Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 12, 2015
Well after many years of ignoring the idea my wife finally convinced me to try running a garage sale. Normally I’ve won this argument over the years with the simple statement of: we don’t have enough stuff to sell. Yet because of my recent purging activities I dug my own hole on this one and finally agreed to put on a garage sale. I really just wanted to sell a handful of things and toss the rest but my wife have having issues with tossing that much stuff so I gave in only after extracting the promise we would donate as much as possible for the leftovers but after that any left would be tossed.
Overall it was equal to a three solid days work of preparation the week before for the sale that ran over Friday evening and Saturday during the day. It took that long just to set up the garage space, sort and price everything and put it all out on display. We kept our pricing generally low in order to encourage sales (we were doing this more to get rid of things than make money) and we kept everything at easy to calculate amounts like $0.25, $0.50 and $1. That also included time to put together an ad and post it several different websites (for free of course). Then I picked up some change from the bank for $220 in fives and change (which by the way was a bit too much, but you do use a lot more change than you would guess).
Our hours for the sale were Friday 3 to 7pm and were supposed to be 10 am to 6pm on Saturday. Yet in reality we never made it that long. We started to realize that the customer traffic on Saturday was so low that it won’t be worth keeping the sale open the full hours. So about 2:30pm after less than 10 customers we started to clean up the garage and toss a few items in the trash and then put together a pile of stuff that we would try to donate. Only three higher priced items were left that we will give a try to selling online.
In terms of sales honestly it wasn’t a good use of time. We sold $253.50 in the first day and just $25.25 in the second for a total of $278.75. A good lot of the sales came from a handful of items the two biggest ones went for $40 each and included an outdoor play structure and a crib. Those two items sold in the first 30 minutes of the sale and I wasn’t even remotely surprised since I was answering email questions about those via our ads prior to the sale even starting. So I learned that apparently having a few higher demand items is really helpful to drive some traffic into your sale.
Yet in terms of stuff, I have to admit that for getting rid of things it is a fairly effective way to do it especially if you want to see the get reused rather than just tossed into the trash. I would estimate at least 2/3 of our stuff sold and lots of the big things. I understand my wife’s point of view on this one as the boys did a major purge on their toys so we have over half the items in the sale were just toys. Those did very well for sales, one boy’s mom bought a huge amount of our old Thomas trains. I was also amazed about some of the things that sold. I put out two old garage cans that I had from our previous house that I don’t use and both sold even when every person in this city has access to a large bid for their trash provided by the city.
To provide motivation for all this work we decide in advance that all the cash from the sale was going to be spending cash for our vacation and because the boys were helping haul stuff up from the basement for the sale and sort all their toys we promised them some of that money to spend during our vacation.
In the end, I’m glad it is over and I personally never want to do it again, yet my wife pointed out that will be at least one more sale…when she closes down her daycare for good when she retires we will have a huge sale prior to downsizing the house. I suppose I could put up with that if it means she joins me in early retirement.
So do you ever put on a garage sale? Are they worth the effort? Or do you just shop at them?