May 5, 2009

What's your best offer?

'Tis that time of year again - the neighborhood garage sale. I love, love garage sales. Holding them and cruising them. This year, I have already scored a Mega Blocks alternative to the muy expensive Legos Duplos version. 150 piece set for $6! And yes, the two versions can be used together. And yes, I dickered the price down from $7. Because if nothing else, I am a cheap whore.

I am quite stressed about my garage sale this year - I had tons of stuff boxed, organized with some of it already priced in our basement, but during a family gathering at my house, the kids ransacked the boxes. Add this to some major procrastination on my part and now I am finding myself wound pretty tight this week.

But, I know it will be worth it. A garage sale allows me to clean through my shit - metaphorically and physically. I know that come Sunday, I will be jangling pockets full of dimes and nickels with a gleeful satisfaction that is only brought on by dragging my junk out to my own front yard and watching it get hauled away by someone else willing to actually pay me for the priviledge.

A few weeks ago, Goofy Girl asked for some tips on having a garage sale. I wrote a quickie email, but thought it was worth a post as well!

Helpful Hints for Your Next Garage Sale/ Yard Sale/ Tag Sale
  1. Overall, I really recommend having a designated space for donation/garage sale items - be it a box, a closet, or corner of your basement (lucky me!) this will go a long way in identifying sale items. I throw things into the Garage Sale Corner all! year! long! Seriously, it is such a time saver.
  2. If you do not have a desiganted spot in your house, allow yourself a few months for this step: begin going through every nook, cranny, closet and room of your home. The simplest way? Take a garbage bag and a box with you everywhere you go throughout the house. Garage sale? Goes in box. Goodwill? Goes in garbage bag.
  3. When you have all your stuff in boxes, designated for the garage sale, this is a good time to park your ass in front of the TV and catch up on your DVR backlog while you price things. I buy garage sale stickers, that makes it go much more quickly.
  4. Tips for pricing your garage sale items? First, keep in mind this is a garage sale - this is not eBay or Craigslist. Folks coming to your driveway want a steal, not a deal. The general rule of thumb is to price things about a quarter to a third to a quarter of what they cost new, but only if the item is fairly new to begin with. The bigger item? The bigger the price tag! Putting a pink dot sticker on a sofa is silly and just creates work for a potential buyer as they hunt for the price tag.
  5. As things are priced, this is the time to set them in the garage. Make it a rule, only priced things go in the garage, it will be easier to keeps thing sorted.
  6. The day before the sale, get about $25 dollars in change. I get about $1 in dimes, 50 cents in nickels, $5 in quarters, $10 in ones and and $10 in fives. Early on the 1st day, you will be receiving loads of $20 bills as folks make change for the rest of the day (if you are holding the sale a 2nd day, you will already have plenty of change to hand out!)
  7. The day of the sale? Be prepared for Early Birds. They come every year, worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. These are the folks who cruise garage sales before they officially open and begin digging through your boxes as you are unpacking them in your driveway. Many of them are "professionals" - folks who are hoping to score some gold in a pile of pyrite so that they can turn around and sell it in their rented space in your local antique mall. Some of these folks can get a bit aggressive with their dickering as well.
  8. Display? Drag big-ticket and/or more desirable items closer to the curb. I will be hauling a freakin' desk and loads of "big" baby toys to the curb this year.
  9. Ah, dickering. Haggling on prices is fun - as a buyer, I do it myself. However, most White People do not like to dicker. Steel yourself mentally towards this - on high priced items, decided how low you will go. Stick to your guns, folks! If someone offers an insulting price, just politely say "No." That's it. In general, when holding a 2 day sale, I dicker less on the first day.
  10. Handling the money? I prefer to keep the money on my body - a box is too easily lost or stolen. Therefore, I wear pants with pockets - as the $20 bills pile up, those get taken into the house. Also, when giving change after someone hands you a large bill, lay the bill down on a table as you count the change to prevent confusion or a possible scam (ie. someone claiming they gave you a $20 bill, when they really gave you a $10 bill.)

I suspect I am forgetting something, but I just came across this site called Yard Sale Queen - these are tons of great tips here as well!


kristen said...

Great tips! We live out in the country so it isn't worth holding our own sale. We have to wait to go in with someone in town. I wish we had a community wide sale so I wouldn't have to drive around so much. Hope you get lots of dimes and nickels. Maybe even a few quarters!

Greg said...

No tips on how to identify fake $20 bills (or how to print them???) or what to do with that asshat who brings the Kennedy half-dollars that make you sound like Yosemite Sam when you are walking around with change?

We have items that are garage sale worthy and our 'burb hosts a big weekend event so you don't even need to advertise. (Hell, if you AREN'T having a sale, you have to keep your garage door closed or you might find yourself negotiating on your car!) I'm hoping we can either get in on a neighbor's deal or actually have the cojones to put out a table of our own. Speaking of: if you get in on a neighbor's market, are there any customary points you give them from your profits? Or do you just tell them that is the fee for letting their kids come over to your house and ransack your fridge?

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Great tips! My parents' garage sales always involve a tale of someone trying to buy one of their cats.

Rozanne said...

You obviously know your stuff. My parents always had an annual garage sale and were avid "garagers" themselves and I often joined them.

How well I remember the Early Birds and their aggressiveness. My mom def. had Early Bird tendencies and would just scoff when she saw a garage sale ad that stated "No Early Birds" and show up at 7:30 AM anyway.

Mojavi said...

while I love love love going to yardsales... I will never ever ever ever have one ever ever again... i just load that crap up and drop it off at goodwill... tax receipt in hand! you get way more on the tax value than at a yardsale anyway lol

A. Nonny Mouse said...

Regarding early birds, a friend of a friend posted a sign at the bottom of her driveway that said "Early birds pay double." When someone came up and started shopping, she very nicely pointed out the sign and said they weren't open yet. The person continued shopping and was OK with paying double the marked prices. Another early bird was less happy about it, but she was told (again, nicely) that they weren't open yet and if she didn't want to pay double, she could come back when they were open.

I'm not planning to (EVER) have a garage sale, but if I did, I would totally use that strategy.

Goofy Girl said...

First off wanted to send a huge THANK YOU to Cagey for the tips! Our sale went great. I had NO IDEA that they made pre-printed garage sale stickers with prices already on them. This tip ALONE saved me hours. And the stickers cost a whopping buck at the grocery store.

As usual, I added my typical Goofy spin to this event. I figured hundreds of churches couldn't be wrong, so I added a small Bake Sale to my garage sale. The banana bread FLEW out the door, priced at $3 a half-loaf. Great profit there! Brownies just melted, so avoid those. Chocolate chip cookies sold modestly.

Also, take a peek at for books, DVDs and computer games you are ready to sell. You might be able to fetch more selling them there than a garage sale.

IzzyMom said...

I have TOTALLY had people try the "Hey, I gave you a twenty!" thing on me. But I'm diving in and having another yard sale soon so I'll be referring back to this list so I don't screw it up!