I had my biggest household disappointment this past weekend…an unsuccessful garage sale! I should just let it go, but I feel the need to analyze it. Over the course of two days, we had less than a dozen shoppers and made only $97.
What Went Right with Our Garage Sale
- We scheduled our garage sale for the same weekend as our city’s community sale (sponsored by the Lion’s Club). It was THE weekend for holding a garage sale with tons of shoppers.
- I enlisted my mom’s help for tables and pricing. She is a garage sale veteran and was a huge help.
- We had great product. We had a great variety of baby and toddler clothes, toys, and accessories. We also had a section of housewares and books. Compared to other garage sales we visited over the weekend full of junk, it felt like we had premium stuff at great prices.
- Willing to negotiate on prices…that is Garage Sale 101, right? We priced everything fairly for the quality, but I was also interested in moving inventory. I had saved everything up for 4 years, because I was not emotionally ready to part with anything. Now that both of my boys are well beyond the baby stage, I was ready and willing to negotiate to move this stuff out of my house and off to someone else who could use it.
- I posted a garage sale ad on Craig’s List.
- Save one shopper, every one who stopped by found something to buy.
- The downtime allowed me to photograph some big ticket items, which I plan to list individually on Craig’s List.
What Went Wrong with Our Garage Sale
- We didn’t get any traffic :( Our neighborhood is one of the furthest out from the city center and shoppers just didn’t seem to make it out our way.
- Given the first bullet on What Went Wrong, I think we needed more advertising to get more traffic.
- We should not have assumed several other garage sale signs at a major intersection were good enough to get people our way. As we were out shopping ourselves, we preferred turning into neighborhoods with the most signs at the corner. We should have added our sign to the corner full of signs to drive more people our way and to the neighboring sales.
- We just aren’t in a highly trafficked area. At the end of the sale my mom packed up all the goods to take to her house. She lives in another city, very close to a major road and always has successful garage sales. She will hold one later this month.
Setting up a garage sale is quite a bit of work. I started planning with my mom a few weeks in advance, but it still seemed like we were rushing to get everything set up the night before. In the end, I think the experience was worthwhile, mostly for the quality time I got to spend with my mom and sister, who also helped man the sale. Although I probably won’t host another garage sale at my own home, I certainly believe in garage sales and look forward to helping my mom with her sale (in a better trafficked area).
Please tell me I am not the only one out there that has experienced garage sale failure?
Wowsers. I’m so sorry it was so slow:(. I’m pretty sure we live in the same city, as we had our annual garage sale this weekend too. Our current home’s location is a hot spot for garage salers. We just put up a craigslist ad the day before the sale, and opened our garage door at 7:15am on Thursday. We had two people working the check out area and their were still lines of people waiting to pay. It was amazing. And most people didn’t negotiate on our prices until later in the morning.
Quick question for you…did you open on Thursday? Thursday seems to be the hot day for the Lion’s Sale (Wed night too). We made 90% of our money on Thursday (and a Wed pre-sale for friends and family). We still opened on Friday, but it was considerably slower.
I hope your mom’s sale goes better for you…garage sales are so much work (pricing, set up, being available for customers, etc)and you never know if they’ll be worth it until they’re done:).
You had amazing things at your sale. So it could have been the traffic issue and maybe people didn’t need what you had. I had both of those happen to me before. My mom lived on a high traffic corner and was very successful with her garage sales. Also at my last sale I had so much shabby chic stuff and the customers really weren’t into it.
This happend to my family just a few months ago. We mentioned to a few shoppers that we were doing poorly and they gave us some great tips.
1. Wed. sales are more profitable than Fri. I don’t know why this is but we tested it and it turned out to be true.
2. don’t put prices on your items. This also worked for us. Our guess is that people don’t know how to or don’t want to ask for a deal or to negotiate. If you don’t put a price on items they have to ask you how much and you can counter with what you want for that item or have them tell you how much they want to spend on it.
Good luck on your next one. I love your blog thanks for sharing :D
Not sure where you are, but if you are near a bigger city, you can look for temporary consignment shops. In North Texas, we have divineconsign.net … it becomes a massive consignment store or garage sale in something like an empty store front or a conference center. Its awesome – drop it off and let them sell it. Or, you can also check consignment stores, but you don’t get much money from them. If you are out in the sticks, yeah, I know how that goes.
RD Shugart says
So much of the success or failure of a yard/garage sale depends on location. We had a few at our last house – I remember people showing up at 6 AM even though the signs, ads, clearly stated 7. It is a lot of work, especially when you don’t get much out of it! I hate that for you. On a positive note, I did buy this very awesome chinoiserie chair at a yard sale this weekend for $50. I have seen them on CL and in secondhand shops for $250 +. In full disclosure, though, this is the first time that’s happened to me! One more thing (boy, this is long!) I’ve had greater success consigning my kids clothes/ baby items and selling furniture items, home decor stuff on CL.
Yeah I second the idea not to price – if you want things gone, surely any $$ is better than having to lump it somewhere? I suppose that’s my opinion… (and it’d save some time and stress)
I can’t believe the advice re:Wed – in my part of the world, Australia, they are ALWAYS on weekends! So funny how things change.
Annie Hayes says
We run into the same thing. We are just a couple of miles out of town and we learned not to do a sale the same weekend as the city wide garage sales- everyone stays in town or in the bigger developments to hit all the sales there. Advertising is another key- if you think you put up enough put up a few more. Price to sell- I advertise as the $1 sale- I figure to make a buck or two more and have to haul it somewhere just isn’t worth it. Just want it gone- not to mention the time to clean it all up. Good luck at your mom’s hopefully that will go better.
I think your input is spot on. All the shoppers were distracted in the neighborhoods dense with sales. Competition would be less on other weekends with good advertising!
We also had an unsuccessful garage sale this past weekend. What a coincedence. The weather was beautiful, there was a few other sales in our immediate area, we advertised online as well as with signs at the major intersections coming into our area (on Friday to catch the “coming home from work” traffic) but we only sold $70 worth of stuff and were left with literally, a truck load of stuff to take to Sally Anne. Most of our stuff was also baby items, clothes, kitchen and home things but very little of it went. I will attempt it again next year…I seem to always find enough stuff to sell even though we’ve purged the house for our upcoming move.
You might enjoy reading this post about garage sales.
I gave garage sales up years ago. Now we just Craigslist the most high-dollar items and donate the rest (taking a tax deduction as a charitable contribution, keep the receipt!).
Oh no! What a bummer for you! My sisters and I combinded our stuff and we made $1300.00. We were so happy with the turnout! We had people there almost all the time! We also had it on a seperate week that the neighbors.. and advertised in our local paper with lots of details like what size clothes and misc details..and we also posted it on a local facebook bargain hunters page.. The fb ad seemed to get the most attention..
I know this is an old post, but I appreciate it. I’m thinking of participating in my neighborhood garage sale in June and admittedly I keep going back and forth about it. Also, I know it sounds counterintuitive but from what I’ve read the demand for super cheap stuff sometimes seems to be better than premium, but fairly priced stuff. In getting ready for this sale I seem to be reading post after post where people said the stuff they expected to sell didn’t and stuff they almost didn’t put in the sale sold. Go figure. Even if my things don’t sell for as much as I would like I think it is a good exercise for me to deal with the clutter. Even though I am one single person I’ve accumulated WAY more crap than I need and it’s standing in the way of me making my spare bedroom into the crafting space of my dreams.
Kelly, I say go for it. I am not going to do it again (at least at my house), but I am so glad I tried. A couple good tips for making sure the clutter sells or doesn’t come back into your house: 1). List big stuff on Craigslist or at a minimum list your garage sale and include in description what you are selling. I got lots of interest from a garage sale listing for a few of the specific baby items I listed. 2) I love my mom’s philosophy…whatever doesn’t sell gets loaded up and donated. Don’t bring it back in the house. Keep a list of what you donated for tax deductions!
Good luck on your sale and your new craft room!
The last garage sale was my last also. We had plenty of people, but most wanted to buy everything for nothing. When you divide your take by the number of hours you spend, it’s not even close to minimum wage, much less worth my time. Never again.
Nina Klein says
I have never had a successful garage sale! Always a bust! I’ve had minimal luck on Craig’s list so I’m a donator…Kudos to those who are successful!
I love this blog. Your ideas and creativity so appeal and interest me. Keep it up! Thanks!
Nina, I am a donator, too. And, I am fine with that…less work. Thanks for the sweet comment!
Hi! Were those charlie banana cloth diapers? Did you like them? I have some and havent really gotten the hang of them yet. Thanks!
Old post but I Googled bad garage sales just to see if I was alone. I had my first one on Saturday. It was horrible. First it rained and although it cleared up within the hour I think it set the tone. Like another poster our customers wanted something for nothing. One lady scoffed at 50 cents for a brand new scented candle. We had only 20 people show over the course of 5 hours and sold only $10. I packed up everything and donated it. It was my first and last yard sale. Going back to stress free donations.