Having a garage sale can be a lot of work, but it can also raise a lot of money. Here’s how we do it to minimize our time spent and maximize our money earned.
1. Have a staging area in your house, out of the way of daily life. I have a small area in the unfinished portion of our basement where I can stack tubs to hold our stuff we are purging. When someone outgrows a piece of clothing, or I find a toy we no longer play with, I put it in the tub to wait for garage sale day. When I fill a tub, I put a fresh one on top and keep filling. After each sale I return the empty tubs to the staging area and start again. This has an extra benefit of time delay. I can be ruthless with filling the tub and if I figure out I really did need that item after all, it’s still there.
Bonus tip: Keep a pen and price tags on top of the tubs and price things as you put them in the tub. Then on garage sale day the hardest part is already done.
2. Price Tags: Have everyone label their price tag with 2 unique initials. Then it’s easy to keep track of who earned what. It’s better to price your items individually then to just expect people to ask what each item is.
3. I like to print my tags on address label sheets. 3 tags fit on one lable, so it’s cheap and easy:
I have pages with $1.00; $.50; $.25; $.10 and then a mixed sheet with $10, $5, $2, and $3 tags. For seldom used prices I use masking tape and a marker.
4. Keeping Track: Use a spiral notebook and make tabs with masking tape, giving each person their own set of pages–One page for each day the sale is open. Label the tab with their 2 initial code so that you can turn right to that page easily. In addition have a legal pad for adding up totals for your customers.
Example: A customer is buying several items all from different people. On the scratch pad, write down the prices and the initials it belongs to, all in a list together. Add up their total, take payment and give their change. Then the customer can leave while you transfer the amounts to the individual pages according to the initials. As you transfer an amount, cross it off your legal pad. If there’s a long line of people, you can keep a tally on the legal pad and transfer the amounts to the individual pages during a lull. As long as you cross of things as you go, you won’t lose track.
5. Signs: Make high Quality signs that you can use year after year. The most important information is the word “Yard Sale or Garage Sale, or just SALE” and an arrow with the direction. Addresses, dates, and times just clutter up the sign and are hard for drivers to read anyway. You can make your sign waterproof with packing tape or contact paper. Take down your sign after you close each evening. This prevents vandalism and stops people from wasting their time driving to a sale that isn’t there. It’s just better manners to take your signs down when you aren’t open.
Bonus tip: The metal framework from an expired political sign is a good starting piece for garage sale signs.
6. Invite lots of friends to join you for your sale. The more items you have, the more people will stop and shop. But insist they price their items in advance and assign them their unique 2 initial code to put on their tags.
7. How bad is your garage? Start cleaning it a week in advance if it’s been awhile. If you garage sale several times a year and just need a basic sweep out, you can do that 2 days before.
8. The day before your sale, set up tables and hanging racks inside your garage. Designate areas for clothing, toys, housewares, etc… and label them so other people bringing items know where to put them.
9. Have a sign up sheet for helping to watch the sale. That way 2 people are around at any one time, but no one is stuck there all 4 days.
10. I used to be strict about opening a sale on Wednesday, but April showers forced us to open Monday this time and it was wildly successful. There’s no bad day of the week to have a garage sale if the weather is good ;).
11. Post your sale everywhere with pictures: Craigslist, facebook, instagram. Cross-post your high price items like strollers and furniture with their own ads. Just be sure to delete the ads as things sell. Kindly let people know that you won’t be holding items. I didn’t do that and still have items for friends who requested them but didn’t come get them. When the sale is over, I like to be cleaned out. That’s the point of the process after all.
12. Have a half price day. A few years ago we started making our last day half price. Guys! It’s like mad dogs that day. We make more money on our half price day than we do any other day of the sale. It’s all going to be donated at the end of they day, so don’t get hung up on prices and what things are really worth. For things that are $.25 we just sell them 2 for $25 so we don’t have to worry about pennies.
13. Have a counterfeit pen. I’m sad I have to write this, but it’s just a fact of life these days. We got a counterfeit $20 at our last sale and didn’t catch it until later. The paper didn’t feel right, but it was close enough to throw us at the time. A counterfeiter can buy something small at a sale with a fake bill and then get good money back in change. Likewise, be suspicious of someone paying a small amount with $100 bill. Counterfeiters are getting good enough that their bills might have the strip in them or be undetectable by a pen. The one we received wasn’t that great. I think seeing that pen come out will discourage a lot of the funny business.
14. When it’s over have a plan for where the leftovers will go. Some places have a truck and will come pick up the things. We found some places had restrictions on home improvement items or size of furniture, so it’s good to ask. And we also found it best to schedule the pickup in advance or you might be holding onto stuff for awhile.
P.S. 5 years ago I wrote a post on garage sales. There’s still good stuff there.
P.P.S. This is an excellent value, but only available for a short time.