Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Garage Sale #3, we've learned a few things

Two of my sisters and I, with a lot of help from our Mom, hosted our 3rd garage sale recently.  I think I've now thrown more garage sales than I ever have attended (not including other family ones we've stopped by).  It's a little strange, selling your old stuff to strangers.  The first time I watched someone walk off with something of mine I was really thrown.  It's easier after it's happened over a hundred times.  One lady bought a pair of my shoes on Thursday and came back to the sale in them Friday.  I noticed and started to say something about how I just had shoes like that but sold them when she laughed and said she bought them from me.  It's one thing to see a stranger walk off with your stuff, another to see them wearing it!

My sisters and I got in this "selling crap to each other" thing a long time ago, when we'd set up "stores" in our playroom and sell things to each other for pennies.  I think our favorite parts were making business cards and setting up, none of us ever really made money but it was fun.  It still took us a long time to get to selling our stuff to people outside the family but now we are a little hooked (3 garage sales in 3 summers).

We've learned a few things along the way and have made more money each year.  Something is clicking.

1) Set-up the night before
If you value your sanity AT ALL and want to start the day on a good note, SET UP THE NIGHT BEFORE.  This is the first year we've been able to do that and it was amazing.  Incredibly overwhelming as we spent 4 hours on a Wednesday evening sorting but it made Thursday (the first day of the sale) go so. much. better. 

We've rotated where we've had the sales, first at my house, then another sister, and this time at our most recently married sister's.  And she's the first one to have a garage in a location useful for a sale and we took full advantage.  We still had clothes to take care of in the morning but it was a much better start than our other two attempts.  AND we even had some sales first thing, something we've never managed before.

2) List larger items on Craigslist
Matt & I have sold a few things on Craigslist over the years and it's always a bit of a pain coordinating pick-ups since I'll only do them when Matt is home (safety first).  It's a lot easier to manage these on garage sale day since we have multiple people around and for large chunks of the day.  We sold our futon within an hour of posting at our first sale and my sister sold a few things that way this time.  Sometimes the larger furniture items will just appeal to a small number of people and you have to get it out there.

3) Don't let anything back in your house
When our sale is done, almost everything is boxed up and immediately (or as soon as possible) donated.  Our exceptions are:
-all books, movies, CDs we take to Half Priced Books to sell (they've always taken everything)
-all kid clothes and shoes we try to sell at Once Upon a Child before donating the rest (they don't take much though)
-any furniture items (which we don't have many of) are posted on Craigslist

We usually each take a few things of each others though but none of our own we take back.  Once you've decided it's gone, it's gone.  No second guesses.  If you disliked it enough to get rid of it then you don't need it back. 

4) Price to sell
We aren't looking to get rich here and at least 90% of our items are priced under $2.  We cut prices throughout the sale and will pretty much take anything by the end.  And most people go garaging saleing for a good deal.  With few exceptions, you are only going to get a fraction of what you paid retail. 

5) Sell kids clothes by the bag & organize by box
It took us a few years to figure this out but it made for a much more organized kids' table.  With 3 young moms we have plenty of extra kids clothes to sell.  We've done "by the bag" for sale before ($2-3 a plastic grocery bag) and that works well and gets rid of a lot.  This year instead of laying out all the clothes on tables (which we had too much clothes and not enough tables to do anyways) we sorted it by size and gender into boxes.  Boy birth - 12 months, Boy 18 months, Boy 24 month/2T, etc.  People are generally shopping for a specific child/size and it made it much easier for going through.  Also much easier for us to organize when we just had to toss into a box.  We are definitely doing this every year now. 

We make enough money doing this that it's worth sitting out in the sun for 2 days, especially when I'm not taking off work to do so.  When I looked back at what Matt & I made it wasn't anything amazing but it was almost all from things priced under $2.  All that little stuff adds up.  And that's exciting but it would have been better to not spend the money in the first place.

I think that's my biggest take away from doing these, how little we need and how much less buying we should be doing.  It was almost appalling how much we had to get rid of after just a year.  It wasn't all things we bought but enough of it was to be frustrating.  How can I be so bad at picking things out??  I think the biggest benefit, more than the money, is how much it helps me refine my shopping.  When I'm considering items in the store I think "will this end up in the garage sale pile within a year?".  If the answer is yes it has to go back.  I don't need to spend $5 on something now just to sell it for 50 cents down the line.  There are some legit things that we used and then upgraded or whatever.  But some of it (too much of it) was just bad buying.  

I was so frustrated with it that the Monday after our sale Luke and I did big returns - at Jo-Anns, Old Navy, and Target.  Getting things out of the house and getting back what we paid for them (before they were used) is much better than holding on to sell later.   Two years ago I thought I had this figured out but it certainly sinks in more every year. 

Ideally we won't have enough stuff to have a sale next year.  That would be awesome.  For now, I am certainly enjoying having the big pile out of the basement and a little more money in the bank.   

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