Friday, May 15, 2009

Garage Sale Bible pt.2- Selling

I'm off to hit some (hopefully) great sales this morning- so I thought continuing my post on The Garage Sale Bible would be appropriate. This time- its for sellers. I've only actually done a few sales myself, but from those experiences, and from my experience as a life long shopper- here is what I look for in great sellers:
  1. Price everything clearly. Don't just put signs up that say "make an offer"- it puts both buyer and seller in an akward situation. Put prices or a pricing system on everything. Its annoying to have to ask how much each item is. It puts pressure of buyers and makes your accounting much more simple!
  2. Don't sell crap. I know this is somewhat ambigious and subjective- but there are a lot of sellers out there who think it is perfectly ok to try and sell their stained and ripped clothing, broken vases, and toys without key parts. Don't sell anything you wouldn't put your kids in. Don't try and sell something that is grossly stained. (I'm talking like those nasty formula stains on the front of jammies and those blow out stains from you know what). Put them in a free box, donate them, or turn them into cleaning rags around the house. As a buyer, if I see a stack of stained, rippped clothing- I'm not going to look much further. You may have great stuff- but once I see you trying to sell me that stuff, I will be less motivated to look further. Don't try to sell me a Dora book that requires the special pen, but you misplaced it- or the Thomas book that was magnetic and is missing all of the magnets (especially for more than 25 cents!).
  3. Remember your stuff is worth more to you than it is to someone else. I know that cute frilly dress was a memory for you of when Jane giggled for the first time at her Grandpa, or the throw pillows that came all the way from your Great Aunt Ruth all the way from Alaska mean so much to you. But, I don't really care. I'm not going to pay anymore for it because it meant something to you. Price stuff at a fair market (garage sale market, not retail!) value, intrinsic value aside. Having a friend, who is distant from the memories each of your items hold, help price items can be helpful.
  4. Be willing to wheel and deal- or put a sign up that says otherwise. 98% of the sellers I come into contact with are willing to put together a package deal for lots of items or are willing to be flexible on some of their pricing. If you are staunch on pricing- put up a sign that says "Pricing firm". But, you will get more sales if you are willing to work with buyers. I'm not saying you have to take a bath- but a lot of the time, its just a buck or two- or just to get to a nice round number so you don't have to worry about change. (I had a lady yesterday who nearly had a heart attack when I offered her $7 instead of $7.25 for the pile of clothes I had...I would have paid the $7.25, but I was just trying to make our lives easier by not having to worry about change! This my friends was a fair barter, not unreasonable, and you as a seller should just take it!)
  5. Organize! Keep your sale clean and organized for easy shopping. When you go into a department store- clothes are nicely folded or hung in size order- do the same. If there is an outfit- pin or tape together all the pieces so they don't get lost in the shuffle. Label your tables and racks for easier shopping. Don't pile books- keep them in a box or crate for easy flip through. Think of your garage and yard like a mini store and organize it as such. Make sure you as the seller are easy to find- with a cashier station easy to locate as well.
  6. Have change available- think small bills and quarters. Chances are, inexperienced buyers are going to come along with a $20 for a $1 purchase. You must be prepared to make change.
  7. Forgoe the 10 cent box. Maybe have a quarter box for little trinkets- but for those old mcdonald toys that you are just trying to get rid of - I promise you- you will get rid of them faster and make a harried mom with a whiny child very happy and pleased if you just put a free box out there! (plus, if you are willing to give my daughter that little trinket for free- i'm much more likely to buy something from you)
  8. Greet your shoppers, small talk is ok. In fact, silence is rather akward. But, don't try to oversell your items. Let the buyers ask questions first about the items before offering your two cents of what a wonderful product it is and how you don't know how you can live without it. (think about that- especially for household things- if you are selling it- chances are you didn't like it enough to keep!)
  9. Have batteries in toys or batteries available to test toys. Have an electrical outlet to for buyers to test electronic items. I'm not going to buy it if I don't know if it works or not!
  10. Clearly label your sale at major street corners and then at every turn leading to your sale with the same color/design sign so buyers can easily find you.
  11. Advertising. Want to get the most traffic to your sale? First, advertise on Craigslist (free online classfied website and basically one of the best inventions since the computer itself). If you have a lot of big ticket items and feel as though your sale may be hard to find, go ahead and advertise in a small, local paper (for you GR area people- the advance). There is a fee- but can be a good source for buyers. Finally, if you live near a larger development, find out when their neighborhood sale is and do it at the same time, but open an hour earlier! You will be much more likely to get high traffic if you coordinate sales- people like one stop shopping!
  12. Pricing. Its subjective, I know. But, do some research before pricing your items. Shop around at other sales. See how much things run retail and clearance and price accordingly (aka, not any higher than a clearance price for brand new items). You will not recup your cost for the items. Kids clothing and toys are not an investment- don't expect to get a return on them. I know some of you paid a boatload for the entire Gymboree collection. If you really want to get your money's worth- sell it on ebay or something like that where other gymboree collectors and lovers will pay top buck for it. Yeah, as a buyer I would maybe pay a little more for a name brand (simply because you can tell the quality is high sometimes), but I'm not going to pay a ton more. For example- I won't pay $12 for the gymboree dress, i just won't. Especially if there is a more generic brand dress hanging there for just $4. Garage sale buyers are out for good deals on gently used items. If you want to sell collectors items for top dollar- this is not the avenue for you.
  13. Have fun! Enjoy your day. If you aren't- it shows. I don't like shopping at a sale where I feel like I'm inconviencing the seller. It was your choice to have a sale- be prepared for weather, bordeom, hunger, etc. Bring a friend. Find somewhere for the kids to go for the day.

Any other suggestions out there for buyers?

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