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Home > Tips and Hints > Garage Sale ideas and tips from a frugal Mum - Part 1

Garage Sale ideas and tips from a frugal Mum - Part 1
By Deborah Taylor-Hough
Monday, 2 June 2008
Viewed : 28138 time(s)
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About the Author

Deborah Taylor-Hough

Iím Deborah Taylor-Hough, author of several books including Frugal Living For Dummies(r) and Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month.

Deborah Taylor-Hough has written 2 article(s) for egaragesales.

Last year I held a four day Garage Sale that was successful beyond my wildest dreams. I thought I'd share some of the ideas I used during my sale last year in case anyone else is thinking about holding a Garage Sale or Yard Sale now that Spring Cleaning and Summer weather is well underway.

To begin with, I planned the sale for more than the typical one or two days. For my most recent sale, I decided on four days -- Wednesday through Saturday. I'm glad I decided to go for the longer sale starting earlier in the week. Many shoppers stopped by just out of the novelty of seeing a Garage Sale being held on a day different from Friday/Saturday. Also, holding a Sale on an "off" day when there aren't other Sales going on is beneficial because people aren't holding onto their pennies, waiting to see if there's something better at the next sale down the road. If you're the only game in town, they buy rather than browse.

I placed two separate ads in the local paper. The first ad covered the sale for Wednesday and Thursday. The second ad was for Friday and Saturday. I thought that if I had just one ad that said the sale goes from Wednesday to Saturday, fewer people would show up on the last two days of the sale -- from reading the ad, they would probably think all the good stuff had already been picked over.

Be sure to double-check your ad when it appears in the paper. One of the days my ad ran, the newspaper misprinted some information. I called the paper about it and they refunded my money.

Also, the longer your ad, the better. Most Garage Sale advertisements are fairly short, but longer ads stand out better amidst long listings of Garage Sales. Try to list things individually: furniture, clothing, small appliances, toys, baby items, blankets, collectibles, etc. If there's anything special about your sale, mention it. I put in my ad that my sale contained five generations of junk ... umm ... well, I actually wrote "treasures" in the ad itself.

I collected bags and boxes full of all sorts of stuff from family and friends. I just told people I was going to be having a Garage Sale, and if they had anything they were going to be getting rid of, I'd be happy to come by and pick it up for my sale. Everyone I approached was more than happy to contribute some of their "gently used" and not-so-gently used items to my sale.

When choosing what to display at your sale, don't sort things out according to what you think will sell and what you think won't. Try to sell everything! What's junk to one person is often someone else's treasure! Even broken appliances can be sold for parts. And don't throw out your old magazines. Stick them all in a box and sell them for a quarter a piece.

You'll be amazed at the things that sell. The hot items at my sale were tacky (to me) costume jewelry, children's clothing, assorted gift items and sheet music from the 20's and 30's. At my suggestion, customers were buying the sheet music to frame for wall decorations. Then later in the day, a collector came along and offered to buy all the remaining sheet music for a sizeable amount.

Think "store" when you're setting up your sale. Try to think of how traffic patterns of browsing customers would walk around your garage. You want people to feel comfortable as they browse and shop. You don't want them just running in, glancing at a mess of junk, and running right back out the door.

Before my sale, I emptied out the garage, swept it clean, and then set up three long tables in rows running from front to back of the garage. Since I had so much junk (treasures, I mean), I also had two long rows of tables out in the driveway, plus multiple boxes filled with odds and end (i.e.: "Everything in this Box - 25 cents"). I borrowed folding tables from family and friends, made makeshift tables from plywood placed over large cardboard boxes, etc. Then I covered all the tables with light colored sheets (preferably plain colors with subtle or no patterns). The sheet-strewn tables looked nice and also helped to show off the items displayed. Make certain your garage is well lit for the sale day.

Arrange your tables according to categories: all kitchen stuff on one table, bedding on another, clothes on another, gift items grouped together, jewelry displayed next to a mirror, etc. Decide in advance which categories of stuff you have, and then sort your items. It's so much easier for people to find things they want if they can look at a table and think, "Ah, ha! Kitchen stuff!" or "Oh! How nice ... a table of gift items!"

For Part Two of this article, click here.

Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times and Bright-Kids email newsletters. She's also the author of the popular book, Frozen Assets: how to cook for a day and eat for a month, the newly released Frugal Living For Dummies(r) (Wiley, 2003), and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity.

You can find her website at

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