Saturday, August 8, 2009

Garage Sale Tips - first installment

I was out garage sailing today and it occurred to me that someone out there really needs to educate people on the right and wrong ways to have a garage sale.
So this is the first installment of how to have a garage sale.

Tip #1: Pricing.

If you are planning a garage sale thinking that you are going to sell accumulated junk and make a huge profit, forget it. I don't know how many times I hear this "Well I paid $145 for that last year and I am only asking $95 for it now." Well guess what, last year when you paid $145 for it, it was brand new, still in box, with warranty and had all the parts. Once it leaves the store its maximum garage sale price is 50% of retail. Maybe 75% if it's a really hot item. And that is new in box with all papers. If you want to have a successful garage sale I suggest you spend a couple of weekends browsing local sales and checking out their prices. Another thing I regularly hear is that a certain item is selling for X amount of dollars on Ebay. This ain't Ebay. Ebay is a worldwide market and has buyer protection policies (too much sometimes but that is an entirely different rant). This is a local market and if your are lucky you might just get 15 people look at the item. If you really want the Ebay price, list the item on Ebay. But let me tell you as a professional Ebayer, the market pretty much sucks right now.

Tip #2: Signage

Customers cannot buy your stuff if they do not know where you are. A good sign is worth the time and money you put into it. It does not have to be fancy and you do not need a full inventory on the sign. Remember, people looking at this sign are usually travelling about 35+mph, 15 if they are making a turn. They don't have time to read a novel nailed to a light post. The sign should be at least the size of a standard sheet of notebook paper (8 1/2 x 11 inches). Bigger is better. All you need on it is the word "SALE" and an arrow. A date would be nice too but this is really optional if you just remember to take the damn sign down. It is infuriating to spend 15 minutes chasing down a garage sale only to find a vacant house with a faded real estate sign in the front yard. Makes me want to call the real estate agent just so I can track down the jerk and staple the friggin' signs to his forehead. And the signs should be legible from at least 50 to 100 feet away. BOLD print too, no sharpies. Bright colors are nice but not necessary. I should not be seeing spots after looking at the sign. And if you are putting up signs in a residential area and put them up in someone else's front yard, ask them first. It's the polite thing to do and getting permission first will insure that you sign is not ripped up and thrown in the trash first time the owner comes home. I live on a corner lot, so I frequently have garage sale signs put up in my yard. I usually don't mind, but last year some idiot put up a sign with no directions on it without asking me. People thought the sale was at my house and were showing up angry because there was no sale.

Tip #3: Cleanliness

If you would not feel comfortable inviting your mother in law into your house, yard or garage, don't invite total strangers there. If my wife or I have to pull out a half dozen wet wipes or douse our hands in hand sanitizer as soon as we get back to the car then there is something wrong. When I walk up to a house and feel like I should be wearing full face respirator and Tyvek jumpsuit, most likely I will not be making a purchase. It is far more likely that I will just turn around and walk (or run) back to my car. Heavy smells of animal urine or feces will drive buyers away quicker than your crazy Uncle Leroy with a running chainsaw and bloody butcher's apron.

Well that's all for now. I'm sure someone will do something to piss me off next weekend and I will have some new tips.

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