What to do the day before, during and after your garage sale
- Everything should be ready to go by now.
- Begin arranging the tables, benches, boxes, etc. Refer to the Best garage sale layout tips section for more tips on how to arrange your items.
- If your garage sale is in a secure undercover area then you can bring out your boxes of items and arrange them on the tables.
- Check all items still have a price attached.
- Hang sheets or tarps over any shelving or garage contents you don't want included in the sale. You can also pin signs, clothes, pictures, etc on these too.
- If you are planning on setting up a Lemonade Stand (eg to sell cans of soda or juice, etc) then put some in the fridge to get cold overnight. The rest can go in a tub of ice in the morning.
- Buy ingredients for tomorrow's meals and snacks. Consider also preparing meals for tomorrow unless you have an army of helpers.
- Bring out the signs and decorations and your sign plan of who, what & where they are going.
- Bring out the box of shopping bags, old newspapers, a tape measure, pencil and notepad, power cord, batteries, sticky tape, masking tape, scissors, mirror, etc.
- Charge your mobile/cell phone.
- Lastly, get an early night.
What to do on the morning of your your garage sale
- It's show time!
- Be ready for a flock of early birds. Refer to Best early bird strategies for tips on how to deal with them.
- If you have lots of helpers, hand out your table plan, sign plan and decoration plan so they know exactly what to do.
- Carry out the tables and large items to go on the driveway and yard.
- Arrange all the other tables and items.
- Don't worry too much about how your items are displayed while the first rush goes through as they are focused on specific items and don't need to be 'sold' as much as the casual buyers who will come during the day. After the first rush, you will have a chance to tidy things up and put on the finishing touches - if anything is left!
- Put up the decorations.
- When ready, have someone put up the street signs.
- Get you money belt or apron on and get some change ready.
- If a group sale, have your clipboard ready to record the sales.
- Put on the music and start burning the scented candles if you want a bazaar-like feel. This will also help keep everyone calm.
- Make sure there is at least one car out the front, or better, across the road so it doesn't look deserted.
- Get the 'Lemonade Stand' set up. If it's going to be a hot day, get your tub filled with ice and cans of soda. If it's going to be a cold day, put the kettle or urn on for coffee/tea and arrange the cookies, donuts or baked food.
- If you have decided to have a kids' area set up to keep the kids occupied while their parents browse, put down a blanket and set up your toys or TV & VCR and put on kids' movies.
- Rope off private and delicate areas of your yard.
- Check for any over-looked hazards. Tape down extensions cords and cables.
- Make sure the house is locked.
What to do during the day
Keep reminding yourself of why you're having the garage sale - to sell as much as you can to make as much money as you can. Keep a positive, enthusiastic & welcoming attitude.
Keep the customer in mind at all times
You won't sell anything without paying customers so remember to make them feel welcomed and comfortable so they spend time browsing and buying. More customer service tips.
Keep the front of your garage sale full, neat and attractive
You will find people will drive by slowly and check if it's worth stopping or to keep going to the next garage sale on their list. Keep the front of your display full, neat and attractive to encourage them to stop and browse.
Fuss over your 'shop'
- Tidy up your tables, re-arrange your items to fill any gaps.
- Mark-down any prices.
- If a table looks bare or empty, move the items onto another table and pack that empty table away. Well stocked tables look more interesting.
Keep you sale looking busy
In my experience, the more people there are at a garage sale, the better it must be. To help make your sale look 'busy', organize family or friends to spend some time with you. They don't have to do any selling, just stand around your sale looking like they are shoppers. They may also be able to help with re-arranging items, getting a great lunch ready, keeping you company, etc.
If you are on your own and there are currently no customers, get up and walk around your tables, re-arranging items, refolding clothes, etc so that if anyone drives past they will think that there is someone browsing and be more inclined to stop than if it was deserted except for you sitting on your own in a chair in the corner.
Check your signs during the day
They may have blown over or been removed or replaced by someone else's garage sale signs. I have heard of people writing or sticking the address of their garage sale on other people's signs! Checking signs during the day is a good job for anyone who doesn't want to be involved with the actual garage sale.
Sell your hard-to-sell items
If you notice some items are being looked over and will be hard to sell, think about combining them with other desirable items for two-for-the-price-of-one deals. You are effectively giving away the unsellable item but you are using it to help get a higher price for your other desirable item. People will think they are getting a bargain and are less likely to bargain you down to a rock bottom price as they may have with the single desirable item alone.
What to do near the end and after your garage sale
An easy way to mark-down prices
Near the end of your sale, rather than marking down all your remaining items individually, place a large "50% OFF" sign up at the front entrance.
(For those not mathematically inclined this means everything is now half price.) You could make it "25% OFF" but you will need a calculator to work that out.
Ring anyone who wanted to be called if an item was still available
If you have items left that people were interested in and who left their number to be contacted, ring them now to see if they are still interested. More tips for personal safety on what to be aware of when arranging times for people to come around.
Expect a last minute mini-rush
There are people who deliberately come at the last half hour of your sale or even after your advertised finish time to pick over what's left. They are looking for and expecting rock-bottom prices. They know that you're desperate to sell what's left and know that you've lost your bargaining power. You need to decide what items you are prepared to "give away" and what items you would much rather give to a charity.
Clear the tables the easy way
Offer a set price for everything they can fit in one plastic shopping bag. I am always amazed at what people will snap up when I offer this. Make sure the shopping bags are the strong type because they will try to squeeze in everything they can. Also make sure you have removed any high-priced items you don't want to "give away".
A variation on this is to have a table or two designated as the "all you can eat" tables. If you plan to offer this, make sure you include it in your ads and flyers.
How to prevent late-comers
If you don't want to be bothered by any late-comers after you have closed your garage sale, take down any front yard decorations and close the garage door. Some will still knock on your door asking to see what's left. You need to decide if it's worth the effort to let them pick through what you've carefully packed up. If you don't want to be bothered, politely tell them that it has all been sold.
Take down your signs and flyers
At the end of your sale, get out your map of sign placements and go around and collect ALL your signs and your flyers. And don't forget to update your online advertisements too.
Remove the price tags and carefully pack the remaining items into labeled boxes (eg kitchenware, toys, children's clothes, electronics, etc). Decide what you want to keep for your next garage sale, what should be thrown out and what can be sent to a charity.
What to do with the leftovers?
Don't take anything back inside until you have made a firm decision on what is to happen with the leftovers. Some options are:
- If it was a group sale, do the other group/s want their items back?
- Hold a second-chance or end-of-season garage sale.
- Combine with a family member's, friend's or neighbor's upcoming garage sale.
- Donate to a charity. See Best donating tips.
- Give it away. Post an ad in the local Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) or in your local classifieds paper that everything left is free. Include in your ad "Please don't email me asking if the items are still available. I will remove the ad when the items are gone."
- Dispose of any hazardous materials correctly and legally. Examples of these could be paints, batteries, electronics and pesticides.
- Trash it.
Divide up your profits
To calculate how much you made, count your takings and deduct your costs (eg advertising, signs, etc) and you initial change. What's left is your profit. If you had a group sale then distribute the money for their items that were sold.
Review the whole process
Think back to 3 or more weeks ago when you started right through to today and make a list of what you will do, or not do, next time – there will always be a next time.
Reclaim your garage
Take the opportunity of a cleaned garage to see how you can organize it for better storage. Do you need extra shelves, cupboards, storage containers, wall hooks, etc.
Reclaim your budget
It's often a wake-up when you see the things you had bought and how little they are now worth. Hopefully the extra money you made has helped get some some bills out of the way. Now is a good time to also review your budget and what you spend your money on.