A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Garage sales, tag sales, rummage sales, yard sales – whatever you choose to call them, these events are a staple of the American life especially during the summer.

People tend to love or hate garage sales based on whether they are having one or attending them. I personally enjoy both sides of the table.

During my years of “garaging” as my mom refers to it, I have made several observations which I will address in two parts.

Part one deals with the preparation for the sale and then how to prepare the actual garage sale site.

First you must determine your purpose for having a sale.  People generally have two reasons – those who wish to get rid of things and those who plan to make money. If you fall into the latter category, you might just resign yourself to a long, grumpy weekend. Most garage sale shoppers are not big spenders.

If, however, your goal is to empty your garage, attic, basement and/or closets, there are several things to keep in mind. Many serious garage sellers prefer to beat the crowds and shop early. Some even drive by the night before a sale.  If you want to sell things and make money, allow these people to purchase things whenever they arrive.

You must also be willing to negotiate. Haggling over prices is a way of life for some people – especially at garage sales. Of course you can send early birds away and stand firm on all prices but you may find yourself refilling your garage, attic or basement.

As with any project, good preparation is a must.  Check all local papers for advertising deadlines.  While running an ad cuts into profit, it increases traffic and you must keep in mind – more customers=less to pack up.

When considering what to say in an ad be honest. Just because your brother dropped off a box of ties does not mean you are having a “multi-family” garage sale. Do specify any large items or categories you know you will have.  Many collectors use garage sales to increase their inventory.

Signs can be more important than an ad if made and placed properly to guide people. Signs need to be large enough to read from a car and are most effective if they are all the same bright color.

Once your color is established, a simple arrow in that color can be sufficient to lead people to the main event. Many neighborhoods have restrictions on using wooden stakes or placing ads on existing signs.  This necessitates creativity.

Many options are available the simplest of which is to place the sign on the side of a large cardboard box which is held in place by a stone. Equally simple is to attach the sign to a bent coat hanger which is stuck in the ground.  A sturdier version of this uses cereal boxes to which the signs are attached before placing the whole ensemble on a hanger. The box prevents the signs from folding over in the wind.

All of these options use recycled items which keeps costs lower. Signs should be placed the day before at every intersection around the house.

Once you have clearly guided people to your location, there are some things that will make the sale more appealing.  Check back next week for these helpful hints.