Throw a Stellar Yard Sale with These Pro Tips

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Photos
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Photos

It’s that time of year again – and people are eager to get their paws on your possessions. Are you ready to purge and make some money doing it?

Hosting a garage/yard sale can be incredibly worthwhile but is it for you?

  • Are you ready to let go of unnecessary items? Start in one room and see if you can readily identify items you no longer need or use. Ask yourself, “How long has it been since I used this?” “Will I really ever get around to it?” “Do I love it or is it just taking up space?”
  • How much stuff do you have? If you have enough to line your garage and fill your yard – it may be worth your while. A good sale has curb appeal and a variety of items to choose from. Be sure that you have some large ticket items such as furniture or equipment to attract buyers and boost your profit.
  • What’s your time worth? There is much prep involved to run an efficient and worthy sale. You may have to take the day off work and even sacrifice your weekend. Summer days are limited so take some time to reflect on if this is the best use of your time.
  • Do you live close to a heavy traffic area? The more accessible your sale, the more likely passerby’s are to stop and peruse. If you aren’t in a prime location, you can supplement by maximizing your marketing.

If you do it well – running a sale can be enjoyable and profitable. Read below to become a Garage Sale Guru.

Pick your Dates

Most extreme garage salers are ready to buy come Thursday morning. Opt for a two-day sale – and if you run through on a Saturday, be sure to make it short. Customers will wither come Saturday afternoon and you don’t really want to spend your day staring down cars.

Establish your Start Time

If you advertise your sale for 9 a.m., expect shoppers to arrive at 8:30. If you are struggling to get items out as timely as possible, know that extreme salers will be there right beside you – rummaging with cash in hand, ready to buy and move on to the next. Don’t be afraid to be firm with your start time, but also keep in mind that most sales are made within the first few hours on the first day.

Stock Up on Supplies

Supplies to start gathering include stickers, materials for signs, tables (you will always need more than you think), a garment rack, shelves, boxes or bins for large amounts of similar loose items, plastic bags for merchandise, a cash box and/or an apron with pockets to keep money nearby and well managed. Be sure to get lots of $1 and $5 bills, as well as quarters. If you’ve marketed your sale well, people that may not have planned to shop won’t be able to resist and will likely show up unprepared with larger bills.

Delegate Duties

Let friends and family know that you are planning to have a sale and extend an invitation to bring their items. But be assertive – it’s tempting for others to use it as an opportunity to dump their unwanted stuff on you. Make sure they know they assume responsibility for pricing and initiating their own items. Take it a step further and ask them when they are free to help with set-up, day-of assistance, or take-down duties. Reinforcements are necessary and will minimize the stress of a heavy shopper flow.

Let Go of Leftovers

There are a lot of charities in West Michigan that are more than happy to take your leftover items – and may even pick them up for you. Reach out to Salvation Army, In The Image, or World Mission Thrift to see if you can schedule a pick-up shortly after the sale.

Marketing Matters

I can’t stress enough the importance of marketing to attract potential buyers.  Bright colored, clean signage with large bold letters is a must. The sturdier the sign the better so it doesn’t wither away with the wind. Be sure to keep it simple, i.e. “Sale, Th, Fri 9-2, Address” with an arrow pointing shoppers in the right direction. Don’t forget to go viral with your sale in advance, too. Post photos of your most attractive items to popular platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, GRSale, and Garage Sale Tracker. Extreme salers will be on the lookout days ahead of time, planning their attack.

Set the Stage

Ideally, you are in a place to temporarily give up your garage to stage sale items. I typically start by lining the garage with tables in a U-shape, progressively placing items on top of them, as well as underneath in storage containers or boxes. Large items can be stored behind. This will make pricing and bringing items out to the forefront much easier. And by forefront – I mean yard. The more you have out and visible, the better. Be sure to showcase large ticket and bright colored items. It’s OK to have items in the garage as well, as long as they have a lot of treasures to admire along the way.

Cluster Categories

Cluster similar items together – i.e. housewares, tools, beauty supplies, etc. Shoppers will be on the hunt for particular items and offering a well-organized system will be helpful in keeping the sale running smoothly. Be sure to keep it ergonomic – shoppers want items at eye level and don’t want to have to bend over. Hanging clothing is ideal. If items need to be stored in boxes or bins, consider using a container as a pedestal to increase height.

If you just can’t get everything off the ground, it’s OK to lay out sheets or tarps with items–even better if they are toys, the kids can handle it. On the day of the sale, be sure to keep valuables close! This includes jewelry, electronics and other high-ticket items that could easily be stolen. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.

Price Like a Pro

Price everything! People get uncomfortable making offers and can get impatient if you are not readily available to answer questions. Price items to sell–and know what your top and bottom dollar amounts are. You may have spent a pretty penny on items, but a general rule of thumb is to price items at 10-30 percent of the cost purchased new. Picking a price can be tough – check out this guide to get you on the right track.

Opt to purchase pre-labeled stickers with amounts as this will save you a ton of time! Also consider making catch-all signs for items such as clothing, indicating the amount for different garments–and don’t be afraid to state “Unless Marked Otherwise” to get a better return on more valuable items.

Hustle with the Hagglers

You will get haggled. This is part of the fun and it’s OK to get your hustle on. I discourage considering any offers the first few hours of your sale. Stay strong! People love getting things for next to nothing, but chances are there will be a buyer out there that appreciates the value and fair pricing of your precious possessions.

*Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Photos

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