‘Tis the season for spring cleaning! The only thing that’s more rewarding than decluttering your home and starting fresh is turning all that clutter into cold hard cash. Sure, apps and social networks are great ways to sell your stuff, but nothing works quite as effectively as a good old-fashioned yard or garage sale. Follow these garage sale tips to get organized and ensure the day is a success.
1. Sort Out Your Stuff
If you’ve been meaning to declutter and clean out your house, a yard sale is a perfect excuse. Grab a box and go through every room, closet and cabinet, collecting anything you no longer want or haven’t used in the last few months. Don’t forget about garages, attics, basements, sheds and anywhere else stuff accumulates.
Then, organize your items into three categories: keep, sell and toss.
- What to Keep: Most of your possessions will fall into the “keep” category, so use the six-month rule to stay on track: If you haven’t used it in the last six months, get rid of it. Of course, you’ll probably come across things that bear sentimental value, like old photo albums, childhood mementos or artwork your now-grown child made in grade school. You can keep these things; just set them aside and find a new place to store them.
- What to Sell: Sell the stuff you’re willing to part with if it’s still in good shape. If something doesn’t sell at your yard sale, then you can decide whether you want to toss it or donate it.
- What to Toss: Some stuff isn’t worth keeping or selling. You don’t need to hang onto old receipts, broken furniture, user manuals, magazines or cell phones. Just make sure you recycle anything that can be recycled, including old electronics.
2. Spread the Word
You might be able to join in on your community’s neighborhood-wide annual yard sale. However, if you’re striking out on your own, you’ll want to drum up a little publicity. Hang easy-to-read homemade signs throughout your community and post to your neighborhood’s Facebook or Nextdoor page, including pictures of more unique items to encourage visitors.
3. Have Cash and Coins Handy
Don’t miss out on making a sale because you don’t have change. At the very least, stock up on smaller bills and some coins. You could even accept mobile payment apps, like PayPal, Venmo or Zelle, to give shoppers more options.
4. Price Your Items to Sell
Yard sales pose quite a dilemma: Price your items too high, and they won’t sell. Price them too low, and you’re missing an opportunity to make more money. If you want your stuff to sell, then you’ve got to price it to sell.
Remember: you’re selling all of this stuff because you no longer want it. Try not to attach too much sentimental value to things, and don’t jack up prices assuming everyone likes to haggle. Not everyone comes to a yard sale prepared to spar, and some will walk away if the price is too high. If you want, add a little room for negotiation by pricing some items 15-20% above your minimum. For things you aren’t willing to negotiate on, mark price tags as “firm.”
If you’re not sure how to price your items, allow this garage sale pricing guideline to help:
- Baby clothes: $1 to $3 for gently used clothing, or fewer than $1 for well-worn items. Name brand clothing with original tags can be priced higher.
- Adult clothing: $3 to $5 for gently used clothing, or more if tags are still attached.
- Shoes: $5 to $7
- Coats: $10 to $15
- Jewelry: 50 cents to $2. If you have valuable jewelry, have it appraised first.
- Books: $1 for hardcover books, 25 to 50 cents for paperbacks
- DVDs, CDs, records: $3 to $5. If you have rare records in good condition, trade them in at a record store.
- Electronics: No more than 1/3 of the retail price. New items in their original packaging can be sold at half their original cost.
- Toys and games: $1 to $3
- Home décor: $3 to $5
- Furniture: $10 to $30 for low quality or well-worn pieces; no more than 1/3 of the original price for gently used, well-made pieces
- Antiques: $100 or more. Have any antiques appraised because they may be more valuable than you realize.
Make sure to price everything before the sale starts. Use neon stickers or blank labels from the dollar store—or your junk drawer! Just don’t put price tags on anything that adhesive could damage, like a wooden trunk. Low-tack painters tape is a safe alternative.
Price items individually to keep everything organized. The only exceptions are groups of items, like books and DVDs. Encourage bulk buys with a sign that reads “Books 50¢ each” or “DVDs 2 for $5.” Clothing can be a tough sell at garage sales, but children’s and baby clothes are usually popular. Offer a “fill a bag for $5” deal to get merchandise moving.
5. Merchandise Your Stuff
Shoppers will want to buy your stuff if it’s neatly organized, so take a little time to make your merch more appealing. You don’t need to pull out all the stops—it is a yard sale, after all—but a little intentionality goes a long way.
Group similar items together, like a table full of books, dishes or kitchen appliances. Inflate bike tires and basketballs with air. Clean the mud out of your kid’s old cleats. Sort clothing by size or type. Wipe scuff marks off of a pair of dress shoes with some shoe polish. If something needs batteries to run, pop in some half-used batteries, so shoppers know it works.
Keep an extension cord handy, so shoppers can test out anything that requires an outlet. Position a mirror near the clothing and accessories. Move some of your more eye-catching pieces toward the street to entice passersby. Establish a checkout area, complete with bags and newspaper to wrap up items. Put anything that qualifies as “junk” in a free box. If it’s still there at the end of the day, donate it or toss it.
It may seem a bit excessive, but paying attention to presentation can be the difference between a yard sale that’s a success and one that’s a total bust.
6. Keep an Eye on the Time
Price your items well at the start and keep an eye on the clock as the day goes on. If stuff isn’t selling, be more flexible and lower your prices.
7. Get Rid of Your Leftovers
Try as you might, not everything will sell. Instead of casting your leftovers out on the curb with a “free” sign, why not try to make a little extra cash? Post something in your community’s Facebook or Nextdoor group, or use a handy garage sale app like LetGo, OfferUp or VarageSale. Craigslist is always a trusty standby for selling big-ticket items, like TVs, couches and furniture.
Garage sales can be a lot of work, but follow these tips, and your hard work will pay hopefully off—literally. Just don’t let those profits go to waste.
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