Sunday, July 19, 2015

Garage Sale Series-Hints & Tips

Garage Sales are such a blessing...  and we have had a LOT of garage sales over the years. We have tried this and that... and learned much. In this post, I am sharing some hints and tips about having a garage sale.

Garage Sales are not all the same... and they shouldn't be either... we are all unique and the way we sell our stuff can be also. We can learn from others, but I encourage you to develop your own style.

I don't have any specific order to these hints and tips... and they are not hard and fast "rules".. just things that have worked for us. :)

~One thing we always try to do is to have music going during the garage sale...  I hate going to a sale where everything is totally quiet and anything I touch in the garage sale is easily heard... it is very uncomfortable. I want my customers to be comfortable while they look... music helps.

~Do not play music overly loud... it doesn't need to be soft, but I have been to sales where the volume of the music hurt my ears... and my kids also complained that it hurt their ears... we left. 

~Don't cease talking to the person helping you man the garage sale when people come to the sale, so that there is an uncomfortable silence-you can continue to chat a bit, but be very aware of anything your customer needs. Do NOT stare at or watch the shopper very obviously either!!!!  Be ready to speak to them and say hi, but allow them a sense of privacy as they shop even as you do watch a bit.

~Don't comment on every item your customer touches and tell them the story and try to sell the item. Respect your customer's ability to shop and don't intrude on their shopping... I have had people do this to me to where I didn't want to look at anything else.. and I left. Allow your customer to shop in peace and they may buy more. There's no need to "strong-arm" them.

~Be aware of any trip hazards in your sale and remove them.. or identify them with a sign or colored duct tape or something. Give warnings... like "watch your step".

~Price every item in some way... either with tags or signs.
~Do not put fragile glassware on a card table... use sturdy surfaces for that.

~Put jewelry, cell phones or easily stolen items near where you check people out.

~Have a specific table area for checking people out. Also, realize that some people may want to "make a pile" while they continue shopping... that can be done on one end of your checkout table.

~Have plenty of light... use lamps or extra fixtures and highlight tables and items. If you have plenty of light, people can see things better... and we find we sell more... stuff looks better with enough light.

~UNPLUG GARAGE DOORS after they are opened for the sale.  We always do this as the thought of someone accidentally pushing the garage door button and the door coming down during the garage sale... on someone or scaring someone is not fun and could be very dangerous.

~Post several signs saying "Not Responsible For Accidents" prominently.

~Save up grocery bags... or ask for some from family and friends... this is helpful for those who buy a few things. If you are short on them, don't use them for only 2-3 items.

~ We post signs saying "No Smoking" "No Pets"

~Do not let your dog (or cat) out at your sale... they can be a trip hazard and they can also bite... EVEN if it is a dog that "never bites".  My son was bitten by a dog at a sale,... a dog the owner said, "never bites anyone", but it was the 2nd day of the sale....  The dog may be overwhelmed with so many people... and may feel protective, etc. Also, not everyone loves dogs.... and since my son was bitten at a sale and we are no longer willing to trust that an owner has complete control of their animal, we do not shop at any sales where there is a dog. If you have your dog out, you will probably lose some customers.

~By the way, one really weird thing that happened to me... and I'm sure you would know better.... but these people didn't...  I walked up toward a big garage sale and there was a teenage guy with a scarf around his neck. I though that was odd with the warm weather, but some people are strange, so I continued up. When I got close enough, I realized the "scarf" was a big snake all wrapped around his neck!!!!!  I immediately turned and left.. he and his mom said he would put it away, but there was NO WAY I would shop there after that. Keep the pets away from the garage sale.

~Tablecloths are great to put on the tables...  plain or simple patterned tablecloths work best. A tablecloth that is too busy can look overwhelming with lots of stuff on it.

~Tablecloths (plastic or cloth) or sheets can be used to cover items on the walls and shelves of the garage that are not for sale.... we use clothespins to do this.

~Though a garage sale CAN be put together quickly in a couple of days, it can be helpful to start weeks before the garage sale... put items you want to sell into a tote in a certain spot and keep adding to it as you find items as you are doing your regular cleaning. Sometimes I will price them and put them into totes early... then on garage sale set up day, things are much easier. This year, due to my greatly decreased energy, I started about 6 weeks early and kept piling up totes as I did a little on different days. It really helped conserve my energy.  This pile of totes is stuff for the garage sale... and it is all priced. Whew. :)  This is not ALL of the garage sale stuff though!  :) Yes, this is the same garage where we had the garage sale.. this is before we set up, obviously. :)

~Have change on hand... lots of ones and fives, a couple of tens, some quarters, dimes and nickels... and maybe a few pennies.  We usually try to have $100 worth of change... it doesn't take long to need that much... especially when we have several people give us a $20 bill to pay for $3.50 or $2 .. it is better to have too much change than not enough.

~Use good signs to direct people to your sale.

~A canopy cover is helpful... great to shield from the heat and sun... or from rain.

~Boards can be used to make a backdrop to your tables... and shield stuff that isn't for sale... a lattice board is great for this... and we have just pinned a tablecloth to the back of it.... and it looks great. Check the garage or basement for what you have and use that... no need to buy things especially for the garage sale. A board with a tablecloth over it can look great.

~Use what you have... make tables from dining room chairs facing each other with a board on top of the seats of both...  a door works too.... For several years, we always took the basement door off and used that for a table. :)   Benches to the table work also... or patio furniture.  Empty totes with lids can be tables.

~People will notice things more when they are not on the floor... putting them up on tables or boxes gets items to an easier height for people to see and shop.

~It works well to sell in increments of 25c... for example 25c, 50c, 75c, $1.00, $1.25, $1.50, $2.00.  I used to sometimes mark things 5c, 15c, 35c and my husband hated it, so I stopped. It is really easy to add things up when you do it in increments of 25c... and we do also have many 10c items.  

~We have sold popsicles for a couple of garage sales when it was REALLY HOT out.... Bad idea for us... there were only a few who did this, but those few ate (or allowed their child to eat) the popsicles while they shopped... and got sticky drops on the floor or garage sale items. We don't do that anymore. :)

~Putting like things together can make it easier to shop... like housewares together, etc. More on that in  Garage Sale Series-Displays

~Take large bills into the house

~Have at least 2 people "manning" the sale at a time... this helps with safety and security.

~Use a "fanny pack" or some other way to keep the money on your person.  If you use a money box, do NOT EVER leave it unattended - they do get stolen. I would never leave it with a child either... robberies do happen and a child would look like an easy target.

~Sometimes people will work together to distract you while someone else will steal something. You can't watch everything... and theft does happen, but it does help to be aware.

~Folding screens can be helpful for the garage sale... and we use them to form "doors" to close off our living area... We just pull the folding screen closed before we open the house door to go inside... here, the house door is closed and the folding screens are open. It does help to preserve privacy for the family.

~Don't just sit and wait and watch customers... stay busy tidying tables and filling in empty spots... don't let your sale look "picked over" or people won't look as much.  Take down tables, if you have too little to fill them.

~Advertising on Craigslist is free and easy... and many people look there for garage sales, so it can increase the number of people at your sale.

~Take your signs down after the sale...  we also take ours down each night, but that is a personal choice.. unless your city bans leaving them up overnight... check the city code for sales.

~A free pile helps... it helps to draw people and it also helps with getting rid of some things that you don't want to bother selling.... we tend to add to our free pile as the sale goes on. :)

~Rearranging your sale a bit can change the whole look... and people will notice things they didn't see before... this especially helps for the people who make more than one trip to the sale.

~The last hour or so of the sale is a good time to "consolidate" items... move things, tidy up, restock the inside tables to make things look more interesting inside the garage and doing this before you close up helps as it removes some items from outside and you have less to box up for the night. It also helps because that last hour that may be slow, but this makes it still productive and your sale will look nice and fresh for the morning. 

~If someone buys something and leaves to get a bigger vehicle... planning to come right back to pick up their large item... like a table, dresser, etc.... always get their name and phone number. If they don't return, you have a way to contact them... sometimes people forget how to find your sale... especially if they plan to come back after the sale closes.

~Clothes can be put on tables or hung up... they get noticed better when hung up, so as something sells, it helps to put more up.

~We keep batteries on hand to test anything that takes batteries, but we do not sell the items with the batteries inside.

~I alert everyone who is manning the sale that we do not give the hangers, lightbulbs or batteries away with sale items.

~I also let them know that the picture stands do not go with items... they are either sold separately or they are not for sale. 

~Be friendly, smile and have fun. I hope you have a great garage sale. There are so many other possible hints and tips... feel free to share yours in the comments. :) 

Garage Sale Series

Garage Sale Series-Selling Jewelry

Garage Sale Series-Price Tags

Garage Sale Series-Displays

Garage Sale Series-Signs

Garage Sale Series-Hints and Tips

#Garagesale #yardsale #sales


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Monday, July 13, 2015

Garage Sale Series-Signs

I am doing a Garage Sale Series... this post is on signs.  Signs are one the THE MOST IMPORTANT things for a successful garage sale.

If you want to read the rest of the Garage Sale series, the links will be at the bottom of this post.

Garage Sales can be such a blessing.. a lot of work, but a real blessing, whether you go to shop at the sales, or hold one of your own.  Today, we are talking about having one of your own... and having signs that will draw customers to your sale. The signs are really important as they are the first thing people see about your sale, unless they saw it on Craigslist or other advertising, which we will talk about another time.

  In the summer, you can see all kinds of Garage Sale signs... all shapes, sizes and colors. Some, like the one on the right, make use of other signs as a holder and tape something over the initial sign. It works... but such signs can be made more effective.

The sign on the left in the picture, is one you can buy... and it works also; however, this type of sign can be easily mistaken for a For Sale By Owner sign that is the same design... they can be hard to read until you get close enough to see... or until you can discern that there are only 2 words so it must be the garage sale sign. :)

What makes a good sign, anyway? I am sharing some things that I consider great for signs.

It is important to remember that people looking for garage sale signs will usually be driving... and may be in traffic, so they will need to see important information in your sign with only a glance. Also, they may need to change lanes to get to the side of the road needed to go to your sale. So, it is important that your sign be SEEN easily.

What needs to be seen? People need to be able to tell it is a Garage Sale... and not a house for sale... or a lost cat... or something else, so Garage Sale or Yard Sale, Sale, Rummage Sale, Tag Sale, or something needs to be prominent on the sign.

  Another important thing... a VERY IMPORTANT thing... is an arrow.... an easily seen arrow. When some one is driving, they need to see at a glance where to turn... not have to try to find the arrow on the sign. Make it big and bold.... very easy to notice. A little arrow is better than no arrow, but a very obvious arrow will really help. The yellow sign on the picture here only has garage sale and an arrow... not much information, but very effective.... it gives the information needed.

 This garage sale sign is a good sign, but this picture shows how a good sign can be hard to see when driving. Is there an arrow on it? I can't tell from here. I assume from this sign that I should turn right on this road to go to the sale, but some people put a sign like this and have an arrow to turn LEFT. Not such a good idea... but if you do that, make the arrow BIG, so that people can see it.

 Another sign... it has arrows and an address, the days and times open.  A lot of good information and the sign is effective because the words, Garage Sale, are so big, but the rest is hard to see unless you slow way down. This can also possibly cause an accident.

This sign has big bold letters and a great arrow... this type of sign will bring in more traffic.

Placing the signs is important too.... they should be put at corners where many people will see them. They need to be put where the city says they have to be... like ours says they have to be 10' from the road. The city may have other restrictions, like how many signs or when they can be up, where, etc.  It is good to check and follow the rules.

This was one of our garage sale signs from our recent garage sale. We have used these for many years.... and this is just a piece of poster board over a frame, with black paint. We added plastic over the top to protect against rain.. we put streamers on... sometimes we do balloons also, but they have to be done each year or sometimes each day, so the streamers are so much easier.... We used to put the days we would be open... like Wed-Sat, but now we just put Today on the sign... and we always take our signs down each day.  This sign was used last year also (and maybe for several years!) and we did nothing to it this year to use it again. Most of our signs only have, today, on it once. If you put Today, on your sign, NEVER leave it up on a day you are not open... that offense will alienate people from your future sales.

Other sign tips:

It you have more than one sign, try to make them look the same... or at least something that will tie them together.... like white with black lettering and a certain color streamer. If people are having to follow your signs to your house it will be easier if they see another one just like what they saw at first.

Taking your signs down at the end of the sale, is important... and even each day, is a good idea. Some cities won't allow them up overnight. Sometimes signs get stolen. We have had to make a lot of signs over the years... they wear out... or they get stolen and people just put their address over ours. This is why it helps to have an easy plan to make signs... they don't need to be fancy.

Use old political signs to make your own signs... take the sign off of the frame so it is opened up, then fold the front sides so they are inside and staple or tape. Now you have a white surface to paint on.... make your sign and easily push it into the ground.

Having your address on the sign is a good idea... but remember that the word, Sale, and the arrow are the most important.  The address can be put inside of a big arrow, to save room.

Too much information can be distracting and be hard to read... if you have lots of baby stuff, and want to put that on the sign, that's great, but don't go into big detail... I have seen signs that say: Baby stuff, stroller, onesies, toys, rattles, diapers, johnny jump up, play mat, etc... all on one sign.  It won't really help you to do that... that information is best put on your ad on Craigslist or in the paper.

Use bold colors.  Writing GARAGE SALE in yellow might look nice, but it won't be very visible. If you want to use yellow, then outline it in black, but don't make the writing only yellow or light colors.  Also, even if you use a large black marker, it will be hard to see unless you make the letters large and go over them a few times and widen them.

Using a variety of colors on the sign gets confusing. Choosing 1-4 colors is plenty.  I have seen garage sale signs where GARAGE SALE was written large, but each letter was a different color. Just realize, that it will be hard to see and read what you have.

To decide if your sign can be effective, hold it up in the house and have someone far away... down the hall, maybe, see if it is very readable from there..... or try it in the backyard.

Having the time on the sign is a great help also, if you want to add that... keep it simple though, like 8-5 or something. Don't try to put Wed 8-5:30, Thurs 8-5, Fri... etc.  Try to keep the times the same and reduce the amount of writing on the sign.

Have good contrast on your sign between the background of the sign and the letters.  A light colored background, like white, with dark lettering works well. The reverse is good too.  Using a brown cardboard box side can work, but since the background is in between, you will really need to have your letters bold so they can be seen.

The purpose of your sign is to draw attention, and customers, to your sale. Having good signs will really help. Taking the time to make, or buy, good signs and then taking care of those signs, can really help also, as they can last for years.

Thank you for visiting my blog today... I hope you have a great garage sale.

Garage Sale Series 

Garage Sale Series-Selling Jewelry

Garage Sale Series-Price Tags

Garage Sale Series-Displays

Garage Sale Series-Signs

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Garage Sale Series-Displays

Garage sales are such a blessing... a lot of work, but they can be such a help also.  It feels great to sort and get rid of stuff no longer needed... and to bring in some cash from the stuff.

Setting up displays can help with that. Displays can be simple or more complex.  I would say that price tags are even more important than displays...
Garage Sale Series-Price Tags
 Displays can be a big help; however. It is good to group like things together as a simple display... housewares together, office items in a certain area, tools together, clothes and shoes together, etc.

Grouping things together can help your customers shop. It becomes confusing to find everything all jumbled in boxes, with no order. If you are in a serious time crunch though, and NEED to sell things and have good prices, boxes of stuff all over can work...  but some people will not be willing to go through a lot of stuff to find the treasure they want...  Displays can help that.

Putting jewelry together works well...  I find that people love to look through the jewelry.  The display can be simple... all together on a table or in a tin or small box... or more complicated.

With selling jewelry, I find that I have to straighten up the table often... to keep it looking fresh and interesting. 

Here, some jewelry is in baskets, some on the table. We had it all stretched out over the table at first.. but it looked too overwhelming, so we put some in the pretty baskets and then put a lot on the table. It was much easier to look at and then as we sold jewelry, we put more out on the table.

 It isn't always possible to keep everything totally in groupings... and that's fine. It is a garage sale and some disorder is very reasonable and a miscellaneous table (or two or three) is great....  as long as the whole sale is not just a jumbled mess of stuff.

By the way, this is the way we did our garage sale this year, but it isn't always like this. In fact, I try to make things different every year, in some way and we have many people who say they love to come to see how I decorated... and they are also buying things. :)

TIP:  If there is an uneven surface that is a possible trip hazard, point it out in some way. You can see in this picture that the entrance to the garage has a strip of yellow duct tape and also a strip of red. We put those there to draw attention to the step up. We sure don't want to have anyone get hurt... and when people are shopping, they are not always looking carefully at where they are stepping.

Shelves can be made... and here we used cans of paint to hold up sturdy shelves. Just be sure they are not precarious... you don't want any accidents. 

There is a clear walkway through the garage sale... and displays along both sides. 

It is amazing how much can be stuffed into a garage for a Garage Sale. :)  It is a challenge to fit a lot in but to still make things accessible and interesting. We were determined to fit a lot into the garage this year, since there has been so much rain and we needed to do the sale this week... rain or no rain.

TIP Be sure walkways are adequate... it is no fun to have to squeeze through tight areas to see things... and it can be dangerous also. The walkways are just as important as the displays... actually, they are even MORE important.

We had an armoire for sale, so I fixed it into a display for some ladies undergarments I had to sell. This kept them from being too visible.. they are behind the lace curtain... and yet ladies could shop if they wanted to. There was a mirror at the back(inside the cabinet) and a little lamp. I put some tension curtain rods inside to hold the garments... and others to hold the curtains. This was a new thing for us to try.. not sure if we will do it again. Of course, we don't usually have an armoire to sell either. :)  It was a very pretty and feminine addition for this year though.

 This area isn't totally set up here... see all of the empty places?

Using this table and the boards underneath gave extra display room. By the way, those plastic containers sold fast... 

 We try to keep the walkways very open and hazard-free. Things are cluttered because there is a lot of stuff, but we try to keep it a controlled clutter.   :)
 This little cafe corner was fun... I had 2 wood doors that we hinged together and used as a folding screen. The doors were for sale.  Lace behind the doors, helped to hide the stuff back there... and it looked nice. We were selling 5 lace valances, so we put 2 of them on a curtain rod and put it over this door. The chairs were for sale... and the table displayed items for sale.  We did change this... we turned the table the 2nd day... and added crystal items to the table.

 The linens looked nice on these shelves... and it really helped that everything didn't have to be just piled high on a small table.  you can see that I am using totes for the support under the shelves for this display. I tend to use what we have on hand.

 Almost everything you see if for sale... we try to cover over most of the stuff that isn't for sale.

It is amazing how garage sale items can be used to decorate and make things look more interesting. For example, in the picture above, you can see that doilies and cloths are for sale and are priced, but they are also making things look just a little nicer.
 The little table beside the bookcase ended up having pots and pans on it... it worked out very well. The table is one from our kitchen... and there is a similar white table from the dining room that we used out here.

Plastic table cloths can cover up wall items... we hang them with clothespins. In a couple of the pictures, you can see where we used an old lace tablecloth as a backdrop for a Shabby Chic Corner.  It helped to change the whole look. Simple... and it was for sale too... but appealing. :)  We use fabric, tablecloths, sheets, shower curtains and other items for table cloths.... I like to use either plain ones or ones that are not too busy, as that would make things look too cluttered when the table is loaded with items for sale.

 Hanging clothes up makes it easier to shop. We had a couple of racks of hanging clothes this year.
 The displays can look "tired" quite quickly and I go through the sale tidying and rearranging often. It is especially important to fill in any holes.. that bare spot can say to the person "You missed out on something good." That's not what I want to say to them... I want them to see and be interested in all of the good stuff that is still left. :)  It's not fun to shop if things look all picked over.
We sometimes rearrange whole sections... and if things aren't selling in one area, I will re-design it so that they do.

It is amazing how often things sell right after I have gone through to re-order a table. It really helps to keep your sale fresh.

Does every garage sale have to be big and with specific displays?  NO! If all you have is boxes, you can still have a great sale... maybe put like things together in the boxes... maybe put the boxes up on a bench... or on top of an empty box... so people can see thing easier. Be sure prices are easy to see ... whether on the items, on the table or box... or on a sign.

This was a BIG garage sale... and it went well.  I am very glad it is done, though... it is a lot of work and we are tired. I do not plan out displays ahead of time since the displays will depend on what I am selling...  I do bring out some book ends, stands, tables and bookshelves that are not for sale, but almost everything else out there is for sale. This means that as things sell, we have to change things, but that is what makes it interesting.

We hear many comments on how pretty things are, that this is like a boutique, that it is beautiful, etc.  I did tell my family this year, "Some people have a garage sale, we open a store!!! "   It does feel that way, sometimes...   and we had a LOT more displays this year than usual.  We were open for 5 days in a row!!!  Like I said, we are glad to be done...and we are tired!

Maybe you can only have one display... that is GREAT! Don't feel discouraged ... use what you have and use the talents God has given to you...  and be friendly, play some background music.. and enjoy meeting your customers and selling things.  Have you had a sale this year?  Are you planning to?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.... and I hope you will join me for more of The Garage Sale Series.  Have a great week.  :)

Garage Sale Series
Garage Sale Series-Selling Jewelry 

Garage Sale Series-Price Tags

Garage Sale Series-Displays

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