8/25/09

Sure-Fire Garage Sale Hosting Success Tips


Summer is garage sale season. If you've ever hosted a garage/yard/rummage/estate sale you know that it involves sorting through closets, boxes, and storage for those things that you just don't use anymore and need to clear out. Most people either think of garage sales with fondness, or dread them and avoid them like the plague. I happen to love them! There's just nothing better than clearing out my "stuff", putting a price tag on it, chatting with customers and neighbors, and hopefully making a bit of money while enjoying the great outdoors. And for those who shop, hopefully they will find a bargain or two!

So, if you're also planning a garage sale, or are just frustrated by the lack of success you've had in the past, pay attention to these sure-fire, no-fail tips for a successful garage or yard sale.
  1. Market your stuff. Big, readable, attention-grabbing signs can make all the difference! Marketing, marketing, marketing! Spend the day or two before your sale and plot out key intersections around your neighborhood—and take in a wide radius. Focus on main thoroughfares and high-traffic areas. Make your signs big and readable—if people can't read them, they won't find your sale. Remember, less is more, so don't clutter your sign with a bunch of words. Make sure your directions are simple and clear. An arrow (pointing the right direction) at each key intersection should be enough. Many people don't surf the paper for garage sale ads, so this could be the only chance to market your sale. Use attention-grabbing phrases and words, such as "HUGE", "COMMUNITY SALE" (if there are several of you in your community having simultaneous sales), "TREASURES", "OPEN EARLY," and many others. Get creative! If it's not a windy day, balloons can always help. Include the days of your sale as well. And don't forget to spread the word through Craigslist, and all your social-networking sites! This is a must!
  2. Organize your stuff. If your local grocery store was organized like the typical garage sale, you would be a very frustrated shopper. Organize your stuff into "departments" (e.g. furniture, books, toys, glassware, kitchen, etc.).
  3. Stage your stuff. If you're selling furniture, stage it as a space so that people can imagine it in their own home. For example, if you're selling a dining table and chairs, dress it up with place mats and place settings, or put a rug under it, and a centerpiece on top. If you're not selling your dishes, be sure to put a sign on it that says something about that. People are more apt to take a second look if it looks like something that would fit in their home, and they don't have to put a lot of imagination into it.
  4. Clean your stuff. There's nothing that turns a buyer off more quickly than dirty stuff! If you're selling clothes, wash them first. If you're selling furniture, dust it! This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many people just chuck their stuff onto tables and figure the buyers will see through the dirt and grime, but that's just not true. Odds are, you'll still be stuck with your dirty stuff at the end of the day.
  5. Entice customers to see your stuff. Offer bottled water, if it's a hot day. Or have your hubby grill up free hot dogs. Serve free donuts and coffee in the morning. These simple little ways to cater to customers can keep people coming. If they come for free food or drinks, odds are they will stick around and see what you're selling, which could lead to a sale! You don't have to be extravagant—you do want to come out in the black at the end of the day. Just those simple kinds of touches will keep people coming.
  6. Haggle your stuff. Don't be afraid to haggle—your customers aren't. Remember, you're trying to make money and get rid of stuff here, so don't drive too hard of a bargain. Figure out what your bottom line is, and try to get a price that's near it. Your customers are coming ready to haggle, and they're trying to get a good deal. Don't sacrifice a sale just because you're being offered an unreasonable or unacceptable price, and for crying out loud . . . don't get offended if someone tries to low-ball you! It's a garage sale!! Haggling is all about going back and forth on the price, so don't get emotional over it. If you just feel like the customer is offering too low of a price and you're just not willing to go that low, then don't make the sale. But, remember that you might still be stuck with that item and no sale at the end of the day.
  7. Price your stuff. This is a piggy-back off the previous point, but don't charge an unreasonable amount for what you're selling. This is a garage sale, again—let's remember that. Whatever you get for your items is better than nothing at all. Yes, you want to get a good price, but you also want to price to sell. Make your prices reasonable! People don't go to garage sales to buy your 1980's Hawaiian print shirt for $5. No! They want that shirt for much, much less, and if you plan on selling that shirt you better not charge $5. Enough said.
  8. Set good hours to sell your stuff. An increasing amount of people are visiting garage sales before and after work, during the week and on Fridays. I've noticed this as a growing trend over the past few years. And a lot of people are opening their garage sales on Thursdays, too. If you want to take in the greatest amount of people at your sale, I would recommend early and later hours, so that you can hit the before and after work crowds. Open at 7:00 or 7:30 AM, and stay open until 6:00 or 6:30 PM. Sure, it's a long day, but if you make it a family affair, you can all share the load. Odds are you'll make more sales that way, anyway. There are a lot of people who schedule out their garage sale shopping days, and plan on starting early. They'll most likely hit your sale first, if you have early hours. The bottom line is that you'll have more visitors if your open early and late.
  9. Make it fun to sell your stuff. For your own sanity and in an effort to make your sale fun for yourself and your family, get creative and get the whole clan involved! I have some really fun memories of garage sales as I grew up. My parents always got us donuts or something fun for breakfast on the first morning. My mom let me set out a basket of my trinkets that I offered for a nickel a piece—she got me involved in the selling, and it made it exciting for me! It was fun to see how much I had earned at the end of the day! Break out the kiddy pool for the kids, make lemonade, etc. Make it fun for the whole family, and you'll make some good memories . . . and good sales.

1 comment:

Deals Hunt said...

Great Information, it is very helpful to us.

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