General Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

My girlfriend is having a garage sale next week because we need to make some money. Any tips?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9320 points ) June 16th, 2012

People like to haggle prices, but what if they make a ridiculous offer. She’ll be putting out some nice stuff.

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17 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Then you make a counteroffer that is vastly above what you want for it. You need some leeway to go down with the price while the other guy is going up with his offer.
And do not be afraid to say no if you think the offer is too low.
Use price tags that are above what you want for it, that gives you some play in negotiations, and may prevent people from starting with too low a price.

jaytkay's avatar

My experience:

Make it one day, Saturday, few people come by on Sunday

If some other event brings people to the neighborhood (street fests, sporting events, other garage sales, etc), the extra traffic will make you a lot of money

Advertise on Craigslist for sure, maybe in the paper if there seems to be an active classified garage sale section

Dutchess_III's avatar

Price high so you can come down. But not too high. It IS a garage sale, and you don’t want a bunch of stuff left over because your prices are too high. AND TAKE THE FREAKIN SIGNS DOWN AFTER IT’S OVER!

bookish1's avatar

Advertise well in advance, but not too far in advance! Maybe a week or so, and clearly state the address and date. Garage sale signs always pique my interest but often they are very poorly made and you can’t even figure out when it is going to be.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Mama_Cakes, is there a particular day of the month when people get government checks or pension checks or something similar in Canada? I’m assuming that is where you are having the sale. In America, the best time to have a yard sale is the 1st or the 15th of the month, or during a holiday weekend that extends to a Monday.

Very good signage to the sale is very, very important. Have similar items grouped together, i.e. jewelry, clothes, household items, kitchen, bath, etc. Make sure everything is clean. Chat with people when they first approach, but don’t be overly talkative or seem too desperate. Just a friendly, “Hello, how are you today?”

GladysMensch's avatar

Lay out your sale like a store. Put items in sections… electronics, toys, housewares, books, CD’s and DVD’s… etc. If you’re selling clothing, then put it in sections as well (especially important if selling baby clothes): womens vs mens, summer vs winter, and divide it by size. You’ll sell more if you make it easy for people to find things. Also, if your selling things that are similarly priced (all t-shirts $2.00, all jeans $3.00, all DVD’s $3.00… whatever), make large signs telling people the prices. Place those signs in easily visible places. Otherwise, price everything individually.

As for pricing: sell your stuff low enough that it will sell, but high enough to make it worthwhile. When pricing I always ask myself, will someone pay $1.00 for this, and if so will they pay $1.50? That additional 50 cents will really add up by the end of the sale. Oh, and price everything in $0.25 increments. You don’t want to deal with dimes, nickels and pennies.

Friday is the big sale day around here. Put adds on Craigslist for a few days beforehand… I’d say start on Wednesday.

Make good visible signs to your sale that include the address, days, and times of your sale. I color code mine so people know that the signs are pointing to the same sale. Make sure you put arrows on the signs for people to follow. Put them up the night before, and check them again in the AM before your sale starts. If there any competing sales in your neighborhood, put signs up to your sale from those sales.

Don’t forget to have enough cash/change on hand when your sale starts. Your first five customers might buy $3 worth of stuff each, and each pay you in twenties. Which reminds me: keep your cash in a fanny pack on your person. Don’t leave it on a table or something. The vast majority of people are honest, but some will steal. Don’t give them the option. Finally, NO CHECKS! Cash only. If someone asks you to hold something while they go to an ATM, tell them they have no more than 15 minutes, and then the merchandise goes back out.

Good luck and have fun.

gailcalled's avatar

PM @Coloma but not today. She is in the throes of a huge tag sale. She has been laboring for days..sorting, hauling, dusting, men gin and pricing. It is very very hot and humid.

YARNLADY's avatar

I usually check the prices on Craigs List first to get an idea what people are asking. Other people never want to pay what we think our own stuff is worth. I have actually kept some things rather than sell too low.

There are two methods, one is to mark everything with a price, and the words negotiable on the tag. The other is to not mark anything, but ask “What would you pay for it?” and then negotiate.

Fly's avatar

If you have any “big ticket” items for sale like furniture or electronics, make sure to put it on the advertisements to draw people in. Good luck!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Fly Excellent idea. The same would apply to collectibles.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Signs…Just use a series of big giant arrows pointing to your place. I’ve noticed that people always write “GARAGE SALE!” in big giant letters, then the address in tiny letters. Very frustrating. Then you wander all over trying to find it. Just use a series of arrows to point the way and write the address big and clear. You don’t have to yell “GARAGE SALE!” 99.9% of the time signs posted on telephone poles are ONLY for garage sales, duh.

bewailknot's avatar

If you have any large items you are willing to part with put them out. Put out anything you are willing to give up. A larger sale gets more people to stop and get out of their cars instead of slowing down and deciding you don’t have anything interesting.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mama_Cakes Please forgive me in advance for this. You know I’m kidding. Don’t hold the sale in the “TrailerHood”.

jca's avatar

Put signs in the neighborhood and on major roadways in the area. Don’t put much detail on the signs – just “Garage Sale” with date and address. When people are sitting at a light, or driving by, they can’t be looking at details. Make the sign wording big and clear. Prepare for people to come first thing in the morning, and don’t be afraid to turn them away until starting time. Be aware, though, that if you are out one or two hours before starting time, pricing things or laying things out, people will stop and try to shop.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca IMO “Garage Sale” on the sign is redundant. Big letters, the ADDRESS. Preferably on an arrow-type sign. Everyone already knows that the signs tacked to telephone poles and propped on corners means “garage sale.”

boffin's avatar

If possible make it the first weekend after the 1st. That way folks have just been paid or received their Social Security or welfare checks… End of the month everybody broke.

Kardamom's avatar

Make sure you put all of your stuff, except for huge items like bikes or lawnmowers, on tables. And make some type of a clothes rack or clothes line and put dresses, blouses, pants and coats on hangers. If you lay out clothes and other items on a blanket on the ground, it looks cheap and tacky, and the people who might be willing to pay $5 a pop will not touch stuff on the ground. Plus, it gets very messy immediately and that makes it look even worse and people will trip over it.

Make sure every item is clean and laid out on tables, with other like items.

I prefer to have the items clearly priced (but open to negotiation). I don’t like to haggle, and I won’t buy something if I have to ask the price. I don’t like the idea of the seller trying to haggle with me.

Wear an apron that has two big pockets. One for money coming in and one for change going out. Make sure to sort it often (inside the house away from prying eyes) to keep the bills of the same denomination next to each other in the roll, so it’s easier and quicker for you to make change. Have lots of singles on hand. If you get more than about five 20’s, take them inside and don’t keep them in your apron. You won’t need them.

Make sure you have a jacket or a sweater to wear under your apron. In the morning it might be freezing cold, even if it gets warmer later on. I almost froze on the first day of our last garage sale. Have a hat ready for when the sun comes out.

You are likely to be busy non-stop for hours at a time. Make sure you have some of your own, easy to scarf down, snacks where you can get to them without having to go inside the house. Same with water. Make sure you have someone manning the fort while one of you goes inside to use the bathroom. This part really takes good timing.

If someone tries to haggle you way too low and you don’t feel comfortable parting with the item for such a low price. You can always tell them how much you paid for it (or not) and just say “Nah, I think I’ll just keep it and sell it on e-bay later. $10 is as low as I can go on that.” Don’t feel guilty, just do whatever feels comfortable to you.

Near the end, if you still have a bunch of stuff, decide whether it’s easier to give people a better deal, like letting them have 3 items for their dollar instead of just the one thing they have in their hand, or whether you’d rather pack up the unsold items and haul them to the thrift store.

If people keep picking up some of the items on your $5 dollar (or whatever price) table and then putting it back. Cross out the $5 and put a lower price on that group of items. People seem to enjoy it when they see that you are lowering the price. Just make sure you start out a little higher than you actually need so it looks like you’re giving a nifty price reduction.

Have lots of your own bags on hand. People ususally don’t bring their own, but they appreciate it when you “bag up” their stuff for them, like they’re at a real store. At the end, you can always tell people to stuff a bag for $5 bucks, or whatever price makes you comfortable.

Have an extension cord with a power strip attached to it out where people can use it if they need to plug something in to check to see if it works.

If you have records, get a sturdy box and put them in there and have the titles all going the same direction, so that people can easily thumb through them. It’s a pain in the neck when people simple stack them on a table and keep them out of the sun (people might move them into the sun to look at them).

We found out that books, even brand new hardback best seller books won’t sell, unless you mark them at a dollar. If you aren’t prepared to let them go for that low, low price, then don’t put them in your sale. Either donate them to a library or thrift store, sell them on Amazon, or trade them in at a used book store for credit.

If you are actually setting stuff on tables inside the garage, which is much nicer for you so you don’t either freeze or burn up from the sun, make sure to tape or pin or nail tarps over the rest of the stuff in your garage that is not for sale, so people don’t start poking through your gardening tools and other stuff to try to buy them.

Don’t take any checks unless it is from people that you actually know.

Drive the route from the main rode to your house, design your signs for the exact poles that you will be utilizing. Make big fat arrows for the particular poles and make sure you have a new sign every time you need to turn a corner, but you really only need one sign per straight away street. Write Yard Sale, instead of Garage Sale to save time in lettering your signs. Put only the address, date and time. I used a bunch of pieces of mat board that I acquired somewhere, but cardboard is good too. Don’t use regular paper, because it is too flimsy and will blow and rip. I used duct tape. Put the signs up the night before, and take them down on the same day that the sale is over.

If you are lucky enough to have your tables in the garage, try to lay out all of the items the night before. People will be at your door about a half an hour before your sale officially opens, so the more stuff you have ready, the easier it will be. Those early birds can be relentless.

Make sure you have chairs for yourself and whomever else will be there selling. You can get pretty tired, pacing back and forth.

You might want to park your own cars down the street somewhere, if you need room in the garage, but still leaving plenty of parking in front of your house for buyers.

I can’t stress this enough. Wear comfortable shoes.

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