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Tips for Holding a Successful Garage Sale

This Saturday tradition of garage sales has been a pastime for millions of people. Even as a child, I remember my mom strategically mapping out the local neighborhood sales in the newspaper. However, the part of actually organizing and holding a garage sale can be overwhelming for many people – myself included.


If you, like many others, feel stressed when it comes to the entire garage or yard sale process, below are a few tips to ease your anxiety. Hopefully, by the end of the morning, you’re holding on to less stuff, and more cash.

  1. Assess
    If you’re anything like my family, you have plenty of stuff, or junk to sell. As the adage goes, “Another person’s trash, is someone else’s treasure.” Begin by starting piles of items that you want to sell. Over a month or two, I create a “garage sale” area in the garage where I simply pile up stuff to sell. I then spend a few hours each day the week before the sale to organize.
  2. Advertise
    Marketing your garage sale is key to drawing in your audience. Physical signage, online and print ads are great ways to let people know it’s time to make a deal. If you have some big-ticket items, like a computer, or sports equipment, it’s always a good idea to mention those in the ad, if space permits.
  3. Timing
    Consider not only holiday and vacation times for families, but keep in mind payday as well. The first of the month is usually a good time when folks have a little more disposable income.
  4. Merchandize
    Once you’ve assessed all your stuff, divide by similar item category and price. For example, if you have a box of paperback books, place them in a box and mark, “Books 25 Cents Each.” This may help you avoid having to individually mark each item.
  5. The Price is Right
    Let’s talk pricing. On the opposite end of what you may think is highly valuable, your potential customer may consider it not so valuable. Remember: Price to sell, not to hold on to the “prized” possession for another decade. This isn’t the popular TV show “Pawn Stars,” it’s a garage sale.
  6. Opportunity to Teach Entrepreneurism & Empathy
    Allow children to participate in the garage sale as a learning opportunity. Encourage them to sell agreed upon items, or ask if they’d like to sell baked goods and lemonade. During the preparation and the event, talk about the basic economics of goods, services and values, supply and demand. You can also encourage your children to donate all or part of the proceeds to a local charity.

Two final pieces of advice: 1) Make coffee. You’ll need it. Garage sales usually start early in the morning, and you may even have a few early door knockers who are ready to wheel and deal; and 2) Get cash the night before. You’ll need to make change for your customers, so make sure to pick up lots of ones and quarters.

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.



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