It is spring going into summer. It is a time to think about spring cleaning, gardens, vacations, graduations, weddings, and for some…garage sales. Aside from being a great place to find things you need at a good price, garage sales are a great way to eliminate the clutter and earn some extra cash.
To maximize your garage sale profits and hold a successful garage sale, you must employ eight marketing techniques used by retail stores.
PRIOR TO THE SALE
The first day of your sale will probably be your best day so being prepared when you open the sale is important to maximizing your profits:
1. Timing of the sale – The timing of the sale is important. Retail stores have their sales at specific times for specific reasons to maximize their profits. To increase the traffic at sale:
- Be one of the first in your area to have a garage sale in the spring.
- Watch the weather – try to avoid holding your garage sale when it will be cold, raining, or overly hot.
- Hold the sale on a hunting or fishing weekend – When a spouse goes hunting or fishing, their partner tends to go shopping at the mall, garage sales, and craft sales.
- Hold your sale on a weekend when there are other events happening in your area. The key is to take advantage of the traffic generated by this other event.
- Avoid holding your sale on a holiday weekend.
2. Pricing – In a retail setting, everything has a price tag and is priced to sell in a competitive market. Make sure every item at your sale as a price tag. If an item does not have a price tag your customers will tend to leave it rather then ask the price. Also, be flexible on your prices and do not over price your items.
The goals of your sale are to eliminate the clutter and make some extra cash. If you are not flexible on your prices, or you ask too much, you will not accomplish either of those goals. Expect to receive, and consider accepting, reasonable offers on your items.
3. Clean items and space – If you enter a retail store that is not clean or has things on the shelves that look dirty or old would you stay and spend your money there? Before your garage sale, clean all of the items you are selling. Your customers will pay more for clean items that is in good condition. They will perceive the items as having more value.
In addition, be sure the area where you are holding the sale is clean and neat. Sweep the floor; hang up tarps to hide the garage clutter and to separate what is for sale from the things that are not for sale; clean up cobwebs; cover old tables with tablecloths; etc. In addition to a clean space, create a more relaxing environment by having music playing quietly in the background. Music helps people feel more comfortable. When it is silent, they feel as if they are the center of attention.
4. Signage and Promotion – Of course making people aware of your sale and drawing them to it is very important. Signage advertises your sale and draws people to your sale. Be sure your signs are big, bright, uncluttered, easy to read, and consistent.
Keep in mind that people must be able to see and read your signs while they are driving. If the signs are big and bright, people will see them from further away and be able to slow down in time to turn into your sale. If people drive past your sale, they probably will not turn around and come back.
In addition to being easy to see, your signage should be consistent. To be consistent they should all be the same color and design. If there a multiple sales in your area it is easy for a potential customer to be lead to someone else sale if they cannot easily follow your signs.
Other avenues of promotion include hanging up flyers on billboards in your area, taking out an ad in your local newspaper, or joining an online garage sale group on Facebook. In that group, you should post pictures of your sale tables; highlights of what will be on the sale; and the days, times, and the location of the sale.
DURING THE SALE
5. Product Display – Retail stores have display items set up so you can see what you are buying and because they know that unless you are specifically looking for an item you might walk by a boxed item. At your garage sale:
- Fully display your items so customers can see the features – Your customers are usually not going to take the time to examine each item. They come in and glance over the tables to see if anything catches their attention. For this reason, it is important to have clean items, uncluttered tables, and displayed items. For example, if you have a travel game in a nondescript case, open the case so customers can see what is inside.
- Set up some items outside – Attract people to your sale and give them the impression that your sale is worth the time to stop at by setting up some items outside.
- Keep your tables looking full – Condense items onto fewer tables and remove empty tables. Tables that appear full and not picked over make people feel that they are not just getting the leftovers; things other people did not want.
- Place like items together
6. Watch traffic patterns – Retailers study traffic patterns in their stores. These patterns indicate the best places to display items with the highest markup or for a quick sale. Use this same technique during your garage sale. During the sale, pay attention to the flow of traffic into and around the sale. Note which areas traveled heavily and attract the most people. As things sell move items to these areas especially the higher priced, nicer items.
7. Sell more by upselling – Give your customers a chance to buy related items. Ask customers questions such as: “Did you see ____? It matches this item.”; “Did you see the second one? I’ll give you a deal if you take both.”; “That _____ works well with this item, would you like to look at it?”
8. Provide good customer service and encourage shopping – Good customer service is paramount in the retail world. Aside from greeting your customers, offer to put their selections on your checkout table. This allows them to shop with free hands, which enables them to pick out more items. While the customer continues to shop, you can take the tags off the items (laying them out on the table) and bag them. Doing this makes check out faster and customers usually do not change their minds about the items they picked out.
Implementing these eight marketing techniques will enable you to maximize your garage sale profits and hold a successful garage sale. Once your sale starts, have fun! It is probably a beautiful day outside and your garage sale gives you the perfect opportunity to read a good book (when it is slow at your sale), listen to some of your favorite music, and visit with a variety of people…all while eliminating the clutter and earning some extra cash!
Make this your best day,
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Angie R. Boecker is a specialist in managing life’s chaos. She is the author of two books, Effective Grant Writing: Submit a Stronger Application and The Secrets to Thinking on Your Feet and a blog entitled The Travel Element. As a public speaker, Angie has spoken to audiences on topics that help them manage life’s chaos.