I hate spring cleaning. I do it when I can only because I don’t have room for all the clutter that seems to gather over the winter. I also really like the extra cash I can make when I get it done in time for our community Garage Sale. The mess won’t motivate me nearly as much as the thought of enough money for some dinners out, a new outfit or a Starbucks card to keep in my purse. (For emergencies only, of course!)
I choose the hardest room first. For me that could mean biggest, messiest or the one that hasn’t seen a cleaning in a good long time. Next I go through everyone’s clothing, the bedrooms, and the kitchen in that order.
I take everything out and do a quick Q&A with myself with each item. Do I need to keep it? Can I sell it? Should I give it away? Is it time to throw it away?
If I’ve decided it’s going to be a for sale item I try to mark it with a price right away. Then it goes neatly folded or wrapped into a box. The box gets labeled with the category of items listed (ie, clothing, kitchen, books, knick-knacks, etc.). In big, very bold black marker I write ‘Garage Sale’ across several sides. This is to make sure nobody accidentally takes it to the curb, donates it to the thrift shop or decides they really want it after all.
I collect these boxes from each room as I go and keep all the boxes in the same place in the garage or storage room. This makes setting up for the garage sale very simple and straightforward. Even a child could help you!
Choose your date and time. Use posters, community boards, even free radio announcements if your local radio station announces garage sales. You will want to advertise online as well. If your community is having a garage sale, save yourself the work and join them. They may ask for a few dollars to help pay for the advertising, but it will save you hours of time and energy.
When advertising for a garage sale, include items that draw bargain hunters. Baby clothes, paraphernalia, furniture and toys are big draws. Antiques, household appliances and specialty items will bring a completely different crowd. Give people an idea of what you have for sale.
Set up tables in your garage or on your yard for items such as clothing, kitchenware, books and CDs. Tools, toys and furniture can be on a blanket on the ground. The more organized your sale looks, the more likely you are to get a sale and get the price you are asking. During your slow times (if you have any) walk around and tidy piles and reorganize tables. Nobody likes to show up at a sale and feel like there’s really nothing left because of gaping empty spots on your tables.
Make sure you have coins and cash ready. Most people will bring cash, but decide ahead of time what you will do if someone wants to pay with a check or large bill ($50 bills and higher can politely be refused if you are concerned about counterfeit tender).
Ask a friend or the kids to join you. There’s nothing worse than finishing your second cup of coffee and realizing you have to use the bathroom really, really badly but you can’t leave the sale alone. Having a helper also gives you assistance should the shoppers come in swarms or if there’s an emergency of some kind.
People are drawn to music. Fun, upbeat music will attract people to your sale. It will also help them feel more comfortable talking amongst themselves about your items without fearing that you are listening in. Silent shopping is never comfortable, even Wal-Mart plays music!
Have a plan for where the left-overs will go and when they will go there. Don’t make the mistake of skipping this important step. The last thing you want is a garage sale set up in the garage for three months while you decide what to do with it all. Have boxes or bags ready before it even begins. When your day is done, carefully pack everything away and label the boxes. Have your assistant help you load them in the car and take them away immediately. This might even be a good time to deposit that truckload of money you just made!
Happy garage selling!
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