10 Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Garage Sale

Find out the best day to have a garage sale, what not to allow your customers to do, and more.

from Reader's Digest | August 2011
10 Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Garage Sale© David Sacks/Lifesize/Thinkstock

Who doesn’t want to get rid of clutter and make some money at the same time? A garage sale (aka estate sale, tag sale, or yard sale, depending on where you live and how great your stuff is) could be just the thing to do both. Here are ten tips you may not know — from J. D. Roth (who writes for Time’s Moneyland blog), yardsalequeen.com, and blog.movebuilder.com:

Dos

  • A group sale will draw more lookers than a one-family sale.
  • “Are you selling things to make money or to get rid of them?” asks Roth. Price items accordingly.
  • Go to yardsalequeen.com for ideas about lettering, sign placement, and free ways to advertise your sale. (The site suggests using a brown paper bag, filling it with rocks, and taping it shut. But use big, fat, thick lettering — definitely no wispy ballpoint pen.)
  • Non-holiday weekends after local paydays are the best time to schedule a sale.
  • Put the nice stuff closer to the road. Place tools and gadgets out front, too, to draw men who might otherwise try to overrule their wives about stopping at your sale.
  • In general, ask for 25 to 33 percent of the item’s original cost. Be less flexible about price at the beginning of the sale and more flexible at the end.

Don’ts

  • Don’t let strangers into your house to try on clothes or use the restroom.
  • Don’t keep money in a shoebox. Wear a fanny pack. Keep all the money in it, along with a cell phone just in case.
  • No helpful calculations from customers, thanks just the same. You tote up the prices on what they’re buying.
  • Don’t take your eyes off of your customers. Beware of people who switch tags. Beware of people who tell you they gave you a $20 bill when they gave you a $10. Beware of people who take things out of boxes, put them under their clothes, and leave the empty boxes behind.

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