Make the Most of Your Garage Sale

by Cindy Skrzynecki

Having a garage sale has fast become America's most popular way to recycle its household goods, simplify life and bring in some extra cash. A good time to have a sale is just before or after you move, when you're forced to handle every one of your possessions and decide whether or not to keep it in your life.

With the right approach, having a garage sale can be a refreshing experience as well as a smart financial move. But many of us aren't quite sure how to tackle the project or do it in a way that's both efficient and effective. Here are some tips from an expert to help you make the most of the experience.

Give yourself time

Give yourself plenty of lead time to gather merchandise for your garage sale. Start weeks, even months, beforehand and sort through all your closets, drawers and boxes. Do you really need every utensil in your kitchen or all the Christmas decorations in your attic? Include your basement, attic and garage in the search and have as complete a sale as you can. Offering both volume and variety of merchandise will attract shoppers as well as bring in the most income.

Sell large-ticket items through alternative means

Get the most for your large-ticket items by not selling them at your garage sale, where shoppers expect to pay rock-bottom prices. Instead, before your sale, advertise items worth $20 or more through other free or low-cost outlets, such as neighborhood newspapers, employee newsletters, student publications or church bulletin boards. Take your better clothing to a consignment shop, and explore options available through re-sale stores for books, appliances, sporting goods or baby items.

Take a retailer's approach to pricing and display

Price your merchandise so that customers will feel like they're getting a bargain 10 to 20 percent of retail value, more for items that are like-new. Visit other people's sales to get ideas for yours, and have a mirror available if you plan to sell clothing. Overall, be sure to mark prices clearly, display merchandise between knee level and eye level, and rearrange your display as items are sold just as retailers do.

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