Hold up your hand if you recognize this moment: you are looking around your basement, attic or rec room and thinking that it’s time for an epic clean out and garage sale. The kids could make some money selling some of their old toys and you might finally get control of the storage corner in the basement that has boxes in it from your last move that you NEVER opened.
(Come on. Admit it. Everyone has at least one of those boxes).
I’ve put together a step-by-step list that will help you move that stuff out of your storage corner and on to the lawn, easily and quickly.
© garage sale image via Shutterstock
Garage Sale Tips
Step 1 – Decide on a date and time for your sale
This is important because depending on your neighbourhood, the date can make all the difference. For example, long weekend in mid-town Toronto? Don’t bother. You’ll have more interaction with the local squirrel population than buyers and squirrels don’t carry cash. Weekends are best, obviously, and wait for the weather to be warm enough to ensure walk by traffic but not so warm that walkers have given up by 9 a.m. In Pembroke, garage sales begin around the May long weekend and run throughout the summer months.
Timing is important too. The ‘professional’ garage sale buyers are up and about early. At my last garage sale, I had them hovering about before we’d even set up! That might have been because of the epic advertising hook we used (see Step 2) but it’s a truth known universally that the early bird gets the worm. Or the wicker chair — it’s all about perspective.
Step 2 – Advertise!
If real estate is about location, garage sales are about advertising. Make sure your neon poster board signs in your area are up a few days before, are legible and contain your address and sale hours. Don’t forget to specify a rain date. If this sale precedes a move, ask your real estate agent if they have any garage sale lawn signs. If not, make you own!
Kijiji.ca has a garage sale link for most cities – post an ad there with date and time in BIG letters.
Now here’s the hook I was mentioning earlier: If you want to lure buyers to your sale, give them a reason to come beyond the obvious cache of fabulous stuff! We had FREE coffee. You can rent an urn from Tim Hortons, filled with coffee and it comes with cups, cream etc. Have your adorable 5 year old offer every ‘customer’ a cup of coffee. They will want to pay her. Let them. (My niece made more than we did at our last sale). It gets the ‘customer’ in mind to shop and they’ll linger a little longer, discovering their immediate and pressing need to buy the vase your Aunt Myrna gave you three years ago that has a chip on the edge. If you don’t have a cute 5 year old handy, don’t panic: the FREE coffee is the real draw. Find a hook that works for you and let people know about it! Like what? How about donating a percentage of proceeds to a charity?
Step 3 – The Price is Right
No, we’re not talking about the show. We’re talking about your prices. It’s likely that you will think that your grandmother’s knick knack shelf is worth about $250, in memories alone. But to the gentleman who wants it for his daughter’s stuffed Beanie Boo collection, it’s worth about $5. Keep that in mind as you tag and sticker all your items BEFOREHAND — trying to do this the morning of is a task that’s bound to get out of hand, as the early birds are looking for their worms. Trust me on this.
Have petty cash and never let it leave your side. There are people who love to hunt garage sales to find the seller who has left the cash box lying around while they look for something to wrap Aunt Myrna’s vase in. Make sure you have plenty of small change and some bills as well, so that you’re not cashing a $20 on a $3 sale with quarters. Be ready to haggle: it’s part of the sport that is garage sales.
Follow these tips and have a little fun: your sale is in the bag! Do you have any garage sale tips to add?