Every type of selling is different. I have been involved in most segments of retail selling for years, but not until this year have I ever put together a ‘Garage Sale’. I am not claiming that I am awesome at it, but I got rid of quite a few boxes of stuff!!
If you look at all the elements of a Garage Sale, they are exactly like running a business, with marketing being #1 on the list to being successful. Oh, and by the way, you do have competitors…it’s all the other garage sales in your area that weekend…you have to stand out from the rest…and fight for that Dollar (or 50 cents)! I know it may sound silly, but you need to start preparing your marketing plan a couple weeks before your sale to drive the most traffic you can! I mean really, do you want to put all that effort into hauling all of your stuff out of the house and getting up early if no one comes to buy?
Here is a great list to reference when you are getting ready to do your garage sale:
#1 – Corner Signage –
Have you looked around at what other people are using in your area? What tends to catch your attention? You would be surprised at how much people depend on the signage. Put them up the night before and do a sign check EVERY MORNING…it’s worth the 10 minutes to ensure you know people can see where to go.
I started out with the cardboard boxes with the poster board on the sides and put them on five key corners in our area. I put rocks in them and got them right out to the corner where people could see them. I think they worked good…until we had a storm during the night and all the cardboard shrunk and was destroyed to nothing lol.
Then I was in Walmart and saw some super bright plastic signs that are a good 18″ wide and are on metal sticks that we drive into the ground. I got three for the main corners and then a pack of 8.5×11 signs for the final corners to lead people to the house. They are super bright and have done a great job working for me for the last two sales…yes they are reusable!
I saw a post from a friend yesterday…that seconds my motion (and can you believe people!). “UN-believable! Someone stole our Black and Decker saw horse that was holding our Garage Sale sign. That explains the drop-off in our traffic.”
#2 – Tell The GarageBuyers –
I don’t know if that is actually a word, but lets go with it. There are the impulse people that will see your signs and there are the ‘professional buyers’ that make lists of where to go! There are a few different ways to get on these lists:
– Craigslist.org – Of Course this is number one. *** Note – you need to post every day starting on Wed and then don’t be shy to post a couple times during the day of the sales. Depending on your area, Craigslist may have a lot of traffic….this is the only way to stay up on the first page
– Yardsalesearch.com – Pretty neat site that puts pin points in the different locations.
– Garagesalestracker.com – Another site that puts you on the map!
– Yardsales.net – Cool because you can list and shop by category.
– Be sure to check your local area for something that may be helpful too, like the local paper that goes out every week.
– Social Media sites – if you want your friends and family to know and support, be sure to use your Facebook page etc.
– Social Media ad – I ran an ad on Facebook for one of my sales. Targeted just my zip code and it worked pretty dang well! You have to have a Facebook Fan Page to do this.
What to put into your ad? – KEYWORDS!
Title – Catchy – look at what is being put up. Being the 20th person to use the title “Garage Sale Today” isn’t going to get you much business. I have used:
“OPEN! OPEN! OPEN! Last Day of Selling! Come & Get it!”
“******* GOTTA GO! $5 New Clothes, Lots of GOOD Things ”
“A MUST STOP Ladies! Garage/Sto
“Moving Goodies & Tons of NEW Ladies Clothes! Fri/Sat/Su
“LAIDES! HAWT DEALS start at 6am Tomorrow – Fri/Sat/ Sun 6am-11am”
See a Trend? Time, Days and then the Deals! (Most all of my stuff was Girl specific….you would change yours to Kids/Guys/Household/Furniture/Moving etc)
Content – Use Keywords. Try and list everything that you have for sale. Not necessarily specific, but for sure the categories. Craigslist specifically searches for these words! (say someone is looking for a ‘king bed’ or ‘size 10 shoes’)
If you have special deals or special items this would be a great place to give them more information.
Of COURSE your address for Sure, and your phone number if you would like.
Pictures – Yea or Nea – I am honestly 50/50 on this. I think people won’t look at ads if they don’t have pictures….but if you don’t have the right pictures it can be discouraging! So what do I think the “right pictures” look like? I wanted to show people that I had A LOT of things to choose from, so I did the distance shots. On a few of the bigger items that I knew would have questions, I added a specific shot. If you only had a few large items, then yes, do all the individual shots.
One of my sales I had close up shots of all the tables. My traffic wasn’t very good…in retrospect I think it was because I gave everyone the opportunity to “shop from home”. We all know that if we get them to our sale, they are likely to find something even if it’s a dollar! And in the Garage Sale world … a DOLLAR RULES!
#3 It’s Time! It’s Time!
Not many people like to dig anymore. Some still do but most are lazy. Get some tables, stack some totes and use the tops, turn over some boxes and spread the stuff out. If they can see it you are more likely to sell it!
Put the eye catching items – your high dollar stuff by the curb. Ever heard of curb appeal...use it! It’s not going to walk away (hopefully) but it may get people to stop.
Pricing – they want it cheap
Be secure with what you want to “give away” and what matters. Know what you want to keep a decent price on and don’t care that you still have it at the end of the weekend. Know your goals. I priced a few things too cheaply and regretted it. Yet on the other end, you won’t be able to sell a book for over 50 cents. Remember, if you have it out for sale, you can’t be attached to it. It’s ok to let it go………….. (I have told myself this a hundred times by now lol) It’s ok to let it go…………..
Another helpful hint…only keep one $5 bill and a few dollars in your pocket for change. If they see you with a wad of money they are more likely to haggle on pricing. And if you can’t make change easily, you may be able to get them back to the amount that you wanted them at. That’s an old school Swap Meet Trick 🙂 I keep an envelope stashed behind some boxes that I drop cash into.
Talk to People – they are nice
I know, I know, this is where it may get weird…but talk to people. You will be amazed at what it can do for your sale. If you have a person that just wants to chat, bring them to a topic that has something to do with what you have and sell it to them. If you have someone that starts talking to you…do it! They are less likely to work your price down, because now you have a relationship. This relationship also helps if you are planning on doing multiple sales. When they see your signs up again, they come back and they have also told their garage saleing friends.
I have had multiple return customers (even though it is the SAME STUFF) and either they will buy more…or they have brought their friend to look. “I saw you signs up and went and got my friend so she could see…”
#4 In Conclusion – It’s a Business
If you want to be successful you need to give yourself the most opportunity you can. I found this super specific line-by-line check list of what to do (a little much for me, but thought I would share it with you) from WikiHow wikihow.com/Hold-a-Garage-Sale . Essentially you need to treat it as a business and get your hands full tilt into marketing. Try it, it’s fun!
Honestly, I believe in Flea Markets. Yes, you have to pay for your booth and you have to load up your stuff and display it offsite. BUT, you have a set group of traffic that comes through. The Flea Market has paid for that advertising and the small amount that you pay for your booth will make up for it! We all know, Marketing is the most strategic part of business!
On that note, I am wrapping up my garage selling days. I have had four-three day sales over the last year. I have been successful, but I am done. There is everything that I have learned so hopefully you can jump in with a head start instead of trying to figure it out on your own! Let me know how it works for you!!