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10 Essential Tips for Throwing a Successful Garage Sale

The garage sale remains an effective way to sell off unneeded items and make money in the process. (Getty Images)

Long before eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist came into existence, the garage sale was America’s favorite medium for transforming clutter into cash.

But since the rise of online marketplaces, yard sales have become increasingly scarce. The handmade cardboard signs that used to scatter neighborhoods on Saturdays have all but disappeared. Family driveways seldom showcase treasures. The proud antiques and beloved bicycles once peddled on lawns are now listed on the pages of virtual bazaars.

But while its heyday has long since passed, the garage sale remains an effective way to sell off unneeded items. When dealing with a large number of belongings, a yard sale can be the quickest, simplest and most enjoyable solution. With a smart strategy, your garage sale has the potential to earn you more than $1,000.

Ready to try your hand at throwing a sale of your own? Make sure yours is a success with these 10 tips for a successful garage sale.

[See: 10 Foolproof Ways to Reach Your Money Goals.]

1. Time it right. Garage sales perform best in the late spring, when the weather is warm and people are eager to go outside after the long winter. General wisdom says that Sunday is the ideal day to host a yard sale, after shoppers have had a full day to run their errands. However, many experts suggest holding sales on Friday, when senior citizens and dealers will be out and about. Kick off your sale around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., as shops are opening for business.

2. Distribute fliers. When promoting your garage sale, go beyond the cardboard sign. A week before the sale, start posting fliers on bulletin boards at local stores, cafes and community centers. The flier should be clean and scannable, with bold, large lettering. Include information on the date, time and crossroads, plus any special features or themes of the sale. Advertising the event as a “moving sale” or “estate sale” will often attract more interest.

3. Get online. Reach out to your friends and neighbors by posting news of the sale on Facebook and Twitter. Publish a notice in the “garage and moving sales” section of Craigslist or on specialty sites, such as YardSaleSearch.com and gsalr.com.

4. Create a simple sign. A garage sale marketing campaign is not complete without a prominent sign. A day or two before your sale, post a large, easy-to-read notice announcing the sale by the busier roads near your home. Include an arrow pointing toward the sale to guide approaching drivers.

[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]

5. Presentation is key. An organized, inviting, easy-to-navigate garage sale layout will draw more customers and win you more conversions. When setting up your wares, organize like items into separate areas. Designate one area for furniture, one area for toys, one area for clothes and so on. Display items on tables and racks rather than strewing them around the ground. Play soft music in the background to add ambiance.

6. Post clear prices. Constantly having to request prices can turn off would-be buyers. That’s why it’s best to label items with clear price tags or organize them into groups with a set price listed on a sign. Consider labeling damaged or cracked items “as is” to avoid quibbles.

7. Post fair prices. Nothing will chase away shoppers quicker than an expensive garage sale. Price items for one half of their original price or lower. Unopened items, antiques, vintage clothing and other valuables can sell for more.

[See: 10 Money-Saving Websites to Check Before Shopping.]

8. Throw in freebies and deals. Win over undecided shoppers by offering to throw in freebies with their purchases. To sweeten the deal, advertise buy-one-get-one offers or a discounted rate for customers who purchase multiple items.

9. Host a bake sale within your yard sale. If you’re talented with an egg beater, you could expand your yard sale to include baked goods and refreshments. Set up a table with homemade goodies and snacks, and lay out pitchers of free water and iced tea. Got a youngster? Invite him or her to launch a lemonade stand.

10. Donate remaining items. After your sale, you’ll find an array of charities that would be happy to receive clothing, books, toys, furniture and other leftovers. Bag up items and arrange for a pickup with an organization, such as The Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation or Vietnam Veterans of America.

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