A few hints for your next garage sale

A week ago I listed some garage sale “rules” I’ve learned from holding my own garage sales.  Today I’d like to share some garage sale hints that I might not have even thought of if I hadn’t attended at least 40 garage sales in the last two days. (two city-wide sales)

For starters, if you are going to sell 10 children’s paperback books for $25.00, you might not want to tape them together with masking tape, which is going to tear the covers when the buyer pulls it off. If you think your paperbacks that are going for 25-cents each down the street are so special that they are worth ten times that price, why would you want to ruin them with masking tape?

If you are too lazy to price everything and a customer asks you how much something is, don’t stand there staring at the item with your head cocked and your finger to your lip as if you have no idea, and at least have a price in mind. If you took the time to lug the thing out to your driveway you must have had wanted to sell it. Surely you had a clue what you wanted from a prospective customer? At least a ballpark figure? If you didn’t, then don’t act insulted when the customer offers you five bucks to take it off your hands.

Be prepared to make change. Keep your money in a container of some kind, and not in the pocket of your jeans. I always start with at least $60 in change, including $20 just in one dollar bills. Don’t fumble for a customer’s change and then call out to your kids to see if they have a couple quarters, then just shrug your shoulders at the customer when the kids don’t, as if they should just forget about their two quarters. You just lost a sale, buddy.

Please don’t write a price with a black marker on every single board game box at your garage sale. And then think it is such a good idea you do the same thing with the coloring books. In big, bold numbers. On the front cover.  Over the cute kitty face.

Don’t bother to put out a bin full of $49 purses with their tags on and ask $25 each.  $25 is not a garage sale price for a purse. You might get that at a consignment store. But then you’d only get half that: $12.50.  Price them at $12.50. Or even $15. Or just sell them on eBay. Ditto on the brand new perfume in boxes; the brands that you can buy at Walgreens for $25. Don’t price them at $20 and think they will just fly off the table with that tremendous savings.

Free boxes are fun, especially for kids. Put your free box at the end of the driveway and add to it as you discover things that have a stain on or a missing button that you didn’t notice when you priced. Including a Playboy deck of cards in the free box is not a good idea.

Don’t put up signs saying “All clothes $2.”  Some clothes are worth $2 to a garage sale shopper. Most aren’t.  It makes no sense to put the same price on a Circo toddler t-shirt as you would on a Gymboree or Gap dress. Take the time to price everything individually, unless it is something like baby socks or onesies.  Then it is fine to put out a bin with a sign stating how much each one costs. (if they are Baby Gap socks, put half a dozen in a ziplock bag and you can charge more per bag than you could get pricing per pair. Everyone knows that Gap socks are pricey)

And, finally, keep the kids busy with their own lemonade stand or a table with Rice Krispie bars they made themselves.  Wrap them individually and price them cheap. They are more for keeping the kids occupied than for making money.  Instruct them ahead of time, though, not to bother the customers.  No one likes to be pressured to imbibe in watered-down lemonade.  Have a radio playing soft music in the background at your  garage sale. Give your sale some ambience.  Just don’t play loud hard rock like one garage sale I went to.

And free hard rock candy offered to toddlers when their parents check-out? Another no-no.  (a choking hazard does not endear you to parents)

Next week two more towns have their city-wide sales. Maybe I’ll come up with more hints for you after I attend those.

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