Buyer / Seller Learning Center
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Tips on How to Have a Successful Yard Sale
Two reasons exist for having a garage sale. The first is to earn extra cash to buy more junk, which you will later sell at a future garage sale. The second reason is to sell all the unused junk taking up space around the house that you received as gifts and to get rid of the stuff purchased at other people’s garage sales.
There are several preparations needed for having a successful garage sale.
The first step a person needs to take in preparing a successful garage sale is to gather all of the potential sale items. There are several factors to consider when choosing garage sale items. I’ve sold broken, non-repairable electronic items to customers who knew the items would never work, but like to try and build workable items out of several broken items. I’ve sold old clothing turned down by the Salvation Army and old rusty garden tools I had long ago replaced also sold. A garage sale junky, a person addicted to garage sales, will buy anything.
My garage sale motto: Never throw away anything. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Another factor to consider in choosing garage sale items is necessity. Do you really need five sets of mismatched dishes from well intending relatives and previous relationships? Why not sell the mismatched sets of dishes, pots, towels, place mats, stereo speakers, lamps? Sometimes people look for mismatched items to replace broken items.
We then need to take inventory, and organize the items into like groups. Separate the items into four basic groups, electronics, clothes, lawn and garden equipment, and furniture. The four basic groups are then divided into subgroups. Electronics and appliances divide into the subgroups. stereo equipment, records, tapes, compact discs, computers, computer accessories, computer software, and kitchen and laundry appliances. Clothes divided into groups according to sex and age, women’s, kid’s, toddler’s, men’s, and senior’s. Lawn and garden equipment divides into gas and electric power equipment, lawn mowers, edgers, hedge trimmers etc.; and gardening tools, plant pots, hoses, rakes shovels, hoes and what Arlo Guthrie calls Òother implements of destruction. Separate furniture into three groups Bedroom, living room, and bath and kitchen.
The next step is deciding what to charge for your no longer treasured items and junk. You must consider an item’s real value versus aesthetic value. For instance, for a family heirloom you may wish to charge more and hold out for that price. Always get what you can for an older, possible antique, or soon to be antique item. Even if the item is useless to you, it may be valuable to others. People are always looking to make a deal at garage sales. For that reason, it’s best to use purposely vague pricing and overpricing. Remember, as P.T. Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. People like to bargain, so mark up the price and let them bargain you down. On items that you’re not sure what to charge, it may be best to not put a price on the item. This is usually true with large items like televisions, lawn mowers, and computers. You may have a price in mind, but it may be more valuable to someone else. Leave the price blank and let them make you an offer. More times than not, you’ll get lucky.
After organizing, cleaning, and deciding what to charge for the items, you must properly advertise for the best possible turn out. Most newspapers offer discount or free rates for garage sales in classified ads. Include in the ad your address, the date or dates of the sale, directions, and the most enticing items. Use both large and small newspapers. Some people like to travel to garage sales in search of bargains. By advertising in large and small newspapers you cover everyone. Strategically place signs and flyers around the neighborhood. Hang signs on every telephone pole around your neighborhood and include on the flyer a phone number, address and an arrow pointing in the direction of your sale. Place signs on the courtesy board at your local supermarkets. You may also wish to place flyers on the cars in the local shopping centers’ parking lots. Be careful, some areas do not allow people to solicit customers this way, but you can usually cover most of a parking lot before they ask you to leave. Also, place flyers in the local convenience store. Phone booths are also an excellent place to hang flyers. You may also wish to place an ad in the local community college newspaper, and place flyers on the school’s bulletin boards.
On the day of the sale, one person needs to drive around the neighborhood and make sure all the signs are still in place and clearly marked. This needs to be done at around six in the morning. While the signs are checked, the tables need to be set up. They need to be ready by seven in the morning. Some people, especially cotton-haired seniors, like to get to garage sales early. These garage sale junkies feel if they are not the first ones to a sale, all the choice items will be sold. These people are usually compulsive garage sale shoppers. They hate to leave empty handed. Try to figure out their interests and suggest several items. If at first they balk, try offering them a deal by lowering the price, or offering to reduce the price if they buy two items. It’s a good idea, however, to always try to sell a customer something. Never let them leave empty handed, even if they only buy a $.25 candle or $.50 children’s book.
The success of a garage sale is measured by the amount of additional space you have in your house after the garage sale is over, and the amount of money you make. Like a true garage sale junky you may wish to perpetuate the cycle and buy more junk to sell at another garage sale, but I’d suggest spending the money on dinner at a nice restaurant for the family and whoever helped at the sale.