Garage Sale Success

Summer is yard sale season. Here's how to make yours pay!

We had ours in May, which is summer in our part of the country. It was perfect weather and we had a good crowd due to the fact we opted to be part of a neighborhood sale. That really brought people out. In the end we sold nearly everything we had.

Believe it or not, as I was cleaning up the shop I found THREE big boxes of things that got shoved under tables that should've been at the sale. Guess we might go in with the neighbors if they decide to do this again next year. I knew there was more stuff, but I couldn't find them. Ugh!

I don't mind tooting my own horn when I say I'm the queen of garage sales, equally savvy with buying and selling. I even wrote an ebook on garage sales. Today, I'm going to share my top tips for having a successful yard sale.

• Plan ahead. I cannot stress this enough. If you don't want to go crazy trying to clean, price, and sort all your stuff, give yourself at least a month to get ready.

• Signs--especially important if you live in the sticks, but don't be stingy with signage even if you live in the city if you want more than neighbors stopping by. Give a specific address and arrows pointing in the right direction.

• Multi-family and neighborhood sales: I was surprised how much more traffic we got from a neighborhood sale. The organizer promoted it widely on Facebook and Craigslist. We were swamped.

• Price everything: Save yourself a headache and price everything before you open. When things get busy you won't have time to think about what you wanted for that vintage toy.  Go out and buy yourself some pre-printed and blank stickers to make life easier.

• Groupings: Separate your items by type. Collectibles and small items nearest your cash table. Clothes in another corner. Tools, kitchen items, and decor on their own tables.

• Offer bulk buys. People don't do this often enough. If there's something I want to get rid of like clothes, Christmas chochkees, or plastic ware, I offer them at a bulk price. They fly out the doors when I do this. Every time.

• Do a 2 day sale--if you can. I find I get different shoppers.

• Promote everywhere: There's a place to advertise garage sales on Craigslist and Facebook. Don't be shy about letting friends and coworkers know too.

Lastly, people will bombard you with $20 bills. Some with $100 bills. If it were me, I wouldn't take the $100 unless it's for an expensive item or someone I know. There's something fishy about someone who shows up at 8am to buy $5 worth of stuff with a hundred dollar bill. For everyone else, be sure to have plenty of change, especially ones.

When all is said and done, be a good neighbor and pick up all your paper signs.

Who's had a garage sale? Was it successful? It's a lot of work, but I love the feeling of being able to walk around my house without clutter.


Jenny Schwartz said…
I'm such a lazy shopper. I never make it to garage sales, but I will wander through swapmeets (mini-garage sales where people put out their stuff Sunday morning at a carpark and clear away a few hours later). Surprising what you find.

And if I'm too lazy to attend garage sales, I can only salute you at running them, Maria. Uh, so many people! I hate bargaining.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: I don't like to bargain either. I don't want to insult anyone. If we're both in the ballpark on figures then it's easy to reach a price that's good for both.

We used to go to flea markets, probably much like your swapmeets, but they've changed in the last few decades. It's become more of a profit-making business and less about getting rid of stuff.
Betty said…
I enjoyed doing the yard sales we did but I probably won't have another one unless my hubby passes before me and I downsize a lot as a result. We hardly have anything since I've become very minimal about things and now when we decide to part with something instead of holding it for a sale I just pass it on to Goodwill or similar. We're changing how we are cooking so I would imagine I'll have some cooking things to dispose of down the line but again not enough to have a sale for and no room really to keep the stuff until we decide if ever to do a sale. I didn't mark things in my latter sales I had. Most of the time unless it was a big ticketed item that I wanted more money for it, things went for 50 cents or 25 cents. I just wanted the stuff gone and me not to have to haul it away :)

The only garage sales my husband and I really go to anymore - and enjoy - are the neighborhood ones or multi-family ones. It's usually not worth stopping at the single ones.

I don't know if it's where we live or what, but people just don't seem to have a lot of stuff to sell. Maybe because so many downsized before moving here and/or retiring?
Maria Zannini said…
Betty: I think that's why ours are so successful. I priced things to move. I didn't want to bring them back in the house.
Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: You're probably right. My best hunting is in high end neighborhoods and older neighborhoods. People (like me and Greg) who are old and have too much in the attic. :)
Michael Keyton said…
Bernadette is often the driving force in 'decluttering' - so much so that I have to stand defensively over my books! But we tend to give stuff to charity shops - laziness and the feel good factor - a winning combination :)
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Greg gives me the side-eye whenever I start asking if something is "useful". Despite my best efforts at decluttering it's still hard to get around his shop.
[…] the last couple of years I have been ruthless in trying to declutter. My last garage sale was a success in that I got rid of a lot of stuff that I simply don’t use or need anymore. […]