10 Tips for Making the Most of Garage Sales

by Jamie Simmerman · 2 comments

Summertime means garage sales — lots of ‘em. From visiting neighborhood garage sales to cruising the city in search of signs, garage sales can be a fun and frugal way to stock up on needed items. Hosting a garage sale can also bring in additional cash for items that you no longer need or want.

Here are some tips to make this year’s yard sale experiences profitable.

Tips for Shopping at a Garage Sale

1. Always try to barter on the price.

Most people are overwhelmed by the thought of lugging leftover yard sale items back inside or to the thrift store — and will take a lower price if offered.

2. Don’t buy everything that catches your eye.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of yard sales and drag home a whole trunk full of items that will most likely end up in your own yard sale next year. Avoid the temptation to buy frivolous items.

3. Before leaving the house, make a list of items you’re looking for.

Johnny needs a new dresser? Looking to stock up on school clothes and supplies for cheap? How about a new pair of jeans? Know what you’re looking for in advance to help avoid the lure of the shiny and novel.

4. Be a wary buyer.

Just because that bread machine has a sign that reads, “Works great!” doesn’t mean it actually does. Ask to plug in electrical items to try them before purchasing. Sit on furniture to test out the sturdiness, and inspect clothing for working zippers, the absence of holes, and other defects. I once purchased a shirt from a garage sale that somehow had the front and back glued together, rendering it useless. I never thought to stick my hand down the sleeves and neck to check before buying.

5. Don’t shop on an empty stomach!

Pack a cooler with snacks, sandwiches, and drinks to keep your shopping sense sharp and help avoid impulse buying.

Tips for Hosting a Garage Sale

1. Plan ahead for your yard sale, and let your community know.

Put up flyers, run an ad in the newspaper, post to local community boards online, and create a Facebook event to bring in the customers.

2. Offer refreshments, especially if it’s a sweltering day.

Shoppers will pay extra for a cold drink or snack while they shop. Your kids can even get in on the sale by serving the refreshments and keeping the profits.

3. For less work and less confusion, arrange your items in groups.

Consider posting signs that say, “All kids tops, $2,” or something similar, to avoid the work of placing tags or stickers on every item. This also helps your customers feel at ease about shopping, since they know the price up front. Group pricing also helps reduce the chances of customers haggling over prices.

4. Fill several cardboard boxes with items you’re not sure will sell.

Include one or two desirable items on the top, and then price the whole box together. This helps you get rid of clutter and will mean less leftovers to throw out or give away when your yard sale is over.

5. Create an atmosphere of fun.

Host small carnival games, tell jokes to your customers, smile often, and start conversations with shoppers. Creating a pleasant experience for the shopper works for retails stores, and it works for yard sales, too.

What garage sale tips (for shopping or hosting) do you have to share?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Property Marbella July 28, 2013 at 3:56 am

Wash and clean the items you will sell so they look better. Ask for low prices so people can find them, as it attracts more purchases.

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Allbert September 20, 2013 at 1:00 am

These are some worthy tips and people should follow these considerations at the time of attending a yard sale as well as hosting a yard sale.

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