It was the one summer Saturday morning when the kids would get up early – Neighborhood Garage Sale Day.
The excitement, preparation, and anticipation of this special Saturday morning were almost equal to Christmas. There was even baking involved the day before.
This day was a big deal.
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Our former suburban neighborhood would have a neighborhood-wide garage sale extravaganza on a Saturday in May. Everyone who participated would spend the week before going through closets and cleaning basements to find and mark items to sell. Kids would set up lemonade and Kool-Aid stands and have bake sales to raise money. Then, when the items the kids were selling were gone, they would take their money and literally run the neighborhood with their friends snapping up bargains with their new profits.
And that usually meant the old stuff you sold at your garage sale was replaced by new stuff to sell at next year’s neighborhood garage sale. With the kids involved, it was more of an exchange than a sale. But it was such fun. 🙂 Everyone got out to visit and reconnect after the long Iowa winter and rebuild the camaraderie that comes with being neighbors.
A garage sale is a great way to both clean out the clutter in your home and make a little cash. People are always looking for bargains on good quality items at garage sales.
Planning Your Garage Sale
Hosting a garage sale can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some steps to help you plan your event and organize your items.
- Get the kids involved! Share with them that you plan to sell some things and that if they help, they can earn some spending money all their own. You’ll have little tycoons in a split second. 🙂
- Advertise your garage sale on your community’s social media pages and in Buy, Sell, Trade social media groups as well as on your personal social media.
- Sort the items you want to sell into categories: baby clothes, kid clothes, adult clothes, household items, toys & books.
- Buy or make Garage Sale signs advertising your sale.
- If you make signs advertising your garage sale, use posterboard or foam board. Write the information in black marker or make it in Microsoft Word and print it off on your printer and tape it to to the posterboard or foam core board. Make the copy big enough to read from a car in the street. If you’re selling baby and kids clothes, be sure to put that on the sign. People LOVE to shop for baby and kid clothes at garage sales, and advertising these items on your sign will draw people to your sale.
- Use pre-printed garage sale price stickers if you want to price each item individually&. These save a LOT of time and effort.
- To save even more time and effort, price each table rather than each item. For example, make a sign that says Everything on This Table $1 and tape it to the edge of the table. You could also tape or glue it to a paint stick, fill a Mason jar with marbles or something pretty that can hold the sign on the stick upright. Stand the sign up in the jar and place it in the middle of the table.
- Borrow folding tables from friends or a church. I also found patio tables useful for displaying items at a garage sale, and these can be borrowed as well. If you’re selling dressers or tables, use them to display your items. Plywood supported by stacked milk crates work ok too. You can display items in the milk crate turned on its side while holding up the plywood.
- Go to the bank and get some money to make change. Stick with quarters, nickels, dimes, and one and five dollar bills. I like to have at least $20 on hand for making change. Note the amount you have for making change and deduct it from your gross receipts.
- Have a cash box or bank bag for keeping the money during the sale.
- Make sure the items you sell are clean.
- Advertise your garage sale on social media, especially on your community’s social media buy, sell, trade pages.
- Tie some balloons to the mailbox or to a chair in your driveway to make it easy for buyers to spot your sale.
- Open early. People who shop garage sales like to be the first to get the good stuff before it’s gone.
- Serve coffee in the morning. It makes people feel welcome and encourages them to stay a little longer and shop.
- Let the kids have a bake sale or a lemonade stand. They can sell baked items for people to enjoy with the coffee you serve. I used to make quick bread, cookies, and homemade donuts for the kids to sell. I’m going to share with you the recipe for the best selling bake sale item. It literally had people coming back every year to our garage sale during the neighborhood garage sale: Peanut Butter Bread.
- Have fun! Greet people like they’re guests in your home (because they are) and make them feel welcome. This isn’t a hardcore business, it’s just a fun way to clean the house and generate some cash.
- Most garage sales end in the early afternoon. Move your unsold items into the garage, take down the signs, pack away the bake sale table and count your earnings. The unsold items can be boxed and bagged and taken to the Goodwill or Salvation Army on Monday (get a receipt for your donation for tax purposes.)
- Sit back, enjoy a glass of wine, and smile while watching the kids play with their newly purchased garage sale treasures. 🙂
Bake Sale Items
People love a good bake sale along with a garage sale, and kids love hosting a bake sale. The items don’t need to be fancy or complex. Keep the menu simple and let the kids help with creating the items they’re going to sell as well as the signs and the price lists.
Typical items at a garage sale bake sale are:
- cookies (chocolate chip, frosted sugar, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin)
- cupcakes (various flavors and frostings usually made from a mix)
- cereal treats (cocoa, fruity, plain rice, pretty much any cereal mixed with melted marshmallows and cut into bars)
- quick bread (banana, poppyseed, lemon, and our neighborhood favorite, peanut butter)
Garage sales are just plain fun. 🙂 Have a happy and successful one!
All the Best,
Happy Garage Sale-ing!