Like a freshly prepared meal, the scent of spring hangs in the air. With the blossoming of the daffodils and the budding of the aromatic hyacinth comes the shedding of the old and the donning of the new, all without Ebay!
The annual spring-cleaning garage sale not only brings one relief from the winter-accumulated clutter, but it also promises economic fruits currently not picked from the money tree growing amidst your unused items.
While there are many aspects to a successful garage sale, none are more important than the four P’s: prioritizing, planning, pricing and promoting. In years past, some have misinterpreted the four P’s, wreaking havoc and assuring failure. Remember that it’s not, plotting, pilfering, pocketing and pints.
Prioritizing is critical in the initial steps of your garage sale. Deciding to include an item for sale in a garage sale is not as easy as it sounds. Justification, separation anxiety and blocking out the memory of selling the items all can occur. More on that later. The best time to start collecting your garage sale items is right after Valentine’s Day. This allows for unwanted Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts, which always command more money when not used. How do you decide what items to include? In some circles, the “six month rule” applies; that is, if you’ve not used the item within six months, it gets included in the sale. However, I’d argue that point on any poly-blend clothing item. Another question that needs answering before pitching an item is where is the item better served? Will that bread maker that’s never been used ever be used, or is it just money waiting to be materialized?
So you’ve amassed items for sale in your upcoming garage sale. Now what? Planning. This is where the help of a professional comes in handy. Grab your buddy and have them help you plan the presentation of the items. Perhaps you’d like to group together kitchen items with bathroom items? Keep in mind, presentation is everything, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Once you’ve established where everything is going and why, you’ll need to begin the arduous task of pricing. This is probably the most difficult task of all. In the nickel-and-dime world of making money at a garage sale, there is no room for sentiment. Granted, you paid $40 for that 10-gallon fish tank for “Sparky” eight years ago, but the folks who are stopping by your garage sale are looking for a deal. The deal, as a matter of fact. Sell it for $10, and viola! You have an extra $10 and more space.
Once you believe you’ve priced everything properly, have your friend review the prices to ensure there are no inflated prices. If you’re attached to something and can’t bear to part with it, then don’t. But don’t display it with a grandiose price sticker. That’s just gauche.
Color-coded price stickers are the accepted norm at garage sales these days. Leave the masking tape for other jobs. Decide early on which colors to use with which items. Perhaps blue stickers can be placed on kitchen items, and yellow stickers on bedroom items? This is where you can have fun with stickering. It’s also important to use these stickers wisely. An additional sticker is recommended to display the price range of the item. This opens the door to haggling and allows potential customers to smell a bargain. For example, let’s say you’re going to sell your old waterbed sheets. While they’re old, they’re in good shape. You decide to but a green sticker on them indicating housewares. You also decide to put a red sticker beside the green sticker to indicate the price is under $5. While most people would go a head and write the cost of the item directly on the first sticker, it’s not recommended. Creating a Garage Sale Key predominately displayed at the entrance to the garage sale is highly recommended. This avoids any unnecessary questions and allows you to point to the sign and say, “It’s all right there on the key.”
Promotion is rather important in the success of a garage sale. While most folks place an ad in the Oregonian, others paint signs and post them in an eight-block radius. While these are effective tools of promotion, nothing gets drivers’ attention more than a person in a clown suit holding balloons and wearing a reader board.
After the sale, there are a few things to consider before calling your garage sale a success. First, you have to get rid of all the remaining items. Friends and neighbors are good sources. Goodwill or Salvation Army are tax-free avenues and may even come and pick up the remaining items. However, the most efficient manner of disposing of your remaining items is to save them for next year’s Christmas presents to your family and friends. Not only will they not know, but also you look thoughtful in the process.
Secondly, stay alert to the signs of post-garage-sale depression. This is no joke. Clear signs of this depression include separation anxiety, guilt and feelings of utter hopelessness without your items. The book “My Stuff, My Self,” written by T. C. Materaiel, is an effective 12-step program designed for those suffering.
Another useful tool can be used to help soothe the ache of sold garage sale items, a journal, complete with photographs. This comes in handy when you can’t remember if you sold that skillet or not. And it should not go unsaid that there are weekly meetings held by corporate donation sites (Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul and The Salvation Army) that offer post-garage-sale group and individual counseling.
Garage sales can be useful in cleaning out unused and no-longer-wanted household items. Success comes from prioritizing, planning, pricing and promoting. By using the 4 P’s for your garage sale, you will have enough money in your pocket Sunday night to plot, pilfer, pocket and buy pints. It’s a good thing.