The Rules of the Garage Sale

Number One Rule for a successful garage sale: Price everything.  No one wants to go to a garage sale and have to ask “How much for this?”  I am not the only one who walks away from those kinds of sales with empty hands.  This is just a very small portion of what I have been pricing for my garage sale.  I even price the paperback books individually with a small sticker on the back cover, right over the ISBN number.  I have priced over 1000 items so far.  Today I start pricing the clothes.  My daughter uses masking tape, I use string tags pinned to the size tag.

Number 2 rule: Display everything neatly. My husband is borrowing four tables from work. We own one clothes rack and three bookshelves we pull out specifically for our garage sales. We also use our picnic table and a coffee table to display toys on at a child’s level. I’ll take pictures of our set-up on Thursday.  Inevitably, there is one or two totes of clothing left that won’t fit on the table but throughout the day we pull those items out and fold them neatly on the tables. People dig through the totes, but they would rather not have to. This year we might have to set up a “man section,” as my brother-in-law brought over a fishing pole, golf clubs, a jerky machine, and some other guy stuff.

Number 3: Advertise your sale and post colorful and bright signs for street corners.  Always advertise your sale. I paid $22 for an ad that will run in the local newspaper and I am certain the very first customer will pay for that ad because he or she will be coming specifically for something I advertised in our ad. I don’t just advertise “baby clothes,” I list “Gap and Gymboree baby clothes.”  To explain the huge amount of new health and beauty items I advertise “Coupon-clipper’s stockpile.”  My ad also notes the 300+ paperback books that can be found here, as well as bigger items like the golf clubs. I list my sale starting at 11:00 on Thursday but I expect my first customer at 10:00 so I will be setting up around 8:30. I don’t mind the early birds, I admire them. I am one of them at other people’s sales. My husband usually posts the garage sale signs after we’ve finished setting up, on the two main streets in our town. They say “Garage Sale” and our street address, with an arrow pointing in the right direction, as people in this town will go to sales even if just a sign is posted. Without the ad, however, we would be missing all those potential customers who wouldn’t otherwise be going on either of those streets.

Number 4: Have bags and boxes ready for your customers.  I save bags for months ahead of time and also use empty boxes for those buying a lot.

Number 5: Have a good amount of change on hand.  Inevitably one of your first customers is going to pull out a $20 bill for a $1 purchase. Be ready for it.  I own a money box that I use just for our garage sales.  Last year we ran out of nickels, of all things, and had our children scrambling through their piggy banks to refill that essential coin.

Number 6: Find a system that works for you to keep track of each person’s sales.  If it is a one-family sale, you don’t need to worry about that, but this year I have items priced by 9 different people.  I usually use a clipboard with different pages for each person, but I may have to rethink that method.  We don’t bother doing this at the point of sale; we keep all the stickers out for the customer to see and after they pay, we transfer the amounts for each person onto their respective page.

Number 7: Have fun, learn to dicker a little, and make some money!

I’ll take pictures on Thursday after we set up.

One thought on “The Rules of the Garage Sale

  1. Lisa says:

    Mary-
    I can’t wait to see the pictures.. GOOD LUCK and I hope you do as well as last year. I may have one the weekend of the 24th..

    Lisa

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