So, you’ve read my recent article on tips for successful garage sales, but you were interested in a follow-up post?
Well look no further!
Here, I’ll get a little deeper into how to price and sell your goods successfully to make money at a garage sale.
Consider the Price
The biggest mistake that people make when they hold a garage sale is overestimating the value of their wares. Yes, we generally hold garage sales because we’re looking to make some money, but that also comes along with accepting that something can’t be sold at retail price in a garage sale.
Put more simply, you need to be putting a 75-90% discount on the items you are selling.
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This is a little bit harsh, from the perspective of the original owner. Especially if you’re selling something that you have a personal history with. But it is necessary, because few customers are going to want to pay top dollar for your “used goods.” Yes, even if they’re still brand new!
If you’re really looking to clear out some space in your house, you need to price your goods to move (which means that you’re practically giving it away.) There are a few ways to go about this, one of which is to decrease the cost of things throughout the day. Perhaps you’re selling things at a 70% when you open, but you’re selling for a 90% discount by the end of the day.
Another way to accomplish big volume is by putting “blanket” prices on different types of items. If you have, for example, dozens and dozens of dishes that you wish to sell, you can knock the price of all dishware down to .25¢ or so. It’s a similar principle to the way a dollar store works– people love this type of pricing, and it will get those products really moving.
When you’re trying to move things by volume, you can even hand out shopping bags to incentivize your customers to buy more. Many people won’t think twice about filling a bag to the brim with clothes when they’re all 50¢ a piece.
If you want to sell expensive items, it is probably best not to try to sell them at the garage sale itself. A customer at a garage sale isn’t going to care if your guitar is a ’67 Strat, so I recommend that you try to sell those types of items to more niche consumers. You can find these people on Craigslist or eBay, usually.
What about selling non-bulk items?
There are a few ways to go about moving your other, individual items, such as old electronics and different types of housewares.
- Use the “blanket pricing” strategy from up above.
- Mark difficult items with an “OBO” (or best offer) price. It works in your favor to accept the buyer’s best offer on listed items. Oftentimes, you might not be able to get your exact listing price in return for your products, but customers will be willing to make a counter-offer. It’s good to learn your way around this type of situation, in case you don’t already have bartering skills. And sometimes customers will actually offer you more than what you would have originally sold it for!
- Put them down to half off if they aren’t selling. Nothing draws attention to a product like a price slash, especially since things are already marked down for the garage sale!
- Use bulk deals. I touched on that a bit up above when talking about cheap clothes, but this applies to your other products as well (like books or toys.) Pitch the idea to your customers that they can get X item at a certain rate if they buy more of it. This is a great way to sell something you have a lot of, or just want to get rid of.
What about selling my leftovers?
When you’re trying to really clean out with a garage sale, the stuff you’ll often find yourself the most bogged down by will be the leftovers. It’s not difficult to get customers to buy the stuff that’s a really great deal, but what about the remains after that?
What you do with the leftovers will depend on what exactly is left over. Of course, if you have some nice stuff, or collectible items, you always have the option discussed up above about going through eBay or a similar site.
And I’m ruling out the option of having a second day of garage sales just to sell your loose ends, so what else is there to do about it?
The best option for getting rid of all your odds and ends is by selling them in a bundle. You might think that nobody would buy a bundle of random things, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those of you who have used Craigslist before are no doubt familiar with “curb alerts,” and this is the same idea.
If you have radios, dishes, whatever else, and sell it in a discount bundle, there is no doubt that people will come for it.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Take a picture of your garage sale itself: It’s pretty easy to recognize one at a glance, so the point of your picture is to catch the attention of people who are on Craigslist looking for this sort of thing.
2. Make the post and include the picture: In the description, make sure you write about what’s inside the bundle. People will be willing to buy bundles, but not without knowing what’s in them!
3. List it under “For Sale” in the “General” field.
4. list your phone number/address (if you don’t mind people contacting you): This will make people more likely to contact you, since there is no message-and-response waiting. It is more efficient, but not a desirable option for people who want to remain relatively private.
It’s important when someone contacts you to buy your bundle that you make it clear that you intend on selling it as a large chunk. If you don’t make this clear, people will obviously try to avoid buying the miscellaneous bits of your bundle– don’t let that happen!
The whole point is to move your leftovers out, so make sure you are clear with your buyer.
Even when you’re selling leftovers, it is important to price according to what you’re selling. If it’s a load of partially antiquated electronics (think CRT monitors, “fatback” TVs, CD/Radios) you probably won’t be pricing much more than $25-$35 dollars for a bundle.
If you are selling other things like furniture, appliances, you can probably put the bundle higher– $50-$75 will likely do it. Remember that there is a give-and-take with pricing items in this situation: you can price in favor of your profits, but that’s going to directly equal out to a lower amount of people trying to buy it.
On that note, it’s a general rule of garage sales/bundle sales that you should not hold items for anyone. It’s an “early bird” type of situation; creating too much obligation has a high chance of frustrating you in the end, so it’s best to get it done in the simplest way.
For the best results, list your bundles mid-way through your garage sale so that the buyers can filter in before you close up for the day.
Sometimes buyers will try to take part in the garage sale once they arrive, but it is recommended to separate the transactions. Exchange the money, give them the bundle, and let them load it up– then they can come and start buying things from the sale.
Unfortunately, garage sales have a pretty high rate of theft, so you need to make sure you’re keeping as tight a leash as you can on the situation.