Tag Archive | "garage sales"

Your Garage Sale: 15 Ways to Do It Right

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How would you like to make a few hundred dollars in a day or two?  You can do just that, if you hold a yard sale or garage sale the right way. Yup, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and this includes planning and conducting yard sales and garage sales.  Here are my tried-and-true tips for turning such an event into an efficient and profitable experience.

1.       The permit.  Get one!  If you don’t, you’re liable to incur a fine.  Many towns stipulate that you must apply to the municipality for a permit to hold a yard sale/garage sale.  You must also abide by your township’s regulations for holding the sale, including the number of days over which the sale will be conducted (two is usually the maximum) and the hours in which it may be held.

          If you are going to hang signs throughout your neighborhood directing people to the sale, your town may also have regulations concerning those.


2.       Sort though and neatly arrange the items that you will be selling.   First and foremost, be pragmatic.  Do you really need four blenders?  And how about those gifts you never used and never re-gifted?   If you’re sentimental about your offspring’s early childhood things, such as rattles and stuffed animals, keep a few as keepsakes and put the rest out for sale, provided they are “gently used”. 

Now, think of your front yard as a department store and arrange your wares in product categories. Sort clothing by age, sex, sizes, and seasons (i.e., children’s, men’s, women’s, Small, Medium, Large, and winter vs. summer clothing).  Go through the pockets to be sure that you are not giving away something that you’d never intended to part with.  And be sure that all of the clothes are clean before you display them for sale.

A rolling garment rack will help your customers select their purchases, but you’ll have to lift it to get into your law without tearing up the grass.  Better yet, place the rack on your driveway, where you won’t have this worry and so that you can free up space for the rest of the foot traffic on your lawn.  A makeshift clothesline could be utilized if your yard boasts at least two sturdy trees. Recycle the wire hangers that come with your dry cleaning, in case your customers decide that they want them.  There’s no need to invest in better hangars, unless you want to spend a few bucks on some at the dollar store.

3.       Sell whatever everyone in the family has agreed that they can live without.  In other words, if you try to vend the old but still serviceable bowling shirt your husband has come to love, the argument you’ll have later won’t be worth the small profit that you’ll make on that shirt. 

4.       Packaging. Reuse those plastic shopping bags that you get at the supermarket, so that customers can tote their goods home easily.

5.       Media.  Organize books, CD’s, DVD’s, and those old but still useable VHS tapes.  You can organize them by author or genre.  Dusty or dirty items won’t sell, so be sure that they are appealing to the eye.

Before you put out your books, rifle through them the way you did the pockets of your clothes; make sure that you’re not leaving a receipt with your personal information or a cherished photo inside a book.  Or, money!   Some of us sock bills away in books against a rainy day.

6.       Everyone loves a good mystery!  If you have a bunch of odds and ends-type of household items, such as mismatched dishes, place them in a sealed box and do the same for small toys or games.  Tag those boxes “Mystery” and give them special discounted prices to help move them.

7.       Pricing.  Once everything is organized, decide how you will price your wares.  You’ll want to charge more for the more valuable items.  But for small items that you’ll keep under a dollar, price them at 25-cent intervals, as it’s easier to give people a quarter or two in change than it is to dig for smaller coins.  Be sure that you have plenty of small bills on hand, also, to make change.

8.       Advertising.   You won’t make much money waiting for people to drive by and discover your goods, so advertise.  While you are comparing prices for ads in local newspapers and printed church bulletins, also investigate their circulation.  It may pay to spend a bit more to attract more buyers.  If your church has a community bulletin board, you can put some fliers there at no cost.

Don’t forget the Internet. Craigslist.com will enable you to post a free advertisement.

9.       Help!!!!! The wider your base of potential buyers (a la your advertisements), the more customers will flock to your home.  Therefore, conscript helpers well in advance to assist with the traffic, the transactions, and to discourage filchers.  To ensure that you have plenty of help, you should delegate “yard or garage duty” in segments.  For example, you can assign your daughter the hours between 8:00 and 12:00 AM, and your son, the hours between 12:01 and 4:00 PM.

10.     Timing.  Choose your sale date carefully.  Forget holidays such as the July 4th or Labor Day, as many people go out of town or spend time with their families.  Saturdays are better than Fridays, to accommodate those who work.  Starting the sale at 8:00am on a Saturday is a good idea.  Avid bargain hunters may have more than one sale scheduled for the day.  And, if the sale is held on a warm day, some people may not want to be out in the heat.

11.     Entice sales.  To increase your profits, stock up on individual cans or bottles of sodas that are on sale, or get some at a wholesale club.  Toss them into a cooler and sell cool drinks for 50 cents a pop.  If people are refreshed, they’re more apt to linger, look, and purchase.  And, you’ll make a profit on these sales.

Many men detest yard sales, as they do all shopping that does not relate specifically to them.  To entice men to the sale, try to include some tools, an old mower, or other things that manly things with which males can tinker and bond.

If you have a TV or a radio for sale, turn it on so that people will know that they are in good working order.

Don’t count on people driving by being able to read the address on your house. The day of the sale, create a large sign clearly displaying your address and place it in a visible spot, such as on a bicycle sitting on your lawn close to the street.

12.     Be neighborly!  And courteous.  Alert your neighbors to your sale and ask if it would be all right for people to park in their drives or in front of their homes.

13.     Safety first!  Before placing items out for sale, ensure that your yard is safe for visitors.  Clean up animal refuse, small branches that may have come down in a rainstorm, and other dangers, such as broken glass.  Make sure that grass is cut and holes in the earth filled in to avoid injuries related to falls.  Don’t keep your trashcans out that day and keep your animals inside the house.  Some people are not animal lovers, and it can be hard to predict how your pets will behave around so many strangers walking all over their territory.

14.     Don’t get ripped off.   Safeguard against theft.  Jewelry or other pricier items should be kept where you can plainly see them.  Make sure that your money is safe by keeping it on your person, in a fanny pack.  Never leave your purse or strongbox on your lawn, and please lock all of your doors and windows before the sale (and be sure that you or one of your helpers has the keys!).

Use precaution when someone is paying and places their money off to the side as you make change.  Rip off artists thrive on confusing sellers and thus making off with some cash or items.

15.     Leftovers … of the yard or garage sale, that is; not what’s in your fridge!  As the sale winds down, be open to bargaining in order to make as large a profit as possible.  Bargaining can also occur while the sale is at full height. Use your discretion.  But remember, you are holding this sale in order to make some money by getting rid of your unwanted items.

Donate unsold items to the Salvation Army, your local church, or charitable organizations such as the Purple Heart.  If you give them notice, some of these organizations will pick up the items at your door.

Most will give you a receipt for the estimated value of your donations.  Save the receipt; you can use it to validate a tax deduction for the I.R.S.

Well, get cracking!  We have lots of nice fall days ahead and people love bargains.  Use these tips to start making some money!  Christmas will be here before you know it and with it, a list of gift recipients.  Or maybe you just want some blow money or need to pay off a bill.  A well planned and executed yard or garage sale is the perfect way to achieve your goals!

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