I’ve written before about my love of going out to garage sales each week. Every Friday night my 12 year old son and I head out to see what “treasures” we can find. It’s a great bonding time for us as we drive around town chatting to one another without any interruptions. I really enjoy our date night.
However as we cruise from garage sale to garage sale there is something that drives me a little bit batty. I instantly know when I walk up someone’s driveway whether or not they are garage salers themselves and those particular garage sales are never particularly rewarding for us. I seem to always leave disappointed and empty handed for a variety of reasons. So today I thought I’d share some tips for how to think like a garage saler (even if you’ve never been to one yourself) and how to ensure your customers leave with empty pockets and full arms.
Of course you need stuff at a garage sale but what I mean is you need more than one table worth of stuff. Garage salers don’t like to waste time hitting up a garage sale without a lot of stock. We are competitive folk for sure and want to get on to the next garage where there is perhaps more selection. Multi-family garage sales always get me excited because you know the selection will be good and the variety even better. If you don’t have enough stuff to hold a garage sale definitely think about teaming up with friends for greater success.
Timing is Important
This is one that really gets me crazy. If the majority of the garage sales in your town start at 8 in the morning, don’t start yours two or three hours later. If at all possible please try and start your garage sale with what is most popular for your area. Us garage salers get out there to do the circuit and then end up killing time waiting for yours to open or worse we just don’t bother going at all. The week or two before your garage sale check the ads to get an idea of what time everyone else starts their garage sales. There is almost always a common time. Go with the flow and you’ll have some happy customers on your hands.
Eliminate the Piles
Oh boy. Why do people holding garage sales think we want to dig through mountains of stuff. We don’t. I see clothes displayed this way all the time but I certainly can’t be bothered because in the back of my mind I’m thinking about the next sale and what I might be missing there. It’s a go go mentality, everyone looking for great stuff at bargain prices. We want to get in and get out quickly. Clothing should be hung up (or at least organized by size on a table or in a box) and anything not easily identified should be labeled so we don’t have to guess. Because we won’t. We’ve got to go.
Price It Right
The #1 problem with attending the garage sale of a non-garage saler is their prices are often way to high. Prices should be lower at garage sales than if you were to sell your wares any place else. Garage sales are exciting for one reason only….garage sale prices. No one cares if you just bought the item a week ago and barely used it. We want a deal. You want to make some cash. When that combination works, it works beautifully. So price your stuff lower earlier in the day rather than waiting until the end to reduce your prices. The last thing you want to do is have to haul it all off afterwards to the dump or thrift store. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just more work and you’ll be exhausted after all the work you’ve put in hosting the sale in the first place. I also prefer when everything IS priced at garage sales. It’s just faster for me to assess the situation and be on my way. If you use stickers like in the picture above (check your local dollar store) it will be quick and easy for you to get the pricing job done.
Do Away With The Junk
Okay this one is tricky because junk to one person means something entirely different to someone else. However it’s probably safe to say that no one wants your stained and ripped shirts, cracked dishware or puzzles missing pieces. It will only turn your customers off and make them want to run for the hills. Ask yourself if this is something you would buy at a garage sale. If it’s not something you would consider buying then it’s probably a good indication that you shouldn’t try selling it either.
Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Advertising is crucial for a successful sale. It’s hard to make money without attracting any customers. Pay attention to where all the other garage sales are advertised. Often that’s bulletin boards or street poles. If that’s where you’ll be advertising make sure it’s legible. Neon paper and big Sharpie letters are ideal. As well if you predict a hint of rain put your sign in a Ziploc bag to protect it. If the majority of garage sales in your town are advertised in the paper or on Craigslist/Kijiji then that’s what you’ll need to do as well. Also check Facebook because there may be a specific garage sale page for your location. It doesn’t hurt either, on garage sale day, to put a big sign at the end of your street with balloons directing people right to your door.
Overall I think the important thing to remember is you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get in and get out. You don’t have to be a garage saler yourself to host a successful garage sale and hopefully the tips I listed above will help you do just that.
Personally I don’t like holding garage sales myself (so much work!) but I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a fan of attending them especially as long as I get to hang out with my son while I do it.
Are you a garage saler? Do you have a garage sale pet peeve?