Friday, July 18, 2008

Garage Sale Checklist

This is the garage sale sign I'm using on flagpoles in front of nearby condos. Feel free to modify away or just print and write in your own info. This would make a lousy street sign since its too small but its perfect for foot traffic.

In the continued interest of uncluttering I am considering having a garage sale tomorrow. Here are a few things to consider when holding a garage sale:

1. Where will most of your traffic come from? If you live near a school are you better off holding a sale on a Friday when parents will browse while waiting for kids? Are you near a major road where a strategic sign will bring people over? Is there a nearby store people can easily drive from? Make sure you are diverting those potential customers over!

2. How will you organize? Few things irk me more than the jumbled "someone died and we're selling everything they owned" look. Even if the people are still alive I hate the cluttered mess and having to sift.

3. How will you get driver's attention? If you're lucky enough to have a driveway or large front yard having stuff out will be enough. I live on a one way street across from a park so most people are looking in the opposite direction when driving by. Consider balloons or neon signs to draw attention. If you have a wacky, wavy, inflatable arm man, its time to set him to work!

4. How will you price? In the past I've done the "Price EVERYTHING individually" type of sale and that was a nightmare quickly rendered moot through haggling. I've found the easiest way is to sort items by price (example: anything on this shelf is 25 cents). Of course pricing is dependent on garage sale purpose. Are you selling to make money or just unclutter? If I have this sale on Saturday my goal will be to get rid of stuff so everything will be priced at $1 or 6 for $5. Lumping discounts encourages more buying. More buying = less clutter

5. How are you advertising? Obviously you want good, clear signs in HUGE driver friendly letters with arrows at major intersections near home. Stick to the basics on these and make sure the lettering really stands out. Consider stapling your signs to cardboard (like the top of an old pizza box) so they won't flap on a windy day. Having a bunch of same colored signs with arrows is a surefire way of leading customers to you.

When posting on community boards or places with foot traffic use colorful paper or graphics like my sign at the beginning of this post. Make sure you post on Craigslist - its free! When posting on Craigslist or community boards try to include pictures of your stuff and sample prices. It will get people interested and make your post jump out from the rest.

Things that you should stock up on before a sale:

1. Change - You'd be surprised by how many people pay for a $1 item with a $20 bill - cursed atms! Don't let a sale walk away because you lack change. Also keep your coins out of the sun! No one wants to deal with burning hot coins - especially you!

2. Bags - Before the sale save all of your convinience store bags and ask friends to do the same. I never realized how many people wanted their items bagged until I had a sale!

3. Sunscreen - Its summer and even an overcast day can lead to a wicked sunburn.

If you're going to be running a garage sale alone have contingency plans. I live on a second floor so I wouldn't be able to run up and down for more inventory if I were alone. A good idea is to load surplus items you "may" sell in your car to set up as old stock moves out. Nothing dissuades potential buyers from stopping like meager offerings. Also remember to anticipate your body's needs by having snacks, beverages and entertainment nearby.

Other than that - be patient and have fun. Try to rope friends into garage saling with you. You'll have extra people to help and amuse plus more inventory. Just refrain from buying their stuff and ending up with more junk!


Jack said...

Pretty comprehensive. Have to remember to come back to this post when I have my own next year.