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How to Prepare for a Garage Sale

I have way too much stuff.  It's my fault.  It's my husbands fault.  It's the dozen grandparents we have faults.

But I'm getting rid of it next weekend hopefully.  Alex is excited since he is trying to save for Disney World. As a girl growing up my family had garage sales monthly during the summer so I've got the hang of it a little bit.

Here are some tips I've come up with--
  • Check if a permit is needed -- some communities require a permit to hold a sale, make sure to check it out if you need one or you might be fined.
  • Send the kids to the sitter -- I can't be interrupted especially when people show up early so it is best just to make sure they are taken care of by someone else for the couple of days
  • Strategically pick the dates -- if your town has a  community garage sale find out those dates and try to arrange your sale around the same time.  Generally Thursday-Friday-Saturday are the best days in my area.  Stay away from holiday weekends as most people will be traveling out of town.  Start time is usually 8am until 5pm or commuter traffic.  You can probably close up earlier on Saturday.
  • Advertise -- FREE thru Craigslist.  You can probably expect more traffic if you list specific "hot" items and even upload pictures.  Make signs or buy them (Walmart) and put them at strategically placed intersections to draw in traffic.  You might have to read up on your town's sign policies.
  • Organize your Inventory --  I've got several marked boxes already that have been set aside for the garage sale.  In addition to that I'm literally taking a box into every room in my house and purging any items I don't want, use, or need.
  • People buy crap -- don't overestimate your trash for someone else's treasure.  Put it out there and see if you get a bite, if not, no loss donate it.  Don't expect to get full price for anything you put out, no matter how "new" it is.
  • Get friends together -- try to add to your inventory by asking a neighbor or friends if they have things they'd like to sell.  You can simply keep their items on a separate table or note with a different color tag.  Make sure you know their bottom offer if they aren't staying around.
  • Prep & Price - take the time to price your items.  You can even do this while the sale has low traffic, but it will save you and probably get you the sales you want when traffic is high.  Place big items or "hot" items in view of "drive-bys" if you can.  I've stopped many a time at something that caught my eye from the car.  Have an idea of what you are willing to let items bargain down for too.  Also feel free to bulk items together.  For example put clothes or small toys in a bin with a sign for $1/each.
  • Get cash -- get plenty of $1s and $5s and quarters especially if you have lower priced items.  You might want to get higher bills for change if selling higher ticket items.  I'd say $75-$100 is plenty to start with.  Also, decide if you are willing to accept checks or not.  You run the risk of them going bad.  Don't be afraid to ask for cash only.  
  • Atmosphere -- you can sell bottle water if you want if the day is going to be a scorcher.  Have some music playing and a good book for you when it is slow.  Also have a few grocery bags for people that might need them.
  • Closing Time -- don't be too proud and slash prices like crazy the last days/hours if you really want that stuff gone.  Have boxes ready to donate any unsold items.
Check back in a couple of weeks to see how my garage sale went.  Come on Big Money!

*This post is for general merchandise garage sales.  Specialty merchandise or antique advice is a whole other ballgame*


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