Garage Sale

Six months ago we put the house on the market to try and sell it. We got no a few people come by the first few weeks, and then about 1 person a month for the next several.  We looked at other houses in the area. There were a lot of nice houses, but nothing that fit the requirements of: Good school district. in our price range, newer than our current house. You could get two, but never all three.

So even though we wanted more space since we have a baby coming, we decided to just go ahead and stay here. It’s a nice house, in a good school district, and we have a perfectly affordable mortgage payment. The only problem was, we have to much stuff. Even without adding baby stuff, it was really cramped in some of the rooms.

We decided to clear out some stuff by having a garage sale. This proved to be a surprising amount of work. Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be hard. We had a lot of hand-me-down furniture that was still functional, there was just no place for it. Even a good queen size bed that had to go because that room turned into the baby’s room.

The last few weeks we’ve been going through everything the house and deciding to keep or get rid off. Then started organizing it and trying to decide on prices. We had new carpet installed a few weeks ago, so we moved everything out to the garage and only brought what was really necessary back inside. So the inside of the house has been nice and uncluttered. The garage was a death trap.

I was worried we’d put all of this effort into a garage sale and no people would show up, or if they did, no one would want any of our stuff. But I was pleasantly surprised. Between 7 and 9 am we had several dozen people come, and all of our big difficult to move stuff was taken away. The bed, a kitchen table, some book cases, an eliptical machine and a couch and loveseat.

We also sold a modest amount of what I’d say you’d typically call garage sale junk. Still have several boxes of it, but that stuff fits in the car and can be taken to goodwill. The big furniture, not so much.

If you’re thinking about having a garage sale yourself, here’s what I learned:

  1. Be ready EARLY- My Mom warned me people would show up before I expected, but I assumed that meant 1 or 2 people trickling in. We got up at 6am and were setting up still at 7. That’s when the biggest rush hit us.
  2. Be willing to Haggle- Remember your goal is to get rid of stuff, not make money. We sold stuff for ridiculously low prices, but it went. We made a reasonable amount, but we really got back a lot of space in the house, which is a far bigger value.
  3. Clearly label stuff- We tried this, but didn’t get everything, the price stickers wouldn’t stick to a lot of stuff. Half our time was spent trying to remember what we priced some of the stuff or repeating what our signs said. Which is:
  4. People don’t read signs
  5. Close your garage door- I was amazed at the number of people who wanted to buy my lawnmower or tools. If stuff inside the garage isn’t for sale, close it off to avoid being bombarded with questions. Or people wandering around inside.
  6. Computer stuff doesn’t sell well- People who come to garage sales, at least ours, didn’t know a thing about computer. Selling some old hardware didn’t work well, even at really low prices. I thought this stuff would go, because that is the kind of stuff I would look at. But then, I never go to garage sales.
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3 Responses to Garage Sale

  1. We used to do a garage sale twice a year, once in the spring, once at the end of summer, to try and lighten our load. We have gotten that down to one garage sale a year now, but you start to spot patterns.

    Baby clothes have sold very well for us. Once your last one has outgrown them, they’ll go.

    DVDs and CDs both go quickly. Books do not sell well at all unless you get exactly the right person.

    Furniture is really hit and miss. We had a big score with our last sale by selling a 5 piece bedroom set that had been occupying a chunk of the garage for literally 10 years. (And had been out for every garage sale during that time.)

    We have a roll-up garage door and leaving it at the half-way point seems to keep people away, yet leave a shady spot in which to sit. Still, I roll the bicycles and such into the back yard just to keep them out of sight.

    And, no matter what, at every garage sale somebody asks if we have tools (no), if they can buy the tables or ladders we used to display things (no), and at least one person comes by to meet the person who wrote our ad on Craig’s List (me, I have a whimsical “come buy our crap!” form that some people like).

    In the end, you have to be ready to part with stuff at a very low price. It isn’t a money making venture, it is a space creation venture!

  2. Maarkean says:

    That’s impressive. We put up a Craig’s List ad but I have no idea if it drove any traffic. We had some signs out as well so hard to say which was the biggest driver.

    Yeah we didn’t sell hardly any books, but that didn’t bother me. Half Price books will take at least some of them.

  3. Tamarynn says:

    Sounds like you made out pretty well! Those bigger pieces can be difficult to sell. I’d suggest throwing a few Craig’s List ads up for your computer equipment and books. You might get some hits that way.

    Depending on the books you have and their condition, your local library or schools might be interested in them as a donation.