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  1. #1
    Budget101 Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Garage Sale Tips

    Have enough change on hand to make change for at least 2 $20's early in the morning without having enough left over to make it through the rest of the morning. If you do not have enough change, tell the person that you can hold the items while they make change for thier money at a local store. If you are shopping sale, please don't try to use a $20 at 8am. Stop before hand and break it, so that people aren't trying to scramble for change at the last minute.

    Never leave the money unattended. If it's just you doing the sale, use a fanny pack for change, and empty it several times through out the day of big bills. If someone hands you a big bill, repeat to them what it is, and leave it setting out until they get their change back. I have had people try to rip me off this way before by telling me they handed me a $20, when they only handed me a $10, so that I'm paying them to take the item.

    I've also had people who have shown me a $20, asked if I had change for it, and then put the money away while I checked. They then wanted change for a $20 they never gave me. Keep it locked up and safe, and if you can, have multiple people helping.

    If you don't have tables, borrow some. I don't stop at sales where I have to squat down and dig through a pile of stuff dumped on a blanket or tarp or, heaven forbid, the dirty ground. I don't mind it when toys or stuffed animals or large items are on the ground, or even boxes of books & shoes and what not. But at least have a few tables for the clothing. Something to hang some stuff on is nice, too, but that's usually harder to pull off.

    If you have a garbage bag filled with unwashed, dirty, stained clothing, don't expect me to dig through it and find a treasure. That means if you have some stained stuff, put it under the nicer stuff. If all the stuff on top of the table is gross & stained, I'll be much more likely to think ALL of it is that way, and I won't take the time to look through the rest.

    Don't lable the sale as something it isn't. If you have a card table and a rack of clothing, don't tell people it's a huge sale. It's not. It's a tiny sale. Microscopic. If you only have a few things, you might consider asking some neighbors, family, or friends if they want to go in together for a sale.

    Arrange like stuff with like stuff- don't mix housewares in with clothing, don't set dog food dishes on top of christmas decorations, don't put women's clothing mixed in with kids clothing. I understand (as everyone does) that during a sale, clothing & items are transported around the sale and set down in different locations. During slower periods, take the time to re-tidy things. Change some of the top things around to show them off better, refold the clothing, etc.

    If you have a picture frame, glass plates, mirrors, etc, don't set them laying flat. They'll reflect the sun right into someone's eyes. Also don't lean them at an angle towards the sun, for the same reason. The best place is under shade of some sort, someplace where they will not reflect into the sun. People won't buy what they can't see.

    If you have an item you don't want, and it's not brand new, chances are, other people are not going to want to pay full price for that item. Price items accordingly. Some things just don't retain thier value. For example, 7 years ago, you could sell a beanie baby for $20. Now? I wouldn't pay more than a quarter. They're not worth anything anymore. An item is only worth what someone is willing to pay.

    Consider doing a special towards the end of the day- everything left after 4pm is half off, all clothing is $.50, stuff a bag for a buck, all books 8/$1, etc. Think of it this way- you'll sell stuff that you don't want anymore, and make some money off it. Otherwise, it will just get boxed up and sit for another sale, or be carted off to Goodwill, etc.

    When you advertise online, you have the freedom to post a free ad that is as big as you want. Take advantage. List what items you have, list LOTS of items you have, where it's at, directions, things like whether or not you'll have drinks or food available, whether or not there are several people going in on one sale, etc.

    I see so many posts on my group that look like this:


    Sale, friday the 19th from 8-5, 1140 Eastwood drive. lots of stuff.


    Now, personally, I like to know that the place I'm going to has something I might want. I'm MUCH more likely to go to a sale that reads more like this:


    Big 4 family sale, Friday the 19th from 8am until 5pm. We're located at 1140 Eastwood Drive, which is just behind Taco Bell. We're the 2nd house on the left, past the apartment complex.

    We have kids clothing available- toddler girls size 2-3T, boys size 4/5, and girls size 6/6x. Some winter stuff, lots of outgrown summer clothes, and some nice Christmas outfits. We also have kids shoes in sizes toddler size 5, boys size 11, and girls size 12.

    Some housewares items, including Wilton cake pans. Also available Precious Moments plates, collectable figurines, and more. Cold drinks available for $.50/each, in a can.
    We welcome early sales, but please know we will not be completly set up until 8am, so if you come early, you might not get to see everything.


    See the difference? Take the time to let us know what you have, and that you have put a lot of thought into the sale. A last minute sale post will still get you some business, but the more details, the better.

    Leave some room between the tables. During busy times, you might have 2 or 3 people trying to look at the same table, or tables that are back to back. If they don't have room to get through, chances are, they'll go around to the other side, and skip that part all together.

    Get an idea of how much things go for before pricing larger items, such as old video game systems. I've seen play station 1's at a RECENT sale (within the past month) that was selling for $100, used, with 1 game. You can buy the PS2 brand new for $150, and the PS1 new for under $100, and the single game does not make it worth the extra money to buy it used. Price accordingly. You can usually get a good idea on eBay, however- your items usually won't sell at the same price, so mark it a bit lower.

    If an item is broken, price it accordingly, and mark on it that it's broken. In my early yard sale days, I was niave, and bought a cordless phone still in the box for $5. I thought I made out great. Too bad it wasn't the same phone inside the box, it was one that was probably 15 years old, one of the earliest cordlesses available, and it didn't even work. Bravo to the people who scammed me, but not all people will be as nice as to just toss it in the trash, and you may have to deal with a disgruntled person.

    Do not accept a check. You don't know the person, and you certainly don't know that the check is good, or even a check on an existing account. You will get burned on at least 1 check, and likely never see the money from the person who writes it.

    Label, label, label your items! I hate constantly asking someone what the price is for that item. Colored dot stickers with a pre-made poster with the matching prices for those colors is an easy way to price stuff. Large signs saying things like, "All clothing, $.50/piece, 2 piece outfits $1, etc". If you have multiple people, use initials on the tag, so there is no confusion later on the money.

    Know your prices. Chances are, people will try to swap tags to lower prices for themselves.

    Be flexible in pricing, and be willing to barter down. If you have an object you want $10 for, and won't go lower, then price it up at $12 or $13, so that there is room to barter down. You may get the extra out of it, and you may not. Serious yard "sailors" are turned off by sales where bartering isn't accepted at all, though.

    Make sure to DATE any signs you post. Don't put just the day (Ie: Fri & Sat), put the date with it. So many people just leave thier signs up after the sale, so come the following weekend, people are chasing sales that are no longer there.

    That brings up another point- be kind & curteous to our environment- remove your signs! Remove all of them at the end of the sale, and leave nice clean corners in it's place.

    I hope that helps everyone when setting up a sale this season. These are all things that I, as a very avid yard "sailor", look for when I stop at sales.

    Heather L. Tompkins
    ~ They Call it DODGE for a Reason! ~

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