De-Clutter and Make Money: Host a Garage Sale

Summer is the time to take off the layers of clothing under which you’ve been hiding and show your sexy self. If you window-shop, you’ll find lots of colorful sandals and swinging skirts beckoning your way. If a cash shortfall and a cluttered closet are stopping you from buying cute summer-wear, it’s time to host a garage sale. You can de-clutter and make money by organizing a successful garage sale.

If you’ve never done it before, the prospect of organizing a garage sale can be intimidating. But, it’s not very difficult and it doesn’t take very long to get started. The rewards are various: you’ll make some extra money, meet your neighbours, get rid of stuff that you didn’t need, and have the comfort of knowing that your junk is somebody else’s treasure.

If you are going to host a successful garage sale, you need to remember 10 tricks of the trade:

o Talk to your neighbours! Ask your neighbours whether they would be interested in organizing a garage sale on the same date as your garage sale. Ideally, organize a community-wide garage sale. More garage sales in your area means that you will have more visitors, which will result in you selling more of your inventory faster, and for more money.

o Determine whether there are any legal requirements. For example, in many municipalities, you need a license to host a garage sale. This can cost money, but you can split the cost with any friends who want to sell their items, at your garage sale. Alternatively, if you host a community-wide garage sale, the community association may itself pay this cost.

o Gather together the merchandise that you wish to sell. Ask family, friends co-workers and basically any person you can think of, whether they wish to sell any items at your garage sale. Shoppers want a variety of merchandise, so try and stock up! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. (Personally, I thought nobody would want my scratched, burnt frying pans, but I succeeded in selling them at my recent garage sale- the delighted buyer informed me that the cast iron frying pans would be perfect for camping). Notwithstanding the foregoing, as a general rule, you should be choosy. Don’t take broken toys from your friends or toys that are missing the “essential parts”, likewise, don’t accept torn or stained clothing, defective house ware and so on.

o Advertise your garage sale. Place an ad in your local community newspaper. Make sure your ad falls into the property advertising section. In addition, on the day before your garage sale, place signs along the closest roadway, and draw an arrow to point traffic in the proper direction to your home.

o Give yourself time to organize. Garage sale shoppers start early: if you advertise that your garage sale starts at 9:30 a.m., you better plan on opening your garage, ready-to-go by 9 a.m. because you will have shoppers dropping by your house to peruse your goodies by 8:45 a.m. Therefore, start organizing for your garage sale at least 3 days previous and have your garage completely organized the evening preceding the sale. In the morning, pull your tables out onto the driveway, and you can begin.

o Display your prices. Select prices for different groups of merchandise and display the prices on easy-to-see price stickers. You can have fun with bartering the final price, but you do need a starting point for the negotiations. Make sure that your starting price is realistic: not ridiculously high, but not too low, either, because you want to make allowance for a reduction in price due to the bartering process. Also, make “buying in bulk” more attractive by offering a volume discount (for example, 1 book is $1.00 but 3 books is $2.50).

o The presentation is key. Make sure that your merchandise is organized in an attractive and logical fashion. It can make a big difference. (I was trying to sell pants in a garage sale: nobody looked at them. I then moved the pants out of my dusty garage and placed the pants on an attractive table on my driveway. Within ½ hour, the pants were sold.)

o Create a busy appearance. Invite family and friends to visit you during the course of the day. It will make your day run faster, and more importantly, it will make your garage sale more attractive to prospective shoppers.

o Involve your children. You might think that you have to ship off your children to spend the day with a friend, because they will be bored. You might be surprised… assuming the children are of an age where they do not require constant supervision, gain their interest by involving them in appropriate aspects of the garage sale. For example, have your children place the stickers on the merchandise, or have them place the change into the change-purchase at the back of the garage.

o Lastly, keep refreshments handy. In particular, keep fresh, cool water nearby and appropriate snacks to keep your energy and spirits high.

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