Growing up, I attended several garage sales with my mom. However, we tended to put on more garages sales than I ever went to. We had garage sales at my aunt’s house in Mesquite, at my parents’ house in Sulphur Springs, and at another aunt’s house in Midland.
My mom tended to judge a house by how good it would be as a garage sale location. Thankfully, my parents’ house passed muster.
My sister and I have had a few garage sales when cleaning out the households of our aunt and parents. She vowed never to work another garage sale. My husband helped with one of those, and he too has passed his lifetime garage sale limit.
I have gathered lots of goodies that need to be gone. I have given part away, but some things are begging for a garage sale. This is where I find myself.
I have filled a small office suite with my treasures. A friend of mine is gathering her items as well. My husband has some items to contribute to the extravaganza.
There are two of us willing to work, we have a great location, and tons of goodies.
Let me pass on my mother’s garage sale wisdom:
1. Don’t mark the price on anything. Wait to see how badly they want it and then price it to them. Of course, I probably won’t be able to remember what price I quoted!
2. Don’t accept personal checks. In the day of ATMs you probably won’t need to accept them. You may wish to post a “cash only” sign or, if you have big ticket items, get a card reader.
3. Keep a log of your sales.
4. Engage your prospective buyers. Inquire what they are looking for, and point them to it. If you don’t have what they want, offer them something else generic. You won’t believe the number of items my mom showed to people who didn’t even think they needed what she was selling. They usually made a purchase.
5. Always be willing to come down on your price, even if it is just a little. That shows that you are trying to work with them on the price. Maybe if they want two items, work a deal for both.
6. Don’t take it personally when buyers try to lowball you. You want to make maximum prices, but they want to save as much as possible.
7. Have change on hand. My mom worked in the day of nickel, dime and quarter transactions. These days, there probably aren’t that many items that will fall in that range. You have to have some coins, dollars, fives, etc. You may choose to not accept any bills over $20. My mom always wore a lumber yard apron for keeping the coins and bills organized. It works!
8. Thank them for coming, even if they don’t buy anything. Ask them to send their friends. They will!
9. Even at a garage sale, great displays help to sell the items. Use tables, so the customer isn’t squatting to look at items. Separate items so the customer can see what is available. Give them room to walk around the tables.
10. People will steal. My mom was famous for chasing after them. One time, she even followed some ladies who had taken a pair of shoes, down a dead-end street and got the shoes back. I don’t advise pursuing people who steal, maybe even calling them out could get you shot, but be prepared and know that it is common.
Here are a few tips I have learned along the way:
* Lock your house and keep the keys on you. People have been known to go in and steal.
* Keep your purse in the locked house.
* Have a friend or two or three there to help. A single person can be easily overpowered.
* Don’t hold the sale where the customers can see other items in your garage they may want. Those items might walk away at the sale or another time. If your garage has tools hanging around, you may wish to have a yard sale.
* Although my mom never advertised her sales, it isn’t that bad of a deal. It is relatively cheap, and some folks plan their path from the ads.
* Don’t wear flashy jewelry. For some folks, your sale allows them a chance to case the joint. Don’t talk about living alone or anything else that is personal.
If you decide to have a garage sale, I hope you have a beautiful day, lots of customers, and sell everything you want gone!
Bonus Information: Are you selling that purse? Are you holding a garage sale? Does your boat have a blue sail? These words (sell, sale, sail) all sound similar but each has a different meaning. Be sure to use the correct terminology for your purpose.