Be a Garage Sale Boss
Who doesn’t love a bargain? I certainly do, which explains why I’ve collected so much stuff over the years. Toys. Clothes. Kitchen Gadgets. Between my parents purging their leftovers onto me, whatever it is, I’ve probably owned two of it. It slowly piles high and takes over everything in my house, and when that happens, it makes me feel anxious and slightly – OK, seriously – overwhelmed. And that’s when I know it’s time for another garage sale.
Longtime readers will recognize these warning signs from the last time clutter made me almost institutionalized in a straightjacket (read about it here). And just like the last time, there’s only one thing to do: Let it goooooo like Elsa: And as I always say, if you don’t love something, set it free. And offload it in a giant tag sale.
I’m no stranger to selling stuff en garage. Honestly, my first memory of front-porch peddling was at the age of four when my parents had a garage sale in their first home. And my grandparents Sally & Punkin Dunaway were the master garage-sellers of all time. I guess this is where I got my knack, so I started hosting my own garage sales beginning in college when I attended SMU. I mean, a woman’s gotta purge when a woman’s gotta purge, amIright?
Over the years, I’ve honed my techniques to speed up sales and maximize profits while minimizing looky-loos and randos trying to sneak five-finger discounts. So, in the spirit of sweet deals, I’m going to give you my Top Ten Tips for Epic Garage Sales, absolutely free, so you, too, can be a Yard Sale Boss!
Christy Dunaway Smith’s Top Tips on How to Host an Epic Garage Sale
1. Plan Ahead
Epicness doesn’t just happen. It’s a process. Throughout the year, I collect merchandise around the house, price it, and then toss the unwanted and unused stuff into a few boxes that I keep in the garage. Usually, I start with the small stuff. Not everything gets set aside – I do sell some items on local FB pages, but I always make sure to keep plenty of fabulous big ticket items for my Epic Sale.
2. Monitor Quality from the Start
My garage sales are EPIC because I don’t sell junk. Before I toss stuff into the box, I make sure it works, it’s unstained, it’s got all the parts, and the batteries are still good.
3. Be a Great Hostess
I always serve Champagne and OJ at my garage sales. People love hospitality, and you’d be surprised what people decide they need to buy after chugging a Mimosa!
4. Get Your Family Into the Act
My sales always include lots of items donated from my parents home (they purge too), and sometimes the boys will sell donuts, kolaches, and lemonade. It takes a village to sell stuff to villagers!
5. Be Social but Stay Safe
I genuinely love people, and I genuinely enjoy chatting with strangers, and dogs for that matter, from all walks of life. Through all the years I’ve been hosting garage sales, I’ve only experienced a few instances where someone has stolen from me. It sucked, but at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. Most important are my kids and ensuring their safety. If they’re on-site, they never leave my sight.
6. Sweeten the Pot
I always keep a 25¢ box filled with small toys and trinkets for kids to get a little something extra while rummaging with their parents. When adding up the total that people owe, I throw in a few of these tiny treats. It makes the parents feel like they got a bonus, and the kids love getting something new.
7. Make it Easy
I always mark my house with balloons and place a few signs at nearby intersections. In the past, I’ve hired off-duty police officers to manage crowd control and traffic flow – nothing kills a shopping mood like a bottlenecked traffic jam. We just invested in street cones to control the parking situation.
8. Getting the Word Out
When it comes to advertising our sale, I turn to social media. It’s effective, and the price is right! (Free!). I post on my personal FB page, in a few buy/sell and mommy forums on Facebook and on Next Door. I also create an event on FB to help guide people to our location, which becomes a reminder for them right before the sale starts.
9. Enlist the Troops
Never host a garage sale without several friends helping, especially during the first few hours. These thrifty shoppers come in droves and swoop in on all your slashed-to-sell goodies as soon as you open the gates! I always have 4-6 people helping me with the sale, and I pay them in $100 credit towards their purchase of my seconds.
10. Be Smart about Pricing
Here’s my unofficial pricing method: Depending on the age and condition of the items, we usually mark things between 50%-90% off retail. If it’s a brand new item with or without tags, or something super unique or vintage, I do a little research to see what that item is selling for on eBay, The Real Real or 1stDibs. And then I mark accordingly to align with a similar price point that was listed.