The season of garage sales have begun! Now is the time to unload your unwanted items for a few bucks… and then spend that hard-earned money at your neighbor's garage sale. Here are the best tips for either holding a garage sale or shopping at one.
1. Start on Thursday. For garage sales, Thursday afternoon is the new Saturday morning. For example, the Star Tribune's online garage sale calendar lists tons of sales starting this Thursday, the 10th. If you start your sale in the afternoon, you'll get after-work shoppers. http://ww2.startribune.com/mcu/projects/g/garagesales/13021198R.pdf
Tip for garage sale shoppers: stopping by the first day means you'll get first crack at all the good stuff.
2. Advertise wisely. Run your sale during your city's city-wide garage sale event to take advantage of the buzz. You'll find a list of city-wide sales at ThriftyMinnesota.com,
Advertise for free on Facebook, Craigslist, and Garage Sales Tracker.com, www.garagesalestracker.com, and then Tweet the hours and location of your sale to all your Twitter followers. Caveat: advertise online only if you feel comfortable listing your home address on a public forum. For something more low-tech, ask if you can post sales flyers at your local grocery stores and community centers.
Don't forget to advertise what types of items you are selling, to attract the right clientele. Nothing is worse than a guy who's looking for power tools showing up at a sale for babies' clothing.
If you're a shopper, research the big sales dates in your area, before you head out. You can hit a bunch of sales, find the best selection, even comparison shop, without wasting gas driving all over the Twin Cities. And shoppers? There's an app for that. Find a free garage sale locator app at Garage Sales Tracker.com.
3. Keep it clean… and in good working condition. Remember, this a garage sale, not a trash heap. Make sure your items aren't covered in dust and dirt. Also, put in fresh batteries wherever necessary, and have plenty of extension cords on hand, so buyers can see what you're selling actually works.
For the buyers, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! For items like dishes, tools and garden equipment, a little grime will wash off. Use the untidy condition as a bargaining chip to get the price down even further. However, don't buy anything that doesn't work. Chances are, you'll end up selling it in YOUR next garage sale.
4. Have cash on hand. If you are the seller, have enough quarters and dollar bills to make change for the whole day – most people show up with $20's. If you are a buyer, make sure you are carrying exactly the amount of cash you are willing to spend in a day. That way, you won't overspend.
Buyers, if you find something you just can't live without and you're out of money, see if the seller will hold it for you while you run to the bank. If not, go anyway, and see if it's still available when you get back! That extra time it takes could be enough to make you rethink the purchase. Sellers, remember that a buyer who walks away usually does not come back. Perhaps you can let that item go for the money the buyer has on hand.
5. Everything must go on Sunday. Every seasoned garage sale-er knows – the last few hours of the sale is when the prices on all remaining items are slashed in half… or lower. Sellers, remember you can sell that precious piece of whatever for 25 cents, or you can put it back in your house, where you didn't want it in the first place. And buyers? The last few hours on an early Sunday afternoon is when you'll have your best bargaining luck. Just don't go too crazy – just because it's cheap, doesn't mean you need it.