Garage yard sales

Posted: Updated:

The signs pop up every weekend - YARD SALE. And, you know the saying, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Boy is that true at . Having held a couple of sales myself, I know how much work they are and so I called in a real pro to help give me some important tips that will help you get rid of your unwanted stuff and make as much money as possible from your sale. I contacted Gail Taranto (if that last name sounds familiar - yes, she's Lisa Haffner's mom). She's also a 15-year professional having run large estate sales and garage sales of all sizes. She's organized and polished in her advice and that's exactly what your sale should be.

Watch now

The Signs

This is your most important marketing tool. They should be neat, easy to read and SIMPLE. Use the neon poster board that is available at all discount stores, it'll help drivers see and follow your signs. All you really need are the words SALE and a huge arrow. Do not fall into the trap of putting directions, item lists - even an address is not really necessary. Cars will simply follow your signs. Now, before your sale, drive the easiest, most direct route to your house and plot out your sign placement - plan to use plenty - more, easy to follow signs can really make a difference in your sales traffic. Also, consider inviting your neighbors to have a sale at the same time. If they do, add words like "neighborhood" or "multi-family" to your signs. If you're moving, add the word "Moving Sale." That says there's a lot of stuff and will entice shoppers.

The Stuff

Obviously, it's the stuff you don't want anymore. But, I learned that the keys to selling it are organization, cleanliness and display. Gail told me to think about stores and set up your sale keeping that in mind. Use tables; get all your merchandise up off the ground. Don't leave stuff in boxes for shoppers to go through and clean everything. It takes a lot of work, but it pays off - few of us really want to buy yucky stuff no matter what a good deal it is.

Anything that is valuable or that you feel is worth more than a yard sale price - consider another way to sell it, EBay or in an ad. You just won't usually get your price at a garage sale. Money's tight, even at yard sales so people are looking for good stuff at good prices.

Put big things toward the street to attract buyers and think about other items that might pull in the traffic. Some folks will slow down the car and peek to see if the sale is worth the effort.

The Prices

Price EVERYTHING! Nothing is more frustrating on both ends than people having to ask the price of everything. This takes a lot of work but you have to do it. Gail had a couple of good pointers, simply cut small price tag size pieces of paper, write the price and secure with a piece of transparent tape right over the tag. It really works. Plus, on tools she simply writes a price right on the metal. She says nobody cares and it can be removed with paint remover.

It's fine to group things and make a clear sign that tells shoppers that all clothes are $2 each or books are $1 each. Also, keep in mind that the sales tricks that work in regular stores can work at a yard sale too - 25 or 5 for $1 - or, by one get one free.

You also have to price your stuff correctly. You will never get what you paid for something, only a fraction of the cost. Gail said to start at 25% and then depending on the condition, adjust from there. When someone asks if you'll take less for something - the negotiation that undoubtedly will happen - ask him or her to make the offer.

The Details

Have plenty of help. Gail recommends about 4 people with one person in charge of the money. If anyone wants to sell stuff at your sale, they should also have to work the sale. That way they can make decisions about their stuff and it's only fair. You wouldn't want to sell your neighbor's lamp for $2 when she was determined to get $5 for it. Just code the price tags with everyone's initials and have the cashier keep track of everyone's items as they sell on a tally sheet. That way no one gets mad. As Gail said, you don't want to lose friends over a yard sale.

Have a cash box and start with about $125 in singles, fives and tens and some random change - mostly quarters. It's best to price stuff in 25 increments to make it easier - much easier. It also is a good idea to wear a fanny pack or even a pocketed apron to take in cash on the "sales floor."

Make sure you have power outlets or an extension cord for folks to plug in electrical items to test them. Even have some spare batteries out for customers to test battery-operated items. Gather extra grocery bags and newspaper to wrap purchases up. And, most of all have fun! You're recycling, you're cleaning out your life and hopefully you're making a few extra bucks along the way. And when it's all over, don't forget to pick up all your signs, call your favorite charity for the remainder to be picked up for donation, put your feet up and take a nap, you earned it for sure!

Live and Learn