When you need to either store or get rid of a lot of “stuff” to make your house look its best while on the market, holding a garage sale may be the ideal solution. Not only will your current house stage easier, but you will lighten the load of what needs to be moved to the new home – and make money in the process.
To be successful, a garage sale requires some planning and preparation. In fact, planning the sale may be the key to its success.
Planning the Garage Sale
I once knew a real estate agent who was so excited over her first listing that she planned to hold an open house the weekend after the home went on the market. She did no advanced planning – just chose the date. Nobody showed up at the open house – not even one person. It turns out that she was holding her open house on Super Bowl Sunday and the local team happened to be one of the teams playing.
When you settle on a date for the sale, dig out the local TV listings to ensure that there isn’t a major sporting event that will be televised on that day. Also make sure there isn’t a local event, such as a popular festival or parade. Although there are a lot of die-hard garage sale fans, even they will skip a sale if there’s something else competing for their attention.
The Yard Sale Queen suggests that if you have a major corporation in your area, find out when the employees get paid and hold your sale the weekend after payday.
Here are a few other things to consider during the planning stage:
- Have everything ready the night before the sale so that you’re not running around in the morning.
- Sketch out a plan for the sales floor, allowing room to move between aisles and ensuring that you can see all items from your perch.
- Make a list of each item you’re selling and the price you’ll be asking. During the sale, cross out each item sold and make note of the price received.
- Price items clearly.
- Ensure that you’ll have sufficient help the day of the sale and that everyone is in agreement over pricing and bargaining policies.
- Have an extension cord on hand so that customers can test electrical items.
- Save grocery bags in the weeks leading up to the sale so that you can bag the items your customers purchase.
- The Yard Sale Queen suggests that you go through all the pockets of clothing you plan to sell, check compartments in handbags, and fan books to make sure there’s nothing of value, or even old credit card receipts that may contain private information.
The Day Before the Sale
Now that you’re prepared for the sale, it’s time to make sure folks know about it. There are several ways to get the word out about your garage or yard sale. One of the best is by placing an ad on Craigslist. Here are a few other things to do the day before the garage or yard sale:
- Make signs to be placed around the neighborhood and to direct customers from a main thoroughfare. They should be large enough to be seen from the road and directions should be clear. Arrow-shaped signs are ideal.
- Go to the bank and get some cash, such as rolls of quarters, 20 to 30 $1 bills, and five to 10 $5 bills.
- Consider how you will hold the cash during the sale. A cashbox isn’t a good idea as it’s too easy for someone to walk away with it. Wearing a “fanny sack” around your waist or keeping a wallet in your pocket are much safer ways to hold your cash.
- Move sale items out onto the driveway if that’s where you’ve decided to set up the sales floor. Remember to put the most desirable items out front to entice customers to stop their cars. The Yard Sale Queen suggests placing some “manly” items out front, such as lawnmowers or power tools, to make it easier for wives to get their husbands to stop and shop.
- Set up the neighborhood and directional signs.
- Ensure that all items are clearly marked with the price.
- Greet people as they arrive to make them feel comfortable. Ask if they’re looking for anything in particular.
- Keep an eye on customers, but don’t hover over them.
If you lived in a gated community, getting people into the sale is a bit more challenging. Contact your homeowners association first to determine what rules they have about yard sales and if there are any restrictions. Many HOAs hold annual community-wide sales where the gates swing open and the public is allowed to stream through.
Check local regulations to make sure your street signs aren’t in violation of any city or municipal codes.
Be aware of some of the more common scams:
- When making change, don’t immediately pocket the bill the customer gives you. Either hold it in your hand or place under a paperweight while you make change. This way, the customer can’t claim to have given you a larger bill.
- Large groups of customers arriving at once or rowdy children can be distracting. Have someone help you keep an eye on folks when you feel they may be deliberately trying to distract you.
- The Yard Sale Queen suggests that you always look inside any large items that you sell before allowing the customer to leave with them to ensure something else isn’t hidden within.