By Kimberly Blaker ~
Rummage sales are a great way to clear out, recycle, and make some extra cash — all while putting your languishing piles of stuff to good use in someone else’s home.
Follow these suggestions for a successful sale and a clutter-free home.
♦ The Storefront
A garage is usually the best place to hold a sale. It offers shelter and requires little set-up or tear-down. However, if your garage is unavailable for use, a covered porch, patio, or your yard will also do. Keep plenty of tarps available to protect your goods from rain and for covering at the end of the day.
♦ All in the Timing
Plan your sale when temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees outdoors. Typically, the best days to hold sales are Thursdays thru Sundays, with Fridays and Saturdays bringing the most traffic. Mornings bring the most significant flow of shoppers, so the earlier you’re ready, the better. If you open by 8:00 AM, rummagers will flock.
♦ Displaying Your Wares
Don’t heap your merchandise on tables or leave it in boxes to be ransacked. Some people don’t mind digging through messy stacks, most won’t bother. Hang as much clothing as possible using a laundry pole or portable closet, or install two support brackets and a closet rod.
Plenty of table space is also a must. Use or borrow folding tables; if you need more space, create your own surfaces with plywood sheets or spare planks of wood propped between chairs. Keep all but the biggest items off the floor for better visibility.
Neatly fold and stack the clothing you can’t hang on tables. Label stacks according to size. Organize good toys and complete sets where parents and grandparents will easily spot them. Keep hand tools, gadgets, electronics, and home repair items organized together. Place small articles such as jewelry in divider containers or egg cartons so they’re easy to view.
As for small toys, stick all those goodies in boxes on the ground where children can dig for treasures to take home.
Label boxes according to the price per item or allow kids to choose one as a prize.
Finally, make sure batteries and electricity are available to prove items are in working condition.
♦ “Next-to-New” Sells
Appearance plays a significant role in the sale of used goods. Wash and dry all clothing and linens, then fold or hang immediately to prevent wrinkles. Wash the dust, dirt, and grime from toys, tools, and household items. Repair broken merchandise when feasible.
♦ Priced to Sell
Don’t overprice; you want to sell items, after all.
For large items, check classified ads or the internet for average resale prices. But remember some online pricing isn’t comparable to what people will pay at a garage sale. Some top-quality items in like-new condition can earn 25-35% of the replacement cost at rummage sales.
Occasionally, tools, equipment, and other things you have in small supply can sell for 50-60% of the replacement cost, depending on age and condition. But most merchandise will earn 5-10% of the replacement cost, at best.
Classified ads, Craigslist, and popular online garage sale locator websites usually bring the best results. Include your address and main cross streets, the dates and time of your sale, and what you’ll be selling in your ad. List oversized items individually as well as the categories of things you’ll sell, like “tools” or “toddler clothing.”
Post fliers on grocery store or laundromat bulletin boards. If there are no regulations against doing so, post signs on nearby corners. Don’t forget to put a bright sign in front of your house, too. Balloons tied to your mailbox or a tree also make your sale more visible.
♦ Tips for Success
The bigger the sale, the more traffic you’ll get. Go in with family, friends, and neighbors; hold one big sale instead of several small ones. A street or subdivision-wide sale will draw people from surrounding areas. Move items like furniture and large appliances into the driveway to attract passersby.
Finally, have your items priced. Many people will walk away from a sale with nothing when things aren’t priced: Either they don’t want to make an offensive offer or they don’t want the hassle of asking the price for every little thing they might consider buying.