Even though this year's garage sale has been a crap ton of work, it was a huge success. I made some mad money this time out. A few people I work with have asked how to 'do' a garage sale, and Ashley asked in the comments on my post for the other day, so here's a rundown of what's worked for me.
1. Be organized. On everything! As you go through the things you're going to sell, sort them in to 'departments'. Dishes and glasses go together, but your old roller-skates don't really go with them. If your stuff is well organized when you set it out, it makes it easier for people to look at it, and they're more likely to buy. I put all of the dishes, glasses and 'housewares' type items all on one table. I had craft, fabric and sewing items all near the sewing machine I had for sale. All the toys were together in another 'zone'. I used an old DVD rack as a bookshelf for all the books I sold. When you take a few extra minutes to make everything look presentable, you will sell a lot more. And yes, you'll probably have to spend some time straightening it all back up, but it's really not a big deal. Make sure everything you set out is clean! If you're putting out clothes, make sure they're not dirty or smell like mothballs. Take a minute to dust something off or wipe it down. Nobody will want to buy something that looks grungy. Oh, and one more thing. The Husband thought I was crazy because I didn't set every single thing out at once. I chose to bring out stuff only as I sold the items I already had out. That way, my tables weren't overcrowded, and I had a better variety of things for people to look out. I think this works really well if you are doing a 2-day sale.
2. Advertise! I listed our garage sale on Craigslist because it's free, and I invested in a couple of signs from Home Depot. Put a sign at the main entrances to your neighborhood, and put a sign at the edge of your property to let people know that they've come to the right place.
3. Price everything. I bought some garage sale labels at Wal-Mart and it was worth it. Put the price sticker on the front of everything unless it's something hand painted and then put it on the back. People have told me that they don't know how to price their goodies. It's tough, because you might remember how much you paid for that wedding dress, but that's not a guarantee that it's still worth what you paid for it. Everything depreciates, whether we want to admit it or not. If you have a family antique that you think should get top dollar, don't sell it at a garage sale. For something like that, go through a consignment shop or an antiques dealer. Think about your things like you are a garage sale shopper. Would you pay more than $75 for a used wedding gown? Really? I priced all of our stuff really cheap. Glasses went for no more than .50 each, and I was willing to make a deal if they bought a set.
4. Have enough cash on hand and keep it close to you. If you can, have one person running your cash box. It's easier to keep track of the money if only one person is taking in the profits. If you're having a large sale, get about $75-$100 in cash. Make sure you have a roll of quarters, some fives and some ones. I've noticed that most people who came to my sale always paid in ones or fives. Do NOT take checks. Unless they are a family member or a trusted friend, it's just not worth the hassle of taking a check from a stranger. I made sure I listed 'cash only' on my Craigslist ad.
5. Set up early and take down on time. List your times in your ad and on your signs. My sale ran from 9AM-4PM each day. I began setting up around 7:45AM each morning, and people would start driving up immediately. They are like vultures who can smell a sale from a mile away! If they want to look while you're setting up, it's up to you as to how to best handle it. My experience was that if I politely told them that I wasn't quite ready yet, they would come back. I don't know how I was that polite so early in the morning, especially without coffee, but somehow I did it. I would start tearing down right at 4PM, maybe about 10 minutes before.
6. Finally, have some reinforcements! It's near impossible to run a garage sale single handed. You need to have a break every now and then to have a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, count your money, etc. And when it's all over and done, make sure you take down your signs! Nothing is sadder than seeing a sign and heading for a sale, only to find out that it was the previous weekend.
So have fun kids, and get out there and make some money!