Sunday, June 5, 2011

Garage Sale Success!

I finally had a garage sale the other week. My sister came up to help me and it went pretty well. Not as well as previous sales, but other sales have been held during warmer weather. My sister came up from Canberra for the weekend so she helped out.

Early on in the sale a man who called himself Uncle Peter came and picked a few things. I could tell he was a professional garage saler. You know the type. They come early, look for the best stuff they can resell, get a bunch of it and get it for the lowest possible price.

I had already listed my stuff pretty cheap. Lots of items were under $2 as I just wanted things gone. I also had a bunch of new items, still in their box or with their tags attached I was selling for 10% of their value.

So Uncle Peter gathered a bunch of stuff and asked how much for the lot and the conversation went like this:

Him: “how much you give me for everything?”

Me: “$24”

Him: “That’s how much they say on it!”

Me: “Yes, it is already cheap and most of this pile is new and worth a whole lot more.”

Him: “Aw, come on, it’s Uncle Peter! You give Uncle Peter a discount!”

(Just to clarify he is in NO WAY related to me or even met me before. Not MY uncle!)

Me: “It’s still $24.”

He finally gets out his wallet “gee, you are the first woman Uncle Peter not get a discount from” And this was not said in a mean way, I actually think part of him was impressed I didn’t back down.
The fact is I knew he wanted the stuff and I knew he would pay. I could have discount if I was desperate but it was early and he picked up the new stuff I was 99% sure would sell even if he didn’t buy it. You can usually tell who will buy any way and who won’t.

Amazingly despite having gotten almost $200 in change I still ran out. Everyone paid with $50, no matter how small the amount. Previous sales I have done I only needed $100 in change and most people paid with $20 or less for stuff under $20.

For the time I spent doing it, cleaning and pricing everything at first glance it did not seem worth it. Until I counted what I had made and realised I had made more than I expected. It worked out at an hourly rate of above minimum wage and I got rid of a bunch of stuff.

There were a few things I took back into my house to list on eBay. I had meant to do it before the sale but didn’t get to, so I still wanted to do that. The rest of the stuff we loaded into my car and took to the second hand shop. It feels so good to have it gone.

If I ever held another sale again there are a few things I would do differently:

1.) Put up all the signs myself. I asked someone else to do it and despite being very exact about where I wanted them, it didn’t happen.

2.) I would use bigger signs. I thought mine were a good size, until I went to put my signs up and there were GIANT signs all over the place. Seriously the biggest signs I have seen. (Most of them fell down during the day, but they were very visible).

3.) I would have more change.

4.) I would have my daughters looked after somewhere else. They kept coming out and taking things inside. I could have sold a few more things if they had not taken off with ½ of a set of things. No, they were not favourite items or even things used a lot.

5.) I might would probably combine with someone else at their place. As in, someone who lives on a busier road/closer to a main road than I do. I am in the back of the suburb kind of hidden away.

6.) Hold it in Spring/Summer/early autumn

7.) Hold it for longer. I only had until 1pm this time, which definitely felt like enough, but other sales I had I did til 4pm and sold off a fair bit towards the end. Lunch time is quiet everywhere as there are sports and things on. It is busy before and after.

8.) Plan a bit better and have potted plants, possibly baked goods (my mothers kitchen is registered to do this) and things like that to bump up sales.

9.) Get more tables. I didn’t have enough and would have like more things displayed better. If I had followed my own advice and been more organised I possibly would have sold more.

Either way, it was worth it and I am happy.


  1. Congratulations on standing your ground. I probably would have given a discount.

    Can't wait to hear how this adds up to your 1000 things.

  2. I'm also impressed that you didn't back down. I probably would have caved. If your hourly rate is above minimum wage, it's definitely worth it.

    My kids did the same thing at our last two yard sales - toys they never played with were suddenly their favorites and they were appalled I was selling them. I have a bunch of old toys in our pile for the next sale, so I'll definitely be sending them to the grandparents house. It's just easier that way. :)

    A reader of mine also gave me a tip to put out the signs the night before so you don't have to race to the street corner at 6 A.M.

  3. Thanks for the advice. I've always thought garage sales are too much work and just drag my items to the charity bin, but having some sound advice on how to do it properly may just be what I need to make it work.

  4. This is hilarious! Calling yourself Uncle Peter is weird enough, but speaking in third person might just be icing on the cake.

    You were wise to refuse negotiating with him, especially so early. I think the garage sale shoppers know that negotiating is always on the table, so it pays to be assertive in the price you want.


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