Planning a Garage Sale

You most likely have a lot of stuff you don’t use anymore, stuff that you don’t want to pay to have it moved and/or items that you don’t want to waste the time and energy on packing. Having a garage sale prior to your move is a great way to save time and money when moving, as well as get some extra money to spend on stuff for your new home. Here is how we recommend planning a garage sale to ensure a stress-free and lucrative moving experience.

Plan For Success

When getting ready for your garage sale, thinking ahead will help you cover all the particulars that you may not think of if you try to do it in a rush. To ensure that you cover your bases, give yourself at least three weeks to prepare before having your sale.

Many cities have laws for having garage sales or putting up signs on the right of way, so if you do not already know them, you should contact city hall to see what they may be.

See if anyone in your neighborhood would like to get together with you to hold the sale. Neighborhood garage sales are great because, while you can share in the costs of advertising your sale, you can also draw more customers by having a lot of merchandise in a close proximity.

Determine where your sale location will be. If you have a garage, that is a good place if the weather is iffy. If you are having it with your neighbors, a central location may work better.

Determine what day/days your sale will be held, and then determine how long it will run each day. It is best to have your sales during good weather, on a Friday or Saturday, and during a week that is not near a major holiday. Remember to plan a rain date in the case that you don’t have a garage or an indoor location for your sale.

Check to see that your house insurance will cover you in the case of injury on your property.

Set aside used grocery bags or boxes to provide to customers on the day of the sale.

Find Items To Sell

Go from room to room and make a list of the items you want to get rid of. In the case that you have less than 100 items listed, you might want to partner with a neighbor, family member, or friend to have a worthwhile sale.

Organize Sale Items

After you have listed your items for sale, find a spot where you can sort them out, price them, and make repairs or determine if they are not fit for sale. A little glue or a stitch or two can make a sale out of something that would otherwise be considered trash.

Use masking tape or sealable bags to put together items that are sold as a set. You could also get some brown sandwich bags and fill them with small items for grab bags.

Wash, iron, and fold or hang any clothing, sheets, or towels. Arrange clothing by size so it can be easily seen. Put shoes together in pairs and mark what size they are.

When partnering with others, put a distinguishing mark, like an initial or special color on each item. Then write down each sale in a book, so the money can be split correctly after the sale.

Price everything clearly and put it where you want it to sit until time for the sale. Be sure to put tags where they won’t damage delicate items when removed.

Determine Prices

You should consider your buyers when pricing your items. Remember, you want to get rid of them, and people often don’t like having to haggle a lot, especially when what they think an item is worth and what you have it priced at are too far apart.

For nice items, you may be able to get 20-30% of the retail price. Clothing and books will go for even less.

To keep things simple, price items by 25 cent increments or by the dollar.

Try to remember that you are selling used items, and the price should reflect that. But don’t start out too low, as you want all of your hard word to be worth it. Also, you can leave some room for negotiation; just don’t price things so high that you scare buyers off.

If you are trying to sell something that doesn’t work or is broken in some way, write as is on the sticker, so buyers will know that it may not work correctly.

For easy and secure pricing, use the round stickers you can get at dollar or office stores. You can also use masking tape, as it will release easily when pulled, but stay on tight for the sale.

Advertise Your Sale

Build it and they will come is only partly true for garage sales. You also need to advertise it, as the garages sale business can be competitive. Make your ads stand out, and make sure they are in places people will see them. One tactic is to use a slogan and put it on large, visible signs, as well as in your other ads. Also boast your best merchandise, including hot or rare items.

Here are just a few ways to tell people about your sale:

  • Put an ad in the newspaper
  • Announce it to clubs you are in
  • Put signs on store bulletin boards or in shop windows
  • Announce it on social media sites and online forums

On the morning of the sale, put signs out at the major intersections and corners of nearby streets. Also put a sign at the sale.
Large, clear, easy to read black lettering on white or yellow poster board makes a great sign for garage sales.

Make sure your signs are consistent, and only put one sign in each spot, so people don’t get confused and think there is more than one sale or that another sale is yours.

Tell people in your ads if you don’t accept early buyers. Otherwise, you will have people at your door before you have even considered getting out of bed on the day of the sale.

Be considerate and take down all sale signs once your sale is over.

Set Up Your Sale

Create a clean, open area for your sale, removing any items that are not for sale. If you have items in your sales area that cannot be moved, simply drape a sheet over the top of them and put signs on them stating that they are not for sale.

Hang clothes on an apparel rack or clothes line. Make sure to hang them from smallest size to largest size, so they can be seen and easily accessed.

If you don’t have a lot of tables, you can use sawhorses with wood placed on top of them for displaying smaller items.

Put items in groups with other items that are like them (kids toys, kitchenware, books, etc.) You can use boxes to group items like books and records. Place books spine up so they can be easily seen, and make it easy to flip through records by not filling the box too full.

Have an extension cord or power strip handy so customers can test appliances and electronics.

If you are selling nice clothing, you might want to make a changing area with a mirror. Have someone to watch the area and hand out pieces of paper with the number of clothing items going in to the area, to prevent theft.

Make signs for items that are not priced individually. For example, you may say Four Books For $1 or Everything In This Box $.50.

Make sure everything is arranged so that customers can walk around easily and without tripping or having to squeeze through.

Operate Securely

Some people see yard sales as a good way to make off with something they didn’t pay for. To keep yourself safe from thieves, follow these tips:

Have more than one person watching the sales, so there is always someone present.

Keep in mind that people intending to shoplift may work in twos or in a group. While one person distracts you, the others conceal items in their purses, bags, or sleeves.

Keep your change in your pocket or in a money belt, instead of a cash box that someone could easily make off with. Keep about $20 worth of ones on you at all times, and when you get over $100, take it and secure it somewhere safe.

If someone has a large shopping cart or bag, ask that they leave it with you until they are ready to purchase.

Watch out for people who seem to stay longer than they should, especially if they just seem to be waiting on other shoppers to leave.

Put small valuable items close to where you are checking people out so you can monitor them.

Lock the doors to your home and keep a phone on you.

If you think people are trying to steal, follow them around and ask them if you can help. They will get frustrated and leave.

Get Ready To Sell!

You will want to get things ready the day prior to your garage sale, so it can start on time. Be sure you have:

Enough change. Since you have priced things in $.25 increments, you will only need a few rolls of quarters, plus about $50 in ones and fives. People always bring change to yardsales, but one $20 bill early on can wipe out your change if you don’t have enough.

A paper and pencil for writing down sales items and a calculator for adding up prices.

A wastebasket nearby to keep things clean.

Newspaper, bags, and boxes for wrapping fragile items and customer convenience.

A sign that states that you take cash only.

A policy for holding items. We suggest taking a small deposit and setting a definite time limit on holds. If someone pays you in full, also set a time limit on when they can come back to get it.

Put your pets up in a safe place. Many shoppers are allergic to, scared of, or just don’t like pets. Your pet could also get hurt or go missing in a crowd.

Negotiate on Prices

People are looking for deals, so you will want to be negotiable on price.

Giving discounts on things that are not moving quickly or have not had a lot of interest can make you the sale.

Shoppers might want to get great deals on all of your good stuff right when the sale opens, but it is a better idea to wait until later in the day to start giving deals, so you can make as much money as possible off of your items.

After The Sale

Take out the amount of the change you started with, and if you worked with a partner or group, split up the remaining monies appropriately.

Put the cash somewhere safe and deposit it into the bank ASAP.

Go around and pick up any signs you put out.

Find a way to get rid of the leftovers. Many charities will come and pick items up, and you can even get a receipt for the items’ value to deduct from your taxes.

As one of the top moving companies in San Diego, Move Central, Inc. is all about making your move a great one. We hope that this advice will help you plan and have a successful garage sale before your next move.