends (and have them share with their friends) the info about your sale. If you are in any of the local buy/sale/trade groups, you may be able to advertise there, as well.
- Craigslist – This method is free and reaches a large audience. I typically put my neighborhood in the listing then change it to my exact address the day before the sale. This keeps strangers from lurking before your sale starts. Make sure to specifically list and add pictures of a few items that you think will draw in the crowds.
- The Advocate – Call it old school, but many garage sale aficionados use the newspaper to scope out their plan of attack. It costs around $20, but you should make that back easily when the crowds flock to your sale. To place an ad, you will need to call 225-383-0111.
- Signs – Despite all of your hard work above, some people will come simply because they see a sign (yay!). Make sure your signs are large, bright, and weather-proof. The details including hours and location should be large enough to read easily for cars driving by. And don’t forget an arrow so they know which way to go. It’s best to come up with a strategy in advance for where your signs will be placed. Be sure they are at every entrance to your subdivision (if you live in one), and all major intersections within a mile or so of your house. I like to put up my signs the afternoon before my sale starts so that people see them on their commute home from work the day before. And don’t forget to pick them up after your sale ends. You don’t want random strangers showing up the next day (and you don’t want to be that person that leaves out signs for someone else to deal with)!
Money, Money, Money
In my opinion, pricing is one of the hardest things about garage sale preparation. It’s both time consuming and stressful.
- Price to sell. Remember that people come to garage sales to find good deals. Don’t expect to get retail prices on your items, even if they are still in the package. For items in very good condition, 30% of retail is a good guide. But, even that is high for many things. If you have more valuable items, consider selling them on eBay or Facebook Marketplace instead. You will likely be able to sell for a higher price.
- Put a tag on everything. Many people won’t bother to ask the price of an item if it isn’t tagged. It takes some extra time, but pays off. You can buy tags that already have prices pre-printed on them to make this go more quickly.
- Keep it Simple. I make sure that everything is priced in $0.25 increments. I don’t want to have to do the math or be giving change for items priced at 4.99, 2.55, and 6.49. I can do quarters.
- Use Pictures. If you have large pieces that you aren’t able to bring out, take pictures of them and post information about them so that interested buyers can ask to see them. For example, we had a nightstand and chest of drawers set at our sale. We sat the nightstand out with a picture of the chest taped to it with all of the important information.
- Have plenty of change and somewhere to put it. Go a couple of days before and get change. I got way too much this go-round, but it was better than not enough! Have a few $10s, several $5s, lots of $1s, and a roll of quarters. And while you’re at it, run by the hardware store and grab a waist apron with pockets so you have a safe place to store your profits.
- Consider a free box. If I have some cheap fast food chain toys or items that aren’t really worth selling, I throw them in a box marked “Free for the kiddos”. It gives the littles something to do while their parents are busy shopping and helps you get rid of some things that would probably have been trashed otherwise.
- Brush up on your negotiation skills. Many people will want to haggle with you on prices. This is part of the fun! Have an idea of what you are willing to take for most items. And make sure whoever is helping you knows if you absolutely have to have at least $7 for that vase from your great aunt.
- Discount for the last hour. I decided to offer Buy One Get One Free on every item for the last hour of our sale. It was more important for me to get rid of things at that point since it didn’t look like they would sell for full price.
- Donate what you have left. Make sure you get a receipt so that you can include your donation as a tax write-off. If you have a lot of items or large items, some places will even come haul your leftovers away!
Other Random Tips
- Team up! If you aren’t sure whether you have enough stuff for a garage sale, consider inviting your friends and neighbors to bring stuff. They will appreciate not having to do all of the dirty work, and you will be able to advertise as a multi-family sale.
- Start Early. If your sale will be in a garage or somewhere that can be secured, set up your items the night before. If not, prepare to get up early to set up. Even if your signs say that your sale starts at 8, don’t be surprised when shoppers start showing up at 6!
- Have helpers. Garage sales can get busy. Make sure you have at least 2 people working your sale to avoid creating long lines and so that someone can bring you food or let you have a bathroom break.
- Keep it clean. Make sure your garage/yard/driveway is swept and looks clean. Also, be sure to tidy up your items throughout the day. No one likes having to dig through piles of clothes that have been picked up and looked through. I make sure to refold and reorganize items as the sale goes on. Your buyers will appreciate your hard work!
- Have a clearly marked “cashier station”. We decided to use a card table with a tent over it so buyers knew where to pay for their loot.
- Provide bags. Remember that craft on Pinterest that promised to use all 74,931 of the Target bags you have stuffed in your pantry? Yeah, you’re never going to do that. Your garage sale is a great chance to get rid of a few them, and your shoppers will be thankful that they don’t have to lug all of their finds to their cars without one.
- Keep your eyes peeled. I am probably a little naive and overly trustworthy. Unfortunately, there are plenty of dishonest people out there. Garage sales are easy prey for theft. You don’t need to follow your buyers around, but keep an eye out for things like straight up stealing or switching price tags.
And the best tip of all: HAVE FUN! And have a plan for what you’ll do with the big bucks you will make at your garage sale!