Now’s the Time To Clean Out the Clutter and Hold a Garage Sale.

If you are planning a move this summer, it’s pointless moving with items you no longer need. So why not hold a garage sale? You will clear out all the “junk” you no longer need, and earning some money at the same time.

Here’s how to do it:

Preparing for the sale:
  • Phone or visit your local municipal authorities and find out whether you need a permit or a notification to hold the sale.
  • Visit other garage sales to get an idea of how people price things. Also, if you check the merchandise at local resale shops, antique shops and flea markets, you may discover that some of your old junk is worth more than you thought.
  • Start saving shopping bags, cardboard boxes and newspapers to pack things for your customers on the day of the sale. People are more likely to buy things if they can carry them away easily.
  • Ever thought of holding a joint sale with other families? You’ll have more merchandise and more choices of location, and there will be more people to share the work.

Where and when to hold your sale:
  • Weekends are when most people have free time, so Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the traditional garage sale days. 
  • Avoid holding your sale on holiday weekends as people leave town or are entertaining visitors.
  • Garage sale enthusiasts like an early start, so begin your sale first thing in the morning. When you close depends on when the number of customers begins to dwindle and how much energy you have left. 
  • The best time to hold the sales is from mid-spring to mid fall.

What you should sell:
  • The larger the display, the longer people will linger and the more likely they’ll be to buy things. 
  • Remember – Items you see as junk could be someone else’s treasures. 
  • You may be most interested in selling some large, expensive items, but don’t forget to include smaller, low-priced ones. Many garage sale shoppers are looking for a bargain.
  • Be ruthless! If you haven’t used something for the past couple of years, why keep it? 

How to price your merchandise:
  • Place price tags on everything to help buyers identify bargains. Self-adhesive tags are quick, convenient and easy to change if necessary.
  • On a new article, charge no more than half the normal retail cost. Prices on used items should be even lower. Low prices are the main attraction of any garage sale, so keep them at rock bottom.
  • People may want to bargain for a better price, so be psychologically prepared for this and take it into account in your pricing. After the haggling is over, articles will probably sell for about 10 per cent below your asking price.
  • Keep your prices in round numbers to simplify calculations for both your buyers and yourself.

Advertising your sale:
  • A week before the sale, run a classified ad in your local newspaper or an online bulletin board. The ad should include a brief listing of major items for sale, the date(s) of the sale, rain date(s), hours of operation and your street address. If you don’t mind people calling you for more information, include your telephone number. To catch the reader’s eye, spend a little extra to have a border put around the ad, or use a headline in larger type. 
  • Put notices on bulletin boards in churches, schools, supermarkets, community centres and clubs. 
  • Prepare a sign to go in front of your house on the day of the sale. The letters should be large, visible and waterproof.
  • If you live on a side street, you may want to put signs at the nearest crossroads and on the main roads.

On the day of the sale:
  • Have wrapping supplies ready and make sure you have paper, pencils and calculators available for adding up sales.
  • Have plenty of change ready in a cash box. A $100.00 float should be enough, but make a note of the sum so you can figure out exactly how much money you made once the sale is over.
  • Have as many helpers as you can get. You’ll need breaks and you can’t leave the sale unattended. 
  • Make sure there’s an electrical outlet available for testing appliances.
  • Accept only cash, never cheques, and post a sign to that effect. Get a deposit if a customer wants an article held, and set a time limit for holding the item. Make sure your helpers know about this policy and any others you may have for the sale.
  • Arrange small articles on tables. Use twine to hang poles from the garage ceiling for clothes racks. Keep things looking casual – people like the informal air of garage sales.

During the sale:
  • Let your customers browse in peace but be ready to answer their questions.
  • Be prepared to lower your prices later in the day to avoid being left with unsold merchandise.
  • Keep your cash box out of sight and keep larger bills on your person. 
  • Never leave the sales area unattended. Watch for shoplifters. If someone looks suspicious, ask how you can help him or her. Pilferers are discouraged by close supervision. 
  • Keep the house locked and don’t allow people inside to use its facilities.
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