Have you ever heard of Aaron LaPedis? Aaron’s mother left the seven-year old to tend her garage sale while she made lunch. The sale was moving along nicely, and merchandise was beginning to run low. A very industrious little Aaron decided to take advantage of the brisk sales. He grabbed everything that he could carry from the living room — lamps, end tables, and other small decor — and sold them.
His mother, of course, was shocked to find her furniture missing, but she probably wasn’t upset for too long. Aaron eventually turned this into a profitable enterprise by flipping items that he purchased at other garage sales. You can read all about Aaron’s rise to garage sale fame in his book, “The Garage Sale Millionaire.”
If you’re looking for a way to turn your unused stuff into cash, think about having a garage sale at home or participating in a sale at a facility where you have belongings stored. A garage sale can seem a bit overwhelming, but the following tips will help you to organize, price, and advertise your items. Do it right and you can end up with an orderly home and/or self storage unit, as well as some big bucks.
The following tips can work whether you’re participating in a self storage facility or residential garage sale.
Make the Most of Your Garage Sale
Diligently search your home room by room for items you don’t use or wear regularly. Don’t forget the garage, basement, attic, and shed. If you have a self-storage unit, make time to sort through those items as well. You’ll be surprised to find lots of things that you haven’t used in years (or maybe decades.
The next step is to sort your items into the ever-present, basic three categories: Keep, Sell, and Discard. Your goal is to sort and organize; get rid of the junk and find a permanent home for the keepers.
Set the Date
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings are typically the most opportune times to hold your sale. That doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box and consider a different time. There are dozens of Saturday morning garage sales, but how many do you see scheduled for a Tuesday morning? If you time your sale during early morning or late afternoon commuting hours, you will attract commuters, car-pooling parents, and anyone else looking to score a deal.
Stock up on Supplies
Buy basic pricing stickers and blank labels at your local office supply store or the dollar store. If you’re on a tight budget, pick up some masking tape and a permanent marker. Remember, if you’re participating in a self-storage garage sale, you can pick up what you need in the office.
It’s ideal to buy or borrow some stable, inexpensive shelving to display one-of-a-kind and breakable items.
Use a card table or any small table and chairs so that you have a designated place to comfortably cash people out. Another thing to consider is Venmo, a digital app that makes paying and getting paid easy and secure. If you want to use Venmo or any other digital payment app, make a note to advertise it.
Price the Merchandise
Price it Right
Don’t attach sentimental value to your item, and overprice it in the process. If you’re not sure how to price an item you can ask a friend for an objective opinion, or check current value by doing an online search. A good rule of thumb is to sell items at one quarter to one third of their original value. Most people aren’t looking to spend a great deal of money at a garage sale, so try not to price anything over $100. You’re better off selling big ticket items online. Toward the end of the sale, consider posting a “half off” sign. The goal is to get rid of your stuff!
Don’t make a buyer search for a tiny sticker. Use large enough tags so that potential customers can easily see a price tag. Another option is to use colored stickers and a chart that specifies cost by color. If you do this, hang several large charts in different areas to make them convenient.
Offering DVDs at 4 for $5, will get more attention than pricing them at $1 each. You can also bundle things like small kitchen gadgets, tools, or holiday decorations. Get creative.
Don’t Overprice and Expect to Haggle
Buyers will walk away from overpriced items. Garage sale shoppers like to snag a deal, but they won’t haggle over unrealistic prices. You’ll lose a sale.
Spread the Word
Use fliers in your neighborhood and online ads. Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Close5 are good ones. Forums like GarageSaleHunter.com and Yard Sale Search are forums directed specifically to garage sale regulars, and don’t forget about garage sales groups on Facebook. As mentioned previously, if you plan on using a digital payment app like Venmo, be sure to include that information in your ad. Allowing people to pay this way is easier for them and for you.
Use 15 to 20 large, brightly colored signs. They should be at least 3 feet square. Keep them simple with large arrows pointing in the direction of the sale. They should be easy to see when driving and simple enough for a first grader to read.
The Big Day
Organize Your Checkout Area
There will be people who won’t use a digital payment app. Be sure to have plenty of small bills and coins on hand to make change. It’s possible that you could lose a sale over not having change readily available. Have enough plastic grocery bags and moving supply wrapping paper for fragile items. These details show your customers that you’re organized and ready to sell.
Make it Look Like a Store
Group items together: kitchen items in one area, tools in another, and clothing and accessories easy to sort through and hanging on racks. If you do have any big ticket or specialty items, place them near the street so that people know you’re selling more than mismatched dishes and outdated CDs. Reorganize throughout the day to keep things looking fresh.
Go for Appeal and Ease
Before you try to sell things, make sure they are clean and free of dust. Be sure that your shopping area doesn’t look disheveled. Borrow or rent tables so shoppers don’t have to crouch down to look at your items. If something needs batteries, insert them so that the buyer knows the items will work. Keep extension cords handy for small appliances, Christmas lights, and electronics. Place a mirror near the clothing and accessories. Making your customers feel comfortable will increase sales.
Make it a Party
Take a lesson from retail stores. They play music to encourage customers to stay longer and spend more. Make people feel welcome with bottled water, soda, lemonade, and don’t forget the cookies. Get your shoppers in a “buying” mood.
If you’re taking part in a self storage garage sale, you won’t have to be as concerned about safety. In any situation, most shoppers are good people looking for a good deal. Nevertheless, you need to be practical and aware of what is going on around you. If you’re having a sale at home, keep your doors locked during the event. Don’t let anyone in your house use the bathroom, and don’t leave your cash or your young children unattended.
It’s time to put these tips into action. Organization is the key so that you’re ready to go when the first customer pulls up to the curb. If you remain calm, happy, and vigilant, you’ll have a successful sale and be ready to do a victory dance at the end of the day. Remember, any left over items can go into your self-storage unit for your next sale!