Garage sales are both opportunities to make money and to find a bargain and/or a bibelot. A bibelot is defined as “a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity”. Here is one of my garage sale bibelot finds:
The color and glazing on this small tray is really beautiful. There is a French name stamped on the backside, leading me to believe its first home was Paris, France. Perhaps there was a hotel named Astor at one time in the “City of Light” and this tray formerly resided there.
Many Parisians live in charming yet modest apartments with small spaces and few closets. They often don’t have room for a lot of stuff and pare down to the essentials and a few bibelots and antiques. Still, if a person finds a treasure at a garage sale, flea market, or antique shop, he or she will likely find room for it.
Here’s another example of someone else’s cast-off that became one of my finds. I treasure these “coins” for their Feng Shui symbolism, detailing and colors.
Here in America we have plenty of big homes and lots of stuff. Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter — and earn a little extra cash — anytime but especially before you sell your home. Getting rid of clutter is one part of staging a home. Just make sure the timing is right.
Conducting a garage sale takes a lot of time and energy. These sales can take on a life of their own, and it might not be the best use of your energy right before putting your home on the market. If you’re planning a garage sale at your home, on your block or in your neighborhood, use these tips for a successful sale:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be scrambling to hold a garage sale the week before an open house. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home and how much stuff you have to sell, planning a garage sale can demand a lot of time and energy.
2. Get a permit. Most municipalities will require you to obtain a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. The permits are often free or very inexpensive, but still require you to register with the city.
3. See if neighbors want to join in. You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers if you team up with neighbors. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.
4. Schedule the sale. Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early, 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. is best, and be prepared for early birds.
5. Advertise. Place an ad in free classified papers and Web sites, and in your local newspapers. Include the dates, time, and address. Let the public know if certain types of items will be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. On the day of the sale, balloons and signs with prominent arrows will help to grab the attention of passersby.
6. Price your goods. Lay out everything that you plan to sell, and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so try to be objective as you set prices. Assign simple prices to your goods: 50 cents, 3 for $1, $5, $10, etc.
7. If it’s really junk, don’t sell it. Decide what’s worth selling and what’s not. If it’s really garbage, then throw it away. Broken appliances, for example, should be tossed. (Know where a nearby electrical outlet is, in case a customer wants to make sure something works.)
8. Check for mistakes. Make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.
9. Create an organized display. Lay out your items by category, and display neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.
10. Stock up on bags and newspapers. People who buy many small items will appreciate a bag to carry their goods. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile items.
11. Manage your money. Make a trip to the bank to get ample change for your cash box. Throughout the sale, keep a close eye on your cash; never leave the cash box unattended. It’s smart to have one person who manages the money throughout the day, keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much. Keep a calculator nearby.
12. Prepare for your home sale. Donate the remaining stuff or sell it to a resale shop. Now that all of your clutter is cleared out, it’s time to focus on preparing your house for a successful sale!
Download this list of tips here: 12 Tips on How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale
Bonus Tip: Consider having a refreshment available for your visitors. If you have children, they could set up their own money-making enterprise with a lemonade stand. People enjoying a cool drink are more likely to linger at your sale and find things they might otherwise have overlooked. Here’s a post on how to make your own fresh lemonade:
Kate Walsh, Realtor
Lakes Area Realty