The moment my neighbor showed up on my doorstep with a note from the aforementioned Crazy Organizer Lady, I found myself frustrated by how I ended up in this situation. I'm a smart chick. I'm a problem-solver. Why did I feel the need to hire someone to pull together a successful garage sale? Granted, it was January in the Midwest, so the order was tall. But still. In the end, we pulled it off and achieved success beyond what we hoped. Had I just stopped to wrap my mind around this whole thing from the beginning, I wouldn't be dealing with this crazy person stalking me and now harassing my neighbors. So - what do I know now that I didn't know then?
Not a ton. This isn't rocket science. All that is needed is time, elbow grease, and a few supplies. At least I had the opportunity to learn a few things and now have a road map for what to do in the future, if necessary.
Start with apple boxes. This is the only pertinent thing I learned from Crazy Organizer Lady. Apple boxes are the perfect tool to organizing before a sale. They come with lids and padding, making them the best means of organizing during pre-sale prep. If I could go back and do it again, I would have absolutely started the process by filling the garage with these handy-dandy, FREE, boxes of clutter-free living during a transition. Pack up your stuff according to category, slap on the lid, bust out the Sharpie so you know what's in it, and stack it away. It's not ideal to live with a room (or rooms) full of these stacked boxes, but it's better than piles of mess. Added bonus - the house will smell like apples.
Price all items as you go. Individually priced items are not only easier to keep track of as people bring you their chosen treasures, but they also increase sales. People who are undecided are more likely to decide no if they are not presented with information up front. Even if you opt to have whole tables with items all the same price, slap a sticker on each piece. This will become especially handy toward the end of your sale when bundling becomes an effective strategy.
Don't underestimate the resources you'll need. Even with all our planning, we ended up needing double the number of tables we thought we would. It didn't take long before we realized we needed one table for 2-3 apple boxes of stuff, depending on the size of the items. Fortunately, we were able to adjust quickly and get what we need. Don't get caught without the resources you need.
Keep extra pricing stickers handy, too. As the sale progresses, your prices will drop. We had a big rush the first day of our sale and were able to consolidate items to the areas where items were moving the fastest. Having individually priced items was very helpful for this strategy, as well as being able to mark down items that were getting no attention. By the end of the sale, we had very little left for the donation pile and more cash in the register than expected.
Get creative with signage. In addition to individually pricing our items, we also provided informational table tents for things that weren't self explanatory. What's so special about the martini glasses? They're from Tiffany's New York! What's this weird pan? It's an all-corner brownie pan. Giving those browsing some fun bits of info about the more unique items will help them move faster.
Use those extra boxes to grab bigger sales. We noticed quickly that people with full arms would stop picking things up. Remember all those apple boxes that were so useful for the planning stage? Use them during the sale to increase sales. Put them under your tables for the customers. If we noticed someone with a few items in their arms, we'd offer a box for shopping ease. Before they knew it, we had their car packed with boxes and more cash in our pockets. Even the least pleasant customers will appreciate your effort and usually buy more.
Advertise everywhere. Our biggest challenge for the sale was the unpredictable weather conditions that plague the Midwest in January. Get creative when it comes to getting the word out. We used traditional methods such as advertising in the local newspaper and neighborhood signage. We also put info on garage sale specific websites and used social media. Facebook garage sale group ads gave us a lot of traffic during the sale and facilitated the sale of our bigger items before the first day. In fact, 25% of our profits was secured before the sale even started.
Stay firm on price early. We ran a three day sale. On day one, we didn't negotiate price much. Instead, we would offer a negotiated price if the item was still available on the last day of the sale. This worked to our advantage as majority of the items sold to someone willing to pay the marked price on the first day. Return visitors were shocked by the little inventory left by the last day. Even if the item they returned for was gone, they usually picked up a selection or two of the remaining inventory. And they got a good deal with our bundling strategy. By the latter part of day two, we would proactively offer a discount for the purchase of multiple items. This often led to more items in that handy apple box I gave them.
Like I said earlier, much of this is basic logic. Anyone can pull off a successful moving sale, even under less than ideal circumstances. Don't make our mistake and risk getting into the situation we are in now - out the money paid to the crazy lady who just won't leave us alone.
I'm curious about your experiences. Give me some of your best garage sale strategies in the comments section!