What to do during the week before your garage sale
Clean the garage and front yard
First impressions count. If customers see a messy and unkept front yard and a dirty garage they will assume the goods are the same and will probably keep driving past. Spending time now will just mean a quick going over the day before your garage sale.
- Mow the front lawn,
- trim the edges,
- weed the garden,
- clean & sweep out the garage,
- fix the front fence,
- trim the front yard bushes,
- remove or fix any hazards that could result in accidents or injuries. Look carefully for low branches, cracks in paths or the driveway, loose rocks, etc.
Not everyone will come prepared to buy, so...
- Start collecting small boxes, cartons, shopping bags and old newspapers (for packaging). Customers are more likely to buy your fragile glassware or chinaware if they have something to take it home in. Offering a box may just clinch the sale.
- Have a tape measure ready so they can measure the size of items.
- Have a pencil and notepad ready so customers can makes notes of the size of an item to go home and measure if it will fit.
Other things you will need
- Citronella candles to keep the bugs away.
- Have sticky tape, masking tape, duct tape, a stapler, blutack, safety pins and anything else you think you will need to stick (and re-stick) signs up.
- If you will be placing items outside of the garage, make sure you have tarpaulins, cheap clear plastic drop cloths or plastic sheets, umbrellas or shelters ready to provide protection from the rain or sun.
- Get a strong money belt or carpenter's apron that stays on you at all times. Get the kids to hand-paint the apron. Wearing a brightly colored, fun apron will also make the buying process easier by helping customers recognize who to approach to ask questions or to buy items. For for more security tips.
- Have a receipt book handy for those who request a receipt.
- Have a notebook ready to record names and contact numbers of customers, for example, who are interested in an item but don't want to buy it at the current price.
- Have a calculator ready to add up the total of a number of items to be purchased or for any tricky calculations of change.
- If you have electrical goods for sale, get in some cheap batteries and find an extension cord and somewhere to plug it in to demonstrate the appliances work.
- If you are selling a video, DVD or CD player, have something of good quality to play in it to not just demonstrate that it works but to help sell it.
- What about a spare globe for that lamp?
- Have a collection of small screw drivers to unscrew battery compartments to check or refit batteries.
- If you are recording your sales, get a pen, clipboard and your Inventory List ready.
- Have paper towels and a box of tissues handy.
- Have some wet wipes or hand sanitizer gel. I don't know about you but I cringe when I'm handed sticky coins. Yuk!
- Have all this in one box so you know where everything is for quick access.
Go to the bank to get about $50 in mixed coin and about another $50 in small bills.
The prices you have on your items will affect what change you need. For example if you plan to only deal in multiples of 10 cents (ie nothing ending in 5c amounts) you won't need to bother with 5c pieces. If you have some big-ticket items (eg. furniture or large appliances) then you will need a couple of $20 bills too to break a $50 or $100 bill. To give you an idea of the mix, a suggested break-up is:
$20.00 - 2 ten dollar bills
$10.00 - 2 five dollar bills
$15.00 - 15 one dollar bills
$ 2.00 - 8 quarters
$ 2.00 - 20 dimes
$ 1.00 - 20 nickels
While you're at the bank, get some extra coin wrappers or bags to bag up all the money you'll have at the end of the day.
Are you borrowing or hiring tables?
Good sized tables are 8' x 30". Pick them up and check you will have enough table space.
Get things ready to keep the kids occupied enabling their parents to be less hurried and spend more time shopping
- Have a bunch of cheap pencils and notepads ready to hand out to children to keep them occupied.
- If you have a small TV and VCR or DVD, spread out a blanket in front of the TV and borrow some kids movies to play. You will need to put a big "Not for sale" sign on the equipment otherwise you will be constantly get asked how much for the TV. Hey, who am I kidding, even with the sign, you will probably still get offers for it.
- Keep some of the sturdier toys you have for sale to go out on a blanket for the kids to 'test-drive' before buying.
Start writing up and attaching price tags and labels
Make sure the price tag is positioned so it can be seen without the need to pick up the item and turn it over. This will reduce the chance of breakages or your nice table arrangement being messed up. Easily seen prices will also help customers decide if they are interested in the item or not.
- If you use stick-on labels, use painter's masking tape or low-stick labels. Don't stick them on places that will be hard to remove without damaging or marking the surface.
- For special items like collectables, furniture or combination items, get 3x5 label cards and write any relevant details that will help answer questions or help make the sale. For example:
- its size
- what material it's made of
- any not obvious features
- how it could be used
- how old it is or its history
- other selling points
- any flaws or repairs that are needed, etc.
Are you having a "Lemonade Stand" too?
Start getting together disposable, cups, plates, straws, napkins, etc. Buy cans of soda or juice when on special. Start baking. Refer to best 'Lemonade Stand' tips for more information.
Do you have a pile of items you think have no or little value?
Great. Put them in a box marked "FREE". It's been reported that this results in people less likely to haggle as much on the other priced items.
Start preparing your decorations
Start organizing how you want to decorate your garage sale. As mentioned earlier, if you are having a Christmas-in-July then decorate with Christmas decorations & lights, inflatable snowmen, fake white snow on the ground, cardboard icicle cutouts on the gutters, etc.
Start choosing and organizing your background music
To ensure your garage sale is a success you will have to have background music playing.
- Background music will help people feel relaxed and to take their time while browsing.
- Music helps to literally break the awkward silence while they quietly browse.
- Music helps couples privately discuss whether to buy an item or not.
Choose easy-listening music (70's or 80's) like The Beatles, Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkle, Fleetwood Mac, Enya, etc (from CDs or a radio).
Give your garage sale an air of mystery or a bazaar-like feel by draping colorful table-cloths over tables, chairs and hanging on walls. Burn scented candles or incense. Play exotic music and dress the part.
Start planning and preparing your signs
Start thinking about what signs will be needed to go on the streets, around the yard, on the tables and for advertising and how they will be affixed. Refer to Best garage sale sign tips for more information.
Put up your flyers
Place flyers on community boards, shops windows, school notice boards, and other relevant locations. Refer to Flyers that spread the word for more information.
Arrange for an ad
Check the 10-day or 7-day weather forecast and if it looks OK, arrange for an advertisement to go in your local and/or city newspaper and online. Refer to Ads that attract buyers for more information.
Are you selling some of your plants?
Put the seedlings or cuttings you prepared a few weeks ago into small paper cups with some potting soil.
Start making your pinwheels
If you are going to use pinwheels as attention-getting decorations for your signs and/or front yard, start making them now. This is a great job for the kids. Go to http://www.pinwheelsforpeace.com/ for instructions on making pinwheels and ideas on how to use them. Make some extra ones to give to kids on the day to keep them occupied while their parents shop.
This is going to be your best garage sale ever!