How we made $156 an hour at our garage sale.

Part of our strategy to totally dominate the One Month To $1,000 Challenge (hosted by Joshua Gordon over at one of my favorite families) was to have a killer garage sale.  And here is how we did it.  Along with a few things we learned for next time.
Organize at least a week before.  You cannot just wake up the day of the sale to start looking around the house for a few things to sell.  In fact, I suggest starting a month before.  Go through every room and closet in the house.  If you haven’t used it in 3 months, do you really need it?  If you have more than one, can you sell one?  If you have been hanging on to it for no good reason, can you let go of it?  The garage is a prime target, too, of course.  Organize things into 3 categories.  1. garage sale 2. give away 3. e-Bay (more on these 3 categories later on).  All of these things should initially show up in your garage sale postings.
Ask friends, family, and neighbors to drop off items to sell at your garage sale. The more, the merrier – and it goes for garage sales too.  Ask at least a week before the sale.  Tell them you are having a garage sale, if they have anything they want to sell, they can drop it off the day before.  You can even charge them 10% of the money collected if you want.  Think about it, they just drop it off and go.  You are the one who spends a whole day in the garage.  I think 10% is fair.  Have them take pictures and email a short description for the online ads that we will talk about next.
List, List, List.  Newspaper (print and online), e-Bay, Craigslist, the Spanish paper and website, Thrifty Nickel, and the Church bulletin.  Online is the way to go these days.  Free and focused.  List on all the sites, and make sure you include the date, time, and location of the sale on each listing.  Here is the biggest tip:  List all the big items separately!  Include prices and pictures.  Remember that garage sales aren’t just about the $1 bin. We sold our two mopeds and made $950 from just two items.  After you list all the big ticket items separately, list all the items together in another separate garage sale posting.  This more than doubles the amount of listings that are out there for your sale.  People who are searching for specific items will see your garage sale listing.   Here is the tricky part.  If someone calls or emails about a big ticket item, you have a choice to make.  You can sell it to them before the sale, OR tell them everything will only be available at the garage sale.  This will get people there EARLY so they will be the first to feast their eyes on the item, and they just might buy one or two other things while they are there.  This will also save the amount of time you spend selling everything.  Sell it all at the garage sale at one time instead of one by one trying to meet people here and there.  Save that for after the sale for the stuff that doesn’t get sold.  List sizes for clothes and shoes, and appropriate ages for the games and toys.  List a week out, two days out, and the night before.  Get as many eyes on your online garage sale listings as possible.  Spend a little time on your listing.  Great listing = lots of people.  Post great pictures!  (Pictures sell)
Pricing.  This part is fun.  Price everything clearly so there is no confusion.  Group like items in the same price range together.  Shoes with shoes, games with games.  Have a $1 bin.  Have a $5 table.  Start the day with “reduced pricing.”  On select items (usually $20 and up) write a higher price and then mark through it and add in a lower price.  Example: Toaster oven $40 $32.  Also, “2-fors,” e.g. “2 for $10,” “2 for $2,” or “2 for $3.”  Encourage people to buy more than one of any similarly priced item.  ALWAYS REMEMBER, pricing is always negotiable.  When someone is interested in an item and the price turns them off, use your best judgment, and offer a lower price if you think they will go for it.  Or even better, offer to throw in a lower priced item for free if they buy a higher priced item, and let them pick out the free item.  Last, if they buy a few things and you owe them $3 in change, instead of the change back, offer a $5 item for “free.”  They get a deal and take the item and you “keep the change.”  This will add up a lot during the day.
Be friendly and helpful and ASK THEM what they are looking for.  People buy from people they know, like and trust.  Introduce yourself and tell them your name, ask them what their name is.  People are people, even at a garage sale and if they are treated with respect they will eat it up (and your stuff).  Garage sales can get cluttered and messy.  People who are looking for that pair of boots might overlook them and you just lost a sale.  Check this out: we asked a guy what we was looking for, and he said he needed things like small furniture and end tables for his new apartment.  Carrie right away said, “I’ll be right back!”  She went inside and came back out 60 seconds later with an end table that we had gotten for free and didn’t really need.  We sold it to the guy for $10!  It was the only thing he bought.  We would have missed that $10 if we didn’t ASK.
Not the biggest money maker, but my favorite:  Have a cooler with bottled water, sodas and snacks.  We bought a case of water at Costco for $4, sold them for $1 each, and more then doubled our money back.  Ask everyone who walks up if they would like a water or a snack.  Ask again when they buy something.  Offer a bottle of water instead of their $1 change back.  It’s lots of fun, and it will add up.  If it’s warm out, they will go for it.
Signs.  Put signs up on the surrounding street corners.  Many people will follow the signs,  people who are trying to find your sale and people who just noticed the sign and decided to stop by.  We used bright pink poster board and black marker, you could see them from St. Louis.  We put the date, time and arrows pointing in the direction of the sale.  We put them up the day before and yes, please, we took them down the very next day.
Earlier we grouped the items into three categories: 1. give away. 2. garage sale. 3. e-Bay.  Arrange for a local charity (Salvation Army, Goodwill) to come pick up the give-away stuff that didn’t sell the day after the sale.  You can probably schedule the pick up the week before.  This way you don’t have to pack it all back up and drag it back out again for the pick-up two weeks later.  Consider donating the left-over garage sale stuff also.  All the items labeled e-Bay that didn’t sell should get re-posted on Craigslist,, or e-Bay at 10% below the original cost (be sure not to post a single item on multiple sites, as it could simultaneously be bought by two different buyers).
Well, did I miss anything?