Begin your enterprise by cleaning out your own attic, closets and basement or garage. Talk with your relatives and friends; tell them what you’re doing, and ask for donations (or at least consignments) of unwanted items. It’s here that you’ll get your first experience in negotiating, and you’ll usually get enthusiastic cooperation. You’ll find people explaining that they really don’t have a use for a specific item, don’t want to keep on storing it, but for sentimental or other reasons, they have just hung on to it.
Once you have a little bit of experience, you’ll be able to advertise in the newspaper that you purchase garage sale items, or take them on consignment for a percentage of the final sale price.
Its best that the wife or woman of the house handles the garage sale itself – that is, let a woman be the one who greets the potential customers, shows them around, and generally engages them in conversation. If it’s a woman staging the garage sale, then arrangements should be made for a second one to ‘mind the store’ while she’s out digging up more items for display and sale, If you are running a really big sale, a second or third per son can be very useful in selling, and just generally keeping an eye on things.
The advertising angle is really quite simple, and shouldn’t cost you very much, either. Check area newspapers, and select the one that carries the most ads for garage sales. You shouldn’t concern yourself too much with competition from other ads. People who go to garage sales either go to all of them they can locate, or else only to those within a 3-to-5 mile radius of their homes.
You should run a small classified ad in the newspaper of your choice for about three days in advance, and up through the day of your sale. Once you’re operating on a full-time, every-day-of-the-week schedule, you’ll want to change your ad schedule and the style of your advertising. But in getting started, stay with small classified ads simply announcing the fact that you’re holding a garage sale, emphasizing that you’ve got everything from A to Z – something of interest to everyone. Such an ad might read:
Big Garage Sale! Hundreds of interesting items.
Through Saturday, July 16th. (address)
To get ideas on how to write your ad, check your newspapers for a week or two. Cut out all the garage sale ads you can find. Paste them up onto a piece of paper – then with a bit of critical analysis, you will be able to write a good ad of your own from identifying the good and bad features of the ads you’ve collected. Keep in mind that the bigger and better your sale, the bigger and better you’re ‘getting started’ ads should be. Always remember that in order to increase your profits in any business, you must increase rather than decrease your advertising. At the bottom line, you’ll find that the greatest single reason for a garage sale failing to turn a profit is the lack of promotion and advertising used to publicize it.
You should also have an old-fashioned “sandwich board” type sign to display in front of your house when your garage sale is open for business. The purpose of course, is to call attention to the fact that you’re holding a garage sale and are open for business. This will pull in your neighbours, if you haven’t already informed them, and attract people driving by. Sandwich boards are also sometimes set out at key traffic intersections not far from the site of the garage sale. These will attract attention, and point the way. However, check your local ordinances to be sure that this sort of advertising is permitted.
Another ‘sign idea’ practiced by a few really sharp operators, is the old ‘Burma Shave’ type roadside pointers. Here, you simply make up a few cute sayings (verse or one-liners), write them on pieces of cardboard, tack them onto the power poles at about 200 yard intervals on the thoroughfare leading to your garage sale, and you’re sure to create a lot of traffic for yourself. People are amused by, and drawn to people who do something a little different, unusual and creative in promoting a sale of any kind.