About 700,000 people buy something from a garage sale weekly in the US. Garage sales or yard sales are part of the American culture - a concept borrowed from the rummage sales held in ports where unclaimed or damaged cargo would be hauled out of the hold of the ship and sold at bargain prices. Although the main location where these pseudo-flea-markets take place is in a garage, we usually mean the same thing by yard sales, sidewalk sales, estate sales, tag sales, stoop sales or even apartment sales.
Americans have turned to garage sales for the purchase of basic items such as clothing, toys, shoes, tools, furniture, and antiquities since the Great Depression. Over time, authorities limited the number of yard sales that a family can hold down to a maximum of 2 or 4 events per year and a garage sale permit might be required. Even homeowner associations try to ban them in an attempt to maintain the value of the properties and not let the neighborhood feel cheap or untidy. In spite of all restrictions, Americans still hold about 165,000 successful garage sales every week, especially during the spring. In the US, 76% of households engage in spring cleaning every year, as reported by 2018 ACI National Cleaning Survey. Spring cleaning brings out items that could be donated or sold, but it also helps remove asthma and allergy triggers.
What is a garage sale?
You are probably familiar with the concept; however, we only want to point out a few interesting things that you should be aware of. Garage sales are events that should not last longer than three consecutive days and must be open during certain hours (usually about 8-10 hours every day - such as from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Oklahoma) at the address specified on the permit. You are not allowed to sell new goods for a profit or to place too many off-site advertisements; otherwise, you may be reported for a garage sale violation and fined. Your neighbors could also report you if you hold more garage sales than allowed. However, it is entirely unclear how the IRS identifies people who make a living from rummage sales.
Cities like Fort Worth, TX, and Derby, KS do not require a garage sale permit, thus allowing public sector employees to focus on other priorities, such as building permits. For example, in Fort Worth, the volume of building permits has increased by 35% since 2012, to 13,000 annually, while the number of garage sale permits was about 16,000 a year.
Since real estate is a means of dividing people, isn’t it amazing how yard sales have the power to break down interpersonal barriers and bring people closer? It’s enough to look at the world’s longest yard sale - also called the 127 Yard Sale, from Addison, MI to Gadsden, AL. It covers 690 miles and attracts more than 2200 vendors every year. If you live along the Highway 127, make sure you get involved in this event between August 1-4, 2019. Big garage sales are easy to find online and you can learn a lot about how to organize a profitable garage sale by simply visiting them. But if you don’t have the time to drive around, then make yourself comfortable and read the following garage sale tips and tricks.
How to organize a garage sale?
StatisticBrain found that 22% of people stopping by find disorganization to be a major turn off after the highly-priced items. So, here is how to make a good first impression!
Planning is a vital part of a successful garage sale. Allow yourself two months for preparation. So, start by setting a date and stick to it! To attract as many visitors as possible, do it in the summer and use a weather app to find a sunny weekend. To have a profitable garage sale, you must attract as many deal-hunters as possible.
Think like a store managerFor three days, you will be a business person. Tap into your entrepreneurial side of the brain and take the time to read a few marketing articles online. Set a sales goal and push yourself to overcome it! It would also help to focus on a theme for the decoration, signage, and labeling. Stick with two to three fonts and use one bright color such as yellow, orange or bright pink.
If you want to resell things for a profit, host more events than allowed and for more days, then you might require a business license.
Use bright and bold signsYou are allowed to inform people of your yard sale through either only one big sign on your property, or with several signs placed around the neighborhood to guide potential buyers to your address. Make sure you also attach the garage sale permit decals to each off-premise sign. And to get even more people to come by, add a QR code to give them access to a list of items for sale and their price. Haven’t you passed by a house for sale that displayed a QR code? That bar code is used to help people access a listing easier on their smartphones.
Don’t shy away from neon colors and bold letters! To attract even more attention to your house, hang some colorful flags and balloons and put some music. Remember, though, to stick to a color scheme! On the first day of your event, take a few pictures and post them on your social media profile/page and groups. Social media is a powerful marketing tool!
Put a price tag on everything
When you don’t know how to organize a garage sale, you are more likely to overprice everything. Remember that if people wanted to pay the full price for something, they would have shopped elsewhere. So be affordable and flexible!
You can buy stickers with prices already printed on them, or you can use post notes or other kinds of labels. According to StatisticBrain, 78% of buyers prefer to see the price on each item. However, in most cases, people expect an extra discount on their purchases. Be open to negotiations! Don’t price your items too high, either. Buyers won’t waste their time looking for a bargain once you disappointed them with your pricing strategy or with the lack of it. The point is to make as much money as you can by selling your goods at a reasonable price. Picture yourself as a buyer. Would you pay the amount that you ask for a certain product? Accept also the fact that you will have to sell some of your goods for less than you had actually paid for them.
Choose what to sell
Start selecting the items you want to get rid of well in advance. Arrange them by category. You may use storage boxes for smaller items, while bigger items should be displayed individually, in a visible place. You may use the furniture that you’re trying to sell to display smaller objects, such as vases, photo frames, candles, and the like.
The most attractive goods at a garage sale are tools, collectibles, and sports equipment. Actually, men are like a moth to a flame when it comes to a garage sale with tools! Old or vintage machines are also very decorative as well. Least attractive items are TVs, stuffed animals, and magazines. But the clothes are very popular too, as well as furniture and home decorations. Get one step closer to a profitable garage sale by carrying designer brands! Make sure your visitors will notice the labels! Clothes will sell faster if you hang them, rather than display them as a huge pile in a bin.
Vintage items that could be used in wedding decorations or as props are also a treasure for designers, photographers and florists - will sell like hot cake! Now is the time to unload books, board games, toys, bicycles, outdated appliances, camping gear, and cheap pieces of jewelry.
Offer great dealsWhenever you price individual items, think about a discount offer that you could make for people who buy more products from the same category. A profitable garage sale needs people who buy multiple items. For example, you may price all toys at $1, and sell three toys for $2. Now, you may also say this like, “Buy two, get one free!” No need to abuse the “.99 cent pricing strategy” used in grocery stores. It doesn’t work here! However, psychologists have found that 4 and 7 also do wonders. Feel free to experiment and learn from your experience.
Buy or borrow tables
You will need quite a few tables and shelves to display all your goodies. Collapsible tables are a great investment because you can easily store them until needed. If you don’t want to invest too much in your display, then borrow a few tables from your neighbors. At a profitable garage sales, goods are visible, not stacked one on top of the other.
When you invite buyers in your own garage, you should cover any shelves that strangers shouldn’t touch with some sheets.
Don’t run out of cash! Nothing is more frustrating than losing a sale because you didn’t have enough cash for change. Fill your pockets with plenty of $1 bills and coins. You need cash to rake in more cash!
Stock up on grocery bags and boxesAs far as possible, hand out recyclable bags to your customers. It’s also very unlikely that you’ve kept the original packaging of your appliances, so people who want to buy them, should get a box to carry them safely.
Accept credit cards!
People nowadays don’t carry too much cash with them, so you want to make sure that your customers won’t leave half of their picks because they couldn’t pay by credit card. A simple solution that can be attached to your phone is Square - a small and reliable device that works on the go by connecting it to your smartphone. A magstripe reader costs only $10 while contactless and chip readers cost $49. You can also use QR codes to direct people who don’t have enough cash towards an online payment page you’ve previously set up. When we think of a profitable garage sale, we think about many buyers with small purchases, however, if you sell a few expensive items and don’t expect your visitors to have so much cash with them, it’s wise to have another payment method.
Use extension cords Most people looking for electronic gadgets will want to test them before buying, so you should have easy access to a plug. Don’t improvise! Keep in mind that about 80% of yard sale shoppers come with their kids. So keep everyone safe, especially if it’s raining! Waterproof sockets could be the best choice.
Now that you’ve found the best garage sale tips and tricks, you’re on the fast track to make your success into a profitable one. Get your garage sale permit, if necessary, and declutter! But yard sales are more than a way to get extra dough. For kids, it’s a way to learn how to earn money and save it - a crash course on personal finances. For example, you may have a list with your kid’s goods and give them the money afterward and show them that they have to work andsave patiently for the bigger things in life such as a car or house.
Last but not least, if you’ve just moved into a new neighborhood, throw a garage sale as if you would have thrown a party. Why? Because it’s a great way to make moving fun and meet your neighbors. Successful garage sales are great networking events, for adults and children alike!