Planning a garage sale

jennJune 5, 2005

Hello, I don't stop by here much but I have a question and this is the best place for it. :-)

We're planning a garage sale two weeks away. We have a lot of stuff to sell. A lot of it is not junk, we just have too much stuff (combined two households when we got married)!

Anyway, we're planning to hold it on Saturday only and I'm trying to set the hours. 8-2? 7-3? 8-3? I'm wondering if most people will come in the morning and then we'll sit around without much activity until it ends in the afternoon, or if a steady stream of people continue coming throughout the day. Since we won't be the only garage sale in town and shoppers can't go to all of them, they'll pick some to go to and then skip the rest. I'm afraid we won't have many shoppers on just one day. Then again, our neighbors across the street made $2400.00 on their Saturday-only sale! Every Saturday monrning, we see cars drive up and down this street obviously looking for a garage sale, and I'm sure we'll have no shortage of that on the day of our sale.

I'm planning to make 6 signs to put at the end of our street and on the adjoining main streets leading to ours. I will make them all identical so that drivers can just follow the signs. I bought white and flourescent pink poster boards, and I'm going to write the words in thick black ink on the white board and then glue or tape a thick border of the pink poster board around the white board. I got the idea from a garage sale I went to yesterday -- the signs had a bright green border and were all identical so I just had to look for the identical signs. Much less confusing than just "yard sale ------>" signs that all look different -- you wonder if they are all leading to the same garage sale!

Anyway.... what's your experience with the number of shoppers in one day? Will we have much better results if we do it on two days? But we really, really don't want to have a garage sale on Sunday.


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I have done Saturday only sales, and Fri-Sat sales. Never had a Sunday sale; around here they are rare, and folks are not sale-hopping.

When I do two-day sales, I find that I get more shoppers on Friday than Saturday.

As far as overall hours, the earlier the better. No kidding - if you have your setup in place at 7:30, you should get some early bird traffic.

I typically have dead time from 2-3, get one or two stragglers at 3 and then I close.

Don't discount one or two stragglers. I sold some of my bulkier items to one of my last stragglers this time.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 2:25PM
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We usually advertise ours for 9-2 and plan to start at 8 for the earlybirds. There is always a big rush at the beginning, then slow but steady until about noon. The early afternoon can be dead, but there's always a rush around 2. These are the people hoping to get the stuff for free! But we've sold some big items at the end of the day too.

We always use neon signs too.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 2:38PM
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Thank you for the helpful comments.

Two other family members are planning to contribute some things. I'm wondering if our own profits will go down when others are selling with us, or if other items bring more people, therefore more profits to each individual. Does anyone have any experience with that?


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 3:05PM
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I have a couple of friends that always put things, usually bigger things, in my sale. Although this last time, she put a purse and a couple of Playstation games out there, and the customer who bought her purse for $1 bought my Healthrider for $25.

And the person who bought my old plastic lawn furniture ended up buying my neighbor's dogrun and doghouse.

Seems it can be mutually beneficial as long as it's not a lot of 'someone else's stuff' to keep the $ separate.

My neighbor with the dogrun made it worth my while because she hung out with me during the sale, and helped me load up bigger items in the customers' cars.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 3:53PM
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Clear large lettering on signs is MUCH appreciated. Arrows most important part. Same color a grand idea.
Early is best. If the hours look too short to the reader - like 8-12 or 10-2, it is usually translated to mean "these folks don't have much - probably not worth our time to go" ......

Just a few comments from a seasoned garage sale shopper, as opposed to GS giver.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 5:33PM
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A girlfriend and I like to have a yardsale every couple of years, so we've developed "our system". Yard sale hours are 8 to 1. I don't like early birds; they seem to be dealers who want the very best stuff and want to get a package deal. I find that by noon, it's time to start packing up the leftovers. A few stragglers will come through, but that's okay. By 1 p.m., it's off to Goodwill and then lunch.

I always like to ask a girlfriend or two to join me - the more variety, the more likely it will be that someone will stop. A few pieces of furniture is always great.

You didn't ask about $, but my experience is that $40 in change is enough to start the bank. If folks want to purchase a $.50 book and give me a $20 bill, I tend to tell them I cannot make change - I'm not going to deplete my entire roll of change for a $.50 purchase. I would say that 99% of the time a seller can find something smaller than a $20. bill.

Your idea about the signs is great - consistency makes it easier to follow. My huge garage sale pet peeve is when folks don't go back and take down their signs at the end of the day.

Good luck on your sale!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:43AM
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If you don't want early birds, wait to put up your signs until you are ready to start the sale.

I always have $100 in small bills and at least $10 in coin so that I can give change. Carry your change in a fanny pack bag around your waist - you are less likely to leave it sitting around. Keep a small calculator in your pocket. As you accumulate large bills ($20 and over) take them inside the house to keep in a secure location until after the sale.

Make sure you have lots of help, including someone to act as security - you'd be surprised at how many people will try to walk out w/out paying.

Put price tags on everything! If not, it's better to price similar items all the same and put up a sign that states for example, all books for a quarter.

Be open to negotiation, especially toward the end of your sale - remember that your object is to get rid of the stuff!

By all means have people bring more stuff to add to your sale - the more you have the more likely people will stop and look.

Consider having the sale on Friday and if you still have a lot left over and have the stamina for it, extend to Saturday.

Buy canned drinks and water and fill a cooler w/ice to sell cold drinks for $.50 each, $1 for a bottle of water - you'll make a profit and people will appreciate the gesture. At our house, the kids man the drink sales and they always make a killing in profits!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:34AM
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I use to have sales as a way to earn my living, so I have a lot of tips!

The more stuff you have set out, the better your sales will be. If you can invite other friends and have the room, do it. People are more compelled to stop if there's a lot of visual stimulation! Business will be good for everyone.

Personally, I wouldn't advertise a time. That way, you don't set yourself up for people to get mad for not being "open" or "closing" too early. If your signs are up, they'll know you're open. You know, there will always be people coming early to try and beat others to the punch. Sometimes you need to give yourself time to get organized. I advertised in the paper one year, putting the corner (without the address) and one guy went around knocking on everyone's door to see where the sale was. If you can be set up by 6:30 a.m., you'll be good to go. Also, if the traffic is good, I've stayed open as long as people kept coming. Why not let them hand you money for stuff that would go to Goodwill? You can tell when it's time to quit.

Have some really nice items mixed in with the junk. If you have something that everyone is touching but not buying, sometimes your price is too low. Consider raising it a bit and see what happens.

Set up a Bid Box for the more expensive items. This will tell people they can negotiate and you will consider their price and call them if the item doesn't sell. It also lets them know you're not going to give it away. It's a good marketing technique, and some people will pay a little more if they know there will be some competition.

Have some red SOLD tags ready to put on items. This would include any display piece you are using. Finding SOLD on something makes people feel like they should have arrived earlier, rather than mad you're putting stuff in your sale that isn't for sale, even if you are using it! I find people always want to buy my chairs, the table or the umbrella I'm using for shade. You don't have to keep repeating "It's not for Sale" if you just mark it SOLD. It makes your sale look like it was a really good one and people will remember this the next time you have a sale.

Play some music, and be friendly. The longer a person stays in a place usually translates into more dollars for you.

Make a hard and fast rule that the people who are selling and setting up at your yard sale should be there the entire time to sell their own stuff, and collect their own money. That way there are no problems. People with items to sell can usually sell their own things better than you can, since they know a little something about it. Also, you don't risk having anyone use your sale as a dropoff while you do the work, and they show up to collect their money. No one else can negotiate a price better than the person who owns the item, since that person knows their own bottom line.

Have everyone kick in for a newspaper ad. This will get you far more buyers than you expected. List the Address, Day (Saturday) and make sure you let people know this is a One Day Sale. Knowing you won't be there tomorrow gets people more interested to spend their money today. If everyone else is willing to kick in to advertise some items, list the most expensive. DO NOT list things like clothes. People look for useful items like furniture, apppliances, toys, bikes, electronics, etc.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck, and Happy Selling!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:14PM
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Wow, thank you for the terrific suggestions! With all the good advice I've read here and elsewhere, it should be a big success. There will be a lot of stuff!

Thanks everyone.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 12:13AM
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Soooooo???? How'd the sale go??? Update please!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 9:14PM
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It went very well. It was today. I was ambushed with people from the second we opened. I was totally overwhelmed almost to the point of panic. We had about 50 people there at one time during the first hour or so and it finally calmed down around 9:30. I never expected such a turnout! We are dead tired tonight, more than we even imagined. But we're already talking about the next one and how we will apply the lessons learned from this one.

On the good side, our family who came and participated were a tremendous help. Every single one of them gave immeasurable help and support. We couldn't have done it without them. And it was just fun having them here.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 12:10AM
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