I was done.
Done with the mess. Done with the clutter.
I was so done and was tempted to throw caution to the wind and get rid of it all! Put it on the curb with a big fat “FREE” sign.
Here we were, just weeks shy of moving to a different duty station, and all I could see was stuff. My mind zoomed ahead to moving into our new house and the fact that my husband wouldn’t be there to help unpack. He was going to be gone for training. I could feel gasps of hyperventilation threatening to choke me.
I should be a pro at this! I thought. It’s not like I haven’t moved before.
But, the reality was it had been a while since we had last moved and this time was with four kids! It’s amazing how much “stuff” accumulates after having children. I looked around at the stacks of things lying around, waiting for the movers to eventually put into boxes, and I found my mind wandering.
I was a little girl again, sitting next to my mom while we watched shoppers meander by. They balanced items in their hands as they thumbed through their coin bags and pulled out a few dollars to hand to my mom. It was the same every year. We would go through everything at the end of the school year and decide what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to sell. When June hit, we would do a weekend-long yard sale, and it almost always ended up completely paying for our family vacation every summer.
I pulled out of my daydream and attacked the piles.
I was going to have my own garage sale, and it was going to be a success!
It wasn’t until I started compiling together everything that I wanted to sell, that I realized my mom had some consistent techniques that worked every single year. I wanted this to be a success. I wanted to know that I could walk away from my garage sale and say that it was worth it!
I got to work.
I immediately began advertising.
Believe it or not, the hardcore yard-salers will make a list of all the garage sales they want to attend, so advertising is incredibly important. I wanted to have the garage sale the following weekend. Time was of the essence.
My mom always paid for a newspaper ad the week or two before we would have our yard sale. The number of people who came because of that ad was unbelievable! Since I didn’t think a newspaper ad would be very helpful for our area, I went on all the local Facebook selling pages and posted about our upcoming garage sale and made sure I re-posted or bumped my post every day. I also posted it on my personal Facebook page for any of my friends in the area and asked my friends to share about it with their friends.
One of our biggest advertising points was signs. My husband went to Walmart and Lowe’s and purchased yard sale signs to put at the end of the main road, the end of our cul-de-sac, and leading up to our house. The signs had our address and the date and time of the garage sale.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a picnic, so I made sure I gave myself a couple days to prep.
A successful garage sale isn’t just something that can be thrown together last minute. It takes careful planning, and I remembered that from all the yard sales we did with my mom. I set up all of my tables inside the garage and got the items already on them so that all we had to do on the morning of was simply put the garage door up and move the tables where we wanted them. This saved us a large chunk of time.
I priced everything.
People don’t like having to ask about prices and having to do so makes them less likely to buy. So, I bought colorful price stickers and put prices on everything.
I organized my items by type.
Stores are organized by sections, so why not my garage sale? For example, when someone is looking for pots and pans, they know to go to the “kitchen” section. So, I separated all of my items by type: Kitchen, Home Décor, Baby, Clothing, Holiday, etc.
I provided ease of shopping.
Nobody likes to have to bend over or get on the ground to look at things. I made sure all smaller items were sitting on a table or bookshelf. I even hung a clothesline across the entrance of our garage, to hang dresses, shirts, and jackets by size.
I arranged my displays in a horseshoe pattern so that people had ease of walking and could slowly browse from one side to the other without feeling crammed.
Putting larger items out in front and on the lawn helped draw attention to our garage sale and made people more likely to stop. Just like stores have window displays, having an attention-grabber can be key to drawing more people in.
I took advantage of my own garage sale.
How in the world did I do that? Well, since I have Etsy shops, I figured I would go ahead and try to sell any of my pre-made items, and it worked! I sold quite a few of my Etsy items and didn’t have to ship a single one of them!
I also set up a small table with snacks and drinks, because people are likely to buy a snack if it’s around lunchtime or even a drink if it’s a hot day. I let my children run the snack stand, and they had a blast! I think more people bought from them simply because they were too cute to say no to.
I remained friendly and struck up conversations with the people coming through.
A little kindness goes a long way, and the more I talked with my “customers,” the more I was able to discover something that helped me gear my items towards them. One woman mentioned that she was pregnant and, as we were talking, she said she wasn’t sure if she should go with an electric or hand-held pump. I grabbed my unused hand pump and gave it to her. I then directed her over to the baby section and proceeded to tell her what I loved about each item on the table. She and another woman spent over $100 on baby items right then.
I remembered my mom’s biggest yard sale tip – to start early.
All of the hardcore yardsalers like to get a head start, and I wanted to make sure I was ready. My biggest rush ended up being between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
After all of this work, did I have any success?
I think making almost $1,000 speaks for itself. We ran our garage sale for only six hours and made nearly a grand! We sold most and donated the rest.
I was free from the clutter!
It was worth it.
Lydia is a Marine wife, mom of three boys and a girl, and retained a major in English. She is a freelance writer for military websites and an influencer for several social networks. She also blogs at The Few, The Proud, and This Marine Wife, where she shares her life as a military wife and offers encouragement to moms in the trenches. Her blog also touches on managing the chaos and includes many DIY projects, home design, and recipes. She loves meeting new people, and you can always find her with a cup of coffee in hand. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter and bring some coffee, while you’re at it!