My wife and I are both very active garage sale bargain hunters, plus we have run several successful garage sales ourselves. We are also vary active garage sale buyers. From a buyer’s perspective, there is a right way and a wrong way to run a garage sale. Most people do it the wrong way. We will show you the right way.
A garage sale or yard sale is a great way to offload lots of things that you no longer need. Sometimes your home is just getting a bit too cluttered and it is time to get rid of a few things. Garage sale items that you no longer need, but still have value are referred to as “stuff.”
We run our own garage sale about every three to four years. Just prior to moving to a new location is a the ideal time to get rid of a lot of items that may not be a good fit for a new home. Our average revenue from our periodic sale is about $800. With one moving sale we pulled in a little over $2500–in just two days. For anyone who thinks that a garage sale is not worth the time, think again.
We are also very active garage sale hunters and find fantastic deals in our bargain-hunting excursions. From a hunter’s perspective, the best deals are found before 9 AM in the morning, so we typically hit the streets by 6 to 7 AM every Saturday.
The Secret to Running a Successful Garage or Yard Sale
There isn’t really any deep secret to running a successful garage sale, but there are some tips and tricks that will help guarantee your success. The overwhelmingly most important factor is traffic. The more traffic you can drive to your sale, the faster you will sell your items. If you cannot get people to your location, you will not sell very much. Most of the tips we offer will help to drive traffic to your sale.
The second most important factor is pricing. Garage sale buyers expect to find bargains. Everyone loves a bargain. It is therefore important to price your items at a reasonable level. Most garage sales only have small window of one or two days to work with, so if you want to move your old stuff quickly, use reasonable pricing. Try to determine the price you might expect to pay for an item in a garage sale and mark the item accordingly. If you want to try to get top prices for your items, do not sell them in garage sales.
Here is the list of our most important selling tips for running a successful garage sale.
- Use brightly colored signs. Forget about using white paper or tan cardboard for making signs. People can’t easily see them and they do not stand out against most backgrounds. Use stiff card stock (cardboard, not paper) or plastic with a bright orange, lime green or pink background. Be consistent. Once someone sees an orange sign leading to your sale, they will look for similar orange signs to follow. If you are not consistent, you may be driving people to other garage and yard sales along the way.
- Use LOTS of signs. This cannot be stressed strongly enough. Unless your home is right next to a major highway, you will probably need 30 to 50 signs to drive major amounts of traffic. Post signs on all 4 corners of each major intersection in your neighborhood. Make sure the signs are visible to drivers coming from all directions. The idea is to lead the people right up to your home. There should be signs posted at every turn and also periodically along long stretches of road. The idea is to never allow a potential buyer to lose sight of a sign. Take their hand and lead them right to you sale. Here is another important tip: If there are other garage or yard sale signs along the way, place one of your signs directly next to, or above or below the competing signs to let people know that there is another sale still ahead.
- Use large print on the signs. All lettering should be large an bold. We see lots of useless, unreadable signs that look like they are made with a pen or crayon. Letters need to be large. The letters and arrows should be at least one inch thick and should be black to contrast with the brightly colored background.
- Use arrows to point the way. It is useless to use street addresses on signs. Most people are not familiar enough with a neighborhood and are not likely to find a location with an address on a sign. Most drivers cannot even remember an address on a sign. Be consistent with the look of your signs and use bold arrows to point the way. Once again, Take their hand and lead them right to your sale. A potential buyer should not have to figure out how to find your location.
- Put prices on every item. Use reasonable pricing, but be sure to put a price on every item. Most casual buyers will not make a blind offer. They need to have some idea as to what you want for an item. If items are prices reasonably, most people will pay your asking price. If you are not placing prices on your items, you are losing lots of potential sales.
- Be prepared to negotiate. If someone makes an offer on an item, as most serious garage sale hunters will, be prepared to dicker with the price. If someone makes you an offer that you feel is too low, make a counter offer. If I see an item priced at $20 and I offer $10, I expect the seller to counter-offer with $15. Most of the time, they accept the $10 offer, because their real goal is to offload a lot of “stuff” that is crowding them out of their home. If a buyer’s final offer is too low, simply tell them that you cannot accept it.
- Team up with neighbors. If you plan to run a garage sale, check with your neighbors to see if they would like to also run garage sales. Multi-family sales are very powerful traffic attractors. If you can get 4 or 5 neighbors to each run a garage sale, put up one set of signs that reads Multi-Family Yard Sales or 5 Families – Huge Garage Sale.
- Everything must go. If you find that you still have a lot of “stuff” on the the last day of your sale, consider posting a large sign in your sale area that reads, “Everything must go. Make an offer!” You will be amazed at how quickly your inventory of garage sale items declines.
- Consider advertising to draw in additional traffic. If you have a lot of streets with major traffic in your area, signs will probably drive all of the traffic that you need. However, if you are in a fringe or rural location or do not have any major intersection in your neighborhood, you might want to try advertising in your local newspaper. Most newspapers have a section for listing garage and yard sales. If you are in or near a metro area, try using CraigsList.com. Craigs List offers free classified ads and they have a section for listing garage sales.
One final tip that can significantly impact your traffic is that when you are running a moving sale and have lots of items to sell, use the words Moving Sale on your signs instead of Garage Sale or Yard Sale. Most serious garage sale hunters start salivating when they see those words because a moving sale typically means that there will be lots of bargains to be found and the quality of the merchandise is typically much better than the average yard sale.
If you have left-over items that do not sell, consider giving them to a worthy charitable organization, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Vietnam Veterans of America. These organizations have location in most cities. Some will even pick up the items from your home.