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The Art of the Garage Sale: Tips for Clearing Out Before Moving On

Whether you’re downsizing or moving across the country, your bottom line is this: get rid of anything nonessential ASAP. Hoping we’d offer any solution other than a garage sale?

We get it-you’re pressed for time and energy prior to a move, but this one-and-done sale is your best bet for clearing house before moving on. How can you ensure the juice is worth the (somewhat time-consuming and exhausting) squeeze? Follow these steps for garage sale success:

Plan for Your Garage Sale

– Save the date. You may not have time on your side but think strategically before picking an arbitrary date. If possible, choose a Saturday free of local morning events that could hinder potential buyers. If there’s an upcoming community sale you can tack yours onto, just say yes! You’re guaranteed some traffic from the marketing of participants.

– Market your sale … everywhere. Speaking of marketing, it’s a fact: Marketing drives sales. Yes, you’ll want to have clearly labeled signs (all the same color) directing to your home the day of. But what about leading up to the big day? A few days prior, post notice of your sale on mobile apps and online sites like OfferUp, LetGo, and Craigslist, boasting photos and keywords of leading items. This will put you on the “not to miss” list for avid sale-goers.

– Don’t let Mother Nature steal your thunder. Like any outdoor event, you can’t control the weather. There’s only so much you can do. But keeping tabs on the forecast can help you prepare. If it’s scheduled to downpour, moving the date could be beneficial. If you can’t reschedule, consider having — and marketing it as — an indoor garage sale. Just make sure to clearly differentiate what’s for sale and what’s not.

Collect These Items Before the Big Sale

– Stock up on essentials. Start saving grocery bags. Many buyers won’t expect this, but the convenience factor alone can dictate whether they leave with a handful or an armful. Purchase some painter’s tape to price items — it’s easier to remove than stickers and bright enough to stand out. Stock up on cash and change. You don’t want a buyer leaving that piece of furniture they love simply because you don’t have enough change.

– Assemble your garage sale tribe. Talking others into helping you host a garage sale is like finding someone to help you move. You find out who your real friends are. Are friends or family willing to assist? Embrace it! Extra arms come in handy when buyers need help moving large pieces (anything to keep the purging process moving). Offer to let them sell their own items or give them a small cut of your profit. If you can’t twist any arms, see if they can spread the word verbally or on social media, if applicable to where you live.

– Gather as many money-makers as possible. Drive-by buyers are more attracted to abounding finds rather than a table with a few figurines. When assessing items to sell, include anything that’s not begging to be trashed (despite your emotional attachment). Almost trash time? Include items in a “FREE” section at your sale to keep clutter moving.

Style Your Sale to Turn Heads and Cars Around

– Position eye candy in plain view. You only have a few seconds to convince potential buyers in the comfort of their car that your sale is worth stopping for. Make it count by featuring your best items at the forefront. Larger furniture, blatant brand names, and colorful pieces will help draw in a crowd that’s contemplating stopping at your sale.

– Dress each item with the best possible price. Here comes the hard part. Because the goal is to get rid of everything, be realistic when pricing your used items. A sale full of overpriced products is sure to turn people off and away. Remember that buyers can’t see the emotional value (nor do they care-sorry!) this item has in your eyes. They’ve dedicated their Saturday to garage sales because they want the lowest possible price.

– Help buyers envision the potential. Group like items to create mini vignettes. For example, stack some books and a lamp you’re selling onto a desk for sale. Hang clothing on a rack so that an appealing dress is more apt to catch eyes than if it was shoved in a cardboard clothes box. Helping buyers envision how they could use your items through staging is certainly an extra step — but it’s one worth taking for the extra profit.

Reassess Once the Sale Storm has Cleared

– Consider a second-day sale. Are you really going to want to do this all over again the next day? No. Will it offer you a last chance to purge lingering items? Absolutely. At the end of the sale, assess whether a Sunday sale would be worth it. It’s a way to capture churchgoers — and you won’t be competing with many other sales. Blanket everything as 50% off the marked price. The goal at this point is to clear it out once and for all.

– Donate, donate, donate. Whether you decide to have a second-day sale or not, the final purging step is to drop off items at a Goodwill or Salvation Army. You’ll be helping others with your donations and you’ll be able to consider it a tax write-off. Score!


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