Garage Sale Promoting
Pick almost any city or town in the country,
drive through any middle class neighborhood or residential
area on the weekend, and you're sure to spot at least a half
dozen garage sales.
What's being sold at these garage sales? The accumulated
"junk" people no longer use or want taking up space
in or around their homes. Are they making any money with these
garage sales? You'd better believe they're making money! It's
not at all uncommon to make $600 with a weekend garage sale.
Is it hard to put on a profitable garage sale? Well, yes and
no. It really does take some of your time, and also requires
an awareness of a few merchandising tactics. But the problems
in running a successful garage sale are small in comparison
to the profits.
Who are the buyers, and how do you get them to come to your
garage sale? Your customers are going to be "everybody,"
and you get them over to your garage sale with a little bit
of advertising and promotion.
Let's look at the background: Everybody accumulates the
kind of garage sale items that other people are searching
for, and are willing to buy. These items range from no longer
wanted or outgrown items of clothing, to furniture, tools,
knick-knacks, books, pictures and toys. Many garage sale items
are objects of merchandise purchased on impulse, and later
found to be not what the buyer wanted. He discovered too late
that he really didn't have a use for it, or he no longer has
a need for it. Many items found at garage sales are gifts
that have been given to the seller, but are the wrong size
or incorrect choice for the recipient.
The problem with most people is that they haven't the time
to gather up all the items "just taking up space"
in and around their homes and staging a garage sale to get
rid of them. Many people don't know how to stage a garage
sale, and many other people feel
that putting on a garage sale is just too much bother and
This is where you enter the picture. Your enterprise will
be an ongoing garage sale of items donated and collected from
these people who lack the inclination to put on garage sales
of their own.
Step one is education: Spend a few weeks visiting all the
garage sales, swap meets and flea markets in your area. Find
out what's being offered for sale, what people are buying,
and how the merchandise is being sold. Generally an item is
tagged with a price, but the seller is open to almost any
reasonable offer from the customer. Another thing you want
to make mental note of is the way the merchandise is displayed,
and how the customers are allowed to browse.
You start your own garage sale by cleaning out your own
basement, attic, closets and garage. Talk to your relatives
and friends; tell them what you're going to do and ask them
for donations of no-longer used or unwanted items. It's here
that you'll get your first experience in negotiating, and
finally, an agreement for you to display and sell other people's
merchandise for a percentage of the sales price. You'll find
people explaining that they really don't have a use for a
specific item or they really don't want to keep storing it,
but because of sentimental reasons, "just hate to give
Once you've had a little experience with this type of seller,
you will be able to advertise in the newspaper that you buy
garage sale items, or take them on consignment for a percentage
of the final sales price.
It's best that your wife handle the garage sale itself -
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
to have an other woman "mind the store" while she's
out digging up more items for sale.
The advertising angle is really quite simple, and shouldn't
cost very much either. You should run an ad in your area shopper's
newspaper for about three days in advance of, 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, go with small classified ads simply announcing your
garage sale, emphasizing that you've got something of interest
to everyone - everything from A to Z. To get ideas on how
to write your ad, check your news pa per for a week or so;
cut out all the garage sale ads you can find; paste them up
on a piece of paper. Then, with a bit of critical analysis,
you'll be able to determine how to write a good ad of your
own by determining the good and the bad in the ads you've
collected. Something to remember: The bigger and better your
sale, the bigger and bet ter your "getting started"
ads should be. And the secret to outstanding garage sale profits
is in having the widest or largest selection of merchandise.
You should have made an old-fashioned "sandwich board"
sign to display in front of your house when your garage sale
is open for business. This will pull in your neighbors, if
you haven't already informed them, and attract the people
driving by. Sand
wich boards are sometimes set out at key traffic intersections
not far from the site of the garage sale, to attract attention
and point the way. (Check local ordinances to see if this
permitted in your area.)
Another "sign idea" practiced by a few really
sharp operators is the old "Burma Shave" roadside
pointers. Here, you simply take a few cute sayings in verse
(or one-liners), write on pieces of cardboard and tack onto
the power poles at about 200 yard
intervals on a thoroughfare leading to your garage sale. You'll
create a lot of traffic for yourself! Simply visit the public
library and check out a book on limericks, adapt the ones
you find humorous, and start making signs. One word he re
though: Be sure to check your local ordinances before you
start nailing signs to power poles.
By all means, search out and use all the free bulletin boards
in your area. It's better, and usually much more profitable,
to take the time to make up an attention grabbing circular
you can post on these bulletin boards than just using a written
3 by 5
To do this, pick up some "transfer lettering,"
go through your newspapers and old magazines for interesting
illustrations, graphics and pictures, then with a little bit
of imagination, make up an 8 1/2 by 11 poster-type announcement
of y our sale. When you've got it pasted up, take it to any
quick print shop and have them print up 50 to 100 copies for
you. The cost should not come to more than six or seven dollars.
If you make this "circular/poster" up with versatility
and long-time usage in mind, you can use it over and over
again, simply by pasting on a new date. In case you were puzzled
when we talk about "pasting," this is simply pasting
another piece of paper onto the overall page. Say you have
a circular with a date of Wednesday, March 1st, and want to
change it to read Thursday, July 16th. Rather than do the
whole thing over, simply write out the new date with your
transfer letters on a separate sheet of paper, cut out to
fit in the space occupied by the old date, and paste the new
date over the old date. A good paste to use for this purpose
is rubber cement. That's all there is to it; the printer does
Now let's talk about the "inside secrets" of drawing
people into your sale, and the merchandising "gimmicks"
that will result in the maximum sales and profits for you.
First, call attention to your sale. Don't be shy, bashful
or self-conscious about letting everybody for miles about
know that you're having a garage sale. Some sharp operators
do the next best thing to having the Goodyear blimp overhead:
They rent miniature blimps, send them up above the housetops,
and tether them there on their sale days. Of course this giant
balloon or miniature blimp has some sort of sign on the side
of it, inviting people to your garage sale! This is one of
the strongest available advertising ideas for pulling "traffic"
to a sale of any kind. For more details, write to Pie-In-The-Sky
Company, PO Box 5267, San Mateo, CA 94402.
You have to give your sale some flair. Put some posts up
across the front of your property and run some twisted crepe
paper between them. Even better than crepe paper, run brightly
colored ribbons. Invest in some colorful pennants and fly
them from temporary flag poles. And don't forget the balloons!
Make your garage sale a fun kind of event with clusters
of balloons anchored to your display tables and racks. Be
sure to "float" them well above the heads of your
customers as they are browsing through your merchandise displays.
Cover your display tables with colorful cloths. Don't hesitate
to use bright colors with busy patterns. Regardless of what
you sell, effective display is still predominantly essential!
You cannot "dump" items haphazardly on a table,
sit down, and expect to realize great profits. The people
doing the most business - making the most sales - are the
ones with interesting displays, action and color.
Try to have as wide a selection of colors as possible in
your clothing racks, and mix them for a rainbow effect. Make
sure that your jewelry items shine and sparkle. Arrange them
in and with jewelry boxes, jewelry ladders and other items
sold for the purpose of showing off jewelry while keeping
it neatly organized. We know of one lady who regularly arranges
jewelry items in a battery operated lazy susan. Seeing this
jewelry slowly turning on the lazy susan never fails to draw
Think about it, and then study the methods of display used
by "rack jobbers" in the stores in your area. These
are the wire racks that usually hold card packaged items.
This kind of display rack would lend itself beautifully for
anchoring a cluster of balloons. Keep these things in mind,
and build your individual displays as part of the whole; make
it pleasing to the eye as well as convenient for your customers
to browse through and select the items that appeal to them.
Look for some kind of interesting and unusual item to call
attention to your sale - something you can set up or park
in front of your home during your sale. Some of the displays
we've seen along these lines include a horse-drawn surrey,
a restored Model T, an old farm plow. But anything of an unusual
and interesting nature will do the trick for you. One couple
we know put up a display using a manikin dressed in an old-time
farm bonnet, long dress and apron. The display depicted a
farm woman of old, washing clothes with a scrub board and
two steel wash tubs. You have to believe this drew crowds
and made people talk!
Wherever your imagination takes you, you have to be different
and distinctive, or you'll get lost in the hundreds of garage
sales going on all around you. If you'll take the time to
employ a bit of imagination and set your sales up with the
kind of flair we've been talking about, you'll not just draw
the crowds, you'll end up being the one holding the most profits.
It's almost a compulsion of many women to go shopping, to
search for interesting and sometimes rare and valuable items.
This fact alone will keep you as busy as you'll ever want
to be - staging and holding garage sales. The market is so
vast, and the appetite so varied, that anything from a brass
bedstead to a used diary of somebody's long-for-gotten grandmother
will sell, and sell fast at garage sales. Put it all together,
use a little imagination, and you'll easily make all the money