Jemelene Wilson
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How to have a successful garage sale | Moms

Just the thought of having a garage sale sends me searching for the antacids.

To me there are fewer things that I dread than laying out my life for bargain hunters and cheapskates to paw through, make faces at or dicker over.

To say it's just not my thing is a gross understatement.

So at this very moment I'm asking myself why I just sent my husband a text that says, “I will sell them at our garage sale. You need to schedule it.”

Over the weekend we cleaned out my side of the closet and pulled all the clothes that don't fit me anymore.

Earlier, we discussed the benefits of selling on a local Facebook list but decided against it after assessing the time involved listing, answering questions and meeting people (some who just don't show up).

It's not so bad for bigger ticket items, but at three dollars to five dollars a pop, it isn't worth it to me.

I probably have a temperature.

My husband, on the other hand, is a master garage saler.

He not only sets up great sales, he loves to shop them.

He finds things no else wants or needs or has room for in their homes.

So he adopts them (for a bargain of course) and brings them home to my house where sometimes sooner than later it makes its way out to a table in our driveway to take part in the great circle of life.

We've often discussed his golden touch when it comes to setting up sales. He lived off of garage sales during a year of unemployment as a young adult. He hasn't lost his mojo.

There isn't a perfect formula to setting up a great sale.

However, here are a few tips that have worked for us over the years:

1. Don't waste time putting prices on everything. Only price the big stuff and group the smaller items by prices. Boxes work well for this as well as a designated table.

2. Have an extension cord ready to test electronic items. People want to know if the television works.

3. Speaking of electronic devices, clear the memory on everything that has one. For three years after we sold our fax machine, we received faxes meant for the people we sold it to. Their outgoing messages still listed our phone number on the top of each page.

4. Make sure to have change on hand. One of us heads to the store or the bank the day before. Have ones and quarters if you will be selling smaller items.

5. Advertise only if you live in a remote area with little traffic or if you have some bigger ticket items to sell. If you do choose to advertise, be prepared to have people show up early, begging you to let them shop. Some people do believe that NO EARLYS does not apply to them. You can post on your Facebook to get people you know over as well as some of the local selling groups. If you put an ad in the paper be concise. Building supplies, furniture and larger baby items are worth listing. Your blender and old electric toothbrush are not.

6. Dust off or wipe down items. It really can make a difference to some folks in making a decision to buy your stuff.

The most important key to a great garage sale is bringing people to your sale.

If you only get one thing, get this:

GOOD SIGNS are the key to bringing people to your sale. That is the number one thing we notice when driving around on a weekend is the good and bad yard sale signs.

A bad sign is unreadable from the street, has too much information or bends in the wind pointing people to the wrong house. You don't need an address or list of items for sale. People can't stop and read all of that from their car.

Make all of your signs from the same material and the same color.

You can make one or two large signs for the main streets if you need to direct folks to your neighborhood but the rest should be 11x 14 or 8x10 if you use neon poster board.

Your signs should just say "SALE," and put an arrow across the bottom directing your customers.

We never put times on ours because we often sell out (or my husband gets tired of my whining) by early afternoon. When you are ready to open, one person starts at the place furthest out (usually a main street) and posts the signs. In case someone shows up before he gets here, I usually wait out front with really strong coffee, bad hair and a hideous pair of stretchy pants.

When it's time to close, one of us (ahem, me again) stays home to deal with last minute stragglers, while the other goes back out and takes down the signs.

The rest of the items get put back in the garage or more often donated to a local charity.

I hear having a garage sale can be fun. At the very least you can get through it with as little pain possible and come out with some cash. You can also clear out some of those things you thought you owned that have begun to own you.

I usually wait out front with really strong coffee, bad hair and a hideous pair of stretchy pants.


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The News-Review Updated May 9, 2014 09:03AM Published May 5, 2014 08:47AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.