Garage Sale Guru

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Want to clean up and make money at the same time? Have a garage sale! You do not even need a garage, just a yard or a space to display your treasures. I am preparing for my seventh annual garage sale and I have picked up a few pointers along the way to take the stress and work out of garage sales.

The first step is to organize. Gather everything you want to sell and begin pricing. To simplify my sales, I use printed signs: All Clothing $.75 each or 2/$1.00. I used to spend tedious hours marking every little thing, and half the time the stickers would fall off anyway. This also works for toys, books, dishes, silverware, tools, etc. When I am setting up, I mark three boxes for toys: $.25, $.50, and $1.00. As I am sorting, I just toss the toy into the appropriate box.

Beg, borrow or make tables to display your wares. People enjoy an area that is easy to move around in, with enough room between tables to allow more than one person to look at a time. Over the years, I have collected two camping tables, four card tables and a few miscellaneous ones. TV trays work well too. Just be careful if you slap together a makeshift table.

I thought I was very clever one year by using 4-foot by 8-foot panels nailed to sturdy pallets for tables. Everything was fine up until the day of the sale. One of my makeshift tables tilted and shifted until the whole thing crashed to the floor, along with glassware, dishes and other breakable things. Luckily no one was hurt and I was able to prop up the other tables until the sale was over.

If possible, hang clothing. It is so much easier for people to look through and needing to constantly straighten piles will not frazzle you. I hang sturdy wooden closet rods from the rafters with strong rope. My husband picked them up for me at a home improvement store for about $.50 a foot.

Now you are ready to advertise. Pick a date and place an ad. A typical 15-word ad in our local newspaper runs $4.00, well worth the potential customers it will bring your way. An eye-catching title will make your ad stand out among the hundreds of similar ads. Some phrases I have used are: Bargain Bonanza, Spectacular Sale, Thrifty Treasures, and Gigantic Garage Sale.

Do not stop yet! Put up colorful signs leading to your sale. Try to place them on or near major traffic routes and always use a large arrow pointing the way. Many people just look for signs and do not bother to read the address. Balloons are inexpensive and add visibility. Put a ladder or sign at the end of your driveway with lots of balloons. Last year over half of my customers told me they followed my signs to my sale.

On the day of your sale, try to open a bit early. Often people will line up, anxious to find a bargain. Decide if you will be willing to negotiate, because someone will probably ask.

Greet people if possible. A friendly smile can put people at ease and make them more willing to buy. If you have a lot of stuff left toward the end of your sale, put up Half Price signs. (You may want to adjust your prices a bit on your more expensive items) To save time, I have a few signs printed ahead of time.

A successful garage sale empties your crammed closets, overflowing storage shed and cluttered garage, and most importantly, fills your wallet. Following these simple steps will leave you with a smile on your face as you head to the bank.

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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