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Tuesday, July 15

With a Little Help from my Friends (Joe Cocker)

I had the privilege of having a mother that shopped garage sales and consignment stores long before it was trendy.  Hand-me-downs were no big deal -  they were new to us!  We learned that, excepting food & toiletries, anything we needed could be bought secondhand.  As we got older, she taught us to be discernible with purchasing used items.  It's a legacy that I began passing on to my children as soon as they understood what a quarter was...
When the little stuff starts piling up, and the bank account starts dipping, it's time for a garage sale.  Now that we'll be home a bit, it's the perfect time.  But we don't just do a regular ol' sale...it's a lot more fun to get your friends together and make it a shindig!
This is half of my part of the sale.  Being oh-so-Type-A, of course I was all set up first.  Scroll down for tips on setting up an easy-sell sale!
In the meantime, all of our boys got together and planned a car wash and cookie & lemonade stand.  Being the "mean momma" that I am, they have to raise the money for their Sea Cow Lego set.  We were all pretty surprised at how well they did with the cookies!
If you've ever done a two-day garage sale, then you probably already know that the first day is your money-maker.  The second is when the scavengers come, because they know that you just want the stuff out of the house.  SO...our second day was girls' day out!  My friend just started selling these Jamberry nails, and decided that we needed to try them out.  Aren't these vintage deco ones cute?
Are you ready to clean out your house and make a little egg money???

 
Setting Up
  • The more stuff, the more traffic.  Get your friends together and make it a party.
  • Don't pick a holiday weekend (or a weekend where there is a big, local event happening).  Aim for the first of the month, right after folks get paid or get their SSI checks.
  • Check to see if you need a permit, or if there are area restrictions.
  • Advertise!  Use your newspaper, Craigslist, Facebook groups, and put up signs.  Make sure that your signs are legible, and large enough to be read by cars going past at 50mph.
  • Decide whether you're selling stuff to make money, or to get rid of it.  Price everything, and price accordingly.  Beware : if you price too high, be prepared for people to walk away and tell others to avoid the sale.
  • Use bags to contain sets, puzzle pieces, etc.  Label the bags.
  • In the months prior, throw all your yard sale items together, so that you're not trying to find it all the week of the sale.  (We keep a 'yard sale closet,' where it all goes on that floor until sale time.)
  • A couple days before the sale, get cash - you'll want a roll of quarters, a stack of at least twenty-five $1 bills, and a few $5 bills.  Keep your money with you (fannypack?) at all times - don't leave the cashbox sitting around.
  • If you are having a group sale, make sure to have a ledger to keep track of how much money goes to each person.
  • Stage your items just like they would stage them in a store.  Place like items together, set those big items out front to draw customers, and cross-sell your items.  If you have books, use a bookshelf to display them.  If you have clothes, find a hanging rack.  Show that you took care of your items, and they'll be more likely to sell.
  • Have an extension cord handy in case someone asks to test an electrical item.
  • Use sheets to cover anything left in the garage that is NOT for sale.  Otherwise, you'll be fielding questions all day about what that is and how much you'd take for it.  Plus, you don't want to give someone (or a thief) a reason to come back uninvited...
  • After it's staged, walk through your sale like a customer.  It is easy to navigate?  Are the prices reasonable? 

Day of Sale
  • Turn on some background music.  Some areas like country music, most people like oldies.  Avoid anything that may be offensive.
  • Be friendly and greet people.  If they want to chat, chat.  Otherwise, leave them be.  And don't hover.
  • Be prepared for folks to bargain, but be less flexible at the beginning of the sale.  Also remember that you don't have to accept their offer.
  • Make sure everyone is on the same page - you don't want someone selling your $20 item for $2.
  • Set up a big box with toys in the middle - this way, moms can shop the perimeter while keeping an eye on kids that are being entertained.  (If the toys are breakable / expensive, don't put them in this pile.)
  • Keep your cash with you at all times, and keep an eye on your items as well. Shoplifting happens, even at garage sales.
  • Set up a free box, and fill it with things that you just want gone - everyone likes free stuff.
  • Run that lemonade stand, especially if it's a hot day.  Better yet, let your children run it.  They're cuter than you are, and people will be more likely to buy from them.
  • Consider doing a stuff-a-bag for the second day.  Or half-price on the second day.  This will depend on how much you want stuff gone.
  • Have a plan for after the sale is done, so that it doesn't all come back home. 
    • As we break down the sale, I divide into : used bookstore, consignment clothing store, donate boxes, and Craigslist / Ebay. 
    • Very few items make it into this last group, and they tend to the be larger, more expensive ones. 
    • Three of these groups never come back into the house.  We take the church boxes immediately after the sale, and the book & consignment piles a few days later. 
After the Sale
  • Use the ledger to divide up your money. 
  • Consider having an impromptu 'swap' amongst your friends.  (Assuming you haven't already spent the last two days shopping each others' items.)
  • Break it down, move it out, and go out for mojitos! 
And remember :  Yard sales are GREEN!  Besides saving money, yard sale shopping helps the environment, since you don't get all that excess packaging. You also find unique items you can't just pick up at the mall. 
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