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Garage Sale Tips: Making Money from Your Junk

So the hot summer months have hit and you’ve done the obligatory cleaning of all the nooks and crannies of your home; discovering just so much junk that needs to be disposed of.

But why just throw it out – why not see if you can parlay some of your “junk” into someone else’s “gems”?

Holding a garage sale is much more than just tossing your items onto a table on the front lawn and hoping for people to drive by and purchase them within a few hours – it takes planning and forethought to make your garage sale into a money-making endeavor that can recoup you major dollars!

The first thing to consider is the timing. Some neighborhoods hold block garage sales where every house/building has a few tables out in front; making it more of a party. These are great to pull in the bigger crowds that might not stop for a single table sitting in front of your house. The only thing you have to worry about is security and making sure that you are open as long as the block sale is going on – you are on THEIR timetable, not your own.

If you are holding it on your own, pick a weekend that’s hopefully going to be sunny and cool; a rain date of the next day/weekend to be noted plainly on your flyers. There’s nothing worse than trudging out to a sale in the light rain to find that it’s disappeared into the mist and there’s no makeup date mentioned anywhere.

Be prepared to work an entire weekend – most garage sales start at approximately six o’clock in the morning and run ten to twelve hours for both Saturday and Sunday. Don’t expect to start putting your items out by noon and be able to sell them. Most garage sale shoppers are up to their third or fourth sale by nine o’clock, so you have to go by their timetable – not your own.

Distribute flyers and signs everywhere you can, at least a month in advance if not more. Include your address and the dates and times of your sale; including a rain date if the weather is possibly going to be a problem. Put these up in grocery stores, the local community center and signposts where advertising is prominent. Make the signs large and pleasing to the eye – you want to catch the browsing shopper and draw them into your sale first.

A day or so before the actual sale prepare your table and your items – first, label each and every piece with a price tag. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to ask the price of that little gadget you’re interested in and having a lineup ahead of you. More than likely the person will drop it and move on; robbing you of a potential sale. Mark every item clearly and in ink, to avoid any possible confusion or wrongdoing by thieves. Make the prices reasonable and if any are up for negotiation, mark that as well on the label. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the shopper to buy your items – don’t handicap them!

If possible lay out your items on a table beforehand; storing it in the garage so that at the crack of dawn you can just carry it out onto the lawn and start the sale. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a sale to see the owners still frantically scrabbling to unpack the items from their boxes and lay them out on the table or on a blanket.

Have at least fifty to a hundred dollars in your cash drawer – preferably a strongbox that you keep locked between transactions. You should be able to provide change immediately upon the first sale. There’s nothing more frustrating than standing there with the lamp you want to buy in your hand and the owner fussing in his/her pockets and calling into the house for help to make change for a ten dollar bill. Have plenty of change and bills available and keep no more than the original fifty or a hundred inside the box. Take the surplus inside your residence as soon as possible to lessen the chance of theft.

Never leave your cash drawer unguarded. Even when locked, it provides a handy fast grab for any sly thief that happens by – and a small lock wonÕt thwart him. Assign one person to always be with the cashbox and have others wandering around your tables to provide security. The cashier should NEVER leave the table he/she is sitting behind or leave the cashbox for an instant. Other helpers should be available to help out with carrying purchases to the car or discussing the items in question.

These tips should help you create a profitable and fun garage sale – and if all works out, you can have one again next year!

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