Monday, June 6, 2011

41 Project Purge: Garage Sale

I sort of left you hanging with my "Project Purge" progress.  I am sorry if you lost any sleep over what I did with those extra items... Did I sell them?  Did I donate them?  The cliff hanger was about as dramatic as an ending of Days of our Lives!  And a whole month has gone by with no updates.  Sorry to leave you in limbo...

The reason no updates have occurred is because there really hasn't been much going on in the form of shedding the household belongings.  Sure, I have sold a couple of odds and ends on Craigslist {including a giant bunk bed set, wahoo!}, however, I still have boatloads of items waiting to be put somewhere.  And they are all sitting in the unfinished basement that is about to get finished.  It's time to MOVE IT!

Our city has an annual town festival in which garage sales are all the rage.  Oh yeah, I am taking advantage of that!

That gives me one whopping week {less actually, this Friday is the big day!} to get my garage cleaned out, sort all the goodies, price and sell sell sell!  Oh yeah my friends, I am having a GARAGE SALE!

I have only ever had two garage sales in my lifetime.  The first we made a good roll of moola, the second, not so much.  However, it seemed as though we ran them the same way so what constitutes a well put together and executed garage sale left me a little baffled.

Of course I could scour the web for endless hours to gain all the latest garage sale tips and tricks.  But why do that when I have boatloads of knowledgeable and loving readers that would love to provide me with all of their garage sale skillz?

That's right.  I need you.  I need to know your tips and tricks on holding a successful sale.  Because I want this to be GIANT successful and I can't do it without you!  Plus, what a great place for others looking to do the same, to come for a great resource in the future!

I will blog about my process along the way, how I organize it, the successes and lesson's learned.  The lemonade stand saga {yes, the little ones will be joining in on the fun!} and the final outcome of the whole process!  This is real time "LIVE" goodness here! 

So stayed tuned as the Garage Sale Party unfolds!  And feel free to leave a comment of encouragement.  Share a story of your successful sale.  Tips for being a garage sale goddess are also beyond appreciated!


  1. I price things as I pull them out for selling, so then on the day of the sale, I am ready. I price larger ticket items a few dollars above what I'm hoping to get--if I see someone looking but not "sold" then I'll say, "hey, I'll give then to you for [what I was hoping to get]" Usually that pushes them over the edge. :)

    Try to have everything on tables, if possible. Except for toys, which I put on a big blanket or sheet so they are kid level. Evil, I know. :)

    I keep my son busy (ie, not noticing so much when one of their old toys gets sold) by having them sell lemonade. We give all of his proceeds to a local homeless shelter. My husband took him there to deliver it personally and it was a good experience for him--and he made $18, which provided over 20 meals for homeless men!

  2. One thing I learned from my last garage sale is that people will show up HELLA early! So, figure out the earliest you'd want to start it and set the official start time an hour later. For example, if you're willing to tolerate people showing up at 8am, advertise the sale for 9am.

    When we did a garage sale at my rental house, I wasn't in charge of setting it up (my dad and uncle, who are our landlords were), so even though it said it would start at 8am, people were banging on our door at 7am. Caught me completely off-guard!

  3. I just had a yard sale a couple of weeks ago and made some awesome moolah! I did a post on my strategy last year so I didn't repost. Sadly we have one almost every year!

  4. I recommend putting your most colorful/eye-catching items near the front to really catch people's attention. When I had a big sale last year, everyone made a beeline for my old college organizers, which were all bright colors like hot pink, lime green, and aqua. Pull 'em in with something bright and fun, and they'll stick around to look.

  5. Another blog I read just posted yard sale tips last week!

  6. Oh gosh- I'm the queen of organizing yard sales! My friends book me a year in advance :) Here are some of my favorite "tactics"

    - Advertise on Craigs List up to 2 weeks prior (and frequently update posting). Include big ticket items, types of items (kids, clothes, BOOKS, electronic, etc) and clear directions. Pictures always draw people to look at the listing as well.

    - Sell bottled water (in buckets of ice) for $0.25 if you host the sale during the hot summer months.

    - Bake and sell some kind of fun treats (rice krispe treats and/or oatmeal cookies always seem to go over well). Package into little baggies and sell for a small amount. They are great for the kids who are bored out of their heads while mom "hunts" for her treasures.

    - Hang clothes up!! People don't like bending over and tossing clothes around. So hanging allows them to quickly peruse without getting anything dirty or hurting knees. Clothes lines hung a short distance works like a charm.

    - Sometimes I employ the colored sticker pricing method. (E.g: a green sticker = $1.00, yellow sticker = $5.00, etc.) Larger items can be individually priced but this is an easy way for you to price things and an easy way for people to identify.

    - Encourage bulk buying. (E.g. each book is $1.00 but buy 4 for $2.50 sort of thing)

    - Bring your wireless stereo out with you and play some good tunes (but not too loud). I always find it awkward when there is only 1 person looking at your stuff and it is... silent. Besides, everyone loves music.

    - If you know your neighbors, contact them ahead of time and let them know you will be hosting a yard sale. I always tell them I'm happy for them to bring some of their stuff over for them to sell. Sometimes they'll bring over a table for display, etc. It also gives you another person to help you manage during the busy times. And sometimes it inspires the neighbors to have their own- which is always good for you! (makes sure and advertise as a "neigborhood sale" if that is the case because people flock to multi-family sales).

    - Hang signs the night before. Make sure everything is well marked. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to find an ill marked yard sale. Balloons on the mailbox is helpful!!

    - And finally, arrange for the Salvation Army to come pick up all your left overs on the last day of the sale. That ensures that no unwanted items make it back into your house. Be sure to have all left overs bagged and boxed for pickup (they don't allow loose items). Write an short inventory and get a receipt for tax deductions as well.

    Hope that helps :)

  7. I love going garage sailing but do not like having one ;) I end up brining all my stuff to the Goodwill about 4x per year. We like to purge here (often) too.

    LaVonne @ Long Wait For Isabella

  8. Jen,
    Your post is once again, perfect timing! We are moving and decided to have a moving sale. Usually I just donate everything to Goodwill but the kids really really want to have a lemon aide stand so I said ok. We are having our sale next week, I'll let you go first and then learn from you! :) Good luck!

  9. good ideas above! We advertised on Craigslist, and in a local online newspaper. Price things LOW. Put a price sticker on everything, if possible. Otherwise you'll be answering "how much is this?" "how much is that" for hours on end, while you are trying to help or cash out other people.

    I really agree with hanging clothes up; even children's clothing! If someone has clothing I want to look through, I'm not crawling on the ground to look through it.

    and if you put a start time at 8 am, be prepared for people to come at 7, or even 6. One of ours was for 8 am, but we had someone who showed up at 5:45!!! Maybe that's just our area (New England), but be prepared. and yes, people might even ring your doorbell if you aren't out there early. I find that rude, but just to warn you!

    Good luck, they can be a lot of fun! Please update us on how it went.

  10. I have had several garage sales in my time and some were successful and some weren't... and I've never been able to figure out the reason. I'll just hope for good weather and a little luck for you!

  11. Girl this is perfect!!!!!! I'm thinking of having a garage sale before the move along with some craigslist action and I could use you fab tips and tricks! yes!!! can't wait for these posts! <3

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  12. Absolutely do NOT put everything up by your house and have empty space leading up to your sale. Place items going up the entire driveway that way it brings them in. There are always a ton of drive by's, I assume looking for something in particular that all they have to do is drive by and see if it's there such as furniture or something else large. You are a decorator, so you know to draw them in. Place things on tables and label each item but then also label the table with a big sign saying all items on this table $2, or whatever price point. Hang all clothes. My hubby usually sets up a few ladders with rods going in between them, or if you have access to hanging racks that's even better:) The better it's presented the more likely people will stop. Clean your items. It always amazes me that a lot of people put dusty things out...people are more apt to buy it if it's clean. At the very end, you determine the time when you want everything gone, maybe the last hour or half hour. Then do a huge sale (provide some sort of bag) and say $5 for anything you can fit in the bag. Sure you may not make a ton of money doing this but at the very end you have decided you already don't want it back in the house so fill it up and take it away!! Try to do another sign or two and put them up when you do the bag sale, that will bring them in and you'll be glad:)

  13. We are planning on having a Garage Sale this summer too! (gotta get rid of all the stuff I've been decluttering around the house!)

    I find it's good to place items on tables by categories (ie. all kitchenware, etc)....but I don't think I need to tell you about this, haha!

    Larger items like furniture are usually easier to sell, as does baby stuff. Clothes and misc. items are often more difficult. You're lucky to be part of a neighborhood sale though! Perhaps people will get closer to come take a look at your goods.

  14. We generally have 1 or 2 sales a year. My mom and I liike to decorate! We have had people tell us that they look for our address every summer. We give away coffee/lemonade and cookies, it helps people hang around for a while or while the women shop the guys sit and chat for a while. We think of it as a little thank you for coming out and buying our treasures. It really does not cost much and everyone enjoys it. As long as your items are priced reasonable, clear signage and set up nice (which I'm sure yours will be) You will do fabulous! Good Luck!

  15. I do much of the same that people have already suggested. Here are a few things I've found helpful when having a yard sale or being at one:
    *Put like items togther (bath, kitchen, kids, knick-knacks, etc). When things are better organized on the tables in ways that make sense people will be more willing to look it all over.
    *Mow the yard a day or two before
    *Keep all pets locked away
    *Put a few large eye catching items closer to the house to bring people up through the other stuff
    *After everything is out and you have a bit of time go back and display stuff like you would in a department store
    *Have a FREE box or table up front. People go crazy over this. Stuff you have that won't sell or won't sell for much can go there (pens, knick-knacks, candles, cleaners that are almost full but you won't use, folders, etc). People will often buy other things because they don't simply want to take the free stuff!
    *Seperate clothes by gender, age and color (when you have down time)and always hang them up
    *when it's winding down I put a box filled with grocery bags out and say fill it up for x amount

    Good luck!

  16. In our area we have people who come around to yard sales and look, don't buy, but then come back when things start to die down (around noon or so) and then make an offer to buy the rest of the stuff. Don't know if that happens in your area but be prepared to offer a price on what is left. Most of the time they resell on Craigslist or take to a local flea market to sell. If you have a large amount of clothes or toys and you just want to get rid of them and aren't concerned about how much you make from them, the "fill a bag for $X" works great! I separate the toys by size. All the little stuff together, bigger stuff together and stuffed animals together. I'm amazed at what people will/won't buy. The things I think will sell usually don't and the things I don't think will sell do! Good Luck!

  17. These are all spectacular ideas. The only other logistical one I could offer would be to price things in either dime or quarter (even easier) increments. That way, you don't have to have a ton of little change on hand. I would also advocate having your cash box locked and watched at all times.

  18. Around here, people include: "no early birds"or "early birds pay double" to discourage the sitting on your sidewalk watching you set up at 5 am. It seems to work.
    oh, and have outlets available for people to try any electronics.

  19. If I may toot my own horn on this: My husband and I critique all yard sale signs because we have ALWAYS had a lot of compliments on our signs and generally make out like bandits. We usually do bright yellow or green posterboard with big black letters saying, 'Yard Sale' and an arrow. That's it! Keep it simple, keep it BIG, and keep it at eye-level if at all possible. Little signs on the ground are not noticeable enough.

  20. Price things according to what YOU would pay for them at a garage sale. When in doubt, price low...remember you WANT to get rid of this stuff, not lug it back into the house.

  21. I have only done the garage sale thing a couple of times, but several times I have participated in our local kid's resale and I've learned it's all about the marketing. Case in point... I took a whole bunch of McTrash and other small toys and put them in gallon Ziplocks with the label "stocking stuffers". They sold like hotcakes!

  22. Everyone has had great comments so far! I love to rummage and I usually have a rummage sale once a year. Here are my tips (many are repeats!):
    - Have brightly colored, simple signs with arrows and keep them consistent so people aren't wondering where to turn next.
    - I usually only advertise on Craigslist. It's free and gets results!
    - If you don't have enough hanging space for kid's clothes, just fold them neatly on tables arranged by size. This has worked well for us. I usually tape a piece of cardstock to the front of the table to indicate what size clothing is in that area (i.e. 2T, 3T, etc) There is nothing worse than going to a rummage where you have to dig through a mountain of clothes of various sizes on a table or bin.
    - Lastly, I always make sure I wipe the toys or anything dusty off. Baby wipes or clorox wipes work great and items are much more likely to sell if they are clean. (Batteries don't hurt either!)
    Good luck! Wish I was able to stop by (I used to live in New Richmond.) but now it would be a little bit of a drive!
    Love your blog!

  23. At my most successful garage sales I am very organized. Obviously you will be as well, but here are a few things that seem to work for me.
    1. I use red plastic tablecloths on all my tables to make a cohesive and attractive look to lure buyers to my sale.
    2. I use pvc pipe that I hang across my garage. I support the middle of the pipe with a ladder. All the nice and more expensive clothes I hang on the pipe. The pipe acts like a clothing rod. My neighbor uses this same concept but with a chain link and inserts each hanger into a link.
    3. Some people love to dig through things because it makes them feel like they found something extra special so I like to have 2 boxes with odds and ends.
    4. Putting like items together makes total sense with clearly marked prices and sizes.
    5. The last couple of hours at any sale that I have I make everything 1/2 off. This works wonders.

  24. Oh, do I ever have tips ;) I organize my neighborhood sale each year and it's WELL attended! People in surrounding towns talk about it! Here are a few of my favorite tips:

    -Embrace the early bird. They are the ones who have money to spend, and if they are at your house first they have a pocket-full of cash. So what if it's 1.5 hours before your start time? (also, if I see a g-sale advertised that says "early birds pay double" or some other rude comment i won't attend ... even if I'm not planning on being early!) I'm friendly to these people but don't usually come down on prices if they try to haggle.
    -In my sale, I've noticed that people DO like to pick through bins of clothes. I have each size clearly marked (I print them out for consistency) and in separate bins. That said, men's clothes never got looked at in years' past until I hung them up.
    -I price kids clothes cheap: .50 each piece. Yes, some are 'worth' much more, but if people feel like they're getting a good deal they're likely to buy even more. True story.
    -The last couple of hours of the last day I handed people plastic grocery bags and told them they can fill the bag for $5 (for clothes, but I would guess this works w/ other things too). The bins were well picked over at that point but people still took bags and bags out of my garage! Sweet!
    -Advertise. I also have a blog for our neighborhood sale to tell people what types of things they can find at each house. I advertise the web address. People come to my house with printed lists!
    -Notice what is selling on what table. There's always a spot in my garage that no matter what I put on it, things sell. There's also a spot that no one looks at. Weird but true.
    -Keep things clean, organized, and cheap. Be friendly.
    Good luck! Have fun!

  25. Oh I just love garage sales!!! I love going to them and I love hosting them!

    I only have a couple tips for you:

    -Price as you go. I always price my items as I pull them out. I have a bajillion garage sale price tags and they are always laying around in every room of the house when I'm preparing for a sale.

    -I also make sure I have my stuff nice and spread out the day of the sale. I don't want anyone to have to "rummage" through stuff. Most people like to just walk up and see everything. One trick I usually do {and this is probably so wrong}, but I go to Walmart and buy the $12 garment racks. I put them together for the day of the sale to hang my bags/purses and any clothes that I may be selling. Then after the sale is over, I disassemble them and take them back to Walmart. {I hope no one who reads this works at Walmart!!}

    - And last but not least, I always price things slightly higher than what I want to get for it. People at garage sales always try to bargain with you. They want to feel like they got a deal. So if you have something marked $5, but they "wheeled and dealed" with you and got it for $4, then they walk away feeling like they got a good deal and you wound up getting what you wanted for the item anyway. Make sense?

    I hope it goes well and that some of our tips and tricks work for you!! Good luck! If I lived close, I'd help you in a heartbeat! I love that kind of stuff!

  26. Try to keep it in the driveway (hopefully it won't rain)...we had it in our garage one time and people wanted to buy things that were hanging in our garage...It was crazy!!!

  27. Try getting other families in on the sale. In our area, entire street yard sales are more popular.

  28. My friends and I have a sale once a year. This year I swore that I wasn't going to have another (only because it's SO much work) but as I went through my home, I had WAY too much to get rid of again and so I caved and had the sale anyway. I was happy with the extra cash that I made. BUT I will say this, our best sale WAS our very FIRST sale.

    I posted tips on my blog, check it out, if you'd like.

    Good LUCK with your sale!

  29. Hey Jen! Well you already sweetly shared my post on your facebook site but here it is again in case any commenters want to look - My advice for having a successful garage sale:

  30. I live near your neck of the woods, and I held a garage sale about a month ago. I posted a bit about it here:

    It's important to keep in mind that regardless of how much money you make, all of the 'stuff' that you don't want anymore will be gone! Good luck!

  31. Many great ideas! So much so that I am going to echo a few while letting you know of my tips. Why do I have this knowledge? We've had one once a year for at least the past ten years and about half have been put on by me.

    1) Charity. Not only should you try to donate what doesn't sell but give some money to charity and advertise it! One year I put out a sign stating that it was going towards sending me overseas as a student ambassador and people who couldn't find anything to buy would actually just gvie me some for the trip.

    2) Advertise! CL is great, so are your local newspapers (usually have to set up the ad to run for a week and buy the ad a week before you want it to run-be sure to advertise some items that are high ticket that you are selling such as furniture, kitchen goods, large womens clothes, baby items, tools, and books), but don't forget about the signs on the posts! Many a driver doesn't read the paper or CL and will get pulled in by a "Yard Sale --->" sign!

    3) Times. Saturday is your major money making day. If you host it on Friday expect a nearly even distribution of income on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is usually your day to try to get rid of things and you will want to start a bit later because of church. And, again, set your posted time for an hour after youc an tolerate the waiting cars.

    4) Pricing. Definately price a bit higher on the larger items and then give "deals". For people who buy a lot of stuff give them a flat rate for what they bring to the table. Usually they'll go back and spend more because you give deals! And for like items try to set one rate (shirts 75 cents, etc). Don't be afraid to have a free bin for the kiddos, either!

    5) Extras. A bake sale is a great way to bring in more income, keep the kids entertained, and teach a lot of valuable math and social skills! And don't forget to put on music in the background that is fairly PC (no cursing rap) for all involved.

    My biggest tip? DON'T SIT BEHIND THE TABLE! It is considered rude (unless a rush of people is there and you need to be there) and turns people off. Go out and talk to people, make deals, be friendly. If no one is there then try to reshelve leftover items. It makes things more appealing and makes drivers think someone is there. Who wants the awkward silence of being the only one? Plus, if you speak other languages, you make more people feel welcome!

    Good luck. Remember to place things in a visually appealing way that all heights can see and to use it as a learning experience!

  32. how fun! No real advice here other than advertise and organize!!! Going to be having a yard sale soon too if all goes well! :)

  33. I would suggest that one of the main things you focus on, is accessibility. Make sure people know Where your sale is and how to get there! Put several signs up to lead people to your house, and make those signs catch their attention! Balloons are a good way to go, but they can be confused with a birthday party if the signs don't explain that it's a garage sale.
    Also, Price just a little over what you actually want to get for your items. I like to price things about 25-50% higher than what I'll actually take. Oh, and since you are having it in your garage, if there is anything in there that is NOT for sale, make sure it's out of sight. This can be hard, but we got CONSTANT inquiries about our items that were not for sale. It got quite aggravating when we were trying to help the customers. They even asked about our Garage Storage Cabinets! That was a little ridiculous. Oh, and have FUN! Play music in the background and chat up the customers and you'll enjoy your sale no matter how much you make.

  34. Most of my tips are already mentioned, so I won't repeat. But here are my biggest tips that no one's mentioned yet:

    - When trying to decide what to price something, start at 10% of what you paid for it (give or take depending on the item). Seems awfully low when you paid good money for something, but no one wants to pay much at a garage sale.

    - Always, always, ALWAYS have the cash box within reach. In sight isn't enough—in reach. If you wander around like someone else suggested above, then make sure another adult you trust is within reach of it. NEVER go into the house or out into the driveway to talk to someone or consult your spouse without taking the cash box with you. You'd be surprised how often people will try to lift money from it, or even take the whole thing.

    - Also NEVER EVER let anyone you don't know personally into your house. So what if it's a sweet old man or a mom with a toddler who has to pee? That's how your house gets cased out for future burglaries. Also, if you advertise big ticket items on CL and whatnot ahead of time (which is actually a good idea for your sale), be sure your house is safe (and you're not alone) the couple of days leading up to the sale. I've heard of too many people having their homes broken into the night or so before the sale.

    This advice makes it sound like I live in a bad neighborhood, but trust me, this happens even in the good ones.

  35. There are some great suggestions here.

    I think timing is everything. My most successful yard sales have been those I scheduled on the first Saturday of the month. That's a good day to draw in people who get paid bi-monthly, usually the 1st & 15th or 15th & 30th.... as well as those who get social security or other checks around the first of the month.

    Also... hang all clothing up.

    Have plenty of ones, fives and coins to make change.

    Save your plastic grocery sacks. People like their purchases bagged for them. It's easier to carry.

    Keep your pets in the house. A lot of people are afraid of even the most friendly of dogs.

    Good Luck!

  36. Hi Jen! I wrote a post after the last garage sale we did. It was a successful sale so I hope the info helps!

  37. My daughter just did a lemonade stand at our garage sale and made a lot of money off of 25 cent lemonade and 25 cent pretzels. Walmart has a big bin of pretzels with Disney's car design on them. They were $2.50 for 45 small packs. At 25 cents each, that is an easy and good profit for the kiddos. The people that came liked having a snack with their lemonade, and I liked the fact that it was packaged. I'm weird about buying baked goods from complete strangers! :) The other garage sale tips are right on! Good signs, everything priced to sell, neatly arranged on tables, and friendly people behind the money table. Good luck.

  38. Make sure all items are marked clearly - don't do the whole "that whole box is .25" For one, you lose money on the nicer items and for another who wants to dig through a box a musty clothes just pulled from the basement?!

    Set up your yard sale like a store. Display is everything. Appeal to those who are checking out your sale in a "drive by." If i don't see anything that draws me in, I will keep on going until I find one that is worth my time pulling the kids out and lugging them around.

    Post your sale on Craigslist and keep it updated.

    If something needs some cleaning, clean it. Yes, it takes a bit more time, but you could make a couple bucks more on something that looks new rather than beat up and dirty. Everything should look as nice as possible.

    Bake some chocolate chip cookies or chocolate peanut butter cookies and have the kids sell them!! People will buy 2 cookies for .75 and give kids a whole dollar cause they =)

  39. I have no tips because I have never had a garage sale. BUT, I want to say I would totally go to your sale :)

  40. WOW, you're in LUCK! My weekly organizing article is on just that! :)

  41. Hope your sale goes well! We're having a 2 day sale (Fri/Sat), today we made over $1000. My mom had loads and loads of stuff though. We had everything super organized by category and were willing to lower prices to get people to buy stuff. We'll see how tomorrow goes! Good luck!


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