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Planning a Successful Garage Sale

Moving to a new house is a great opportunity to get rid of all that stuff that's been sitting in your closet forever. What you might consider junk could be a treasure for others so a garage sale is a great way to declutter and reduce the number of items you'll have to pack, while making some extra cash. Now, don't expect to just put everything out on a pile and wait for people to show up. A successful and profitable garage sale needs careful planning and organizing.

Give yourself at least 4 weeks to prepare. Pick a weekend day and make sure it's not a holiday. First get some boxes and start filling them with items you no longer need. Go through your closets, kids' toys, kitchen drawers, storage room, etc. It's a great idea to join forces with neighbors, friends and family if you don't have that many things to sell since buyers are usually attracted by large sales. This way you could share the advertising expenses too. At this point you should inquire whether you'll need a permit and what the regulations for advertising with signs in your locality are. You should also start saving plastic bags and newspapers for wrapping fragile items. You'll have to get tables and clothing racks as well.

Time to plan your advertising strategy - if you live on a busy road with a lot of traffic, street signs which are sold at any office supplies store might be enough. If not, consider placing an ad in your local newspaper and on the free message board at the supermarket. Craigslist is another free way to announce your garage sale. You'll also need: masking tape, price stickers, black markers, boxes, clothes hangers and plastic cups if you plan on offering coffee and drinks to your customers.

Now that you have everything you'll need, it's time to wash and clean all the items you'll be selling. There's nothing more unattractive at a sale than a dirty T-shirt or a DVD player covered in dust. If you saved the original boxes of some items, you'll probably be able to get more money for those. The newer they appear, the better. Put price tags on all your items and remember - don't overprice.

If you're having your sale in your garage you can start setting up tables and clothing racks a couple of days in advance. Make sure to mark items in the garage "not for sale". Post large signs like "All shirts - 50 cents" to avoid marking each of them individually. Have a full-length mirror available for the buyers who want to try clothes on, and a plug to test the electric appliances. Next, separate all items into categories - all kitchen stuff in one place, toys in another, clothes organized by size, etc. Place your best items such as baby stuff or electronics closest to the street to attract passers-by. Keep jewelry, collectibles and other valuables close to you. Make a special toy box for kids only. This will keep them busy while their parents shop around.

On the day of the sale get up early and place a large sign with balloons and arrows at the intersection closest to your house. And don't forget to take down all your signs after the sale is over, or you might get fined in certain municipalities. Make sure you have at least $20 in change and small bills, and a calculator. Brew some fresh coffee and offer it to your early morning customers for free. Some people might show up earlier than the time specified, if that's the case and you're not ready, ask them to give you a few more minutes. This way you'll stay in charge of your sale. Be polite and greet all your customers. Wrap any fragile objects they buy in a newspaper. And watch your money at all times; take large bills inside the house to a safe place periodically throughout the day. Be ready to bargain but don't give your stuff away. As items sell, rearrange tables so they don't look empty.

In the last hour or two mark the unsold things 50% off to get rid of as much stuff as possible. When the sale is over, take what's left to a charity to donate. That's it. Now time to count your profits!
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