Garage Sales: 'Tis the Season

By Debbie Brinkman; Professional Organizer and Interior Designer at Simple Order Design- Littleton

Garage Sales are part of our culture and as sure as the trees leaf out each spring, you can count on garage sales popping up in abundance in a neighborhood near you.

It’s a way to clean things out and make a little cash, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For those who enjoy spending time leap frogging from sale to sale, it’s a treasure hunt with the occasional victory.

I have spent quite a few hours over the last several months working with clients on garage sales. This is part of my repertoire, but until recently, I have not had much demand for the service. Not long ago, out of the blue, I got two requests within days of each other to help with sales.

The two sales couldn’t have been more different. One was small; a woman helping her mother (moving into a retirement village) downsize. The other was massive; a lifetime of stuff and a four bay commercial garage was needed to hold everything! One sale netted $250 and the other $7,000.

Both clients were most interested in getting help with pricing items. How much should they, or could they, charge for mom’s china, an old clock radio, a vintage poster, or an overused blender?

Based on my recent immersion into garage sale pricing (I have probably priced over 2,000 items in the last month) I have a couple of thoughts when it comes to deciding what to charge.

  • It’s not worth what you paid for it – or even worth half of what you paid for it – so price it accordingly;
  • If you really want to sell it, then price it to sell – if not, put it back in the house;
  • Don’t price it high and expect people to barter– they’ll look at the high price and walk away. Be fair with your price and be realistic when you barter;
  • Put a price on EVERYTHING. It will sell faster and you will get your asking price more often;
  • Be reasonable; this is stuff you don’t want and someone else might – don’t get prideful and stubborn when they ask if you’ll take less.

If you are planning to have one of these summer events, here is my unsolicited advice:

  • Recognize that it will suck the life out of you preparing, pricing, and selling
  • Don’t expect to get rich
  • Have a donation pick-up scheduled for the day after to get rid of everything that didn’t sell
  • When you say, “I’ll never do this again,” mean it!

So, if you have a garage sale in your future, keep one thing in mind: try to have some fun and when it’s all over use some of the money to treat yourself to dinner out - you will have earned it.


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