Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

I get a bit giddy about planning garage sales. It’s the organizer in me. Few things feel better than clearing clutter out of my house and making a handful of cash in the process. I recently talked about how to shop at garage sales. Now, here are a few tips for hosting your own successful garage sale.

1.    Collect items for your garage sale throughout the year. Rather than going through the house a week before the sale and frantically grabbing items, be on the lookout for clutter or unused things all year. Pick a corner of your basement or garage and put a box there. When it’s full, start another box. Within a year – maybe less – you’ll have plenty of things to sell. Stick price tags on items as you box them and you’ll save time later.

2.    Include your friends. Combine your stuff and have one giant multi-family sale. This will attract more traffic, and you’ll have extra people to help run the sale. To keep track of everyone’s profits, jot your initials on each price sticker and keep a tally sheet when items are sold.

3.    Make your signs with large letters and simple wording. “Garage Sale: 123 Clutter Street” in large, thick, block letters will suffice. Don’t let your kids make the signs with artsy bubble letters (please!) and don’t list every item for sale or your sign will be impossible to read from the street at a distance while driving. Try to have your signs out only during the hours your garage sale is operating. It’s always disappointing to follow a sign only to discover no one is open for business.

4.    Advertise your sale on craigslist. Traditional newspaper ads work, too, but they can be pricey. Craigslist is free! Post your ad one or two days before your sale and be sure to include specifics like children’s clothing sizes and major items like furniture or baby gear.

5.    Check to see if your community requires a license or permit. I have to pick up a free permit from City Hall whenever we have a sale. Some towns, unfortunately, do charge for them.

6.    Choose your sale location wisely. You’ll get less traffic if your home is in a hard-to-find neighborhood or you have little space for parking. Team up with a friend who lives in a better location.

7.    Set up your sale neatly. I don’t enjoy garage sales where I must dig through overflowing, unorganized boxes. Gather as many tables as possible to display items. Or set up makeshift tables with plywood and sawhorses. Rig up a clothesline and hang clothes for easy browsing. Blankets or tarps on the ground also work well for displaying items. Just please don’t put the baby clothes on the ground where pregnant moms will have to crouch awkwardly to sift through everything!

8.    Put a price sticker on everything. I dislike garage sales where the seller tells me to make an offer. I may insult the seller with a low offer, or I may pay more than I need to. If there are no clear prices posted, I may walk away without buying anything.

9.    Don’t overprice your stuff. You may have paid $150 for that gorgeous crib bedding set when it was new, but if you ask $100 for it at your garage sale, you’re probably going to be stuck with a crib bedding set at the end of the day. Your goal should not be to recoup your original expenses but rather to purge unneeded stuff while making a bit of money in the process.

10.  Keep your money safe and organized in a cash box, and make sure one of your helpers is always with the box. Another option is to wear your money in a fanny pack. It doesn’t look cool, I know, but a fanny pack is a difficult thing to steal. Be sure to stock your box or fanny pack with plenty of small bills and quarters for making change, too.

11.  Whatever you do, don’t take your junk back into your house after the sale. If no one wanted to buy it, it’s probably not worth keeping around. Immediately after your sale, box items and take them to a local thrift store, church, or other charity. Many nonprofits will gladly take your garage sale leftovers, and you’ll enjoy the extra space in your house!

Now it’s your turn, readers. What advice do you have for hosting an awesome garage sale?

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Category: Family Finances

Tags: garage sale