We went to several garage sales in the Quad City Area and asked sellers and shoppers to answer this question:
What is the key to a successful garage/yard sale?
Here is what we found:
Don’t think shoppers will be lured in by items on tables outside; put up signs. Shoppers we spoke with said this is critical to getting shoppers to flock to your sale. Setup a sign at the bottom of your driveway, but don't stop there. Put signs up near busy intersections, and include arrows pointing in the direction of your home. There is no such thing as too many signs.
Your signs should stand out and demand attention. Make them colorful, add balloons and have fun with it. The more unique your signs, the more shoppers will pay attention. Remember, too, to take down all of your signs after your sale.
It's no secret. Advertising pays off. People in your neighborhood may see your decorative signs, but what about those on the opposite end of town? Unless people just happen to be driving by, how will they know you are having a sale?
It's a tried and true strategy to advertise your sale in the local newspaper. Consider how many people read the paper every day; many of them will glance at your advertisement. It doesn’t hurt to try.
You can double the effort by using the Internet to your advantage. Post your ad a week in advance, and try to update it every day. The Internet is the fastest way to reach the large groups of people. Craigslist and Facebook draw millions of people a day, and shoppers we spoke with said they check those websites regularly. YardSaleSearch.com and GSalR.com are other helpful sites; and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau lists some local community yard sales.
Price to sell
People shopping at a garage sale are not expecting to pay retail prices, they want a bargain. You want to make money. It is possible for everyone to get what they want.
First, make sure everything is priced. Shoppers will get annoyed if they have to constantly ask the price of various items.
Group like, or related, items together, and be willing to offer a discount to a customer interested in multiple items.
Most items are best priced at 10% to 30% of what you paid for them, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule. Flexibility is key.
If someone asks if you will take a lower price, listen to their offer. Then consider how much the item is really worth to you, and whether you honestly believe someone else will give more than what is being offered. What would you honestly pay for the same item? If you are willing to sell one item for a good price, that person is likely to buy more things, resulting in a domino effect that can benefit your pocketbook.
Community-wide sales are the way to go
The whole point of having a yard sale is sell unwanted items and to make a little extra cash along the way. In order to do that, you need a lot of foot traffic at your sale. Community-wide sales lure shoppers, and the more sales in your community, the more people will be there to shop. Next time you're planning your sale, search for your city or neighborhood community sales day.
Be nice and people will pay the price
People we spoke with said the person they are buying from is nearly as important as the product they are buying. Nobody wants to do business with an unpleasant person. People are also more likely to pay a higher price from somebody they believe to be friendly.
Greet every person who stops by your sale. Ask them how their day is, and let them know how items are organized. The conversation you try to start with them just might end with an item sold. They get a bargain, and you make a little cash.
Do you have a yard sale shopping or selling tip to share? Leave it in the comments below!