Me, personally? I've never had a garage sale (or yard sale or tag sale), and I can't remember ever going to one, either. But if you're trying to decide if a garage sale is right for you, here are some things to consider.
1. You can make a reasonable amount of money.
A commenter on Creative Organizing wrote, "A few years ago we had a lot of items to sell, furniture, lots of kids/baby clothes, lawn equipment and tools, etc. Held it over two days and made over $500. It was worth it for the amount we made and what we had to sell."
Matt on Unclutterer took in about $500, too.
And over on Ask MeFi, Mozzie says, "If you live in a nice area, having a yard sale can be crazy productive."
2. A lot of people don't make much money.
"Your stuff is worth less than you think," says Lori, on Unclutterer. And timgray chimes in, saying,"If your $100.00 jeans are in a yard sale they are worth $1.00."
And here's some perspective from Real Simple: Carey Rademacher, creator of ItsDeductible, a donation-valuation software program, always donates clothing instead of trying to sell it. "A bagful of brand-name or designer clothing could be worth a $250 tax deduction versus a fraction of that at your sale―if the clothes sell at all," she says.
Stephanie on Get Rich Slowly says she actually lost money participating in a neighborhood yard sale.
3. It delays the "getting rid of it" process until the day of the sale, which can be frustrating. Many people want something gone as soon as they decide to part with it.
As a commenter on Creative Organizing wrote, "There is nothing worse than making the decision to get rid of something...and then have it hanging around."
4. It's a lot of work.
Chris, commenting on Unclutterer, says, "The best time for a yard sale is NEVER. The time spent organising, running and cleaning up after a yard sale makes them pretty pointless as a cash-generating exercise. Do yourself a favour: call up a charity, estimate the value of the goods, and use the receipt to lower your taxes."
And over on I'm an Organizing Junkie, Lucinda writes, "I’d rather have my teeth cleaned than have a G-Sale."
5. There's a chance of theft, if you're not careful.
One bit of obvious advice here is to keep your house locked, and don't allow people in to use your bathroom.
MrVisible says on LifeHacker: Keep your money in a belt, something like a toolbelt at your waist. Don't use a money box. People run off with them. It can be annoying.
And Get Rich Slowly concurs: Do NOT use a cash box. Carry your money on you at ALL times. You don’t want to present a target for casual thieves. More than that, you don’t want to be duped by professional swindlers who run distraction con games.
And keep an eye on your merchandise. As SaraAB87 says on Consumerist: Don't leave cd's and other disks in their cases, THEY WILL GET STOLEN!
But here's another issue, mentioned by Chip Thomas on Unclutterer: "We listed that we had multiple TV’s for sale in our ad in the paper. ... Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this made us a target for a night before burglary attempt."
6. Some people think they're fun!
As Mark Silver commented on steve-olson.com: "I would grieve to lose the yard sale as a social form. It’s just fun to drive through town, or bicycle, and come across yard sales. It’s like a treasure hunt.
"And, when we did it, we had fun at it - hanging out in the yard, chatting with people who came by, including friends. When we’ve gone through neighborhoods where several yard sales are in the same block, it’s clear that many of them are having a great time, sipping ice tea, hanging out while the kids play.
"As a financial opportunity, it’s just eh. But, as a social ritual, and a way to keep the secret economy of junk circulating, it’s quite fun."
And Matthew Cornell added, "For me the biggest plusses of a garage sale is 1) socializing locally, 2) selling locally (reduced pollution, gas use, …), and 3) just hanging out."
If you want to have a garage sale, here are some useful guides:
- Yard Sales: An unclutterer’s ultimate, how-to guide, by organizer Geralin Thomas.
- The Yardsale Queen.
- The Ultimate Tag-Sale Guide, from Real Simple.
- How to Operate a Successful Garage Sale.
[Picture: Garage sale sign sold by Sassy Signs]
Related information, from my newsletter:
10 Ways to Get Rid of Your Stuff