Garage sale – turning trash into cash

Moving into a new home can be great motivation for turning trash into cash. Whether you call it a garage sale, yard sale, or moving sale, the idea is to finally clean out the garage, basement, closet or attic that's been harboring all that junk you haven't used, and maybe haven't even seen, for years.

If you're moving into a smaller home, a sale of some sort may be a necessity, unless you want to keep the charity or garbage trucks really busy. If you have a lot to dispose of, you might even want to consider an auction or estate sale. And people who specialize in running these sales -- garage sale professionals -- can clear out your entire house for you in one fell swoop.

However, if you just want to rid yourself of those clothes you no longer wear, the baby things your children have outgrown, toys the kids no longer enjoy, furniture you've grown tired of, and books and CDs you no longer care about, a garage sale might be a great alternative. The money made can help you buy new things you can sell at a garage sale a few years down the road.

There are books on the market that offer advice on holding a sale and kits that include signs, labels and other garage sale paraphernalia. There is also a lot of free advice available on the Web, and anyone who has ever held a garage sale will probably be more than happy to share their success or nightmare stories with you.

Here's some of the most popular advice:

  • Check with local officials to see if there are any restrictions on garage sales in your area.
  • It pays to advertise. Place ads in your local newspaper, Pennysaver or Shoppers Guide. Post notices on grocery store or neighborhood bulletin boards. Put details about the sale online.
  • Consider holding the sale with other neighbors to share the advertising costs and attract more customers with a "multi-family" pitch.
  • Place bold signs with directional arrows on the route to your house. Check local laws regarding placement of the signs.
  • Limit sale hours and don't pick a holiday weekend. Be safe and pick a rain date as well.
  • Expect some early birds.
  • Price things reasonably, and expect customers to bargain.
  • Stick price tags on individual items or group things by price. For example, a table of $1 or $5 goods. You might also consider color-coding your price tags by cost.
  • Invest time in cleaning your items before the sale. It makes them much more appealing.
  • Place clothing on racks, and be sure to check your pockets for any money you may have forgotten.
  • Group similar types of items together on tables.
  • Have plenty of change handy on sale day.
  • Guard your money carefully. Keep it in a lockbox or wear a fanny pack.
  • Have plastic bags available for your customers' purchases and some paper to wrap the breakables they buy.
  • After the sale, be sure to remove the signs you've posted.
  • If you plan to have another sale, box up the leftovers for next time. If you really want to clear house, don't even take the leftovers inside. Pack them up and drive them to a local charity.
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