The 5 P's for Having an Effective Garage Sale


It’s that time of year again, spring is sprung and the cleaning out has begun. Households across the nation are taking advantage of the warmer weather and opening their driveways to the influx of bargain shoppers looking for that perfect find that you once thought yourself was an item you couldn’t live without. You’ve seen all the shows on tv about organization and hoarding and think to yourself, wouldn’t it be great to clear out my excess and make some money? But where to start…. Following the 5P’s for basic guidelines to having a successful garage sale will help you to get started. Garage sales not only help you to eliminate your excess clutter but will help you to recoup some of the cost from those purchased items while also helping the community by reducing, reusing, recycling or re-purposing.

Planning Many people like to plan ahead for yearly garage sales. Many times household purging can even lead to bi-annual sales. Take the spring and summer to collect, price and box items to sell in the early fall. Take the fall and winter to collect and plan for a sale in the spring.

Promoting Let the public know about your sale well in advance. If your sale is on Saturday be sure to start posting it as early as Wednesday. Post your garage sale through advertisements in the newspaper, post on bulletin boards, and use online sites such as craigslist, Facebook, twitter and other forms of media. Promote your specific big attraction items to draw in the crowds. If you’re advertising your garage sale from 7am to 1pm, be ready for the early birds at 6:30am. The early birds are the professional garage sale shoppers that are ready to spend their money and know what they want so don’t be aggravated by them. Make sure your signage is effective with a large, easy to read address, date and time. Be sure to post enough signs at corners where there are turns to be sure to direct the traffic directly to your house.

Preparation Set up your items with an easy flow, display like items together along with like categories (ie. baby stuff, toys, books, clothes, shoes, electronics, etc.). Scatter your merchandise so items will be easy to look through and not piled on top of each other. If you’re having a large sale, it will save you time pricing if you can group items together in sections (ie. Everything on this table $1, Anything in this box $2, or all paperback books $.50, etc.). Collaborative garage sales work well if you don't have many items to sell. Consider asking a neighbor or friend to participate in your sale. The more items you have to offer, the more likely buyers will be to stop at your sale and look around. Be prepared with plenty of small bills and change for opening the sale. Also be prepared to answer any questions the buyer might have about their potential purchases. For instance, know how old major appliances are and be sure not to sell items that no longer meet safety requirements such as cribs, car seats, etc.

Pricing Determine what your goal is for your garage sale. Ask yourself if you are trying to simply get rid of your stuff or are you trying to sell things to make money. If you are simply wanting to purge, then you want to make sure to price your items low to ensure that you will get rid of them. If the items are in good condition, pricing them at approximately 10% of the items original price is reasonable. If you are looking to make a little more for your expensive items that are in excellent condition, pricing in the 20-30% of the original price range is usually attainable. For pricing guidelines, visit thrift stores, not eBay and you can also check out the salvation army donation valuation guidelines. Garage sales are well known for people using their bartering skills. Be sure to have firm bottom line prices in mind for what your minimum selling price will be. Be ready to cut prices a few hours before the sale ends if your goal is to get rid of it all. Don't be discouraged if a buyer asks you to sell something for half of your asking price, just start the negotiation. Offer to take the interested parties name and number and let them know you might meet their price if the item doesn’t sell at the end of the day.

Packing Up Donate leftovers. Several Charities such as Habitat For Humanity and the Kidney Foundation will make scheduled pick ups if you have items in good condition leftover. Consider donating remaining items to Goodwill Industries or a local community outreach program. Make sure to get a receipt for your donations because they can be a tax write-off. Once everything is removed or donated, sit back, enjoy the extra cash and the increased space you have made in your home.