A garage sale can be a great tool for getting rid of all kinds of stuff you have accumulated in your home over the years, whether you are just doing a spring cleaning or preparing for a move to a new home. The beauty of a garage sale is that when you own things that you have saved over the years because you really cannot bear throwing them away, selling them makes you feel that at least they had a purpose sitting in your house gathering dust all that time!
Before you can plan a garage sale, the first order of business is to rummage through the house and sift through all your stuff, separating what you need and what you no longer have any use for but hope someone else will. Even if you are sorry to let go of a lot of the stuff you have accumulated over time, when the time comes to pack up all of your belongings to move to your new home, having less to pack after getting rid of all those unused items will make you feel better.
So what happens after you have made the piles of stuff, all ready to be sold? The next step is to pick a good day — usually a Sunday (check the weather forecast and then hope for the best) — and then make a list of the best ways to “get the word out” about your garage sale.
If you want people to come to your garage sale, you need to advertise. A few days before your garage sale, post signs where people will be sure to see them. Take an ad out in the local paper, as well as post on the different local websites that are available in our community. If you have any antiques or big-ticket items, don’t be afraid to mention them in your ad — this can attract more customers.
Sell as much as you can. If in doubt, set it out! Anything that you even remotely think you want to sell, go ahead and price it and put it on display. Remember that one person’s junk is another person’s metziah. So even if you think no one could possibly want some of the items you have, try to sell them anyway and see what happens — you never know. I once had a garage sale and put out a jar of rusty nails that I had intended to throw away but forgot, only to have someone ask me if they could buy them. Go figure. If it doesn’t sell, you can always toss it after the garage sale.
Set things up in a fashion that makes it easy to navigate the aisles you form at the garage sale. Think about the stores you frequent. They are probably well-organized and have easy-to-navigate aisles. Similarly, you want to make shopping at your garage sale a breeze and create an atmosphere that will encourage shoppers to buy lots and lots of stuff. Organize your items into categories — a spot for clothes, another area for hardware or appliances, one for toys, etc. Take a tip from the grocery stores and place low-ticket items that are easy to grab close to the checkout spot. That way you can encourage impulse purchases as people are paying.
Remember as well that people coming to garage sales are looking for bargains. Keep your prices low and attractive. Don’t undervalue anything, but don’t go into overdrive and price an item high because it has sentimental value or because you want to leave negotiating room. If it is too high, you may have nothing to negotiate but what spot it will take up in the trash can after the garage sale is over and no one has bought it.
Don’t forget to prepare lots of change. Go to the bank and get plenty of coins and singles for making change. Ideally, the best way to hold the money is to have some kind of belted money bag that you always wear so you do not have to worry about the money box disappearing while you are busy with a customer.
Have a supply of bags and newspapers available to wrap delicates or to bag multiple items that people purchase. Get the children involved — set up a drinks table where they can sell drinks by the cup so they can feel part of the action (and they’ll have drinks available to them for the day).
A garage sale does involve some hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun. It’s an activity you can enjoy as a family — and you can even make a few dollars.
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.