Garage Sale 101, Part 4 – Pricing, Advertising, and Everything Else

More of the Garage Sale Gurus Guide to Garage Sales

So, your spare room or garage is now full of stuff you’ve set aside to sell at the big sale. It’s time to price and the question is, what’s it worth? Here are some hints.

  • Remember the main goal is to get this stuff out of your house (and into someone else’s!)
  • The general guide for pricing is 1/4-1/5 the value of the item new, if it’s in  clean, working condition. If it’s not in working condition, you may want to think about if it’s worth selling.  Some people haunt garage sales looking for things to fix, but they expect to pay very little. If something is broken, be honest and write what’s wrong with it on the tag.
  • An easy way to price: Ask yourself the most you would be willing to pay for the item.
  • Price as you go.  You will be glad you did.  There is nothing more disheartening than looking at a mountain of un-priced stuff.
  • Buy the pre-printed pricing labels. You’ll be amazed how much time it saves.
  • Remember people will haggle so allow room in the price for bargaining. The first rule of haggling is “She who makes the first offer, loses.”
  • Don’t forget the Free Box for stuff you just can’t throw out. Someone might be able to use it.

There’s actually a Garage Sale Price Guide. It’s out of print but still available on Amazon. Since it was published in 1995, it might be a little outdated, but it also gives good tips on having a sale and the item lists may remind you of something you missed in your hunt for stuff to sell.  Here’s a link to it on Amazon.

Next, you need to think about advertising. How are you going to get the word out that you’re having a sale?

  • If you have the time and money, place an ad in the local paper that most garage salers read. In Cleveland, it’s the Sun newspapers. In Medina County, it’s the free Tuesday Gazette.  You can say (and pay) as much as you want, but the very minimum is the date(s), time(s), and the address.  It’s also good to add in some details – “Huge multi-family sale! Something for everyone! Tons of good clean stuff!”
  • Some experts advise putting out the sign in your yard the day before with “Tomorrow” over the date.
  • Many experts swear by balloons on the signs—but we’ve found they tend to deflate or burst. Maybe we’re doing it wrong??
  • You can never have too many signs.  The main thing they should say is “Garage Sale” with a big arrow pointing the right direction.  If you have extra room, you can also put the date and address.  If you think it might rain, cover them in plastic wrap.
  • Put a sign at every possibly intersection, on every possible route to your house from all the main roads in your area. We used to live on a very short, rather hidden street and usually put up at least 12 signs.  Some customers even told us that they had fun following the signs to the sale. If you live on a well-known street, you won’t need as many. Don’t underestimate the importance of signs!

Now it’s time for some cold, hard facts about cold, hard cash. We’re talking bookkeeping!

  • Keep track of how much you pay for signs and advertising. You should factor this in at the end when you divvy up the money.
  • There are many methods of keeping track of who earned how much from a cash register (don’t laugh, I’ve seen one!) to a pad of paper with columns and a calculator.
  • An easy way to keep track is different colored price tags or just initials.
  • Sometimes people will offer a check.  Unless you know them, it’s better to offer to hold the item for a limited time (30 minutes or so) and direct the customer to the nearest ATM.
  • Don’t take anything over a $20 bill, unless you know the person. Scam artists sometimes target garage sales.  If someone hands you a $20 or a $10, set it under something in plain view when you make change.  That way, if you get distracted, there’s no confusion as to what they gave you.
  • How much change do you need?  Usually, we started out with about $60 — a roll of quarters ($10), a roll of dimes ($5), $1 in nickels, four five dollar bills ($20) and the rest in singles. You might be able to get by with less but, speaking as a customer, I find it really annoying when I pull out my hard-earned cash to buy something from someone and they say, “Oh, gee, I don’t have change for that.” Hint: You’re having a garage sale. People are going to expect to pay the price and receive correct change.

Speaking of money leads right into the next subject which is how many people will you need to run the sale? Below is what we have concluded.

  • You will need at least two for most of the time, three to four at the beginning.
  • One person takes the money and (sometimes with assistance) does the bookkeeping.  One person will wrap and bag items.  One person will answer questions and otherwise assist. (Send out for more donuts, lunch, re-organize as things are sold, etc).
  • Older children and husbands can help carry stuff to cars and load.My husband is also great at encouraging people to buy!

In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to worry about safety, but we all know that our world, though beautiful, is imperfect. So, here are some things to remember.

  • Keep all items “not for sale” out of sight. Place them in cupboards or cover them with old sheets of paper.
  • Keep expensive items close to the attended cash box so you can keep an eye on them.
  • Do not keep large amounts of money in the cash box and never leave it unattended. Plan how you will handle the accumulation of cash. Always have at least two people managing the sale–one to watch, and another to help people.
  • Always greet your customers. A friendly greeting lets people know you are aware of their presence. (It’s also nice to thank them for coming, even if they didn’t buy anything).
  • Keep the doors to your house locked. While you are busy with the sale, a burglar may try to gain entry to your home. If you decide to accept checks, make sure the person has at least two pieces of identification and that pictures and signatures match.
  • Check your homeowners insurance to be sure you are covered if someone trips and gets hurt.  One article suggested you should have $500,000 coverage in case of such an accident.

That’s it! Happy Garage Saleing! Let me know how it goes!

About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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