Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Run a Garage Sale: A Guide for Newbies and Yankees

Rule #1: When in doubt, don't do it. A garage sale is a huge and ridiculous amount of work, an insane amount of work, and you have to get up really early, to boot. If you are a Yankee or a newbie, you may possibly need to borrow a sarcastic Southern momma to help you.

Rule #2: If you're going to do it, do it up right. Do not be one of those garage sales with a couple of tables slung out in the yard with nothing on them but some baby clothes and Christmas ornaments--nobody wants that shit. No, if you're going to do it, then challenge yourself to sell every single blessed thing that you can possibly part with and still remain sound in health and heart. Be ruthless.

We didn't have to worry about this part in Matt's Grandma's house, because the entire reason we were there was to help the family clear out her entire house--I don't quite understand the whole plan, but apparently, Grandma Bangle is illegally immigrating to Mexico. No, seriously.

Rule #3: Sell the Cheesehead.
Rule #4: Figure out if you're having your garage sale to make a lot of money, or to get rid of a lot of stuff. If you want to make a lot of money, price high, haggle, and box your unsold merch up and store it in your attic until the next garage sale--my Aunt Pam does this, because she is like the Arkansas garage sale queen. If you want to get rid of all your stuff, price low, accept any offer, and get the remaining junk off to Goodwill by 4:00 pm.

Grandma's garage sale was in the "get rid of stuff" category, which is my favorite of the two.

Rule #5: Key words for your newspaper article: tools, furniture, computer equipment, video games, craft supplies. Thank god Grandma Bangle is a quilter, and Grandpa Bangle was a woodworker.

Rule #6: Do not sell the awesome stuff. Give it to the redneck momma who's helping you:
This includes sewing supplies, stash fabric, 80s vinyl record albums, old board games, vintage wooden map puzzles with missing pieces, Contact paper, commemorative iron-on patches--you know, awesome stuff.

Rule #7: Have really good signs. Make them really big, on big neon poster board, written with big black letters, and arrange them at every turn leading from the biggest main road in all directions from the house. EVERY turn, even if the only other option is a dead end--people are stupid. Put these signs up the night before the sale.

Rule #8: Price with colored dots color-coded to prices, or masking tape in which you write in amounts. If more than one person is working the sale, price EVERYTHING, or on the day of the sale everybody will eventually figure out that if they want a deal on the coffee table that the one redneck lady said is $30, they should just find the uncle from Germany and ask HIM what the price is--he'll take $5.

Rule #9: Do not price anything at 10 cents or five cents. Quarters and bills only. If the uncle from Germany wants to accept dimes, that's his business.

Rule #10: You'll need at least $50 in ones and $20 in quarters. Don't break open that quarter roll until you have to, though--people will often bring their own change, and you'll possibly never need extras.

Rule #11: If you want to sell big stuff, you gotta take checks. NOBODY is going to go to a garage sale with 150 bucks in cash on hand to buy your china cabinet and the tacky glasses inside.

Rule #12: If you wanna actually get rid of big stuff, you gotta let people pick up later. Slap a SOLD sign on that china cabinet, tell the two ladies to come back between 3:00 and 5:00, and let them spend the rest of the day wrangling a pickup.

Some tricks to get rid of more stuff:
  • Find a box or bin you want to get rid of, fill it with like-minded stuff (sewing patterns, cassette tapes, silverware) and put one price for the box.
  • Put a bunch of crap you won't be able to sell into a really nice container (an antique toolbox, a cookie jar) and sell the container "with contents."
  • Give away stuff to kids.
  • If someone buys three coffee mugs, give her the other two.

Rule #13: Take a break to climb a tree:

Rule #14: No last-minute take-backs. If you're unhappy with a price or want to keep something back, either figure that out or make your peace with it BEFORE the sale.

Rule #15: If you're selling a little kid's stuff, get rid of that kid.

Rule #16: The golden hours for a garage sale are Saturday from 7:00 to 1:00 pm. If you sell on Friday, most people will be at work instead, but your stuff will still manage to look picked over by Saturday. If you don't start by 7:00 am on Saturday, you're going to miss a ton of people. If you go past 1:00 or sell on Sunday, too, people will show up already thinking that all you've got left is crap. And they'll be right.

Rule #17: Go ahead and set up all your stuff the night before. Just throw sheets over the tables to hide the stuff until the next morning. Seriously, who is going to steal from a garage sale?

Rule #18: Get rid of your cars--you'll need the parking.

Rule #19: Remove all your jewelry and prescription drugs from the bathroom. If a tearful preschooler or elderly man with a prostrate problem needs to use your bathroom, are you really cold-hearted enough to say no?

Rule #20: Starbucks in the morning and fast food at 11:00 come out of the profits. It's bad form to request a frappuccino or anything super-sized when you send in your order.

Matt and I were halfway planning to have our own garage sale this summer. I think we may put it off until next year.


Anonymous said...

GREAT, I mean, GREAT yard sale rules (and I'm going to be laughing at Grandma's plans until next week). If I remember tomorrow (and if the satellite internet connection gods will let me), I'm going to share your post on FB! Right now, I'm brain-dead.

julie said...

Yeah, the cost of living is much cheaper in Mexico? And her son-in-law is a doctor, and they live in Mexico City. So she's doing it up right, not living like a hippie on the beach, or something.

cake said...

oh, how i needed these rules while you were gone! i could have stopped at rules 1 and 2. we should have never had the sale in the first place. we were doing it with our neighbors, who are elderly, and moving to florida. (we are moving into their place when they go). i thought they'd have TONS of stuff, so it wouldn't matter that we only had toddler clothes and a few odds and ends.

but, they didn't have much either, and what they did have was over priced, and not terribly interesting.

i kept waiting for that mom with a two year old boy to show up, and clear out all the kid's clothes. but she never came. so, the clothes went to The Rise. we did price everything very low, and managed to get rid of a good amount of what we had out there. but, we also didn't make much money.

not counting cosmo's lemonade/cookie stand, we managed to rake in a whopping $18! thankfully, we didn't put much work into it, other than hanging out from 8-2pm on one of the hottest days we've had so far this year.

julie said...

Eighteen dollars??!! I am officially laughing so hard! Oh, dear, it sounds like one of my craft fairs!

I have SO much junk that I really need to have a garage sale, but I just don't think I'll be able to stomach it this year. My more modest goal is to get a ton of stash supplies up on etsy this week.