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Blog: The Simplified Home
Garage Sales 101 – Preparing, pricing and advertising

Here's the next installment in our Garage Sales 101 series. Today I'll talking about how to attract potential buyers for your sale, preparing your stuff and pricing.

Step 3: How to Attract Buyers to a Garage Sale

Advertising is obviously a very critical planning task – without bringing in lots of potential buyers, you cannot have a financially rewarding sale. The time and effort invested in having a garage sale is significant, so it makes sense to invest time in promoting your sale to ensure you get the biggest bang for your time investment. Here are some thoughts and tips for promoting your garage sale:

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Look for free or very low-cost ways to get the word out about your sale. Neighborhood newsletter, local community papers and signs strategically placed on the street are also good options.
  • Capitalize on the internet – I've had two garage sales in the past two years and I found Craig's List to be the best free way to advertise a garage sale. Several visitors to my sale shared with me that they go to Craig's List on Friday or Saturday morning to print out the garage sales they want to attend. Then they map their route. I did not do any paid advertising for either of my garage sales after I learned about Craig's List. Another online resource is http://www.garagesalestracker.com/.
  • E-mail friends and family who can pass it along to others. I even shared my garage sale information with Facebook friends and had two people attend that had read it on Facebook. One visitor from Facebook was actually an old high school friend who I'd not seen in 30 years.
  • Signs – Make sure these are visible from a distance. Avoid pastel colors, and use block lettering. If your location is not obvious from the address, you will need to post directional signs on the day of the sale. Arrows at each corner also are helpful. Remember to remove the signs once your sale is over.
Step 4: Preparing the Stuff

As you prepare your items for sale, be sure to:
  • Search through pockets, purses, and books. You may find items reflecting personal information such as credit cards, Social Security numbers, cards or pictures with sentimental value, or even money. I recall several years ago when I was selling some of my grandmother's items when she was downsizing, I found a c. 1875 bill in one of her purses.
  • Put big items in view of people from the street. This entices buyers to stop. Since certain items like tools, lawn mowers, and exercise and sports equipment seem to catch the eye of make shoppers, be sure these are among your visible items.
  • Have bags and boxes available for customers. Begin collecting plastic and paper bags a week or two before your sale. There is no cost to you, and it is a nice convenience that is greatly appreciated by your buyers.
  • Minimize buyer objections by sprucing up your items – Use all purpose cleaner or just damp rags to clean off and spruce up your items. I had a buyer once ask me to lower the price on a trash can because she would have to take it home and clean it.

Step 5: Show Me the Money

Now the fun part …setting prices.
Mark the items with a price. This will save constant questioning from potential buyers. Set a price that is realistic and allow for some typical negotiating – but never up – when bargaining with a customer. To price an item in good usable condition, a general rule of thumb is 25 percent to 30 percent of its original value.  Of course, age, style of item will play a part in pricing. For example, an old printer, even in good working condition, won't bring in the typical 25-30% because of the type of item it is.  It may be hard to sell clothing or accessories in gently used or even new condition if either the style or color reflects its age.

Try to take the work out of looking. If you have lots of similar items like books, CDs or kitchen utensils, save time by simply putting a sign on the table or box indicating your prices. For example, pricing may be 50-cents each or three for $1. Piling all the items on a table or having multiple layers in a box is not conducive for easy shopping. If you take the time to arrange the items in some order, buyers may be more encouraged to browse. Try to set prices at whole dollar or half dollar amounts to make it easy and quick to make change.

Have sufficient money on hand to make change. I typically start with $50-$60 dollars in mostly small bills. Keep all money on your person, either in your pockets, in a money apron or a fanny pack. Money sitting around in an envelope or box is just too tempting if you get distracted. It is advisable not to accept checks.

Post a sign that says all sales are final. You don't want someone asking for a refund if a cheaper substitute is found down the road.

posted on: 8/30/2010 10:00:00 AM by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie
category: Homes

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The Simplified Home

by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie

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About Janet:

Janet Nusbaum creates calm out of chaos, and loves bringing serenity and order to overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, frazzled parents, and transitioning seniors and families. Janet, President of Simplified Spaces & The Simplified Home, is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Author and Speaker.

She is the author of "Mom, Can I Help Around the House?" A Simple, Step-by-Step System for Teaching Your Children Life-Long Skills for Pitching-In & Picking-up".

She is a proud member: National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) & National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD)

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