Sunday, April 3, 2011

Garage Sale Tips: Part ONE

It's over. It's finally over and now I can breathe and sleep. (I went to bed at 8:59 last night - too bad my kids were up multiple times throughout the night or else I would have gotten 11 hours of sleep - thanks to my wonderful husband who got up this morning with the boys.)

I was probably on my third coffee at this point.

So, you want to have a garage sale and make it worth your while?
I can't guarantee anything, but follow these tips and you'll definitely do better than if you hadn't!

First: HELP

I could NOT have done it without these ladies!

Assemble a team of people who will help you throughout this process. Here are a few key people to have:
a) Organizers - people who thrive at putting systems together and organizing things. These people will help you to organize your things and get past the daunting experience of staring at a garage full of things and not knowing where to start. These people will be helpful both the week before the sale as well as the day of.
b) Networkers - these people will help get the word out about your sale via word of mouth as well as on the internet.
c) Hard workers - :) These are people who will help you do just about anything. They love you and want to help you. These people are KEY. These people can fit into either previous category and can also help you organize, move things, clear things, run errands, POSTER your neighbourhood, etc.
d) Childcare - if you have small children (as I do) it would be really helpful to you to have someone to watch your kids. At first I didn't think Jamie was going to be around, but it turns out he was able to stick around until noon to watch the boys while all the ladies organized and sold stuff outside. It worked out wonderfully. The boys were outside for a bit, but it was too cold for them to be out there the whole time and so they came out, played with the toys for a bit and wandered around and then went back inside. It was definitely nice to have Jamie around to help with this.

Second: WARMTH

Note that I have changed to a winter jacket. It was COLD.

If at all possible, I would not do a garage sale until at least May - especially if you're living in Canada. There were a lot of cold moments - postering, sorting and pricing in a cold garage and then bright and early putting things out on a cold Saturday morning. Granted, it was a gorgeous day for this time of year and I am so so so thankful for that, but if you have a choice, pick a warmer month.
It also helps that people are more into garage-sailing mode in the warmer months and you may get more traffic.


Doing the first round of posters. (This was just a small arrow pointing down our street.)

This is key (as I found out). Here's what I did:
a) I posted an ad on Kijiji for free. I got over 20 email responses and over 300 hits on my two ads. On the recommendation of my friend Jen, I posted an ad in the "garage sale" category, but I also posted an ad in the "baby" category - guess which one got more hits? Yup. The "baby" category.
b) I/we postered. I give full credit to Jen and Shereen on this one. Shereen and I postered 4 main intersections on the main road that we live near and then later on Friday night Jen & Shereen went crazy with the posters in our subdivision which I credit to the huge amounts of traffic we got for an early April garage sale! We did 2 types of posters; one had our address, time and that it was a garage sale with an arrow and the other type were just 2 pieces of paper, one that said "GARAGE" and one that said "SALE" and they filled the entire piece of paper. Jen & Shereen put these up with arrows all around our subdivision and they looked awesome! Simple, but they did the trick (although now I have to go and tear them all down!).
c) As well as Kijiji, I posted on Facebook and emailed people to let them know that we were having our garage sale. We had a whole bunch of friends show up and it was fun to see who came out.

Fourth: HOLD OUT

There is a trick to holding out your price to those seasoned garage sailors that come early and haggle with you without losing the sale. Here's one thing I learned: Don't bring your price down for early birds. If someone is willing to come early to get the good stuff, then they should be willing to pay full price - especially for a good item.
For instance, I decided we would sell our djembe drum. We don't really use it and we'll be in Africa if we do want to purchase another. I put it at $10 which I knew was an excellent price. Well sure enough, a man and his wife showed up and started picking up items and "shopping" through all our stuff at 7:40am while we were still setting up. I decided to let them but when he came up to me with the djembe and said he'd give me $5 for it, I told him he'd have to wait as the sale hadn't actually started yet. Well a few minutes later he came up to me again and said he'd give me $5. I was so distracted with getting things set up and organizing things that I just wanted to get rid of him and so I took the $5.
Only minutes after 8am, our neighbours from across the street came over and asked about the djembe and I told them it had already been sold and that's when I realized my mistake. It was a good item and I could have totally gotten full price for it, had I held fast to my original price.
In the grand scheme of things, $5 doesn't matter too much, but it was the principle that really stuck with me and I definitely learned a lesson of holding fast to your price - especially early in the morning.
In the last hour we started telling people that everything was now 50% off the marked price.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's final tips, some praises for my amazing team of ladies who helped and the final count of how much we made.


  1. Can't wait to hear the final details. Way to go Vanessa!!!

  2. Did you end up putting the baby clothes that didn't sell on Kijiji... like the "full wardrobe" ad?

    Excited to hear the grand total! SUSPENSE.

  3. Also, LOVE that pic with you in the winter jacket and Jen laughing in the background!

  4. Was your dining table for sale or just holding sale items? I love the legs on that thing! We have 2 tables already but maybe I would have found a reason to buy it... Paint it and use it for a sewing table or something.... So pretty, it is!!!

  5. Oops posted under the hubby's name!

  6. Em - no it wasn't for sale at the garage sale, but it will be the week before we leave - I couldn't be table-less for a whole month. :)
    If you were closer, I would have given it to you! :)


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