I used to think having a garage sale was for the birds. I mean, seriously. The math just didn’t add up. I could set out 100 trinkets and ask fifty cents a piece, and if I was lucky enough to sell them all I’d make a whopping $50. Not worth it.
But I’ve learned a thing or two here recently that has opened my eyes to the possibilities of garage sale profits. Did you know you can make hundreds of dollars PER DAY of your garage sale? Most garage sales run three days around here (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), so that really adds up and can totally be worth the effort.
There are some rather obvious musts for a successful sale — advertise beforehand (newspapers, Craigslist, Facebook groups, etc.), signs, having plenty of stuff, stock up on small bills and change. But today I’m going to share some of the best-kept-garage-sale-secrets.
These are tips I’ve learned from some seasoned garage sale pros. Well, I consider them pros anyway because these folks – friends, family, neighbors – host garage sales regularly throughout the summer and make a pretty penny doing so!
6 Secrets to a Profitable Garage Sale (tips from the pros!)
ALWAYS HAVE BIG ITEMS.
This is one of my neighbor’s biggest tips he swears by. If people see big items, they are more likely to come and look at the rest of what you have.
Think about things people want and find useful. My neighbor will usually have something like a ladder, a folding table, a piece of exercise equipment, chairs, children’s gear, that kind of thing. He has several garage sales during summer and will check out the leftovers as other garage sales are closing up and snag a steal on a big item just to put it in his garage sale to draw people!
TALK TO PEOPLE.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked up to a garage sale and the person having the sale barely acknowledged me.
Now, believe me, I am wholly an introvert and I GET IT. I don’t like feeling like I am invading people’s space or like I am being pushy. I want to let people look and browse at their leisure. But it is so much easier to take a quick glance around and turn around and leave if no one talks to your customer!
You don’t have to be pushy. Some ideas of conversation starters: “Are there a lot of other sales out there today?”, “Have you found anything good yet today?”, “Did you see the whatchamacallit at Suzy Q’s sale?!”, “Can you believe how lucky we are with this weather today?”, “Are you looking for anything special?”
When you talk to the people at your sale, you can make a connection with them. You open the door for their questions or curiosity about something you might be selling. And you might just make a friend!
KNOW YOUR COMPETITION.
But know that it isn’t really about competition. It’s about connecting with and helping people.
Take some time right when sales are opening to walk around your neighborhood and see who else is open for business and what they have to offer.
This will give you more ways to talk to your customers. If someone says they are looking for a baby crib but you don’t have one, you can tell them where to find one because you saw one two blocks over!
BE FAIR AND BE REALISTIC.
I’m not going to tell you to give your stuff away, but keep in mind that people go to garage sales to find great deals. It’s hard to put a low price tag on something when you are the one who shelled out the dollars to buy it brand new. But isn’t selling something for a reasonable price better than not at all?
If you need help being objective, get the advice of someone who frequents garage sales. Don’t ask them “What would you pay for this?” though. A better question is “What price would you expect to see on this?” Remember that you can always negotiate the actual selling price (which will be easier to do if you walk around and talk to your customers!).
Seems like common sense, right? I am always surprised when I walk up to see a table full of clothes with no indication of who they might be appropriate for! Or a table covered with books or movies in a jumbled pile.
I know you aren’t running a retail shop, but being organized makes it easier for shoppers to see what you’ve got. Most people are turned off by a mess and have no interest in picking through in hopes of finding something they like.
If you have the eye and the goods, take it a step further and actually merchandise your stuff! How much do you want to shop at this adorably styled garage sale?!
HAVE SOME BARGAINING CHIPS.
Your experienced customers are going to try to negotiate, especially if you have some hot items. Keep some things on hand that you can use to “sweeten the deal”.
These are your low ticket items that you can throw in instead of lowering your price. The broader the appeal on your bargaining chips, the more effective they’ll be. Think DVDs, small tools, small electronics, cell phone accessories, local/regional sports memorabilia.
The biggest thing to remember is that garage sale-ing is a social activity. People don’t just walk in and buy stuff like in a retail store. You’ve got to be creative and think outside the box, and most of all – have fun!
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Are you a garage sale pro? What are your best tips?
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