This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson.
A few years ago, I prepared for a garage sale that I was sure would be an epic success. Based on the sheer volume of widgets, random household items and baby gear that I had to sell, I envisioned pulling in hundreds of dollars in profit with ease. After all, I had tubs of baby clothes and toys, some small appliances, and a variety of random items that I was more than ready to unload. My garage was simply bursting with stuff, and I spent several weeks pricing each and every item and preparing for the sale. I also did all of the regular things that people do when they’re having a garage sale; I put an ad in the local newspaper and put a sign up on the end of my street. As the sale day approached, I could literally see dollar signs as I began making plans for all of the cash that I was about to rake in.
Unfortunately, the sale day came and went and I was disappointed to have only made about $68 for my efforts. This was, of course, after paying $30 for a three-day advertisement in my local newspaper. My friend, who helped me on the day of the sale, had a few ideas as to why my sale had failed. “First of all, almost everything you sold was 25 cents.” She had a point. All of the baby clothes, even the nice ones, had been sold for a quarter each. At a quarter per piece, I wasn’t going to be making very much money until I sold a lot of clothes. “Second, you didn’t advertise,” she said. “Nobody reads the paper anymore.” She was right. I hadn’t really done much to let others know about the sale. Since people didn’t know, they didn’t come. Unfortunately, the lack of customers meant that I only pulled in $68 for what probably amounted to 15-20 hours of work.
A change of heart
After my garage sale bust, I chose not to have another one for the next two years. During that time, I began accumulating a lot more stuff. On top of all of those baby clothes, I began amassing bag after bag of gently worn toddler clothes and shoes. I also started to notice all kinds of things around the house that I could sell; toys my kids had outgrown, gifts I had never gotten around to using; and things that I was just tired of looking at. So, I gave myself a pep talk and decided to take another shot at having a profitable sale. And since I wanted to do things differently, I started looking for resources that could ensure garage sale success.
That’s when I came across “The Garage Sale Millionaire” and decided to check it out. The book, written by author Aaron LaPedis, provides a variety of tips and tricks for wanna be garage sale millionaires like myself. (In my case, I only wanted to be a garage sale hundredaire!) I also reached out to Mr. LaPedis for some advice on my particular sale. Here are some top garage sale tips from the “Garage Sale Millionaire.”
- Properly advertise for your sale. Aaron says that failing to advertise is one of the most common garage sale mistakes. In order to bring people to your sale, LaPedis suggests putting up at least 20 sturdy signs. He also suggests advertising on Facebook and Twitter and taking advantage of the free advertising opportunity available on Craigslist and Tag Sell It. “The more people that know about your sale, the more people will show up,” says LaPedis.
- Locate and sell anything you no longer want or need. LaPedis suggests taking an inventory of all of your possessions in order to determine what you should sell and what you should keep. “Make sure you go through your house top to bottom — every closet, drawer, nook and cranny,” says LaPedis. “Nothing is too small or too big to sell.”
- Know the value of your items. According to “The Garage Sale Millionaire,” it’s often profitable to buy underpriced items at one sale and resell them at your own. Of course, it’s equally profitable to know the value of your own items as well. By doing some research on eBay or craigslist, you might discover that some of your items are worth way more than you thought. And if you don’t do the research, you might be leaving money on the table. “You might sell something for only $5 only to later realize that you could have sold it on eBay for 10 times that amount,” says LaPedis.
- Don’t waste time. To make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort, LaPedis suggests not wasting time on tasks that won’t benefit your sale. For instance, he suggests putting everything that is worth less than $10 on a table with a sign encouraging shoppers to make an offer. “I believe that when people are forced to start a conversation about an item, you’ll be in a much better position to not only negotiate, but to sell,” he said.
- Get your kids involved. LaPedis suggests getting your children involved in the sale. This could mean having them sell toys or clothes that they’ve outgrown or having a small lemonade stand set up on the day of the sale. “This helps teach them the value of a dollar, as well as helping them learn to responsibly handle money,” he said.
Preparing for garage sale success
As I prepared for my upcoming sale, I took a lot of the advice found in “The Garage Sale Millionaire” and ran with it. Despite my past garage sale letdown, I assured myself that this time was going to be different. Here are the steps that I took to prepare for a profitable and fun sale:
- I put up 5 or 6 signs (instead of one!) and advertised heavily on Facebook and Craigslist. As a result, more people I know found out that I was having a sale. And surprisingly, many of them actually showed up.
- I tore my house apart looking for things that I no longer wanted. I thoroughly inventoried every cabinet and drawer as I decided what to sell and what to keep. This strategy greatly increased the number of items that I was able to sell. It also helped me pare down my belongings and cut down on some of the clutter that I had recently accumulated.
- Instead of selling everything for peanuts, I did some research to find out what my stuff was really worth. This went a long way toward helping me come up with a reasonable asking price. And surprisingly, people didn’t really haggle with me that much.
- I didn’t waste too much time. Although I did quite a bit of reminiscing (and crying) as I sorted through the clothes my children had outgrown, I didn’t waste too much time on anything else. Instead of pricing every item, I simple left many of them unmarked so that shoppers could decide what they were willing to pay. Thankfully, I found that the “make an offer” strategy actually works.
- I got my kids involved. I thought it would be fun to help my four year old host her very first lemonade stand. And surprisingly, I now think she’s destined for some sort of career in sales! Instead of waiting for people to come up to her stand, she would quietly walk up to them and say, “I am having a lemonade stand if you’re interested” or “If you’re thirsty, I’ve got lemonade.” I was impressed by the way she carried herself as she learned to accept the fact that some people would say “no.”
Thankfully, everything went much better this time. And in the end, I was surprised to learn that my sale made a staggering $508.00! Not only that, but I managed to get rid of quite a few things that were cluttering up my closets and complicating my life. I’m glad that I followed the advice of the “Garage Sale Millionaire” and I’m thankful that I avoided yet another garage sale letdown. I’m also hopeful that I won’t need to have a sale for at least a few more years. It was definitely a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work.
How about you? Are you having a garage sale this summer? If so, what is your strategy to maximize profits?
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