Side Hustle: Garage Sale Tips

Garage sale week wasn’t enough.    There are so many little things that I did–or meant to do–that I forgot to include them last week.

  1. Advertise everywhere. I do mean everywhere.   Take out an ad in the paper.  Put an ad on Craigslist.   Have fliers in the grocery store, the laundromat, and any place that has a publicly-accessible bulletin board.    Put big, bright signs at every possible turn to get to your sale.  Assume the drivers a dense.  Don’t give them an opportunity to make a wrong turn or–like I did–put conflicting arrows on different sides of a sign.
  2. Use bait. Set out tools and furniture where they are visible.   Lots of people drive past if they only see knick-knacks.   Tools get the men to stop, furniture gets anybody running a household to stop.    If you don’t actually have any tools to sell, put your lawnmower out with an insanely high price on it.   Heck, if someone wants to pay you 125% of retail for your mower, take it!   I had a number of tools and lawn-crafting gear–actually for sale–near the end of the driveway.    If I can get the people out of the car, someone will find something worth buying.
  3. Price it like you’d buy it. People don’t come to garage sales looking for sale prices.  They come looking to pay as little as possible.  They want the crazy deal.   You’ll have to oblige them, at least a bit.  Price some things very low, and everything else almost very low.   Aim for 25% of retail or less, except for a few special items that you won’t mind keeping.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say no. Some hagglers are jerks.  If the offer is insulting, don’t feel obligated to take it.
  5. Bag the little stuff. Instead of pricing every toy 10 cents, put a handful of toys is a zip-lock bag for a dollar.   Mix some of the bad with the good so the crap goes away, too.   Reject every offer to open the bag and sell the stuff separately.
  6. Put the bags of toys on a table in the driveway. Kids stay out of the confined garage and entertain themselves digging.   Kids are clumsy.  They can’t break your lamp if the don’t come near it.   Parents will welcome something to keep their little brats occupied while they shop.  It’s a win for everyone!
  7. Describe anything that isn’t obvious. Make a lot of signs.   To be clear, make a lot of signs.  Describe the furniture.   Show a current ebay auction for the item.  Identify the antiques.  You don’t want to be forced to sell everything yourself.  Let the signs sell for you.
  8. Start early. Price and sort your stuff a month in advance.   The night before the sale, all you want to have to do is set up tables and unbox your stuff.  Don’t try pricing it then.
  9. Multi-day sales are best. It gives people a chance to tell their friends about it, or to come back and buy the thing they passed up.  Don’t lose out on the buzz!
  10. Save your grocery bags. A few weeks before a sale, I go to the grocery store and ask if they mind if a bundle of plastic bags goes home with me.  The manager has always said it’s okay.   If that doesn’t work, just double bag your groceries and save the bags for a few weeks.
  11. Use blankets and tarps to hide anything that isn’t for sale. People will ask about everything they can see.  Save yourself the hassle.
  12. Plan your layout to let people browse and move. You don’t want a traffic jam in the garage.   Give it a clear flow, with enough room for people to pass each other comfortably.   Three people should be able to pass each other in every row.  It’s not always possible, but try.  If two people can’t pass, start over.
  13. Clean your stuff. Clean items sell better.   Dirty stuff will have to be sold for at least 25% less than clean stuff.

That’s it for now.  More to come, I’m sure.

Note: The entire series is contained in the Garage Sale Manual on the sidebar.

Update:  This post has been included in the Money Hacks Carnival.

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