This Way to the Garage Sale Part Three

by Don Long

In part III, I feature exerts from chapters 5 and 7 of "This Way To The Garage Sale."

5. Who Will Come To My Garage Sale?
To paraphrase a line from a famous movie, "If you sell, they will come." I was amazed at the wide range of personalities that came to my first garage sale. Now, I'm never surprised at the people who show up. My family and I make up sort of a game about the people who come to our sales. As they drive up or walk up, we try to decide what they're looking for before they can speak. After a while, I got pretty good at matching merchandise with personalities.

"The Ringling Brothers And Friends"
My favorite visitors to our sales are the ones who come in multi-passenger vehicles. Some of them remind me of the circus. You know, when the car drives up and fifteen clowns pile out. Not that these people are clowns, however they do seem to pack a lot of bodies in one automobile. This group usually buys several items, though I'm not sure where they put everything when they re-enter the vehicle.

"Garage Grandmas"
The "garage grandmas" have just one thing on their mind: "What can I buy my grandbaby?" I have found that children's clothes and clean toys grab their attention. My own children have acted as models (grandbaby stand-in's, if you will) for these ladies: "Come here darlin', you're about the size of my Amy-Lynn." If things are going slow at the sale, just ask one of them about their grandchildren. They will keep you busy for hours.

"Backgammon Bubba"
Sometimes it's not as easy as it seems, to figure people out. One guy really fooled me. He got out of his 1976 pickup truck, and walked toward our house. I could tell he had visited several garage sales earlier that day. Expecting him to ask if I had any tools or guns, he completely took me by surprise with the question: "HEY . . . you got any backgammon boards?!" BACKGAMMON BOARDS? Since then, I've learned never to assume anything about the people who show up.

Some people will show up hoping to buy merchandise to sell later at their own garage sale. Now these are true garage sale "junkies." They usually have certain items in mind to buy before they get there. You will find yourself constantly bartering with them over prices. I have not always had success selling to "Bob" and his "kind." After all, he's looking to make a profit. But anything Bob buys is money in your pocket.

"Jerry Just-Looking"
Well, as the name implies, this on is probably not going to help you become independently wealthy. However, he is a potential buyer, and some potential is better than no potential. Right? I have found that with a little patience and some friendly salesmanship, "Jerry" can go from "just looking" to "just buying."

"I'm-Gonna-Buy-Something Sam"
Not only is Sam looking - he's buying! He hasn't pulled over to the curb, walked through your neighbor's freshly planted pansies, and stepped on the cat's tail just to say hello. No, he's bound and determined to buy something, no matter what it is. Needless to say, I like this guy! Sam just might be the one to buy that tie your wife gave you for Christmas . . . that is, if you can sneak it past her.

Of course, there are an infinite number of personalities out there just waiting to show up at your garage sale. No matter who shows up, the main ones to look for are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, US Grant, and maybe even Ben Franklin.

7. Should I Really Have My Sale IN The Garage?
The name "garage sale" is just that . . . a name. Yard sale, rummage sale - these are all names for the same event: selling your stuff. So where exactly should your items for sale be placed? The important thing to remember is, you want people driving/walking by to be interested enough to stop and look.

In The Garage/Driveway
Most garages have a driveway attached. I've found the driveway is where to place what I call the "eye-catchers." Much like a grocery store will place certain items at the ends of their aisles, these eye-catchers will hopefully cause a potential customer to stop and look. Examples might be a bicycle, clean gardening equipment, golf-clubs, tools, or a nice piece of furniture.

The idea, of course, is that once someone has stopped to look at the "eye-catcher", they will continue to look and browse for other items. By the way, be careful and keep non-sale items out of sight or reach. We were so busy one day, my brand new lawn mower almost became part of our profits.

I don't recommend using your garage/driveway if you have a rear-entry garage; especially if it is off an alleyway. Although you will get some traffic, you will not have as many customers as you might in a more optimum location. You also will experience more parking problems and therefore possibly disturb ("tick-off") some of your neighbors. If you do use a rear-entry garage, make sure you have a sign in your front yard indicating a sale in the back.

In The Yard
Again, depending on your situation, your yard may be more advantageous for a sale. Everything is in the open and usually more accessible - just hope it doesn't rain. Only those items you are selling are seen (unlike my lawn mower). If you have a rear-entry garage, your front yard might be a better location; it's more accessible to traffic. Parking for your customers will also be less congested. Of course, your lawn and landscape might suffer a little. You may not want to sacrifice all that hard yard work you've done for the extra dollars you might make.

Other Locations
Although I have not done so myself, I know people who have used vacant lots, parking lots, and vacant buildings to hold a sale. With the correct location and proper advertising, these locations can work out great. It is extremely important, however, to get permission to use these locations ahead of time. Be aware of local city and county ordinances concerning use of certain locations for selling merchandise.

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