Timing is everything

Planning a Garage Sale

Where is an old saying - one person's junk is another's treasure. And if you have ever been to (or held) a garage or lawn sale, you would agree! All sorts of items can be found at such sales - everything from clothing and sports equipment to children's toys and games. There's even a market for broken things - like vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers - because inevitably someone needs a particular working part to repair a similar piece of equipment sitting in their garage or storage locker.

Moving often prompts people to hold such sales - but it is not the only reason they are held. For some, holding such a sale is an annual ritual - sort of a follow-up to spring-cleaning. Others see it as a chance to make a bit of cash while also making a bit of space. But most of all, it can be fun!

The Basics

In planning a garage sale, there are a number of things to decide. The time and place are usually the first thing settled. If the sale will be outdoors, naturally the weather must be considered. Though you cannot control the weather, you can plan around it a bit by setting things in a garage or sheltered area. When considering the location, consider whether friends and others in your neighbourhood, condominium or some other "community" you are active in (e.g., your church or synagogue), might be interested in having a sale at the same time. Organizing such an event might take a bit more effort, but it will probably pay off both in terms of the number of buyers who show up and in creating a sense of community. And, if you have children, why not set up a lemonade stand for them? That will help keep them close by and interested.

Sometimes local shops, churches or libraries have community bulletin boards for people to advertise such events. Sometimes people just tape flyers to non-moving surfaces near the place of sale. Whatever means of advertising you choose - be sure to put the date, time and location!

On the day of the sale you will need some sort of cash box and lots of change. Though the items you are selling might be low priced, buyers do not necessarily have exact change. An, if they just stopped at their bank machine, they might not have anything smaller than a twenty dollar bill and to make the sale you'll have to make change! Also, you should have bags, boxes and paper to wrap items you have sold.

The Finer Points

It is a matter of personal preference whether you mark a price on every item. If you have many items and many people helping you sell, you will probably want to have the items marked. Of course, people will still try to barter, but if you have taken the time to price all the items, even when you are busy during the sale you will know what you though the item was worth and what you hoped to receive for it.

And think about display - how neatly items are displayed matters. Veteran sellers will tell you that clothes sell better if they are neatly hung on hangers or on a line. And it is a good idea to sort items by category - putting all clothes in one place, sports equipment together, toys in one area, etc.

Garage Sale Etiquette

Though a garage or lawn sale is not a particular formal event, there are certain ground rules that buyers are expected to follow. Veteran garage sale shoppers have been known to show up very early for advertised sales - often hours ahead of the advertised start - sometimes even the night before. The theory is that all the "good stuff" goes quickly. While there might be some truth to that - having people show up very early can interfere with the seller's setting-up activity and it is unfair to others who abide by the "rules". To even out the playing field a bit, some sellers charge a premium to those who show up wishing to buy before the appointed time - and it can be a hefty premium - often double the asking price!

Rags to Riches

Chances are you will not end up getting rich from a garage sale. But, you can make a bit of money and a bit of space, not to mention that you will make those who found your treasures (and who'll put them to good use) very happy!