Saturday, June 5, 2010

Garage Sales 101

Let me start off by saying, I am not an expert in the art of the garage sale. So take my "advice" with a grain of salt and for where it's coming from. And while an expert I am not, I am someone who does enjoy a good garage sale or two during the spring/summer season.

Today was our city wide garage sale and I was out at 8:00am to hit my first sale. There were many things I noticed today and I thought it would be fun to blog about what I saw....so here goes!

1. Do not try to sell children's clothes that are soiled/stained. Take the time to sort through the clothing and remove any that have stains and put those in a "free" box. Wash everything you are selling or giving away. No one wants to dig through a box of dirty clothes. Clean clothes = more money!!!

2. Do not put big piles of clothes out with no rhyme or reason for it. I think it's safe to say that no one wants to go through 100 pieces of random clothing to find one particular size. Put kids clothes in one spot...adult in another....separate each by gender/size. Oh and putting them all in said pile on the ground - big no no! No one wants to bend over in the heat trying to paw through that big pile looking for something worthwhile. Sorted, organized clothing = more money!!

3. Match outfits - you can't expect your customers to know that that shirt has a matching skirt. It takes a second to get a safety pin/clothes pin and match outfits up. Last year I bought a package of 100 safety pins for $1.00. A small investment that paid off as people were able to see complete outfits and as a result I was able to ask a bit more for the complete outfits. Matched outfits = more money!! (Do you see a theme here?)

4. Do not put out clothes/household items/shoes/electronics that aren't in a condition that you would be willing to buy. If you do, those items need to go into a "Free" box. Most people aren't out looking to buy a broken keyboard. Asking $5.00 for a broken keyboard is ridiculous.

5. Have an electric cord plugged in to allow shoppers to test out electronics for themselves. I will not purchase anything that I can't make sure it works.

6. On that same thought process - it doesn't cost much to get a pack of batteries at the dollar store. Get some and put them in the toys/electronics you want to sell. I sold so much stuff last year because it had batteries in it and allowed the shopper to see that it indeed did work. Working toys/electronics = more money!!!

7. Do not put out household items that look like you ate off of them last night. I saw a set of four Tupperware kids plates - you know in the cool colors - and I thought hey these would be great - they were $1.00. But when I lifted the top one, the others underneath were covered in what looked like food remains. Granted they were only a $1.00 but I am not buying someone else's food leftovers. Wash stuff - be it dishes/cups/collectibles, etc.

8. Keep your pets inside - not everyone is fond of animals...or even for those with allergies. A barking lunging dog is a huge turn off.

9. Another thing to keep in mind is not to price anything at a price you wouldn't be willing to pay. As you are pricing, ask yourself, "how much would I pay for this at someone else's garage sale?" and then price it accordingly. Don't expect your customers to pay what you wouldn't pay in their shoes.

10. Remember eye appeal! I frequently will pass up a yard sale that looks like it's got nothing just from the curb. The ones I stop at got my attention by having lots of stuff  and stuff that was visible from the curb. Now, obviously if you have a large drive, no one can see from the curb but in the case of those who has their driveway/garage visible from the curb, show off your items - hang some balloons - dress things up - make people stop ....and park and come in to shop!

11. If you live in an area like I do, which is close to the border, hang up signs letting customers know whether you take foreign currency or not. I generally do not take foreign currency as I don't have the time while tending the yard sale to figure out exchange rates, etc.

12. Do consider doing a "bag for $x". Last year I had huge success in this - I had totes that I had marked by gender/size. Single pieces were .50cents - outfits were $1.00 or you could fill a paper bag for $5.00. People loved this! I sold so much this way. And this went for kids and adult clothing!

13. Do not leave the exchange of monies to your 10 yr old child. At one sale today, there was a girl who looked about 10 yrs old with a notebook, cash box and calculator. She was having to remove all stickers, write things down and then make change. While I am all for kids helping with age appropriate things, the making of change/handling of cash, needs to be done by an adult.

14. When advertising for your sale, keep your signs simple. So often I'll see a sign on a tree at the corner of a busy intersection. It is written in small print listing every single thing they are selling. While I am at that stop sign, I do not have the time to get out and look at where the sale is. If you can't read it when driving by, it's no good. I do my signs on the computer so that I get bold -clearly legible print. I put Yard/Garage Sale (whichever the case may be), address, time, date - that is it. No need to list your complete inventory. Now for the signs I put up inside the grocery store, etc, I put a bit more info - for example I'll include the above info but I'll also put - "household items/baby gear/infant and children's clothes/adult clothes" - all depends on what I have. There is no need like I said to list every.single.thing. you are selling but give the consumer just a brief idea of what types of items you will have.

15. Lastly, I'd just say have a good time. Be polite and personable and friendly!

Good luck! Happy Sales!

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