What on earth are you doing with all that stuff? You do know that you can make money by selling it, right? One man’s (or woman’s) trash is another’s treasure and a garage sale is the perfect way to feed that guy’s treasure craving.
The most successful Baltimore/Washington Area garage sales are planned and prepared meticulously. So, let’s look at some tips to help you do both!
Planning The Garage Sale
Don’t be the guy or gal that throws the party that nobody comes to. If your sole concentration is on the actual garage sale, and you put little effort into getting people to show up, your sale will be a bust.
Businesses call it “marketing” and you can apply their same strategies, but on a smaller scale.
Start your planning session by figuring out when you’ll hold the sale. Check with the largest businesses in town to find out when they pay their employees and choose the weekend after that date for the sale, suggests the Yard Sale Queen. In the Baltimore/Washington Area that’s the Federal Government, Maryland State Government and County Government!
But, there’s more to choosing a date than hoping for customers flush with cash. If something else competes for their attention, they’ll take their money elsewhere.
It’s summer, which means festivals and other outdoor community events, backyard barbecues and vacations. Check your community’s online events calendars to ensure the date you have in mind isn’t one on which the biggest community event of the year is being held. Check which sporting events are being held in the area – Redskins, Ravens, University of Maryland football and basketball, Orioles, the Washington Nationals, Washington Mystics, etc. (The Wizards, not so much because they normally play at night). Your aim is to have as little competition as possible.
Finally, call everyone that you hope will assist you on the day of the sale and run the date by them to ensure they’re free.
So, now you know when the big sale will happen. It’s time to plan the actual event.
What Will You Sell?
Though many of us have boxes and bins full of items we hope to sell or donate someday, there are sellable items lurking in every room of your home. Garage sale experts suggest that you go through your entire home, room-by-room, evaluating your belongings. When you find an item, you want to include in the sale, slap a price sticker on it and place it in a box.
Don’t forget to go through the pockets of all garments, check handbags you’ll be selling and search large items in which something may be hidden. The last thing you need is to sell that dresser where Grandpa stashed his life savings.
By the end of the process, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re selling and for what price. This is important information you’ll need when setting up the sales floor.
Advertising The Garage Sale
There are several ways to let folks know about your world’s best garage sale. The most effective is online advertising, so create an ad, with lots of compelling photos, and post it on craigslist.org, yardsales.net, yardsalesearch.com, garagesalefinder.com and Facebook.
Check with your Homes Owners Association (HOA) and the city or county to ensure you don’t violate any timing or signage rules. Then create signs and place them at the main thoroughfare and around your neighborhood. Uber-successful garage sale-holder Cassie, at wholefully.com, suggests large, 20″ x 30″ signs for the for the former and smaller ones for the latter.
Prepare The Sales Area
Make a list of each item you’ll be selling and its price. The easiest way to do this is as you set them out on the sales floor. Cross the items off the list as they are sold.
Make a floor plan of the garage, yard, driveway or wherever you’ll be setting up shop. Sketch it out on a piece of paper, drawing tables and making notations of which types of items will go on which tables. Ensure that folks will have room to maneuver around and between your displays.
There are a number of floor plans you can adopt for your garage sale. You can find them online at:
Most garage and yard sale experts agree that large items you think will be most popular should be located closest to the entrance, where they will be easy to see from the street, and locate smaller, easy-to-pocket items in an area where a helper will be stationed.
Two final notes: Locate electrical items near an outlet, or have an extension cord handy so that customers can test them. Then, determine how you’ll bag the customers’ purchases. Plastic grocery bags are ideal and boxes are suitable for larger items.
The Day Before The Garage Sale
- Check in with your helpers to ensure they’ll be there, and on time.
- The experts suggest that you have at least $100 on-hand to make change. Depending on how you price the items, you’ll need quarters and at least 20 $1 bills and 10 $5 bills.
- Determine how you’ll deal with the cash during the sale. Keeping it on your body is safest – a “fanny pack” is ideal as it’s easier to access and holds more than a wallet.
- Go over all sale items to ensure they have price stickers.
- Let neighbors know about the sale.
- Buy batteries so that buyers can test out battery-operated items.
Garage Sale Day!
By now, you should be so organized and ready for the sale that all you’ll need to do is set up the sales floor, remembering to leave room for folks to maneuver and placing the most desirable items out front where they can be seen from the street.
Then, place the signs and you’re ready to open for business!
Things To Consider
Be alert and keep these common garage sale scams in mind:
- The customer claims you gave him the wrong change – Keep the customer’s cash visible during the entire transaction (either hold it in your hand or place it under a paper weight). This way he can’t claim to have given you a larger bill.
- Don’t be distracted by large groups arriving at the same time – this is where your helpers come in handy. Ensure that you aren’t all watching the same area at the same time. There are people who will deliberately try to distract your attention.
- That advice we gave you earlier about going through pockets and drawers before selling an item? Do it again when someone purchases something with hiding places. It’s not uncommon for the unscrupulous to stuff smaller items into larger ones.
- Never allow anyone into your home. If they need to use the restroom, give them directions to the nearest public facility.
Two Final Tips
Impulse buying is a reality! It’s a thing! So display some small but fun, inexpensive items at the checkout area.
If you have no intention of opening the sale for early birds, say so in your ads. The folks at getrichslowly.org suggest a simple “early birds pay double” will suffice.
Good luck with your Baltimore/Washington Area garage sale! Let me know how it goes! 🙂
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