Garage Sale Savvy

Turn your trash into someone else’s treasure. 

This is the time of year when we not only make the rounds at local garage sales, we also typically have one of our own. I hear a lot of people saying that it’s just too much work to put on a sale but after organizing dozens, I can honestly say it just isn’t that hard. It helps with clutter, reduces waste, brings in a few extra dollars, and is a fun opportunity to interact with humans. 

Don’t Wait: Designate a location in your home or garage for boxes or bins in which you and your family members can put sale items throughout the year. Doesn’t fit? Bin it! Don’t use it anymore? Bin it! Not finding the joy? Bin it!  You will add more when the prep begins but you won’t be adding a complete closet, cupboard, and drawer overhaul to your task list prior to the sale. And, if you decide not to do the sale, everything will be organized for a quick thrift store drop off.

Organize it: As I’m setting up for my sale, I keep a handy supply of cloths and wipes so that my merchandise makes the best impression possible. If possible, tables and spaces should be organized by general category such as housewares, electronics, books/cd’s, lawn & garden, etc. Make it easy for people who are looking for specific items to scan your treasures for the perfect find. I prefer to hang clothing and I’m prepared for the “may I try it on” question when it happens. I offer discounts for people who purchase quantities of items by the bag (a great way to recycle grocery bags) such as books, movies, and t-shirts. 

Pricing: I make good deals because once it’s in the sale I don’t want it back. If something holds a lot of value, such as an exercise machine, I price it with the intention of putting it on an internet sale site if it doesn’t sell. While I price large items individually, if find it is easier to do box or table pricing if you have a lot of small items. I either hand write or print signs from my computer such as clothing $1, coffee cups $.50, blankets $2, etc. I keep my typed template and update it before each sale, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel year after year.  The pre-printed price labels are a really easy solution for individual item pricing and come in quantities to last a lifetime. I always round down. The more they buy, the better the deal. If someone is at $11.50, they get it for $10. Others at the sale hear me giving special deals and are more likely to add to their “cart.”

Fanny packs: I can’t say that Fanny packs are my favorite, but I do have one that is designated for my annual sale. I use this for cash/change so that I never set my money down and risk losing it. Tucked away in this fashion statement are extra price tags, sharpie pens, regular pens for checks, pieces of paper, ChapStick, a small calculator, hand sanitizer and anything else I may need on the ready. In my case, I also have a few Cherry Creek Guest House business cards handy for those who love the property and want to refer their families for the next gathering. 

Advertising: There are different advertising options in every community, but I find that Facebook marketplace and Craigslist are go to’s for weekend warriors. These ads can be as detailed as you want, include sale photos, and cost nothing. Like my other tools of the trade, I keep my garage sale signs from one year to the next. Clear directions and a specific address are a must in ads and on signage. If your place is hard to find, put out extra signs and use large dark printing. It’s hard to read tiny print from the car. I find that my customers arrive in a better shopping mood if they had an easy time finding our sale. Tell your neighbors when you are planning a sale in case they want to jump in on the fun – more sales draw in more shoppers. 

At the end: I pre-advertise and make signs saying that everything will go half price an hour before I close and free at closing for the afternoon. I push the boxes and items out to a safe place in my driveway with a large free sign and go inside for lunch. People flock in and are thrilled at their free finds. I rarely have anything left to take to the thrift store and it feels good to help folks out – especially the children. 

Nothing is more liberating than finishing up a sale and knowing that I not only cleared out some unwanted items, but I kept them from the landfill, and had fun bantering with my shoppers. All in all, it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning … once a year.

The opportunities for your next Montana adventure are unlimited and Cherry Creek Guest House is ready to serve as your home away.

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