16 April 2024

Tips and tricks to make the most out of the bargain hunters at your garage sale

| Vanessa Hayden
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There's something strangely alluring about other people's junk that makes it hard to pass up a garage sale.

There’s something strangely alluring about other people’s junk that makes it hard to pass up a garage sale. Photo: Keiichihiki.

Ah, that cleansing feeling of clearing out the flotsam and jetsam that’s been taking up space in your drawers and cupboards for months, years, decades!

Having a garage sale is a fun and simple way to jettison junk that is no longer of value to you, but still holds some value. Too good for the tip and maybe, just maybe, worth a dollar or two – a garage sale presents a chance to make a small sum of cash to stash or put towards something special.

To make sure your castoffs don’t end up on the mullock heap here’s a few handy hints (aka garage sale etiquette) to make sure your collection gets attention and is given every chance to find a new home.

Get on the front foot. Be ready half an hour earlier than the advertised start time as there is every chance you’ll get an early bird or two wanting to be first in on the bargain of the century.

Price things realistically. Remember, you are trying to get rid of this stuff! Don’t try and make a profit; yes, the money might be going toward something but it’s not Antiques Roadshow. Think about what you have to do if this stuff doesn’t sell – yes, pack it back up again or load it and take it to the local op shop (or tip). Think of it as people paying you to take your unwanted stuff away.

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Clean it! Dust, dirt and cobwebs are fine if your buyers are rummaging around in a shed like Mike and Frank from American Pickers, but more often than not sale goers are channeling their inner Tim Wonnacott from Bargain Hunt and want your items to scream at them for the taking. Again, more likely to sell if you’ve made them presentable. Dirt and dust signal a lack of enthusiasm approach and will have the pernickety punters moving on to the next.

Shopping bags. If you have excess shopping bags now is a good time to use them. It makes it easier for people to buy more if they have a bag to put it in.

Power up. If you are selling small electrical items, have a power board plugged in (via extension cord if necessary) so that people can plug the item in and see that it actually works.

Rearrange your tables after items sell. Bunch things back together, move things around. Don’t let your tables end up looking like the remnants of last night’s party. Reorganise so that it looks appealing for the next lot of bargain hunters.

Have a free box. If there’s some stuff that you are sure won’t sell, bundle it up in a free box with a great big sign marked FREE. It’s amazing what uses people will find for things if they don’t have to pay for them.

Round it up. No need to get your calculator out to add up the tally. If someone is buying numerous items, just round it up and ask for an even sum. And by round it up I don’t mean ‘up’, I mean say “just make it $10” if it was looking like it was going to be $12.50.

Price everything. Or, if you haven’t got time to put a sticker on everything then bundle them into groups of prices (one sign rather than dozens). It saves shy or hesitant people asking you how much you want for something, saves you time answering over and over again and just makes the whole damn thing easier. There’s nothing worse than trying to guess what someone wants for something and then getting embarrassed when the verbal they have given you contrasts vastly with what you were thinking.

Make your displays look nice! Create themes if you have homewares. Make them look appealing; don’t just throw everything together. Use a tablecloth or two if your tables are old or ugly. Bunch the garden items together, hang clothing on a clothes rack, hang paintings if you can, place books front or spine up. You’ll get more chance of a sale if people can zone in easily and imagine items in their own home.

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Ambiance! Create some atmosphere to make people feel relaxed and welcome (they’ll stay longer and buy more). A bit of music filtering through, the smell of coffee brewing, an outdoor firepit if the weather is chilly, or cool drinks for sale on a hot day. The more effort you make to show people that you are “into it” the more chance they’ll buy some of your junk from you.

Free gift with every purchase! Be prepared to give stuff away. If you are observing your ‘customers’ and see what they are interested in, you might notice them look at something you thought unlikely to sell. If they choose something else or spend a few bucks offer them the extra ‘gift’. Remember, you don’t really want to pack it up again.

Cash is king. Have some small notes as well as coin in your kitty. If it’s a town garage sale there’s every chance you’ll have people turning up with $50 notes after they’ve just visited the town ATM.

Leftovers. Check with your local op shop if they want your unwanted goods after a town garage sale. Remember, you won’t be the only person thinking like this and with most op shops already at full capacity, having a truckload of bric-a-brac arrive in one day puts unnecessary stress on volunteers already doing their best.

Original Article published by Vanessa Hayden on Region Riverina.

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