It sounds too
good to be true, doesn’t it? You sell a lot of bits and pieces cluttering up
your shed and home. In return you are given cash in hand, and it’s all done by
spending a painless day – or even only half a day - helping people cart away
your junk! Holding a garage sale is a great way of getting rid of all those car
and mechanical bits and pieces that we seem to accumulate.
So how do you
make it a success?
The area where
you hold the garage sale must be clean, neat and well lit. If the weather
permits, hold it outside. If it has to be under cover, think about how the area
looks to customers. No-one is going to happily walk into a dark place covered in
dirt, cigarette butts and cobwebs.
In fact, how
you arrange the entrance to the garage sale is vital if you are to part people
from their money. You want the area welcoming, friendly and positive. When you
are setting up, frequently walk back down the entrance path and see how it all
looks from the perspective of an arriving potential buyer.
Having a radio
playing is a good idea as it covers any awkward silences.
local papers is usually worth it, but you really need to weigh up the
cost-/benefit of advertising in a state-wide publication. Usually, you’ll pay
more than you’ll get back in the shape of extra customers.
are an excellent way of advertising a garage sale – and leading people to it.
make fancy signs that are hard to read at a glance from a passing car. You need
to keep the signs clear, effective - and cheap. Remember, every dollar that you
spend setting up for the sale is taken straight out of your profits. Cheap signs
can be made from offcuts of building cladding or even plasterboard. The sign
shown here has done duty for a number of years’ worth of sales.
signs at the nearest major road and then use more signs to lead the customers to
your house. Using bold arrows (including vertical arrows for ‘straight ahead’)
works well. Check the signs during the day; it’s not unusual for smart-arses to
change their orientation.
garage sales and then there are garage sales!! Some people don’t label
their items, don’t price their items, don’t clean their items - and don’t sell
many items! Make sure that everything is scrupulously clean. Anything which is
old should be labelled “antique”, “collectors’ item” or “interesting” - or all
If the item is
at all hard to identify at a glance, make a sign that tells people what it is.
You’ll be amazed how much difference this makes to the likelihood of the item
walking out the door... That’s especially the case with car parts, where it takes
an expert to identify make and model.
the price the words “the pair”, “the lot”, or “the set” is also encouraging.
items were placed together. This encourages people to say “I’ll take the lot for
15 bucks” and similar lines.
Lay out your
goods carefully. Small items should go at the front, graduating to larger items
(especially those that need support) at the back. As sales occur, always move
the items around so that the tables seem constantly full. Stick the signs down
with Blu-Tac or a similar adhesive, otherwise the wind or inquisitive children
will move them. Always remember to remove the signs as people buy the goods.
putting out expensive items. Some (rich!) people walk around with $400-500 in
their wallets, and you only need one such person who proves to have a burning
desire to buy what you’re selling. With young, good condition and expensive
items, always also list a (truthful!) new price. If the product is in the
original packaging and complete with an original price tag, so much the better.
But make sure that you have a good reason for selling the item, ready to trot
out when the cynical customer asks why you’re getting rid of it!
items that you’ll sell will be at the cheaper end of the scale and so these must
make up the majority of the goods on offer.
prices too high. If some customers say “Your prices are good but I just don’t
want anything that you’re selling” you know that you’re on the right track. If
prices are too high, about half way through the sale start reducing them.
Cross out the original price and place the new price next to it – that way
people are encouraged to think they’re getting a bargain.
will expect to be able to make offers – for example, saying on a $20 item that
they’ll pay $15. Don’t be insulted by ridiculously low offers – just say that
the person is welcome to come back at 4pm (or whenever the sale finishes) and
see if you still have the item. Expect to knock off about 20 per cent for those
who bargain – so price accordingly.
So what can
you sell at a garage sale? Anything that’s legal, that’s what! However, a sale
that has items to interest every single person who walks in off the street will
be much more successful that one that interests only a few.
in your family (and extended family and friends) to contribute items for sale.
But if you are selling on behalf of someone else, you must get a clear idea of
the prices that they expect.
About half of
my items sold at this single Saturday morning (7 am – 12 noon) sale. My wife did
much better – she sold probably three-quarters of her stuff. The total customer
count was about 80 and the sales figure was $400. That makes a few hours of
preparation the night before, and the half-day of the sale itself, well worth it!
Garage sales used to be one of the few ways of privately selling
stuff cheaply and to a range of customers. But of course, now there’s eBay..
Compared with eBay, with a garage sale you’ll generally:
- get lower prices
- be less likely to sell a specific item
- there’s less hassle – no packing, no photographing, no listing
- you get the money straightaway