Reasons why your garage sale stinks and how you can have the best garage sale ever!
Ok friends, I have been to a lot of garage sales in my days. A lot. I can throw together a garage sale in no time flat and therefore have thrown more yard sales than I can count. All of this junk hunting and garage saleing has given me more information than I should know on the subject and today I am sharing it with you. Sorry if I hurt your feelings, this list about why your garage sale stinks is meant to help in the long run!
It all started with a garage sale I went to a few weeks ago. I walked out thinking, man, that garage sale stunk and I had a list of reasons rolling off my tongue. So I decided to put them together in hopes of a glorious PSA that would help all of mankind. Or at least help you make more money, sell more stuff and help my treasure hunts go smoother!
- You didn’t advertise – Let’s face it, often in this world it takes money to make money. Chances are you are having a garage sale to make money and clean out your house. Maybe you think you don’t have enough cash to pay for a newspaper ad, but I can assure you, that is a BIG mistake. I know from experience. Full on marketing pays off! Hit the newspaper, put a note in Craigslist, any facebook sale groups that will let you and if you are active on social media spread the word. You can’t sell stuff if no one comes. Put signs out on the curbs, let people know where you are, LOUD and CLEAR! You can try these sites and apps for free advertising as well… Yard Sale Treasure Map, Garage Sale Finder
- You don’t price things – I know it’s a huge task, but it has to be done. Especially in large events like church garage sales. Let me explain why. There are two types of people in the world. The first will pick up an item and ask how much, the second won’t and that is where you will miss a sale. Even if you bulk price, put pricing out there, for example: all shirts $1, all toys in this bucket $1, etc. Then have a price list next to the items and at check out!
- You judge people – This is a harsh one, but it’s true and I know from experience. It has happened to me way too many times. You don’t price items, then when someone goes to check out or ask how much you give a price based on what you think they can afford. Garage sale purchases have a lot to do with what people can afford, but they also have a lot to do with what people are willing to pay. I have asked how much on an item, been told a high price, set item back down because I wasn’t going to pay that and then overheard a lower price quoted for the next person. On the flip side, I have also heard a price quoted to another shopper, watched that person put the item down and walk away, then I have asked how much and been told a higher price. It really happens and makes me mad and sad all at the same time. It’s just wrong, follow #2 and this will be a non-issue! Plus, we aren’t supposed to judge.
- You are asking original price – I will never understand estate sales and garage sales that ask crazy amounts for the things they are selling. Often when I make a face that screams, “wow – that seems high” the quick response is, “well, it would cost X amount to buy at the store.” Dear garage sale host – you are missing the point, everyone is here to get a deal, not pay retail. If you want to make cash and sell out then put a smoking hot price on your junk! After all we are buying used items and whatever you don’t sell you will have to load up and haul off to donate or haul it back into your house (which is against my personal garage sale rules! If it goes out for the sale it can’t come back inside!) Do you know how many thrift stores are filled with items that didn’t sell at a garage or estate sale…tons! Isn’t the point to get rid of stuff? This is the place in life to be cheap, you will make it up in volume. Nobody cares what it sells for on eBay and if you cared that much you would be selling it there, but you don’t…it’s sitting on your driveway, so get rid of it. I’m a little passionate about this point, can you tell?
- Your flow is off – This is about large multi family or church sales mainly, but applies to all. You need to have a good traffic flow that will accept all the traffic you get from advertising (see #1). People don’t want to wait in line to check out and they will often leave before they wait for long. Have a bunch of people prepared to check out if you are hosting a large event. Pricing items also helps the check out process go faster! Move the check out lines from the shopping area so shoppers can move freely and not get discouraged by the long line they are going to have to wait in to buy a $2 item.
- You didn’t display. At all – I am all about digging for treasures, but most of the time at a garage sale I will only glance over the tables or goods that I can see without touching. You don’t have to make your driveway look like a store, but take things out of boxes, spread them out and don’t just throw things in a pile where a potential buyer can’t see them. If you have the ability to hang up clothes they will sell better and for more money. If you make it look like trash in heaps on the floor, that’s exactly how people will treat it. Perception is reality, give a good impression if you want to move merchandise and make money.
- I don’t know if it works – Are you selling lamps or electronics? Have an extension cord with a place to plug in and test electrical items. Have batteries on hand for toys, etc. Don’t be scared to tell people something doesn’t work, just be honest and price accordingly, you never know what people are looking for. If they are like me they aren’t buying your old lamp to use as a light, they are making a candlestick or something and will gladly pay close to nothing for a broken lamp!
- You don’t have change – You have to have change. Lots of it, all sizes and denominations. End of story.
- You put all the baby stuff out front – Unless all you have is baby stuff, put your big and generic type goodies that attract everyone out front. I rarely stop at garage sales that scream baby stuff and pink unicorns. I don’t have any babies and don’t need baby paraphernalia, unicorns maybe. You have to be attractive to the masses and things like furniture and other large or unique items tend to make people hit the brakes instead of driving by.
- Your customer service stinks – I walk up the drive, you are face down in your phone and never acknowledge me. I know it’s a yard sale, but kindness goes a long way, especially early on a Friday or Saturday morning. Say hi, greet your shoppers and offer to help. Be flexible and willing to budge on price if someone asks. Have extra bags or boxes on hand for people to carry all their finds home in. If you are able have a strong arm handy to help load big pieces and carry items to the car for your “customers”. None of these things are 100% necessary, but I’m a lot less likely to leave your sale thinking it stunk. 🙂
Most of all have fun and don’t stress, garage sales are a great way to earn some extra cash, get rid of things you don’t need, get the whole family involved and hopefully make someone else’s day with a great find! Let me know if there are any other things I forgot to mention to help make your garage sale more successful and less stinky! Oh – and if you live in my town let me know when you have a sale, I will be there with bells on. Happy hunting friends!
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