Most of our items were listed under $1 (the highest priced items we sold went for $20). We sold a lot of clothing, shoes, toys, purses, and other smaller household items. After all was said and done, we profited about $240, which we've designated to go toward remodeling a bedroom in our basement.
Here's what I learned after all was said and done:
1. Prep ahead of time!
I began collecting items months in advance for the sale, from my own home as well as from family members who were getting rid of items. I kept them in a somewhat organized pile in our basement. I also began organizing, cleaning, and pricing items about a month before the sale and all the way up to the day before. Especially with the abundance of clothing we had to sell, it took me a while to wash and iron them all (this step is important, too). The nicer your items look the more likely they are to sell.
2. Have help.
I'm so thankful for my hubby and my father-in-law, who were helping hands the day of the sale. My father-in-law watched our busy three year old for the day (a tremendous help) and Jesse was my assistant who helped carry heavy items, watched the baby, and gave me breaks throughout the day to eat and go to the bathroom. Another selling helper might have been even better, to be out with me while the sale was going on, as I often wasn't able to watch the items well while assisting people, and unfortunately, some did get swiped (which leads to my next point).
3. Be prepared for stolen items.
I figured some items may get stolen, but I was actually surprised at the frequency with which it happened, since I didn't have a lot of valuables or high prices. My recommendation after this past sale is to keep items that may be considered more desirable closer to where you'll be stationed most of the time and in good sight.
4. Wear your money.
Use a fanny pack (so fashionable, I know) or a purse that is strapped to your body to keep your change in it. Otherwise, someone else may make a great profit on your sales. It's human nature.
5. Have a lot of cash.
I took out a lot of cash for this sale, over $100, and we still had to send Jesse's dad to the bank to get more! A lot of people paid with $20 dollar bills for a couple dollar sales. Have at least a roll of quarters, dimes, and nickels. Also, we had (3) $10 bills, (8) $5 bills, and (20) $1 bills. More $1 bills were needed.
6. Price right.
As a garage sale shopper and seller, I've learned that garage sales have a lower standard for prices than other venues (eBay, thredUp.com/consignment shops/Craigslist/etc...) and people expect a bargain. I only put out clothes, for the most part, that I know I would have trouble selling on eBay or other "higher standard" venues. I also marked them low (25 cents each or fill-a-bag for $2) as this draws in crowds, especially for kids clothing! Never underestimate mommas looking for a bargain... list it low and they will come! :) We also had a few items that I wasn't in a hurry to get rid of, such as a nice travel system stroller/car seat set. I knew also that I could sell this well on Craigslist, so I listed it at a price I was happy with and stuck to my guns.
7. Give yourself some wiggle room for negotiators.
A lot of people will try to negotiate your prices lower. Mark items a tad bit higher than what you would happily sell them for so that you're prepared to barter.
To get those crowds of mommas and other bargain-seekers, advertise! There is a separate section on Craigslist where you can list your garage sale. Trust me, people use this. I put an ad up the Monday before the sale, re-posted it the day before, and adjusted it the day of (letting people know when I slashed prices as well as when items were free). Use an enticing title (mine was "Baby/Kid Clothes for 25 cents, HUGE Community Sale Day") and a thorough description of the main items you are selling. If you are selling clothing, list the gender and sizes. Also, give a general price for a variety of items... and don't forget your address. ;)
I also traveled to the next town 5 miles away and put up bright posters informing people of our community sale. Take down your signs afterwards! :)
9. Take advantage of community sales.
This is especially important if you live in a rural area or smaller town. We live in an area where most people would consider out-of-the-way and we probably wouldn't get a lot of customers if we held a solo sale. However, our community holds a townwide sale each year and I think it's well worth it. People from larger cities 15-20 miles away are more likely to travel to our sale if they know there are a multitude of other sales happening. Plus, there's just a lot of people from our town out shopping, too! For a small fee, we were able to put our sale on a map and use the town's resources for advertising.
10. Be prepared for early birds.
If you list your sale start time at 8am, be prepared for early birds at 7:30am. I personally don't mind these early birds, because they are passionate shoppers! I just make sure to have most of my inventory set up ahead of time so that I'm not frazzled with the early shoppers.
11. Label and organize items by type.
If you have a lot of clothes, organize them on tables or clothes racks by gender and size. Label what kind and size of clothing they are. Keep other like-items together, such as kitchen items on one table and electronics on another. Easy-to-understand and attractive displays will bring people in and will often cause them to buy more.
12. Offer reduced prices after lunch.
Volume of customers will significantly decrease after lunch time. I started marking down all clothing after 1pm to ten cents each. At 2:30pm, everything became free (I took inside items that I wasn't wanting to giveaway). We didn't want to lug in a lot of items afterwards, and the delight of people to find out things are free really is priceless.
13. Have an extension cord ready.
If you're selling electronics, be prepared for people to want to plug in your items to see if they work.
14. Play music!
We set up a stereo and played a Christian radio station all day. It helped create a more relaxed, uplifting environment, passed the time more quickly for me, and presented the Gospel!
15. Have a let-go mentality.
It helps to have a "let-go" mentality with your items. Garage sales are awesome at clearing out your clutter. If someone makes a reasonable offer on an item, we accept it. By the end of the day, we gave things away. These were items we no longer wanted and we held them with an open hand during the sale.
16. Have a variety of items and prices.
Go through every bit of your home and get rid of items you no longer use. You may be surprised at what will sell! We put out opened bottles of lotions, cleaning supplies, etc... listing them for 10-50 cents, and they sold quite well. Also, magazines sold for 10 cents. Keep a good range of prices 10 cents to a few dollars.
17. Donate the leftovers.
We were contacted by multitudes of charities via our Craigslist ad asking for us to donate our leftovers. This is a wonderful way to give what didn't sell. Most organizations will even come and pick up your items.