I’m going indoor skydiving next week with a coupon that I bought from Groupon for only $35. I’ll get two flights, a DVD and bragging rights. I look at life as an adventure—especially when it comes to stretching my dollars and finding creative ways to make and spend money. Sometimes we need to have the ultimate adventure—a garage sale! Paying a dime on the dollar for a product still in its original box is a not only a thrill—it’s eco friendly because no new resources are made to create that product. Not only do garage sales simplify your life by helping you de-clutter, but they also provide a way to keep more change in your pocket and teach your kids the value of a buck.
Here are my top ten tips to host a successful garage sale. If you follow them carefully, you’ll find yourself flying high—without the bungee cord!
Collect – Throughout the month, throw stuff in a big box marked, “Garage Sale.” Not only will you relieve clutter, you’ll soon have enough diverse items to host a sale. Of course, you may have your husband keep taking things out of that box.
Location –It’s great to buddy up with a friend whose house has a better location than yours, in order to catch the attention of drive-by traffic. Or, ask a neighbor (or two) on your block to host their own sales—you could get three times the garage sale traffic with combined sales.
Advertise— When you create garage sale signs for the neighborhood, use brightly colored poster board and a good contrasting color. Keep the lettering brief and legible and tape some balloons on it. Go in with your neighbors on a small ad in your local paper, it will really help bring people to your sale.
Pricing – If you put a price your product, you are more likely to sell it. Most people don’t want to keep asking, “How much for this?” Even with the item marked, there will be some who will barter with you on the price—but that’s to be expected. Begin pricing items weeks before the sale, placing them in a “finished” pile in your garage.
Cash – Have at least $20 in coins, 50 one-dollar bills and 6 five dollar bills. Keep your money box in a safe location and never leave it unattended. Bring each $100 earned into your house for safekeeping.
Checks – Never take a check from someone you do not know. This isn’t just a matter of trust, it’s one of responsibility. Most people know to bring cash.
Hold – Never hold an item without a substantial non-refundable deposit. If you hold it for free, then the customer might not return and you’ve lost your opportunity to sell that item.
Marketing – Place furniture and bikes that will draw attention by the curb where people can see them. Try marketing ideas such as “buy three books/get three free.” It’s amazing how well this works—people respond to the word “free.”
Clean –If an item looks newer because it’s clean, you’ll be able to get as much as 50% more for it. Run sturdy plastic toys through the dishwasher, spot clean the armchair, wash and hang clothes on a hanger, and polish wood furniture—it’s worth it!
Expand – Let your kids get in on the action by selling lemonade on hot days or coffee and donuts on cool mornings. Let the kids go to the store with you to buy cups, donuts, napkins, lemonade and sugar. Be sure they understand how to make change and how to be courteous to customers. You’ll see the photo where one of my sons opened a “Cowboy Autograph” stand. Who knows? They may earn enough to fund their college education (or at least buy a new bike!)
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)