shelli mader
Scotts city, kan.

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March 17, 2014
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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 3-15-14

It’s hard to believe that our time in Kansas is quickly ending. There are only about six more weeks until we make our 10 plus hour move to Texas. The furthest that I have ever moved is five hours, so this is going to be a big change. Since we are moving so far, and gas is so expensive, I’ve been busy analyzing everything in our house and trying to decide if I love it enough to move it or not. I’ve been making a pretty big garage sale pile, and now I’m just waiting for the weather to get a little warmer so I can have my sale. This will be my biggest garage sale yet!

I’ve held seven or eight garage sales in the past 10 years, and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. Here are my best tips:

Plan Ahead

Ideally, I start planning for my garage sale a year in advance. It’s best to collect things to sell all year round, so when it’s sale time you have a stash built up. Often though, (like for me this year) planning that far ahead isn’t possible. So I’ve found that giving myself at least two weeks of active planning will still give me time to have a good sale. During the two weeks before my garage sale I collect items, decide where I will advertise, gather tables and price items. For me, it’s easiest (and worth a dollar or two) to buy the sticky preprinted garage sale price tags. I make sure to have plenty packages of them on hand. I also get about $200 cash (including about $20 in quarters) so I have enough to make change.

Price Everything

I think the thing that has contributed the most to my garage sale success is clearly pricing all of my items. I’ve been to plenty of garage sales and flea markets where things are piled in heaps and I have no idea how much things cost. It’s a pain to ask a seller for prices, and unless there is an item that I am more than marginally interested in, I usually don’t ask for a price and just leave the item. It is so much less stressful for me and for my customers if prices are clearly marked. Prices also keep me from making foggy on-the-spot pricing decisions. I’ve been known to price things too high or too low in those situations. Just the other day I had someone stop by to look at the pile of things that I am planning on selling at my garage sale. It was an awkward situation — nothing was priced yet and when she asked for a quote on the things she wanted I didn’t want to offend her, so I threw out a low price. She eagerly agreed to it, and I realized later that I’d practically given the items away. It is worth the hour or two time investment to price things.

Price Reasonably

When people go to a garage sales they plan on getting good deals. I try to price my garage sale items according to what I would buy them for at someone else’s sale. I would rather sell things cheaply rather than just give them away at the end of the sale. If I have some things that I think deserve a price close to retail, (like new clothes with tags) I try to sell them on Craigslist, Facebook or Ebay before putting them in my garage sale.

Make Good Signs

I have tried to make dozens of different kinds of signs, but I think the best are on brightly colored paper (I like yellow) with the words “Garage Sale” and the time written in a black marker. I like to tape a sign to a cardboard box, put a 5 pound weight in it, and set it near street signs. I usually put up three or four signs, so no one gets frustrated or lost. If you are putting up signs though, make sure to check your town laws — I’ve heard of people getting fined for signs in the wrong places.

Advertise Well

Unless you live on a busy street, advertising can make or break a sale. I used to buy an ad in the paper to market my sale, but these days I primarily use social media to advertise. I post an ad on Craigslist and on my personal Facebook page. Most communities have some kind of classified or garage sale Facebook page, so I utilize my community’s too. In my ads I make sure to list brands and big ticket items. Pictures are a big bonus! ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Mar 13, 2014 03:35PM Published Apr 7, 2014 02:24PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.