Holding a Diva Garage Sale – Part III

By Barb Tobias, NABBW’s Thrifting Expert

There is always a lot to do right before I open up for business the morning of my sale, and if I have failed to plan effectively … I’m stuck. I can’t simply leave to run for the store or the bank or to put out signs.  So, all last-minute preparations are carried out the day before the sale.

The Day Before the Sale

Getting a minimum of $100 in small bills for change is first on my agenda. At the least, I make sure I have fifty $1, six $5 and two $10. I’ve learned that people will often hand you a $20 bill to pay for a $3 item because they have come straight from their bank or ATM machine.

Garage sale signs are put out the day before the sale. By placing them at strategic corners around 4:00 p.m., I catch an extra day of free promotion. The next morning I do an early morning drive-by to make sure that all the signs are still up.

Electrical outlets on extension cords are placed in convenient locations. This convenience is a time saver and allows shoppers the opportunity to test their electrical items. A sign that reads, TEST APPLIANCES HERE, is hung next to each outlet.

My neighbors receive a courtesy call. Each is invited over and offered a 30 percent discount. They always appreciate my thoughtfulness. I have found that they become great customers and have even added their castoffs to my sale.

Two card tables are set up between the garage and the outside. I use one for checking out customers and one for holding items for people who are still shopping.

The Checkout Table serves as a work space where inventory can be re-tagged, dirty merchandise cleaned up and people can pay for their purchases. Supplies are stored on the checkout table in a handy organizer that includes:

  • Calculator
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer and nails
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Price tags
  • Recycled packing material
  • Pad of paper
  • A supply of business cards and an email sign-up sheet (for the next sale)
  • Jewelry and expensive items
  • Extension cords and batteries to test appliances and toys
  • Personal items (phone, water, food in a cooler)
  • A large supply of aspirin (just kidding)

I have a handy little organizer that I use as well.    I simply ask him his availability and pencil him in.

The Hold Table serves as a place where people can safely store things while they continue to shop without fear of someone buying their treasures. This table should be kept empty except for a large Hold Table sign that is attached, in plain sight.

Instead of serving candy at my sales, I prefer a little ‘eye-candy’ standing next to my HOLD table. I simply think it’s good for business.

This convenient table is critical for making multiple sales.  Clients tend to pass up merchandise that they are unable to examine, and they like to inspect the things they are considering. A Hold Table provides a safe place for them to stow their items, typically equating to more sales.

Sale Day!

When the big day arrives, there is still much to do. I usually rise at 4:00 a.m., shower, put on full makeup, dress in a chic outfit, snap my fanny pack on and head out to the garage by 5:00 a.m. (After all, I am the proprietress of this amazing Diva Shoppe and I love to dress for the part!) As I prepare to open the sale, I’m well aware that there will be early shoppers.

  • All lamps are turned on. I use a ton of lighting because light attracts people and makes the boutique look warm and inviting.
  • Cars are moved down the block.  Parking always seems to be at a premium so I open up as many parking spaces as possible.
  • Several large, attractive pieces of furniture are dragged toward the curb. I find that many people do drive-bys to see if the sale is worth their time. Veterans and busy shoppers don’t want to waste time stopping at meager sales. By placing enticing items near the curbside, hesitant shoppers are encouraged to stop and shop.
  • All doors are locked including the door from the garage into the house. If I have to enter my home during the sale I get out my key, open it and lock it behind me.
  • I offer a FREE box. This container is placed near the front of the sale and filled with items that aren’t selling. (Tip: I even add broken or chipped items because some people are very resourceful and good at repairing wounded items. If the box isn’t empty by the end of each day, the contents are tossed or become road kill for some lucky recipient.)

I’m always on the lookout for dead spots; areas that are passed over. For whatever reason, merchandise in corners or dark areas is frequently missed. Garage sales have dead spots    just like retail stores, so if I see items that are constantly overlooked … I move them.  My motto:  “If  it’s not selling … move it.”

Yep . . . that sure is the Diva Way . . . Move it or lose it.

  • All clothes are hung on cheap plastic hangers from a dollar store and displayed on clothes racks or a makeshift areas formed by two ladders and a shower curtain rod.
  • A checkout table is positioned at the opening to the garage. This allows me to keep tabs on what is going on inside the garage as well as the merchandise on the driveway.
  • A patio umbrella or a tent over the checkout table serves as a welcome relief in the summer months, and protects my valuables (including moi) from too much sun or that daunting sprinkle.
  • My money is on me at all times. I work with a fanny-pack that is tucked safely and conveniently on me, which allows me the freedom move around, answer questions and rearrange things without leaving a cashbox unattended.

Trust me . . . this Diva never lets any form of BLING out of her sight.

Serious buyers and dealers typically arrive an hour or so before opening up.  And, I welcome them.  They are typically good buyers and will readily pay for what they want.

  • Friend and partners are asked to arrive an hour before the sale … ready to work; two hours before if they have things to set up.
  • My mission is to get rid of everything.  As the sale progresses, I reduce prices, negotiate like crazy and keep the free box full of merchandise that isn’t selling.
  • An upbeat attitude and a party face are irresistible.  People love shopping in a festive atmosphere.

Now is the time to have fun.  Most of the hard work is behind me.

The Cleanup

  • At the end of the sale, I stick to my guns and make sure I don’t relent and let favored items back into my house.
  • Then starts the process of separating what I need to store for the next sale and what will be donated.  I pack up my car with all the merchandise that is going to my favorite thrift shops or charities, find the nearest coffee shop, buy myself a big latte and revel in a job well done.
  • And finally I make a list of everything that I am donating.  I assign a value to each item and attach the list to the signed receipt I receive from the drop-off center. These are typical categories I use for tax purposes:
    • Clothing
    • Shoes
    • Linens
    • Small Furniture
    • Sporting Equipment
    • Toys
    • Décor and Household
    • Jewelry
    • Books
    • Appliances

Your BIG sale can make or break you.  With planning, you can have great success, meet interesting people and have a great deal of fun.  Good luck!  I wish you a great Diva Sale memory!

Barb Tobias, the “Thrift Talk Diva,” is an author, speaker, thrift specialist, frugal decorating consultant and a hopeless Thrift-a-holic. Lauded as the frugally chic purveyor of an environmentally conscious nation, Barb\’ s release, Tossed & Found: Where Frugal is Chic, gives the reader a birds-eye-view of the riches stashed within the dimly lit coffers of the thrift world.