6 Keys to a Successful Garage Sale

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By Marianne Reid Anderson

If you have items that you no longer want or need, a garage sale is a great way to clean out your home and earn back some of the value of your items. Using the following keys to a successful garage sale will help you maximize your earning potential:

The More the Merrier – The larger the garage sale, the larger the crowd of shoppers; otherwise, you may end up with a lot of drive-by looker-on’s that don’t bother to park and peruse. So if you are arranging a garage sale, be sure and let friends and family know that they are welcome to bring items and then give them a certain area where they can setup. Just make sure that they are responsible for making their own sales because it is impossible to know how they might negotiate a price. You may also want to consider organizing your neighbors to all having a garage sale on the same day because multi-family and neighborhood garage sales always attract a large number of shoppers.

Garage Sale signEveryone Wants a Deal – Bragging rights for a magnificent deal is part of the fun of going to a garage sale. Everyone wants to come home with their treasure or treasures and say, “I got this and this for only…” So you need to price your items accordingly. Know how low you are willing to go on certain items and then give yourself a retail mark-up of at least 25% so that you can negotiate down to your acceptable price. If you over-inflate a price, then many times you won’t even get an offer because shoppers think you won’t bargain enough; likewise, if you only promote the price you are willing to accept, then you have taken away the fun for the garage sale enthusiast in getting a bargain.

Early Bird Catches the Worm – There are some very professional garage sale shoppers out there that compete be the first to examine your wares. They often show up hours before your designated start time while you are distracted and busy setting up. For example, if you say the garage sale is to start at 9:00 a.m. you may receive buyers as early as 7:00 a.m., wanting to be the first to see what collectibles or prized items you may be selling. Since this behavior puts you in the captain’s chair, you can set the rule of “no negotiations before start time” that way they can either choose to pay your asking price or take their chances and come back when you are more ready to deal.

Setting up Shop – When throwing a garage sale, you are turning your garage and front lawn into a store and just like any establishment, you want to present your items for sale in the best possible way. Be sure and organize your items with like things or by like price, make sure electronics work even if they work slowly or noisily, and make sure items are dusted and children’s items are washed and presentable. Taking the time to prepare your items for sale will enable you to ask for and receive the best possible offer.

Avoiding an “oops” – An “oops” is when you sell an item at a garage sale for very little that turns out to be rather valuable such as an original Barbie®, or a unusual version of Monopoly® that is still in shrink wrap or something that just plain looks like a piece of junk that someone considers a prized object. The key to avoiding an “oops” is to look up items on an auction site, such as Ebay® first, so you know what they are worth. This way, you can price the items accurately, knowing that selling at a garage sale is providing you the convenience of avoiding shipping, handling, and so forth but also empowers you to know that you have an alternative if none of your garage sale customers are willing to meet your price.

Most Important Key: Letting People Know – So remember to advertise! If your neighborhood, church, or charity is planning a garage sale, flea market or rummage sale, be sure to let people know, beginning with us at Northern Connection magazine. Call 724-940-2444 or email us at NCmagazine@northernconnectionmag.com to learn about our special “Happening Highlight” pricing.