Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12 Steps to a Great Multi-Family Garage Sale

I had a brilliant idea a few weeks ago. Hold a garage sale. In my garage. When it's going to be freezing and snowing/raining. I invited a few other people to join me in the freeze-a-thon, which is what it turned into, aside from making us some cold, hard cash. Here are some helpful hints I learned from my very first yard sale.

1. Check the weather. People will still come if it's nasty cold, but it helps with nice weather. I'm thinking our nice weather might turn up as one nice week in July this year.
If these sweaters weren't so small, I would have bought them
all and layered them on for sheer warmth.

2. Make it a party. Invite people that you like or that are willing to sell their junk with you. It's much more fun talking with people you like during the slow times. I also had the privilege of helping some ladies who don't live in convenient places be able to reach a larger audience. Don't forget to invite your neighbors! Most of my neighbors came over and said, "I wish I'd known you were having a sale. I wanted to have one too." 

3. Split up the work. Make it very clear when people are working their shifts, when people should bring their stuff, and when they should pick it up if it doesn't sell. I had about 500 plastic bags I'd been saving and another girl had 10 tables. Have someone get the change for the sale too!

4. Assign tag colors. Since K-Mart only had a few options for yard sale stickers, I bought a couple of packages with 3 colors in them and gave everyone a color. We split the cost of the stickers and it was very clear whose items were whose. If you want to use the same colors, you can write your initals on the tag.

5. Advertise well. With multiple people, the cost of a newspaper ad (however primitive-seeming) doesn't cost much. We bought the yard sale package (3 days, 4 lines, with stickers and 2 signs) for $17 and divvied it up. I posted a free ad on Craigslist the day before the sale and then put up signs on the main highway the morning of the sale.

6. Don't forget to advertise and bring big ticket items. We had info about a Bowflex and ice axe (it could still be yours!) hanging up and a 1963 Ford Falcon parked in the front of my house, all for sale. If you don't want to budge on a large (or small item), write FIRM on the price tag. If you are willing to negotiate, tell the people on that shift how low you'll go.

7. Don't open the garage until you're ready. You may never get it back down again, even though things are obviously NOT set up and are scattered helter-skelter around a garage that needs to be swept. Do as I say, not as I do.
Don't you just want to decorate your home with this cute sign?
8. Organize your stuff. Even though we lagged behind our customers, I had printed category signs off my computer the night before. We eventually hung them up. Some people said it was the most organized sale they'd ever seen. (I filed that compliment away immediately, as we should all do.)

It may look like the orange stickers were few and far between,
but I commanded high prices.
9. Create a pay tally. I took a simple piece of paper, drew some lines on it, and stuck the stickers under each person's name as the items sold. It helped to put the stickers on my hand so I could add them together before I stuck them to the page. If a sticker wouldn't come off an item, I just wrote down the amount on the person's column.

10. Offer something free. I couldn't sell baked goods in good conscience because it's not legal here (I called and asked), but I could give away free cookies. Some people took one, or two, or three.... We also had lots of free items ranging from empty egg cartons to my old dish strainer. (Seriously, who would want that?)

11. On the other hand, charge something. We had a fairly nice foosball table that one girl wanted to get rid of. (She undercut us with her prices.) She put "FREE" on it, but it wasn't moving. Since she wasn't there, I decided to put a $5 tag on it. It sold in 5 minutes.

12. Get rid of the leftover junk. We have lots of local places that take donations, but don't forget to try a flea market for neat finds, kid (and grownup) consignment stores for clothes, and used bookstores for book credit.

Multi-family sales Work for Me! What's your best garage sale tip?


  1. Brilliant! I love the sticker idea. I've always wanted to do a garage sale but have never had the organization to. I usually just end up shipping everying off to Goodwill!

  2. I did too, but I'm glad I tried it. It's more fun with lots of people.

  3. I wish I would have seen this earlier - I had one on Saturday with my Mom's group! It was pretty successful, but also stressful!