By Mary Beth Breckenridge
RISMEDIA, April 27, 2009-(MCT)-Garage sales are no longer seen as a money-making opportunity anymore, they are seen as an event. Now that the good weather has arrived, homeowners across the country are taking the opportunity to clean out the house and get rid of unneeded items. Not only are garage sales a good way to put a little extra cash in your pocket, they serve as a great opportunity to enjoy the weather and catch up with neighbors.
Here are some tips for hosting a successful garage sale:
Set the date
Timing can affect a sale’s success. Many homeowners who have hosted garage sales in the past find that it is better to hold them in March or April, instead of during the summer. Not only is there less competition during March and April, but people are excited to get out of the house and enjoy the weather. In addition to the time of year, the time of week is important as well. Wednesdays and Thursdays often draw the biggest crowds as the weekends are full of family responsibilities.
Check community calendars for events that might keep people from your sale – or conversely, draw people to your area. It’s also a good idea to check whether your community requires permits or has sign restrictions or other regulations.
Bigger sales attract bigger crowds, so offer to sell your friends’ and neighbors’ stuff. If more than one family is participating in the garage sale, each seller should price their own items and initial the price stickers so that items can be tracked.
Recruit several helpers, so plenty of people are around to greet customers, answer questions, straighten merchandise and make sales – and, of course, to make the event fun.
Advertise in the local publication where you see the most garage sale ads, because you can bet that’s the place avid buyer’s check. Include the days, times and location, along with directions if the house is hard to find and highlight items that appeal to a range of buyers.
Don’t forget to advertise in free places such as Craigslist and bulletin boards in libraries, community centers, grocery stores and the like. And make sure you tell everyone you know about your sale.
It is important to make sure the items you are selling are clean before the sale starts. Give yourself time before the sale to clean the garage, launder clothes and get other items in top condition.
Make sure the sale area is safe, too, with no loose cords or sharp objects within reach. Repair electrical items if you can, which makes them more appealing to customers and allows you to charge more. If you can’t fix them, mark them as broken.
Keep in mind that most shoppers are looking for things they can buy cheaply. You’ll probably get more money for antiques and higher-priced items by selling them through such means as classified ads or eBay.
Price to sell
If you don’t have experience with garage sale pricing, you might check thrift stores, classified ads, other garage sales or online sites such as Amazon.com, Half.com and eBay for pricing guidance. An eBay check can also flag items that are more valuable than you’d thought.
Take a cue from stores, and display like items together. People can see things more easily if they’re on tables rather than on the ground. Display clothes on hangers if you can, maybe even grouped into outfits. Display electrical items near an outlet or extension cord so shoppers can test them, and display books on tables or in boxes with the spines up. Furniture, bikes, TV sets and other big items should be placed near the street, where they’ll catch the eyes of people driving by and lure them into stopping.
Focus on service
Garage sales are social events, so it’s nice to make your shoppers feel welcome. Nice items to have on hand are a tape measure, wet wipes or tissues, scrap paper and pencils for customers’ use, a calculator, plastic grocery bags and newspapers for wrapping breakable items. If you have a cordless or cell phone, keep it outside with you in case it’s needed. Make sure you have plenty of change on hand as well.
Keep an eye on the cash box, or wear a fanny pack or carpenter’s apron so you can keep the cash on you. Display valuables at a table that’s always staffed. Don’t change big bills. If the customer says he has nothing smaller, direct him to a bank or store where he can get change.
Lock the doors to your house, and don’t let anyone inside – or if you do, make sure the person is accompanied. You might even make copies of directions to a nearby public bathroom so you can hand them to people who ask.
Plan for leftovers
Even the best garage sales won’t rid you of everything, so it’s smart to have a plan to get rid of what doesn’t sell.
© 2009, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).
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