Garage Sales, Yard Sales, Estate Sales

Garage Sales Gain Appeal in Recession

Check out this article from The Wichita Eagle.

Pam McCutcheon has a garage sale every spring, part of her annual pledge to purge unnecessary clutter. This year’s sale drew more shoppers than ever, she said. They were looking for basics at bargain prices. “I definitely think it’s the economy,” said McCutcheon, owner of the Clutter Cutter, a professional organizing business in Wichita. “Way more shoppers, and they’re buying things like clothes and shoes, not the decorative things.”

Garage sale season is getting under way, and in yet another sign of the recession, many families are holding sales out of necessity, hoping to earn extra money to make up for wage cuts or pay bills. Meanwhile, some buyers are new to the yard sale circuit.

“I believe that this year will see more garage sales than ever before,” said Bruce Littlefield, author of the 2007 book “Garage Sale America.” “The recession sort of shook us a little bit and made us realize we all have more than we really need. That includes big-ticket items.”

Littlefield, who maintains a blog about garage sales, said they are good for both sides. “The win for the seller is that they are getting rid of things that they no longer need or want, and they are getting some pocket change,” he said. “For the buyer, they are going to get things for dimes on the dollar, and they are going to discover that spending a little cash money is a lot easier at the end of the month when the credit card bill comes.”

Over the last year, garage sale postings on Craigslist have increased by 80 percent nationwide. The site has seen a “strong uptick” in garage sale postings as users “de-clutter their homes and make a few spare dollars to pad their wallets,” said spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best. Applications for garage sale permits in Wichita are up as well. Officials report 339 applications from January through March this year, compared with 196 for the same period last year.

At a citywide garage sale in Maize last weekend, Chad Jones of Colwich looked for bargains for his daughter. “I’d rather put my money into other people’s pockets than give it to the big companies,” he said. Jones was laid off from ICM about six months ago. He has found another job but says he “took about a half a pay cut.” “I think after the experience, I’ll be a little smarter with my money,” Jones said. “The layoff was definitely a learning experience.” He was accompanied by his mother, Donna Jones of Halstead, who picked up a car seat for one of her grandchildren. An older grandchild bought a $150 pair of shoes for $5 at a garage sale. “Even my grandchildren are doing it,” she said of shopping garage sales. “They know Mom and Dad can’t afford $150 shoes.”

Joann Westphal, who participated in the Maize citywide sale Saturday, said business was brisk. “Oh, my goodness! Yesterday, we weren’t even supposed to be open, and we did a land-office business,” she said as she rearranged merchandise. “Just more activity. And if it’s not a bargain, they’re not buying.”

What was selling?

“Furniture. Men’s stuff…. Tools. Hand tools. The practical stuff,” she said. “The bric-a-brac’s not selling very well.” Some sellers say that in the past, they donated belongings they no longer wanted. Now it’s different. In lieu of a tax write-off, they’re looking for some extra cash. “It’s great to make a little money off of stuff you don’t even need,” said McCutcheon, the professional organizer.

“And for shoppers, it’s great. You can’t get it any cheaper than a garage sale.”

Don’t Forget to Plan Ahead!

Fellow Garage Sale enthusiasts,

I thought I’d make a quick post about planning ahead. It’s weird how many people just charge headlong into a garage sale and end up under performing to their potential. It’s sad, really, because garage sales are a great way to clean out the clutter and make a few extra dollars. However, always remember to take time to plan it out, because without a plan, it’s easy to fall victim to garage-sale-related hazards. If you’re a garage sale veteran, you’ll already know that organization, customer service, and operation is key. If you would like to take some time to sit down and plan your garage sale effectively, here are a few tips to consider:

When are you going to sell? Check the weather, what events are in your area, and if others are having garage sales on the same day. If your neighbors are considering having a garage sale, why not combine forces? This would help distribute the crowd of customers as well as the parking situation, which I’ll explain later. Always give yourself around a week or two to gather everything up and make plans. Sometimes you are required to have a permit for garage sales, so check with your local city ordinance beforehand.

What are you selling? Don’t just throw open the garage door and let everyone have a free-for-all. You might end up mistakenly selling prized possessions. Pull items aside and make sure to ask if it’s OK to sell, and then write them down in a book along with the initial price you want to sell them for (however, always be prepared to haggle!). Listing out your items in a registry is key for seeing what items sold the quickest, evaluating possible theft, and having an exact tally of how successful your sale was. Another huge benefit of making a list is being able to group things together easily. You can even print out a small map of where your items are located. I would recommend always using removable tags to display a price. I cannot stress the number of items I’ve purchased at a yard sale that lost their value because they were disfigured by an annoying sticker or were directly wrote on with permanent marker.

Where are you going to sell?
Choosing a good location is crucial, since a bad one can ruin an otherwise successful garage sale. Take into account how many items you have, how big they are, and if they require tables. Sheets work well for boxes of items, while tables should be reserved for more fragile items. Be sure to “child proof” your items by placing them out of arms reach of small children, as many parents bring them along. If you’re selling electronics, I would recommend keeping these close to your house, and running an extension cable so that people can test them out. If manageable, leave them plugged in, so people can be assured of their working condition. Leave adequate space between items and groups so that people can browse in comfort rather than squeezing between each other.

Where is everyone going to park?
Always make sure you have a solid plan when it comes to dealing with parking; without one, things could spiral out of control as soon as people start showing up. Designate a wide open place, and make sure to let your customers know the parking arrangements beforehand (nothing angers your neighbors faster than having strange cars piling up in their driveway and lawn). Consider allowing people to park on your lawn, and ask around if it is O.K. to use other people’s driveways for spillover.

How are you going to make it interesting?
You have your time, items, and location; but why stop there? Break out of the ordinary garage sale by making a day of it. Have a Barbecue, or some other type of event. Find some friendly music to play during the sale. Invite people to browse your sale in a pleasant atmosphere. For an even better experience, get a few musicians together for some live music. Keep refreshments and snacks handy, but don’t forget to keep garbage cans around.

How are you going to deal with the public? I’ve mentioned above to let people know about parking ahead of time, but they should also know what time you’re starting. If you’ll accept early shoppers (”early birds”), let everyone know. Prepare yourself for all sorts of shoppers; most are harmless, but you might get a few eccentric people that could catch you off-guard. Plan out restroom arrangements, too, since people will ask about this. If you decide to let browsers use your restroom, make sure you escort them.

As the big day approaches, make sure you have enough supplies to last you through the day. Keep bags and boxes on-hand for customers, with newspaper to wrap fragile items, and be very sure to have an abundance of change. Get a money box to secure your money, and have one person to take everyone’s money as well as write down sales transactions. Be sure to note that all sales are final. Recruit a few helpers to ensure all of your operations run smoothly, and dedicate specific jobs to them. For an average sale I would recommend having 2 “walking helpers” to take questions and manage people. If you expect a lot of people, having someone to direct parking is also advisable.

It’s finally time to kick off your big event! Greet everyone warmly and make sure they understand where everything is, as well as your rules.
Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!

It’s Time to Think Garage Sales!

Found this article today, expressed my thoughts exactly ;)

Why have a garage sale?
OK, so why bother? First and foremost – money. What better reason than that?

Well, there are a few more reasons to have one. If you aren’t sure if you want to bother having your own maybe one of these will decide you.

  • Space – Running out of room for stuff? Or maybe you would love a new shelf, but that old chipped thing hanging on the wall is in the way?

Maybe you don’t have the money for a new shelf, but you would if you sold that old chipped thing.  There is no better or more efficient way to clean out all the clutter in your life than a garage sale.  If you can’t bear to throw things away, which can seem like such a waste, nothing motivates to get rid of junk than the promise of some money, which means new things.

  • Contacts – It may sound strange to some of you, but many contacts can be made from having a garage sale.

One woman used to set up a stand at garage sales for her make-up business.  She got a lot of home parties that way.  At another garage sale, a woman gave out note pads for free that had her husband’s rug cleaning business advertised on them.  This really can work. You can also find people to baby-sit for, clean house, house sit, do odd jobs, sell crafts to, and almost everything.

  • Real Junk – Get rid of your garbage. How about that broken chair you would otherwise have to pay to have hauled away? Give it away for free. There’s nothing better at a sale than free stuff. Maybe you think it’s hopeless, but someone else may know exactly how to fix it.

Maybe they have the same chair with a different part broken. If you put the two together, you have a chair good as new.  This works, really, although sometimes the garbage people take away from a garage sale can surprise even the most experienced seller.  You have nothing to lose but a houseful of items you no longer want, and the chance to put some cash into your pocket. What could be better?