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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  1. This is wonderful! I need to have a yard / porch sale. So I didn't read all of this ....I am COMING BACK! I think it's going to help me a lot : )

    1. Oh, I really hope it will... garage sales are a lot of work, but worth it at times.... it is so nice to sort and sell some things... and bring in a little cash. :)

  2. Wow, my friend! Can I hire you to come have a yard sale at my home? You are amazing and so organized. Thank you for sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Have a lovely week!

    1. What a sweet comment! Little by little I have learned so much ... and what a blessing it is now. :)

  3. I learned a lot from this post. To be honest, I've always been a bit overwhelmed by having a garage sale mainly because I don't know how they are done. I have not been to more than a handful and so I am sort of out of the loop on this stuff. I tend to just give our things away. But, I know we are getting rid of a lot of things soon so there are some very helpful tips here. Thank you for sharing each of these tips. I now feel a bit more confident in having one.

    1. Good... I hope you find that your garage sale goes well... going to a few garage sales can also help as you see how other people do things... and you will see things that work... and some that don't. Thank you for visiting. :)

  4. you have thought of everything.... I really need to have a garage sale but it has been so hot and really I am too lazy for all the marking of items

    1. The marking of items IS a lot of work... yet, it sure helps the garage sale. That's why I like to do a few at a time...or do it as I pull things off of a shelf. Sometimes, I really "get in the mood" to get rid of things and then... I pull and price. Feels good to clear some stuff out. :)

  5. Oooooooh, you've got a bunch of GREAT pieces of advice here! Thank you so much for sharing and for linking up!!

    1. Thank you.... it is fun to share the things I have learned bit by bit. :) Thank you for visiting.

  6. What a great post with tips for a successful yard sale. I know organization is key after doing many over the years. Your post is very helpful and especially to anyone that has never done a sale. They can be overwhelming but you've shown how with a bit of detail makes a big difference in going to a sale and having one. Visiting from ROI.
    Hugs, cm

    1. What a nice comment... thank you! You're right... organization helps... even if things are just loosely organized. I have been to sales where clothes are strewn around the tools and pet toys are mixed in with kitchen stuff and there is really no order at all... makes it harder to shop. Thank you for visiting. :)

  7. I'm going to be hosting a garage sale soon, so these tips were super helpful! Thanks!

    1. I hope the tips ended up being a great help for you... Garage sales are a lot of work, but they can be a blessing also.... I hope your sale turned out to be a good one. :) Thank you for visiting.

  8. What a totally awesome sale you had! I want to shop it. ~grin~
    I'm afraid I wouldn't be selling such pretty stuff.

    1. Thank you... I would have loved to have you visit. :) I have found there is such a thing as too much pretty stuff! It is nice to trade it out and trim things down. :) Thank you for visiting.

  9. Wow Joy, these are great tips! I have done many a sale but you shared lots of new ideas! I like the idea of the music too... Never thought of that! Glad to see you once again at the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! :)

    1. Thank you... I know the music makes it easier for me to shop at a sale... the deep uncomfortable silence can be intimidating. :) Thank you for visiting... and for the wonderful blog party.