Our family’s first garage sale! Fabulous idea or epic failure?
My husband and I have been together for 8 years – That includes 5 years of marriage, 4 moves, and 2 babies. Not to mention our generous families are always gifting us with secondhand treasures and other great nuggets to add to our home. All of this adds up to an accumulation of STUFF.
We literally had STUFF spilling out of our house and it was time – time for a garage sale.
My first order of business was to set a timeframe for when this event would happen, then a date. Having a set date for our garage sale gave my husband and I (most importantly my husband) a deadline for when our STUFF had to be out of our house and priced to sell.
As soon as I realized a garage sale was inevitable, I set out a couple totes/boxes labeled “garage sale”. This made de-cluttering areas of the house a breeze, even though my husband constantly complained about my “tote problem”. I was able to gradually go through things and put them into a controlled garage sale environment. Of course my husband didn’t go through his stuff until the day before – better late than never. Then all he had to do was bring the boxes and totes outside!
Pricing my garage sale items was tricky. How much for clothes? What about big ticket items? When pricing STUFF for your garage sale, keep in mind people are looking for deals and there’s a really good chance you will not make thousands of dollars selling your STUFF. If you want something gone – price it to go. If you’re on the fence price it a little higher. I had a red wall clock, brand new, I loved it but hadn’t used in five years. Normally I would’ve priced it at $3, but since I wasn’t sure $10.50 it was! Someone else loved it too and they paid my asking price! Guess it wasn’t meant to be in my house anymore.
When having a garage sale, location usually correlates to foot traffic. One way to help get people to come to your garage sale is to include other families! My grandmother, brother, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law all put some of their STUFF into the garage sale. I listed it on Craigslist and on our signs as a “5 Family Garage Sale”. Even though our location wasn’t the best, we had steady foot traffic our first day! We also set most of our big items (strollers, tables, lawn furniture, etc.) out front to attract people driving by.
A family garage sale can be tricky. What if a family member wants something you are selling? Do you just give it to them or discount it even more? What if you see something you’re interested in? Garage sale etiquette – if something is under $5 just give it to a family/friend. If its a big ticket item, tell them how much you want for it and discount it a little bit (your family shouldn’t expect something you could sell for substantial money for free). If you’re the one looking to purchase, always offer to pay full garage sale price and don’t be offended if they accept; some people really need the money and the last thing you want to do is embarrass family by price negotiating.
Some of garage sale goers like to haggle prices. “You have this priced for $2, would you take $.50?” Or the persistent bundler “I’ll give you $3 for all this STUFF.” My husband came to the conclusion I have zero backbone for hagglers. “Okay ummm sure.” (Its amazing I was successful during my brief stint in sales). When a garage sale shopper is blatantly attempting to take advantage of me, I tend to hold my ground better – “You know, my grandma is pretty firm with her prices.” Be prepared for people to try to negotiate your already low prices! Approach each customer differently – some people just love the rush of haggling prices while others truly do not have the $ and need something. Trust your intuition and decide how low you really want your prices to go!
Here’s my advice to having a successful garage sale:
- DO NOT ACCUMULATE a bunch of stuff – then you don’t have to have a garage sale.
- Plan ahead. Get some totes/boxes and label them “garage sale”. Gradually go through rooms and closets in your house. We started a couple months before and knew exactly what we were planning on selling. Garage sale totes/boxes alleviated most of the work and organizing!
- If you can, plan ahead and set a date for your garage sale. This will give you a deadline to get all your garage sale STUFF organized. We did ours Friday from 8am-5pm and Saturday 8am-noon.
- Use masking tape for pricing. If you have more than one family involved put their initials on their price tag. Use a piece of paper and keep track of who sells how much.
- Price stuff to sell (unless you’re on the fence!) or its a big ticket item (ex: furniture).
- Set stuff up the day before if you can! This includes garage sale posters.
- Make sure you have change ($) before your garage sale. People usually expect to get change if they give you $.
- If you don’t sell big ticket items, take pictures while they’re set up and try to sell them on Craiglist or Ebay. I refused to negotiate my asking price for big ticket items, I knew I could get my asking price elsewhere.
- Donate low priced knick-knacks to Goodwill or other locations that benefit low income families. Home good items can be donated to a Habitat for Humanity’s Restore location.
- Try to get it all out and don’t bring anything back into your house! The goal is to declutter – not reclutter!