Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to Host a Garage Sale

This weekend I hosted my first solo garage sale. I have done them before as a part of a group, but this one was just us, just our stuff, and in our garage. There are advantages and disadvantages to both an individual sale and a group sale. With a group sale, you obviously don't do all of the work, you share any costs, and a group sale holds more of a draw for the customers. An individual sale is easier since you don't have to keep track of whose stuff is whose, you also only have your items there, so you have a better chance of selling your them, and you control the times and dates.

Before the sale, I gathered up the items I wanted to sell and put them all out in the garage. We borrowed tables from our church. It is huge to have plenty of display space. The more of your items that are out and able to be seen, the more people will buy them. I like to sort out clothing by sizes and have them labeled so shoppers can easily find what they are looking for. (You would also want to do this by gender if you have boy and girl clothing.) In addition to tables, you can also try to track down some clothing rounders. They obviously work well for clothing, but anything else you can hang on hangers. I think customers are much more likely to buy something that is clearly displayed that they don't have to dig through. Also make sure your personal items that you are not selling are tucked away. We put our tables a bit away from the back of our garage and had our items we weren't selling back behind them. It clearly showed shoppers that they were not part of the sale.

I then priced all of our items. I decided to price all clothing items in a lump category. I had children's tops for one price, children's bottoms for another, and so on. A blanket price allows you to avoid pricing each item. This probably wouldn't work at a group sale or if you have a wide variety in clothing with some being worth more than others. I buy mailing labels and print them with prices that I might be using. I also keep a page or two with blank prices so that I can fill it in. I happen to have my template saved with my initials which works out well with group sales.
I made sure I had plenty of change for the sale. I got one roll of quarters, $50 in ones, $20 in fives, and $20 in tens. This was plenty, but I always like to be prepared! Also make sure to have plenty of bags to put people's purchases into. This is never a problem around here as plastic shopping bags seem to breed in our house.

I placed ads in the newspaper, on Craigslist, and on some Facebook local sell sites. (Make sure when listing on Craigslist to use the different categories, not just the garage sale section. If you are going to have a lot of children's items, list it in the children's section as well. If you have antiques, list it in the antique section.) I also updated the Facebook sites during the day with different items that I had for sale. It was amazing the instant feedback I was receiving on there. All for free.
The day of the sale, we put signs out on the major intersections around our home. I just picked up generic signs at Menards that you fill in with markers. I have seen every variation of signs around here. In the end, you have to decide how much time, money, and energy you want to expend on signs.
We had things pretty much ready in the garage and opened our doors a bit early to start putting stuff in the driveway. People were already there waiting to shop. I let them start while we finished setting up. You could also make people wait until the start time or just not open your garage doors until the time.
Then it is time to sell, sell, sell. Be ready for people to try and make deals with you. I am usually open to reasonable offers, especially if they are buying multiple items. I have garage sales to get rid of items we no longer need, so in the end my goal is to clear out the items. The more people buy, the less I have to deal with at the end of the day.
While Mr. Cherry was home to watch the girls, they each took turns hanging out with me.
As I mentioned before, I had my tablet out with me and updated some sites throughout the sale. I made sure to check it when I had time to answer any questions anyone was posting on there. I know I had at least 2 sales of bigger items as a result of this continual posting.
During the sale make sure that you are friendly and easily approachable. Greet customers as they arrive and make some small talk. I would much rather buy something from a friendly, happy face than someone who is hiding out at the cash table.

We did pretty well at our sale, but we still had plenty left over. You need to make sure that you have a plan for the leftovers when the sale it over. I ended up taking some of the children's items to some different children's retail stores in town. While they won't be able to pay you as much as you were asking at the sale, they will give you cash for the items they can sell. Some of the larger or nicer items I set aside to try to sell online. I also took a load to a second hand store in town as a donation.
So, there you have it. My garage sale experience. If you made it this far, congratulations! And if you have garage sale experience, do you have anything to add?


Lisa said...

Sounds like you really put a lot of time and effort into this! I'm very impressed! The social media and posting on Craigslist and FB is the way to go people you get so much more exposure. I always want to have a garage sale and then I end up getting lazy and don't want to devote the time to it. Maybe after I'm done with baby stuff...

Leigh Redfield said...

We also have coffee available for free, especially in the morning. And, I've been known to bake items to sell for a small cost, too. Food seems to get people to take their time as they peruse...more time to look means more time to buy!