This post is dedicated to my grandma, who used to drag me around to rummage sales with her during the summer months.
Garage sales, rummage sales, yard sales (whatever they call them in your neck of the woods) are a great way for people to de-clutter their homes and make some extra money. But they are also a lot of work. If you dedicate an entire weekend to sitting in your drive-way with a cash-box, you probably want to make it worth your time.
Before you even start to collect all your things and put them out in the front yard, you might want to think about some other options for selling your junk.
If only have a few items that you’d like to get rid of, you may want to opt for eBay, Craigslist and/or the classified ads in your local newspaper. That could save you the hassle of sitting in a lawn chair for eight hours on a Saturday with the hopes of selling that old recliner or the treadmill you only used twice.
Baby clothes, toys and other items are always popular garage sale fare. However, it may be easier and more profitable if you bring those items to a consignment shop like Once Upon a Child. More experienced parents have told me they brought in an average-sized box of baby clothes and got a check for $100.
But if you’ve got a ton of junk to sell – and if you’re one of those people who loves to make a deal – then here is how to make your garage sale a hit!
Getting the word out about your sale is important and a little extra effort can go a long way.
A lot of folks look for garage sales in their neighborhood using Craigslist. It’s totally free for you to post it there. YardSaleQueen.com has a list of other websites where you can advertise your sale.
You should also use your social network to your advantage because friends and family will be some of your best rummage sale customers. Post it on Facebook multiple times. Create an event dedicated to your sale. Post pictures of your most interesting items. By doing this – people you know will spread the word to people they know…especially if someone is in the market for a gently used treadmill!
But don’t forget about your local newspaper. Believe it or not – some people don’t use the internet – like little ol’ grannies who are avid garage sale shoppers. Posting a classified ad won’t cost you very much – and it will definitely draw in customers.
Signage can also be a big draw when you do it right!
You can try and get creative like these folks did with a Power Ranger manikin. Just make sure it’s not too windy!
Pick intersections where there’s a good deal of traffic, but make sure it’s also a place where drivers are slowing down so they can read your sign. Choose bright colors and use big bold lettering. A white sign and a Bic pen aren’t going to do the trick. Yellow, hot pink and orange are colors that will really pop out and attract eyeballs.
Choosing when to hold your garage sale could make or break the event.
In his post 18 Tips for Successful Yard Sales, FrugalDad recommends holding your sale near the beginning of the month.
“Most people who are paid monthly, or bi-monthly, receive a paycheck around the 1st of the month (or the end of the previous month). For this reason, we try to schedule yard sales on the first Saturday of the month.”
FrugalDad also recommends an early start time around 7am. From my experience – if you say you’re opening up at 7:00, the hard-core rummagers will be there at 6:30 am waiting for your garage door to rise.
Most important of all would be checking the weather. As the brother of a meteorologist – I have to say you can’t always trust that extended 7-day forecast. But if you’re a few days away, and it looks like the weather is going to stink…reschedule! Nothing kills a yard sale like a cold rainy day.
Finally – garage sale experts agree that it’s a good idea to schedule your sale the same day as others in your neighborhood. Obviously people who go garage sale shopping stop at more than one house. If there’s a cluster of sales on one street, you can all share in the success.
Deciding what to put on each little price tag can be a tedious process…especially if you’re using a roll of tape and have chubby fingers like me.
Your first problem is how high to price everything. Try your best to find a happy medium – and ask others what they think they’d be willing to pay.
Remember that garage sale shoppers are bargain hunters who think they are skilled at the art of making a deal. It’s smart to mark your items a little higher than what you think they’re worth. That way, you’ll have a little extra bargaining room, and the buyer will still feel like they got a great deal.
Some shoppers are only looking for really good deals so they can turn around and sell it again to make a profit. Our neighbors hold two rummage sales a month in the spring and summer – but it’s not because they have that much stuff in their house.
To make things easier, group typical items of the same worth under one price instead of marking them individually. For example – you could sell all your old books and VHS tapes for 25-cents each, and make a sign indicating you want $2 for each of your husband’s shirts.
4. Setting Up Shop
A well organized, clean rummage sale is going to rake in a lot more money than one that looks like the aftermath of a tornado. So take a little time to make yours look nice!
A skimpy sale with not a lot of stuff on display will have people driving by without even stopping and looking.
If you feel like your sale is lacking – ask friends and family to contribute their unwanted items. A lot of folks are game for this because it saves them the hassle of running their own sale. The only drawback is you’ll have to find a way to keep track of the money. The easiest way is by using color-coded stickers and keeping a log in a notebook.
Once you have enough stuff – it’s time to think about presentation. The folks over at Wallet Pop suggest organizing everything into categories. They also say to clean things up. I definitely agree.
When my wife hits up a rummage sale – if she smells cigarette smoke on clothes – she’s not buying. Toys and electronics that look clean also look more like new. So take the extra time to wipe your junk down and throw a load in the wash! It will pay off.
When it comes to clothing, make sure it’s easy to look through. Racks are great for hanging shirts and jackets. Tables of baby clothes organized by size make it a lot easier for moms to find what they need.
As the day moves on, keep reorganizing, re-folding and consolidating items so that things stay organized.
5. Have Some Fun
If you’re in a good mood at your rummage sale, your customer will be happy too – and they’ll buy more.
Shoppers will feel awkward if they walk up your driveway and you fail to say hello. The worst rummage sales I’ve been to often include grumpy people who stare you down while you look at all their old junk. I usually leaves those in about 30 seconds.
Instead – put on a little music to liven things up! Try putting out free coffee for your shoppers. Grab some extension cords and power strips so you can plug in that treadmill and other electronics for people to try out! You could even set up a little seating/reading area for uninterested husbands.
If you have kids – let them put together a lemonade stand. That way they can make a little extra money too, and talking with cute kids at a lemonade stand lightens the mood.
These tactics get people out of the typical negative/critical frame of mind that bargain hunters have. They’re worrying about getting ripped off or buying junk they don’t need. You want them to forget all of that and just have fun.
When you hold a garage sale – it’s like you have your own small business for a couple of days. Marketing, customer service, sales and accounting – those things all come into play.
Let us know what you’ve done to make your yard sales successful! What’s the most money you ever made from a garage sale? Leave a comment and join the conversation!
+Kasey Steinbrinck provides helpful personal finance tips on behalf of online check printer Check Advantage. Visit the site to order checks online including Animal Checks and Cool Checks.