Make the Most of Your Garage Sale

Whether you’re saving money for a vacation or just clearing your life of clutter, a garage sale serves the purpose and can often add the allure of a neighborhood social event. Regardless of your reasons, few will argue the satisfaction of a good cash return for the effort of days of hard work. Not only is money in your pocket a reward, it’s an indicator of the relative success of your event. Maximizing your profits is easy if you keep a few things in mind and aim your preparations to make a shopper-friendly experience. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling. You’ve got a hit on your hands if you scan your house for more things to sell next weekend, as you head to the bank to deposit your earnings.

Skip the Price Tags

It’s very important that you know what value each item has to you. However, the value equation is different for everyone. What may be a trashy ashtray to you may be reminiscent of someone’s Aunt Harriet. Placing a 50-cent price tag may lose you a five-dollar sale to Harriet’s niece.

Putting price tags on items starts the negotiation, and the next stage is solely in the buyer’s hands. They may procrastinate, hem-and-haw and make their decision without any further input from you. Let them make an offer. You may be surprised at the amounts they put forth. A price tag means you’ll likely be offered less.

If you’re concerned about remembering what values you have for items during the mad rush of a Saturday morning sale, devise a code that makes sense only to you. For example, a chef’s knife could be labeled K-FIB, standing for “Kitchen-FIveBucks.” A cloth napkin might be D-TWQ, or “Dining Room-TwoQuarters,” or 50 cents. Make sure any sales assistants are clear on your code! A master list of items and values may also work for you.

Stage Your Consumer Experience

You’re in competition with every other garage and yard sale going on at the same time as yours. So how do you set yourself apart? Staging is every bit as important on the driveway as it is at the mall. The flip side of competition is that there will be plenty of shoppers on the prowl. Simply putting out boxes full of clutter leads to drive-bys in search of better organized sales. Consider grouping items by room, kitchen, electronics, knick-knacks, glassware, etc.

Put some thought into it. You know your high-value items, so be sure to feature those, but remember they’ll likely go fast, so your more common items need care and staging as well. Consider selling baked goods, hot dogs, coffee and cold drinks — for a price, of course. Soft music subconsciously encourages people to linger, and just as in the retail world, lingering often turns into spending more money.

Open for Business on Friday

Sure, the yard sale mindset is usually geared to Saturday and Sunday mornings, but opening on Friday may just draw in some folks who will check to see if you’re worth a visit in the a.m. If you’re organized and ready to go, however, you may convince them to stop ahead of the crowds.

Professional garage sale shoppers are always looking for an edge and will likely visit you Friday in search of the best selection. Keep this in mind and move your mental pricing up 20 to 50%. If they don’t take the bait, you can still markdown prices ahead of the prime time crush in the morning.

Keep an Eye on the Signs

With plenty of options to promote your sale online, you might be tempted to skip the physical signs. Some of your shoppers may not be online on mobile devices or driving alone. Make it easy for them to find you. There’s no need to break your budget on signage. The standard blank yard sale signs and a sharpie are all you need. Enlist a spotter to check that your signs haven’t fallen or been posted over by competitors.

Finally, don’t let that pocketful of profits set you off on an impulse buying spree, unless that was your original goal. Directing the proceeds toward your original goal completes the satisfaction cycle of a successful sale.

About Paul Gaulkin

Paul Gaulkin is enrolled with the US Treasury to practice before the IRS. Mr. Gaulkin possesses technical knowledge in the process of securing relief for taxpayers in need of tax help. With an accounting degree from Florida International University, he is able to transform complex tax and accounting problems into easy to understand solutions.


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