I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker . . . . this vehicle stops at all garage and/or yard sales. Garage and yard sales are as American as “apple pie”; benefitting the seller by getting rid of things no longer wanted while the buyer may find items he/she wants or needs at a reasonable price. Truly, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
With a little planning and preparation, you can turn your garage or yard sale into a profitable event. To guarantee both you and your customers have the best possible garage or yard sale experience, follow these guidelines:
Know the law
Check for special local ordinances governing garage or yard sales. Do you need a permit? Are there limits on the number of garage/yard sales you can have per year? Are there regulations regarding signs? Don’t forget to take signs down when the sale is over. Some communities fine people who do not remove their garage sale signs promptly. What about selling homemade foods? Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to check for coverage in the event of an accident.
Location, location, location
Choose an easy to get to location. Ideal locations are centrally located neighborhoods in town. Combine your efforts with a neighbor or two for more variety and greater impact or capitalize on community garage sales.
Set the date – advertise
Community or neighborhood garage/yard sales can increase the traffic and sales while cutting advertising costs. Don’t forget to check advertising regulations, yes, some communities have sign ordinances; believe me, I learned the hard way. Utilize a variety of advertising methods for best results.
Determining what you want to sell
There’s a market for almost anything; linens, antiques, collectibles, clothes, household goods are all good selling items. Common sense says all items should be clean and in good working order. Clothes should be clean, free of spots, folded or hung on hangers.
Organizing and displaying items for sale
Organization is crucial – arrange merchandise according to various categories – books, children’s clothes, household goods, garden items, etc. Make it easy for customers to see and inspect the items for sale; potential buyers don’t want to dig through piles of unorganized clutter. Selling appliances? Attach the warranty and operators manual, if available for increased sales.
Place small items or those most likely to be subject to theft (yes, theft can happen at garage and yard sales) near the cashier’s table or in a highly visible location.
Pricing your goods
One of my biggest pet peeves is unmarked items. Proper pricing methods can make the difference between a sale and a disgruntled customer who stomps away. Visit a couple of garage or yard sales in your community to get an idea of the value of commonly sold items. Tape, slips of paper or stickers, can be used to individually price items to aid shoppers and reduce confusion. Grouping like items by price (jeans, t-shirts, purses/bags, etc.) is another acceptable pricing strategy.
Collecting the money
Organize your selling area so shoppers must exit by the cashier. Never leave the cash drawer unattended. Ideally, it’s best if you have at least two individuals to assist with the sale; one to serve as the cashier and the other to keep the sales area tidy and assist customers.
Change on hand
Start with $15 to $20 in change (quarters, dimes, nickels) and about 20 one dollar bills in your cash drawer/money box. For safety purposes, don’t keep all of your money in your cash drawer; keep about half in the drawer and the other half in a safe location away from the sales area.
What to do with unsold items
As you plan the sale, don’t forget to plan for the disposal of unsold items. There are individuals who will buy unsold garage sale items, others who will haul unwanted items away for the taking, or you can donate to a local thrift store or charity.
Successful yard and garage sales don’t just happen; they take careful planning and organizing. They can be time well spent on reducing unnecessary household clutter and unwanted items while benefitting the family financially.
McBurney, Jayne, April 21, 2014. Yard Sales are popping up! Retrieved April 23 at http://johnston.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/04/yard-sale-popping-up/
Harrison, Mary N., Garage Sales. University of Florida Fact Sheet FCS 5042, June 2005. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00002633/00001
Reichard, Molly Grace. Yard Sale Savvy. West Virginia University Fact Sheet WLG 90, 1996. http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/wlg90.pdf
Wright, Susan. Garage Sales: Cash, Not Trash. New Mexico State Guide – G-106, 2002. http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_g/G106.pdf
Planning A Garage Sale, United Van Lines, #1, United Drive, Fenton, MO.
Berko, Rober L. Holding Successful Garage Sales for Fun and Profit., Consumer Education Research Center, 1990.
Written by: Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA
Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA
Reviewed by: Kim Barnhart, Office Associate, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA