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Beat Recession: GARAGE SALE!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

As we've been doing some house maintainance, I noticed that the rooms were starting to look a bit crowded and that space was lessening. I mean, it's not that there's piles of junk here and there but it's when closely observed, I noticed there were blankets taking up space in the closet that could be utilized for other objects. There were clothes in my closet I probably wouldn't think of even wearing again and some even brand new that I hadn't even worn but just lost the interest in keeping. That was the similar case in every room - random knick knacks and just items that could find a better home where it would be more appreciated. So how were we going to get rid of this stuff productively? A garage sale!

Not only did my friends and I decide to do a garage sale, I wanted to have three to gather some data for all of you guys. We did a three team garage sale effort to have a variety of items. 

Here are my earnings and the team's earnings and I'll also explain the technicalities.

Saturday, June 13th:
Vanessa: $95.00
Team: $345.00
Details: Notices went out on the Thursday night prior to the garage sale. Fliers went up, internet advertisements, and signs. Clothes were sold for $1.00 - $2.00, jackets and coats $3.00; Little collectibles were $1.00; electronics were anywhere from $3.00 - $6.00; books, CDs, DVDs, and other media were $1.00; generic handbags were $2.00-$3.00. Our garage sale hours were from 9:00am to 1:00pm but everyone arrived and swarmed us at 7:30am. We were thrilled!

Sunday, June 14th:
Vanessa: $46.00
Team: $220.00
Details: Signs were posted the morning of the garage sale, a couple the night before. Many items now that we wanted to get rid of were fifty cents. The most popular from the sales were clothing, books, and perfume. Our biggest sale was from the Nintendo Wii which someone from my team sold for $150.00 because it was missing the box. Men's dress shirts were the hit on this day. The weather was warm; we stayed near the garage opening most of the time to keep cool. Our hours were from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Other than the Wii, the rest of our sales didn't do too well as everyone kept bargaining with us and we were way too lenient on them, practically giving the stuff away for free.

Saturday, June 20th:
Vanessa: $40.00
Team: $130.00
Details: Advertisements were posted in the classified section of the local newspaper and on Craigslist on Tuesday night prior to the garage sale. We posted up signs at the vicinity of the neighborhood. There were approximately ten signs put up around the vicinity of the neighborhood we were holding the sale at with arrows leading to minimize the search process. The most popular item sold was cosmetics that I had and were still new but I ended up not wanting. People didn't seem to want to stay out too long as the weather was humid and warm. Most visitors stayed no longer than ten minutes. Most purchases averaged around $3.00. Our highest selling item of the day were men's and women's shoes. Our hours were from 8:00am to 1:00pm.

Post garage sale, we then went on a drive to see for ourselves how we compare to other garale sales in our city. The signs posted around the city all had different times and how long their sale was going to be held. However, the most common hour seen was 8:00am as an opening mark to sell their items. We found that our prices were slightly higher than many of the sales as shirts on their yard were sold for $.050 and many other items for just $0.25 and nothing really over $3.00 except for the really big items. Many common garage sale items are clothes, books, and toys as children grow out of these quite fast. A man actually came to our garage sale for an old but working video cassette player and we sold one to him for just a dollar.  

We found that we had the biggest selection of items, being that we were a team effort garage sale, with layers and boxes upon boxes of clothing, collectibles, and other random knick knacks so we made quite an impression and I would say 95% of the people that stopped by our sales had purchased something from us no matter how small the amount.  

Sooooo... want to know the tips now?

-People actually wake up early on weekends and shop garage sales solely, sometimes even look for specific items that usually sell for an expensive price tag such as furniture, vintage collectibles, video games, barely worn shoes, housing decor.

-You may post up a sign for 8:00am but there are always people who will drive by earlier than the posted hour to try to nab the better stuff of your sale first before you actually "open" to and sell everything to the public. If you know ahead of time this will be an inconvenience for you, remark on your advertisement that you don't want any "early birds" or "no early sales."

-If you really want a certain price for an item, try to sell it a dollar or two higher than what you're expecting because when people bargain, they really try to nail a bullseye for a deal. For instance, I had a blush compact that retails at $24.00 from a famous french makeup line. However, of course, it's a garage sale and you can't expect that from anyone especially if you didn't want the item in the first place. So, I put a sign that said $15.00 and a woman went as low as $4.00 on her offer yet that was more than I really expect as I at least wanted $3.00 for it.  

-Like I said, it doesn't matter how much your product retails for or how new it is - the bottom line is that it's a garage sale, ok? Don't ask for $100 for your Coach sneakers that were given to you as a gift last Christmas but you never wore them because they were hideous. The most you'll probably get for them would be $20.00.  

-If by the last couple hours of the sale, you hadn't earned as much as you were hoping for, then your prices either are too high or other factors are affecting your sale such as multiple garage sales going on at once - hence, that's why people shop so early so they have time to go to other sales and compare.

-BE CAREFUL. WE HAD PLENTY OF ITEMS STOLEN. Just because it's a garage sale, doesn't mean you should be loose with your goods. Think of them as dollar signs unless you really don't care about making a good sale to make the most out of your experience. We had items stolen such as cosmetics, jeans, a jacket, and a flat iron (hair straightener).

-Don't sell anything that may get you in trouble. No drugs, guns, prescription medicines, over the counter medicines, bombs, pornography, alcohol, cigars/cigarettes, media that suggests violence and unlawful behavior, raunchy lingerie, homecooked meals/food (people have allergies, sensitivities, illnesses, or digestive issues that they may accuse you of stirring up if any symptoms become prominent after eating your goods.).

-Be fair. Just because that darling old lady walks by for her morning stroll every morning and waves to you with a smile doesn't mean you can't give the same discount you gave to her to the man in a leather biker vest with an I love Becky tattoo on his arms. People go to garage sale to get the best deals, save money, have a good experience, and in return - they may leave the garage sale and spread the word about your good services and prices.

-Have lots of store bags ready to put items in when people buy them. A couple of our customers were joggers just passing by and it was a convenience for them to hold them put until they got home without having them falling all over the place.

-I can't express this enough - customer service. Have you ever walked into a department store and didn't buy something because a certain somebody was acting snobby towards you? The same goes here. This is your personal store and regardless of who stops by and how they act towards you, it should be in your best interest to give them the best sales experience ever. You might just meet a friend or two this way as well.

-Present everything in a way that people will want to buy the items. For instance, clothes that were neatly folded on the table and laid out were more sold efficiently as opposed to the ones thrown in a box on the floor. No one wants to be bending down the whole time searching or sitting on the floor either; it's uncomfortable- especially on a warm day when the cement is way too hot to touch. Don't just put your collectibles on a table and stick things in boxes wherever it lands. Arrange them as to making them look like a pretty site as how you would want them to look on a store display or in the home itself if you were rearranging. Many items will clash but you have to coordinate as best as you can to get people drawn to the garage sale. Maintain this through out the day. No one who comes mid day will want to shop at a sloppy sight where they think they're just getting what is left over but what is still there that is waiting for them to take home.

-Change. You'll need spare change. Twenty one dollar bills and a roll of quarters would be ideal to start with. In the early day, many people won't bother breaking down their bills to shop at a garage sale.

-Play some upbeat music to get people feeling good. Don't play sad songs. It will make people depressed. Don't blare it either. Keep it at a good easy listening level as if you're hearing it while walking through a store.

-Greet and welcome everyone in a courteous manner with a smile.

-Encourage family members and friends who don't want items to do sales with you so you can attract customers with a bigger display and variety of items or have them just give you the items they really don't care selling and earn a chunk of change for yourself!

Shopping at a garage sale:

-Don't show how much money you are carrying with you or dress extravagantly. This will encourage sellers to raise prices according to their own personal judgement.

-Don't be afraid to bargain. Many sellers often just want to get rid of the item or get whatever they can for it.  

-You're more likely to be cut a deal if you select a few items out instead of one or two. Instead of asking the seller how much each item is, ask how much it would be for all of the items you are holding. You may be given a very good price as the seller sees an effort of you trying to buy many of their goods.

-Don't haggle way beyond unreasonable though. Garagle sales are put on for a reason - to make money. Don't offer anyone $5.00 for a $550 Gucci bag that still has the original price tag on it. Be fair and likewise, people will be fair to you.

-If you have children or moving into a new home, this is where you will find the best deals. I found a beautiful bedroom in a bag complete set in a satin light blue and gold pattern that retails for over $300.00 at Macy's for only $20.00 with the original price tag still on it and has never been used. I found fine china dishes for $.10 each. Got kids? I bought a full tool bench playkit for only $3.00 Many board games were sold for $1.00 and even some of their pieces were sold separately so if you are missing pieces from your own games, I suggest visiting a garage sale.  

-Know that a garage sale is a great place for finds period. It's not just used item resale event type of deal. Many items that I saw were still in original shrinkwrap or packaged, new with tags, or hardly ever used. My best friend got the best deal on a pretty photo frame that was still unopened for only $0.25.

-This one is obvious - no returns or exchange. Inspect the items you're interested in before you fork over the cash. It's the worst inconvenience to go through the hassle finding the location of the seller three days later because that singing duck wasn't right for you and it just wouldn't shut up. If you paid a dollar for it, just toss it away or give it away. You'll spend your energy and money driving back to the place to get that dollar you spent that you just spent again getting there. Plus, you never know if the party holding the garage sale was in dire need of money to pay something off. Don't be greedy.