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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to have a kick-ass garage sale

I sell a lot of stuff on Craigslist and eBay, but many items just aren't practical to sell online. Either they are too big, too cheap, items that people wouldn't necessarily be looking for, etc. So once I build up enough of these items, I hold a garage sale.

Things like clothes are very hard to sell individually on Craigslist or eBay, and are really too heavy to sell in bulk lots online, so a garage sale is perfect for these items. Other items that are best saved for yard sales are dishes and housewares, books that are not high demand, trinkets, nick-knacks, etc.

Here are a few tips to make your garage sale run well:

1. Try to have a good location. If you aren't near a major road, try to do it at a friends house. If you are too far out of the way people will just not want to drive all the way out there.

2. Wait until you have enough stuff. If you just have a tiny amount of stuff people simply aren't going to be interested. You will get a lot of 'drive bys' where people follow the signs but then don't bother to even stop once they see your paltry offerings. So just save up until you have enough stuff to at least cover your driveway. 

2. Put things on tables, shelves, or racks. You probably won't have enough tables for all your stuff, but find some way to keep it up off the ground. It makes it appear like there is more stuff, and it makes the things appear nicer/more valuable, whatever. Clothes sell much better hung up then in a big pile, so try to rig up something to hang them up on.  At the very least put down a blanket or tarp and set the items on that.

3. Mark everything with prices. I have sold many things simply because they see the price and it is much lower than they expected. If the price isn't listed, they are going to pass on things they aren't specifically looking for. But if they see that the books are only .25 for example, they will be tempted to buy them simply because they feel like they are getting a deal, even if they wouldn't have said 10 minutes ago that they wanted any books.

4. Use pricing schemes. There is a reason stores use these tactics; it works. Make things cheaper to buy in groups, buy one get one free, sell things as sets instead of individually. Instead of selling glasses for .50 each, sell the whole set for $5. Sell DVDs 5 for $10 instead of $3 each. Better yet list both prices, for individual items and cheaper to buy in quantity.

5. Make your signs large, white, and exciting. Brown cardboard signs are hard to see, so stick with white or orange or something like that. Don't just put 'yard sale', add terms like "huge' " super cheap' whatever. It works. I wrote 'epic garage sale' on my last sign, and people specifically told me that's why they stopped. Put signs at every location you can. No such thing as too many.

6. Use Craigslist to advertise. Make an ad on Craigslist for your garage sale. They have a 'garage sale' section, so use it. It's free. Make it earlier in the week, like Tuesday or Wednesday, then renew it on Friday afternoon so it shows up as a recent entry Friday night or Saturday morning. You can even make multiple different Craigslist ads for the same sale. 

7. Lower the prices as the day goes on. If it hasn't sold in a couple of hours, lower the price. It is better to get $5 than to not get $10. I can't tell you how many people set stuff out there with a price, don't lower it all day, then just throw it away when it is still there at the end of the day. If you were going to throw it away anyway, ANY price is better. Even a quarter. They are literally paying YOU to haul off your trash! So lower your prices!

That should get you started on your way to having awesome, profitable sales. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks for garage sales.

- The Money Monk


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