Garage Sales

amj0517July 13, 2011

I've never been a fan of garage sales; shopping them or having one. How do you know if a garage sale would be worth the time and effort? Are there expert tips on how to have a successful sale?

I'd like to have a "I'm done having babies" garage sale. I have one of everything for a baby. Would I be better off listing everything on Craigslist since it is all in excellent condition?

Thoughts? Opinions?


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Personally, I would donate and take the tax credit....

I am not a garage sale fan either.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:16PM
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I once held a "I'm done having babies " sale. I gathered up clean clothing, placed multiple pieces in clear plastic bags, sold the bags for one or two dollars apiece. Then up drove a couple with a station wagon. We got in a conversation. Seems they took in multiple foster children. They were so heart-warming, I told them "Take everything". And they did. I still hope they weren't scammers. But I sold a little bit, got rid of everything. Isn't that the point of a garage sale? I had subsequent garage sales of adult stuff, furniture, appliances, clothing, etc and did much worse. LOTS OF WORK, people haggled over prices, items were stolen when my back was turned. So it goes. Good luck whatever you do.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:17AM
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I haven't been a sale-giver nor posted on Craigslist, but it would be interesting to compare effort and hassle of those methods. For garage sales, you'll get varying feedback--it's a personal choice and so much based on your own psyche and how you approach things. For a lot of people, any money made is money they would not have and so is worth the effort. If can't make "more" extra $$ by working more hours at regular job or doing some other extra thing, then sure, it is relatively low-paying but it is a payoff within your sphere of action. So that person will say, sure I spent several weeknights sorting and pricing and spent Saturday giving the sale but otherwise I would have just done who knows what, and now I have $___ to spend on something I want. It helps to have either a lot of stuff or some desirable stuff because things go for just pennies on the dollar of original price. Also it helps not to have an inflated opinion of your "stuff" because a garage sale will deflate that quickly!

You can also find plenty of support for the idea that, if you'd like to just give it away, go ahead--don't ever feel you should get $$ back on it just because you spent $$ and feel guilty--only do it if the time/effort to $$ payoff works for you. That's why you'll hear feedback about how much work it is, because you can't really get "back" what you've invested. You can only get what you get.

The find-a-good-home approach, maybe a particular family as above, has some benefits because it saves the time arranging for sale but lets you feel like you helped someone in particular. But I am happy with Goodwill which helps a charity but does the sorting and pricing for me.

Also, since this is the Organizing forum, then, if your priority is to clear away the past era and get organized and into a new phase of your life, the most direct route to that is to haul it all off.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 5:46PM
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Personally, the extra handling for a garage sale eliminates that as a possibility for me.

You have to get everything to sell to the garage, you have to sort it, you have to price it. On the day of the sale, you have to set it all out, and sit there for hours while someone quibbles over 50 cents on an item you priced for a dollar.

I'd rather donate. Gather it up, give it away. Done.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Garage sales were fun when I was younger and several neighbors all pitched in and we did it together. It was a social event then.
I haven't done one in years because I work and the cost/benefit ratio isn't there. If I have to take a day off from work to put it together and spend all Saturday doing it, I am losing money. Plus you have to store it before sale day, and then pack it up afterwards and give the remnants away. I try to find somebody who might need stuff--or some charity.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:45PM
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If you choose to go the donation route: Goodwill's main website says it won't accept highchairs, car seats or cribs (they have concerns about recalls and don't want liability issues).

You might try putting a couple things on Craigslist, but there are downsides to that, too: You always want to have someone else with you when somebody comes (and with kids in the house that might be too much to deal with), and between Craigslist and Freecycle, there are a lot of callers/e-mailers who end up being no-shows. Frustrating!

That could work for you (I've had success unloading some stuff on Craigslist). What I didn't have success with was a tag sale a couple of months ago. Advertised well on Craigslist and with street signs (tho I suspect that a nasty neighbor ripped my signs down), and I lost a lot of potential traffic because there was a huge once-a-month tag sale about 20 minutes away (couldn't believe I chose that day! grrr). It was a lot of effort--cleaning items, pricing, arranging, monitoring. Won't do that anymore! Most of the stuff's still waiting in my basement for cooler weather so I can take it to Salvation Army or a smaller resale shop.

Another donation option: You might see if there's a homeless shelter or a women's shelter in your area that could use some of the stuff.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 1:15AM
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Granted, it was many years ago, but our elem. school principal took all of my baby/toddler clothes. He didn't even hesitate when I asked him if he knew of a family that could use them. Churches and schools always know who is in need. Shelters are another good outlet. Domestic violence victims often leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The list is endless......

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:59AM
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I've never done a garage sale. Too much trouble. I have had really good success with Craigslist. Post good, clear pictures of your item(s) and then any negotiations are done through email. Then the person comes to pick up.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 1:15PM
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If there's a "Birthright" (charity that helps unwed mothers) in your area,they love baby stuff and can always find mothers who need things. I brought them bags and bags of old baby clothes. I was so happy they took everything, I even gave them a donation check.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 1:05PM
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I actually stalled my clean-up efforts by having a garage sale. A neighbour wanted to hold a block sale, and we'd done that before and it went well. But this time only 2 of us did it, and so the traffic was NOT worth our time.

The effect on my household was a bit catastrophic. Where normally we would go through a shelf of stuff at a time, we were in a rush so we just went around and extracted items we were ready to sell. Since there was little traffic, most of it came back in, and of course it didn't go back to its relatively unobtrusive spot on the shelf, but rather sat in boxes in the entryway until we figured out alternative destinations for it all. That took some time.

In the end it did not really clean any areas up, took a lot of time, made little money, and created quite a bit of mess and stress.

I can see it being a different thing if you are moving, but if you are staying and hoping to solve problems, it might work if you accumulate things in a calm manner well in advance where they aren't in your way, accumulate enough stuff or combine with other households to be a destination sale, and have an after-plan.

I'll do craigslist for items that are important enough for people to travel for, but lets face it, no one is going to make an appointment and drive across town to get a tupperware bowl for 50 cents. That sort of thing I have come to terms with giving away, and we don't even get tax receipts.

I really like donating to Value Village. They create good jobs in my community, which I actually think is better than creating volunteer opportunities. I see it as a way for my stuff to stimulate the economy one more time, which benefits me even if I don't make money on it.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 1:07AM
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Some final tips : a garage sale isn't a good way of making money. I've sold an expensive (to me) stroller, portable TV, even a clothes washer for a fraction of a fraction of their original cost. Consider it an opportunity to get rid of things you no longer use and to gain some extra space in your home. Advertise heavily- an ad in your local "Pennysaver" type paper, lots of signs in the neighborhood . And be a dear and take them down right after the sale. Have lots of change and lots of single dollar bills. And arrange, once the sale is over, to give all the leftovers to charity. You don't want to drag all that stuff you don't want back in your house. And get a receipt for next year's tax return. See if any friends/neighbors are interested in adding their stuff for sale. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. And try to have fun.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 11:13AM
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