Garage Sale Tips for Sellers by Tracy Suttles: Ways to Maximize Profit from Rummage Sales

The following post is a guest post from Houston, Texas area real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles. Tracy can be best contacted for questions, comments and concerns on Twitter at @tracydsuttles.

If a person has never put on a garage sale, the task may seem quite intimidating. Some people let their old, unused items pile up simply because they do not think yard sales are worthwhile, or because they think that they are too much work. However, the following tips may help simplify the garage sale mess to make it more manageable, which can help get the cash flowing.

Sorting out Items for a Rummage Sale

Frankly, one of the most difficult tasks when it comes to putting on a garage sale is sorting out the junk to sell from the other junk. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the question “would anyone consider buying this at a yard sale?” If the answer is no, then the item can probably be donated, or thrown out if it is too ragged. If anyone may possibly want the item then it may be worth it to at least try to sell the item. But if space becomes an issue it may be a good idea to try to sort out good sale items from bad ones.

One never knows whether people will be interested in buying in their “junk” or not, but some items are definitely better sellers than others. The following items are examples of items that can be good sellers:

  • antiques and collectibles that were not widely manufactured
  • star wars collectibles, or other collectibles that have a large fan base (like comic books)
  • electronics, like old video game systems
  • musical instruments
  • clothing items
  • kitchen appliances in good condition
  • small items to be sold in bulk, like gems

Just about anything can sell if the price is low enough. However, very cheap or common items are less likely to sell. For instance, Beanie Babies and other fad items seem as if they would sell well, but because so many people have them they will probably not sell as well as other items. Cheap items like plastic rings are also unlikely to sell unless one comes up with a clever marketing idea, like “ten items for ten cents.”

How to Set Up Shop for the Sale

Before starting, it may be a good idea to contact nearby neighbors about the event if one anticipates that any neighbors may have issues with the garage sale. Once any necessary people have been contacted, a set up plan can commence.

It is a good idea to make a simple map of one’s garage beforehand. Make sure that all tables will fit, and that the space is not too small for an effective sale. If it happens to be too small, some larger, less valuable, or sun-resistant items can be placed outside the garage if it is not raining or snowing on the day of the sale. Items to go in the garage may be set up the day before to minimize stress the morning of the sale.

Organizing the sale floor by item type may help buyers navigate the sale. If everything is just thrown together people may miss items that they otherwise would buy. For instance, placing all electronics together may attract a potential buyer who is only interested in buying electronics.

It may also be a smart move to price items, and to place similarly priced items near one another on the tables (or on the ground). While many garage sale hunters love to bargain, others do not. However, it may be wise to price items slightly higher than one expects to sell them for at first, so that bargain hunters do not go below one’s acceptable price.

It is very important to have some cash and change on hand in the event that potential buyers come in with big bills. A cash box and a place to record sales can help one to keep track of any transactions. A calculator is a very important element of any yard sale, as are plastic and paper grocery bags for any buyers who purchase multiple items.

Getting People to Come to Yardsales

Personalized signs can be a great way to let people know that one is having a garage sale. However, as mentioned here, it is important to make sure that this is not against any regulations, and that a permit is not required for a sale. Signs and banners are a very important element, because they can attract people who are in the process of hunting for sales, people who shop on a whim, and people who want to plan their garage sale route ahead of time. Because of this, it is best to place signs up a few days ahead of time to alert potential shoppers.

Signs should not be too descriptive or detailed, as people who are driving by may miss all of the important information if that is the case. The most important elements are the name of the event, date, time, and location. An arrow pointing people in the correct direction may also be helpful.

Another marketing method is to advertise one’s sale on a public site like Craigslist. Sites like these allow users to advertise events free of charge. This can allow one to advertise an event to people who do not live within the immediate vicinity of one’s neighborhood.

With these hints in mind, one may be able to throw together a successful garage sale with minimal headaches.