How to organize a garage sale


It might seem far away to begin planning for the May 3rd SHA Neighborhood Garage sale. You might still be recovering from the October sale! But if you really want to sell, you need to start preparing NOW and here’s why:

Lesson One: Bad weather doesn’t deter shoppers.

I was a bit hesitant about participating in last May’s SHA yard sale due to the weather, but I still had an ounce of optimism after weeks of prep. It was cold and rainy at 7 a.m. that morning, but I decided to aim for a smaller sale on my front porch — downsizing the sale might be better than canceling entirely, I thought.

The May 2013 SHA sale proved to be the best sale for me yet (and I’ve been yard ‘saling’ for years). I ended up being so busy wheeling and dealing with multiple customers that I hardly had time to eat, drink, and you know what…

Despite the dismal weather, people were out and about on Grand Avenue.

Lesson one: Always set your alarm early.

The most serious shoppers arrive by 7 a.m. even if your sale doesn’t begin until 9 a.m. My first customers arrived by 7 a.m. (typical antique dealers) and the main rush began an hour later.

Lesson two: Borrow some outdoor tents.

Or, at least, be prepared to truly make it a “garage sale.” The point: Find shelter for your most precious belongings. That way you won’t have to scramble in the event of rain.

Lesson three: Utilize free advertising through social media.

Don’t just count on SHA to get the word out. Advertise on Craigslist and Facebook in addition to posting large colorful signs throughout the neighborhood. Using social media is a great way to market unique and specialty items. Collectors will even cross the river from the west to make the trek to Summit Hill for your treasures.

Lesson four: Think like a window dresser.

I’ve learned throughout the years to market my sale belongings with a touch of flair. Crafting colorful typewritten price tags with ribbon, for example, can make even the loneliest and most pathetic yard sale item suddenly become highly desirable—even I want to buy it from myself.

Another marketing strategy is to create a theme for your sale. Are you selling a lot of books or old magazines? If so, stage a mini bookstore in your garage: advertise some of your authors, create shelves with themes. You’ll sell a lot more books when your customers don’t have to dig through disorganized boxes.

The same goes for clothes. Last May, I made more than $450 on just second-hand baby clothes, cloth diapers, and baby accessories.

That’s because I advertised my yard sale as a ‘baby boutique’ and made numerous specialty displays. I hung designer baby clothes on an old fashioned towel drying rack, filled a children’s red wagon with baby accessories, and filled a big metal bucket with spotless cloth diapers. (The diapers ended up looking so great that I wanted to keep them just for the display!)

I put loose items in little plastic bags taped with fun labels; even the baby booties, mittens, and hats were strung together with colorful curly ribbons. Several customers asked if I owned a baby store!

Now, this all might seem like a lot of work to the average garage saler…but if you really want to purge some of your material things every spring and fall, and make a chunk of change, it’s every bit worth the effort. But… start preparing NOW.

Julie Wilbert is a freelance writer, a serious yard saler, and a resident of Summit Hill.