Four years ago, my family and I decided to host a multi-household garage sale. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of our lesser used wares and get together (mostly the latter). Of course, I decided to dig deeper to get the most out of our time and efforts. I was surprised by what I found.
‘Garage saling’ (or sailing) is a thing. There are people who plan their weekends (or day trips) around hitting garage sales and discovering hidden treasures. (Note that I have various hobbies that people find weird, so I’m not making fun of anyone here.) As I dug deeper, I discovered that serious garage salers (or sailors) handle their business like a business.
Here’s what I learned from them that you can use to succeed in business:
- Have a plan: Garage salers like to browse the Friday paper’s Classified section to form a plan. Are some areas hosting multiple sales? Are they looking for specific items? There are a number of websites that promote garage sales now too, although I’ve received a bigger return on investment advertising in the local paper.
Know where your audience is, so you can target your marketing efforts. You’ll receive a larger ROI for your efforts.
- Trust your gut: While serious garage salers have a plan, they also improvise. Maybe they pass a sign for another sale (or great local cafe) and decide to make a detour. You never know what you’ll find when you open yourself up to new experiences.
Planning for your business is necessary, but so is adaptation and flexibility. Because life and business rarely go according to plan…
- Know when to negotiate: People think that garage salers like to negotiate everything. Selling something for 50¢? They’ll want it for a quarter. That’s not true, at least from my experience. Serious garage salers know when to negotiate and when to save their time and energy. Antique furniture? Let’s talk. An almost-new travel mug for 50¢? Consider it sold.
Don’t be an amateur. Know when to negotiate! Think value, not cheap.
- Get your timing down: I would love to steal a line from our garage sale ads for my business meetings: “No early birds, please.” While the early bird may get the worm, people who show up at garage sales during setup get a cold shoulder and a frown. No, we have no idea where the [insert item from ad] is right now, but we’ll know in a half hour when we open for business.
If showing up for a business meeting 5 minutes early is ‘on time,’ then showing up 30 minutes early is unprofessional, not impressive.
In summary, have a plan but trust your gut. Know when to negotiate and when to save your time and energy. Be on time but don’t be excessively early. It’s amazing what you can learn about business from life when you open your eyes and take a look around.
Are you a serious garage saler (or sailor)?
What other tips would you add for successful garage saling (and business)?
p.s. The Shine Family Garage Sale has become an annual tradition. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop on by!
p.p.s. Learn more about the awesome featured image for this post here.
Garage Sale Hostess with the Mostess,