Whenever I do a garage, yard, moving or estate sale, the results are typically pretty darn good. In comparison with other sales I’ve seen, I can understand and appreciate what goes into making a sale successful, and I see what can make it a failure.
Therefore, to get maximum results from your sale, I’ve concluded that there are particular and essential elements that need to be in place to make it successful.
Before I get into that, a good question to ask yourself is, “Do I just want to get rid of stuff or do I want to make as much money as I can selling stuff?”
That goal question will help determine how you approach your sale. If your goal is both – to get rid of stuff and make lots of money doing it – than that’s okay too. However it’s important to decide which goal is MORE important.
Ideally, when the goal is to clear out your stuff, then what’s left over after the sale is finished should be donated and not kept around. You’ll want to psych yourself up for that. Just let it go!
Okay, so now let’s get into what makes a sale successful.
Price to sell
That piece of furniture you purchased for $1000 or more, if you want it gone, sell it at a very low price (practically a giveaway price). If you do, it goes fast. If you over price, it may just sit there all day.
This, of course, is with the goal of getting rid of stuff as the priority over making as much money as you can for your stuff.
Get dollar store price stickers and put a price on every single item. The thing I dislike the most at sales is not seeing price tags on items I’m interested in and having to ask someone “How much?”
You can however make signage to price groups of items (CDs, DVDs, books, albums, jewelry, clothing).
For example: softcover books $2, hardcover $4, paperback $.50 and for clothing, blouses $5; pants $4; tee-shirts $2; etc.)
Display items in attractive fashion.
Groupings of like items is key. Take a look at the end of this article for typical categories of stuff many people have around.
Kitchenware gets grouped on a table (or counter or shelving) like retail store displays. Decor pieces grouped on another display spot. And so forth and so on.
Avoid creating a cluttered table, like piling stuff on it. Instead, display them so that each item can be seen easily.
Another thing to consider for an indoor sale is to have all the display tables in areas where helpers can supervise.
My last word of advice on displaying stuff is to display items for sale only on display tables, NOT on furniture pieces you’re selling (unless it’s a table lamp or one décor piece).
Allow pathways for shoppers
Whether your sale is in the garage and partly outside or if it’s an indoor sale, try to ensure that tables and displays allow shoppers to browse without bumping into each other or worse, not allowing other people to view what’s on the tables because they can’t get to it.
After you have displayed stuff, take pictures of the displays and of the key furniture items you’re selling. These photos are used for your online ads to entice people to come to your sale.
When shoppers see stuff they want, they will make a point of coming to your sale, even if it’s not close to them.
Post online ads
There are various online garage sale sites where you can post your sale for free. If you want to be featured with good placement, some sites offer a low fee to get your ad featured. Here are some places to post your ads:
- Facebook Marketplace
- estatesale.com – for esate sale listings only
Keep your ad simple, but enticing. Lure them in with photos. I recommend posting the ads 5 days before the sale.
Post neighborhood signs
You can purchase pre-made garage sale signs or make your own (cheaper). I use bright neon-colored poster papers.
Keep the information brief and don’t clutter up the sign. People can’t read it all when driving by, so keep it short. Include only vital information like “Garage Sale – Sat. (the date) – (street address).
Drive around with packing tape to post your sign up around neighboring street corners and busy street intersections nearby. At a stop sign, post one facing cars going in that direction, and across the street for cars going in the other direction.
Have starting cash
You don’t need a lot of cash, but you’ll need some on hand before you open your sale. I recommend having $20-25 in ones; $15 in fives; $20 in tens. You’ll be surprised how your first shopper will give you a $20 bill for a $2 item at the beginning of your sale!
Make guiding signage
A guiding sign would be something like, “Patio furniture for sale in backyard” or “Browse our collection of albums” or “Please pay cashier at table only”.
These are optional and not necessary, but it can be helpful if the sale is spread out over various areas.
Draw attention to sale outside
Create a large poster with a poster board that says, “Garage Sale Here Today”. Place that outside in front of the house and visible to drive-by people. You can even have balloons around the sign or the house to draw attention to your sale.
Set sale hours
Some shoppers who have seen the ads or neighborhood signs will arrive early before you’re ready to open the sale. I recommend not allowing them to shop before you’re completely set up and ready.
If you’re still bringing things out, it is distracting to have shoppers start going through stuff because it isn’t easy to keep an eye on them while they look around. So let them line up and wait outside.
By the way, most sales are better to run one day, on Saturday. On Sundays, you’ll find many people going to Church, so you’ll miss out on Church-going shoppers until late morning.
There are people who will try to steal at garage sales. Some are “professional” thieves who go to garage sales to steal whatever they can. Sometimes they come in small groups, but you can’t necessarily tell that they are with a group. While one is distracting you with several items to buy or bargaining with the prices, the others in their group will walk off with stuff.
That is why I recommend having helpers around to keep an eye on shoppers while you’re busy handling people who are buying stuff and dealing with money.
At the beginning of the sale, if lots of people have been waiting to enter the sale, you might consider only allowing a certain number of people in at a time. Too many people coming in all at once can spell disaster unless you have enough helpers to handle the crowds, which brings me to this next point …
Have enough helpers and a cashier table
If your sale is in the garage and driveway, or a yard sale where everything is out front, you probably only need yourself and one helper.
On the other hand, if your sale is indoors, it’s a good idea to assign a helper to certain areas, especially where display tables are.
For an indoor moving sale where you might have boxed up items to move with you, I recommend putting those in a room (or garage) where you won’t allow people to go. You can make a sign, “Do not enter” on rooms where you don’t want people to be.
When you have a 2-story home, only leave furniture items for sale upstairs so you don’t have to be concerned about people stealing stuff in areas not supervised by your helpers.
Having a table for the cashier near the exit is a great way to direct people who are buying stuff. It’s a good idea for only one person to take in the cash, and not allow people to give money to helpers. The reason is, if they paid a helper and are still walking around shopping, it’s hard to know who paid for what. And having the table near the exit is also a way to avoid theft from people who walk out without paying for your stuff.
Be friendly and inviting
I believe that the reason people like my sales is because me and my helpers are always customer-oriented and greet people with a smile. That initial greeting welcomes the shopper and makes them feel more comfortable looking around. It also gives them a nice shopping experience.
Don’t be offended at low price offers. Garage-salers are going to your sale for a bargain, and will usually try to bargain with you to get a deal.
If the time of day is still early from when you opened, consider the offers and by mid day, I recommend that you accept whatever offers come your way. In other words, be more willing to bring your price down on what’s left.
Wow, this article turned out a lot longer than I planned! So, I shall wrap this up now.
I must say, the information I’ve provided here has turned into a very comprehensive guide to holding a successful garage sale (or whatever type of sale you’re having). Lucky you!
It may seem like a lot goes into preparing and holding a sale, and there is, I won’t lie.
It’s just not as easy as gathering up some of your stuff, throwing it on tables, and hoping you get people to your sale. It takes planning and preparation. Plain and simple.
However, it’s worth it. Getting rid of stuff and making some money doing that has its rewards.
So go ahead and use some of your profits from the sale and treat yourself (and family) to a nice dinner out!
COMMON CATEGORIES OF MERCHANDISE
- Home furnishings (throw pillows, curtains, rugs, lamps)
- Home decor
- Kitchen dish ware, small appliances, pots/pans, silverware, glassware, bowls
- Bed & bath linens
- Table linens
- Toys, games
- Clothing, shoes, accessories
- Electronics (TVs, stereo etc)
- Books, DVDs, CDs, albums
- Stationary, office supplies
- Tools, hardware
- Sports gear
- Housewares (light bulbs, etc)
- Cleaning (vacuums, sweepers, ironing boards, etc)
- Pet stuff
- Patio / outdoors
- Garden & gardening