Getting ready for your sale.
To begin, you must decide what kind of sale to have, when to
have it, and how much stuff to get rid of. Then you'll need to gather and
prepare your stuff to sell. Finally, you'll be ready for setting up the sale
area and displaying and pricing your items.
What kind of sale are you having? Are you planning on having
your sale indoors, such as a moving sale, or completely inside the garage or
barn? This enables the sale to go on even if the weather isn't great. Will you
be gathering at a local church for a rummage sale? Are you and the neighbors
planning on a multi-family or block sale? Or will you be launching the sale
from your own yard? The amount of work and prep time involved in each of these
sales differs, as well as the amount of space you'll have to work with, and how
much flexibility you'll have. Carting stuff off to a church rummage sale may
limit how much you'll plan to sell. Throwing open the garage doors makes it
much easier to get rid of lots of larger, heavier stuff. Consider your
environment and make it as easy on yourself as possible. You'll have much more
fun in the process.
When are you having your sale? Do you need to wait for 3
feet of snow to melt before putting out the sale signs? Obviously weekends are
the primary time for sales, but in some regions, winter is out of the question,
so in spring, the garage-salers come out in full force. This can be a great
time to have a sale, as those garage sale junkies have been storing up that
shopping energy, and are just chomping at the bit to get out there and find
those great deals! In addition to weekends, Fridays are often great sale days,
as serious garage-salers like to beat the crowds, and some will even shop on
their lunch breaks. Obviously, the length of your sale depends on the quantity
of stuff you're selling, and possibly how willing you are to deal. Some really
large sales can last a week or more, or span several consecutive weekends. Some
may last 2-4 days. A few last only a day, or even as little as a half-day. Consider
how much time you have to spare, how much help you'll be getting from family or
friends, and how much recuperation time you'll need for cleaning up afterwards
and relaxing a bit. But most importantly, give yourself enough time to prepare
for your sale.
Consider how much stuff you'll be selling and estimate the
space you'll need to display it all. Decide whether you'll need tarps or canopies in case of rain, or for shade.
You may not need to put everything under protection, but it is certainly worth
the effort of covering items that may get damaged from rain and it's also more
comfortable for you if you have a dry/shaded area in which to sit during your
sale. Make sure that you allow plenty of space for people to move around, as no
one likes to be crowded while browsing. We get enough of that during holiday
You should always clean your stuff before you sell it. It's
more appealing to your customers, and you're more likely to sell something that
is clean and attractive. Clothing and dishes/kitchenware should be washed or
laundered, and pretty much everything else should at least be wiped with a mild
detergent. Clothing with irremovable stains should be tossed out.
Sorting your items into similar groups is a good idea:
clothing grouped by size, books in one place, tools in one area. Customers
might miss that one thing they're after, because it wasn't sitting with the
rest of a similar group of items. This makes pricing easier too.
A portable clothing rack always comes in handy, but don't
worry if you don't own one: alternatives are to utilize a long area of fence, or
hang garments from an open garage door, or setting aside one or two tables for
all folded clothing items. Pricing clothing can be time consuming, especially
if you're selling lots of items, such as baby clothes. One way to tackle this
is to price all of a particular type of item the same, such as all pants $2.00,
all sweatshirts 50 cents, posting a sign above all of these, instead of tagging
each one individually.
Books are another common item at garage sales, yet it can be
tough to sell them. Folks often over-price books, and end up with lots of
heavy, leftover boxes of books that no one bought. Bite the bullet on this and
price them low to sell. Arrange them so customers can easily read the titles,
and pick a price applicable to all hard-covers, and all soft-covers. If you are
finding it particularly difficult to price that hard-covered best-seller at 50
cents or a dollar, then you might want to consider a local used-book seller.
They will probably give you a bit more for it, but payment often comes in the
form of "store credit" that you can use toward purchases in that particular
store. If you just want to be rid of the books, and don't really care how much
you get for them, try setting out a "free" box or table. You'd be amazed at how
much stuff people will take off your hands for free, but wouldn't pay you ten
Certain items always draw attention from passersby, and
tools are one of them. Hand tools, power tools, yard tools. I've met many a
yard-saler who will size up a sale from a slow drive-by. Having some of these
attention-getting items in plain view will most surely draw people in. And if
you happen to have a particularly good selection of tools, you will likely see
the same people coming back a time or two, often bringing friends with them.
One item you'll need lots of is tables, tables, tables!
Picnic tables, card tables, folding tables of any kind will all be needed.
Make-shift tables made from a pair of saw-horses and a few boards or and old
door make excellent garage sale tables because they stand at a height closer to
kitchen counters, and thus make it more comfortable for your customers. Plus,
these items are fairly easy to find amongst your neighbors and can be borrowed
for the sale. (Remember to return them! As my Dad always used to say, his tools
weren't up for adoption: bring them back when you're done!)
Arrange the tables in a manner that makes it easy for people
to move around. A common arrangement is to line up tables in a perimeter around
the yard or garage. If there is enough room, and you still need more table
space, run a row of tables up the middle. As mentioned earlier, your items
should be sorted. Once sorted, arrange them according to the same general
categories you'd find in a department store. Keep the bassinette near the size
2T's, and the jumper cables near the fishing rod. People feel more comfortable
when looking through items arranged in an order that is familiar to them.
And one more thing (this is especially true for folks living
in areas with unpredictable weather): have some extra tarps or a roll of
plastic sheeting and either bungee cords or spring clamps on hand in case of
rain. (Tape can be pretty unreliable when wet, and often won't stick to certain
kinds of plastic sheeting at all.) Keep these close by, in a box or bin, during
the sale. After all the work of getting ready and setting things up, you don't
want to end up with a bunch of soggy or even ruined merchandise.