Saturday, August 4, 2007

Garage Sale Dos and Don'ts


DO select a start time and stick to it. If you're still dragging boxes onto the lawn at 9:08 a.m., I'm not hanging around to watch you unpack, even if you do swear you've got what I'm looking for in there.

DO sell bottled water. What an amazing upsell! I'll totally buy it, cuz I'm thirsty out here.

DO let your kids have a lemonade stand for the same reason.

DO list the time and date of your sale in all your advertising. No one wants to drive even a few miles out of their way for a sale that isn't happening until next week.

DO sort out what is for sale from what is not for sale, and make it clear. I can't tell you how many indoor sales I've been to where someone points to a bookshelf and says, "Some of them are mine, some are my roommate's... just let me know which ones you want and I'll tell you which ones are for sale." NO. You tell me which ones are for sale and I'LL tell YOU which ones I want. Jesus!

DO sell it to the first person who makes an offer. Remember, after 2 pm, Goodwill takes it for free.

DO price lots of stuff under a dollar. Even an Oxo brand spatula is only fifty cents. Seriously.

DO remember that yes, there are still suckers out there who, I swear to God, will pay 20 dollars for an electric tie rack. I've seen it happen. So keep an eye out for those garage sale supa shoppers.

DO price CDs, books, utensils and other multiple items in bulk, rather than individually. For instance, "CDs $2.00 or 3 for $5.00," not, "CDs -- prices as marked." At your garage sale, Rod Stewart and Death Cab for Cutie are interchangeable. Just... deal with it.

DO assume that most people are either buying stuff at your sale because they're too cheap to pay retail, or they're going to resell your stuff. We're not here to chit-chat about your collection or recoup you for what you paid for it at Sears.

DON'T pull stuff out unless you really want to sell it. I don't want to see all your treasured belongings on display, like your lawn has suddenly become a Saturday museum of your impeccable taste, with nothing priced under fifty dollars.

DON'T ever, EVER, EVER tell me that something is vintage and that's why you've priced it at 20 dollars. I swear, I'm going to start carrying around a can of oven cleaner and a lighter for the next person who justifies a ridiculous price by an item's age or, worse, "kitch" value.

DON'T confuse your garage sale with a retail store. Repeat this to yourself: it's a quarter, it's a quarter, it's a quarter.

DON'T price your computer monitor at 20 dollars. That shit is free to whomever will haul it.

DON'T price things based on what you originally paid for them. I can't stress it enough: I don't care what you paid for it, you can only sell it for as much as someone is willing to pay for it at a garage sale. This means a stainless steel trash can is 5 dollars. Baby clothes are 50 cents per garment. Your Samsung 20" television is ten dollars (five dollars after noon). And your George Foreman grill is FREE to the first taker.

DON'T expect your customers to have exact change. Have plenty of ones, fives and quarters, and have them ready. Don't disappear into the house like, "My husband has some change." Within 30 seconds, I'll just take your stuff.

DON'T price anything for 75 cents unless you are good at on-the-spot math.


Borgone said...

I truly love your do's and don'ts you hit this point right on the mark. I can't tell you how much I hate going with my wife to garage sales and the person selling the items don't have change or is selling the price of something way to high. Keep leading the cry for this industry to change their way and get on the right side of the street.

mommy2caitlin said...

I just stumbled upon your blog by searching "serial entrepreneur". That's also what I put as my occupation! I've really enjoyed reading your posts, as I also love scouring garage sales and thrift stores... Have you ever rescued any of those barbies?
Anyways, I may have a book or two you might be interested in. I'll have to get the titles for you once I find the box that they're stored in!

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to find this in the archives BG. 1st, look up a little thing called Free Enterprise which you [specifically] benefit from greatly. While your absurd remarks on fair-paying buyers or anyone using the term vintage or who's selling anything over 25 cents were noted... fast forward. Now YOU are selling vintage yourself online at MASSIVE profits; the same 25 cent garage sale purchases where you berate sellers for making a fraction of the profit on their own property! Your greed and demeanor is vulgar - Your attitude & crass hypocrisy is the very reason so many garage-salers get a bad rap. RX for you is a big ‘ol serving of humble pie and wash it back with some I'm-so-sorry soda.

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