How to make serious money from your next garage sale


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If you're looking for a way to make some extra money - whether to pay some bills or fund a holiday - then holding a garage sale might just be the way to do it.

A successful garage sale can make hundreds of dollars, and there's the added benefit that you declutter the house in process.

But you need to be prepared to put in a little work. A successful garage sale involves more than just popping a few things out on the lawn and hoping for the best.

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To make serious money you'll need to do some planning.

First, work out what items you want to sell.

For larger and more valuable items, though, such as washing machines or fridges, it might be better to use the classified ads.

If you've gone through all your possessions, cleaned out the back shed and the attic but don't think you have enough to warrant a garage sale, consider a combined sale with family or friends.

You'll have a bigger variety of items for sale, potentially attracting more customers, plus you get to spread the advertising costs.

Once you have everything together, choose a date for the sale. Consider whether it should be on a Saturday or a Sunday and what time you'd like to start.

Take into account long weekends, major sporting events and school holidays - these may or may not be an advantage.

How big a turnout are you likely to get in Melbourne on AFL grand final weekend, for example?

Once you've set the date, work out how you're going to get people to turn up.

Putting an ad in the local paper is a must because that's where a lot of bargain hunters look. You should include the address and a list of some of the items you think might be popular.

Consider using social media to advertise your garage sale - locakl facebook groups for example can be a good way to promote your garage sale.

Don't do your advertising too far in advance, though, because people might forget the sale is on - a week or two in advance is probably best.

Email is another great way to spread the word. Send an email to your friends about the garage sale and ask them to pass it on to all their friends, who can then do the same.

You can reach quite a few people this way.

Put up some signs around the neighbourhood so passers-by know a sale is on.

Make sure the signs are clear and easy to read. Don't make them too wordy - just the words "garage sale" and an address should be enough. Be sure to take the signs down when the sale is over.

Now you need to think about pricing. Buyers come for bargains; they are not on a normal shopping expedition.

But while you should be careful not to overprice things, you should have some sort of premium built into the price so you can haggle - people like to feel that they have walked away with a great deal.

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Buy self-adhesive labels to stick on everything that's for sale.

If you don't want to put a label on absolutely everything, one option is to group similar items together with a single price - for example, a table of jumpers with the sign "Jumpers $5 each".

If you have the time, and the location is secure, try to set up for the sale the night before.

You'll need plenty of tables - it may even be worthwhile hiring trestle tables - so people don't have to bend over to look at things on the floor.

Arrange the tables in a way that will make it easy for people to walk around them and see everything.

If necessary, clean items before laying them out, so they look presentable and appealing.

On the day, be ready for some earlybirds. There are plenty of professional bargain hunters - traders and secondhand store owners - who may turn up as early as 6am.

Think about how you'll deal with them if they knock on your door.

You'll need to think about how low you'll go, too. If it's still early in the day and someone offers you $10 for a $15 item will you accept it?

The risk in saying no is that you'll be left with the item at the end of the day if no one else shows any interest.

Security should always be at the forefront of your mind while the garage sale is under way. Make sure your house is locked and you have the keys on you.

Consider using a bum bag for money, or make sure someone is with the cash tin at all times.

Top tips

  • Make sure sale items are clean and presentable.
  • Round off your prices - $2 is better than $1.95.
  • Bundle some items - for example, $5 for 10 forks.
  • Arrange items in a logical manner.
  • Put some of your best items near the entry and visible from the street.
  • Signs must be legible from a distance - make them big.
  • Colour and balloons can attract attention.
  • Have access to a power point or batteries to show an electrical item works.
  • Don't forget change - coins and notes. People might offer a $50 note for a $2 item.
  • You may want to provide plastic bags and boxes to transport purchases.
  • Consider whether you need packing material for fragile items.
  • Make sure the area is clean, tidy and safe - don't put people off.
  • Create a friendly atmosphere. Play some background music.

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