The serious work of garage sales
Date posted: April 30, 2013
SHERIDAN — The onset of warm weather means the return of garage sale season in Sheridan and already dedicated buyers and sellers have started setting their weekend alarms for the early morning hours.
Whether looking to downsize, prepare for a move, earn extra cash or simply meet the neighbors, the hosts of several recent local garage sales said that while setting up a sale can be serious work, the benefits are many.
That is, of course, if a seller is willing to plan.
Price your items. Or alternatively, don’t.
Sheridan sellers have different philosophies when it comes to pricing their wares.
For hosts willing to spend the extra time rummaging through their merchandise and carefully considering each item’s worth, a more seamless negotiating process on sale day is their reward.
While the workload is greater, experienced seller Bonny Morrill said the benefits usually outweigh the hassle.
Morrill, who hosted a busy sale with her husband Bruce last weekend, said proper pricing benefits buyers and sellers alike when it comes to creating a more enjoyable sale-day experience.
“I’ve been to some (garage sales) that are so frustrating because you have to ask and nothing is priced,” she said.
Morrill said pricing helps her maintain her cool during the busiest hours when her front yard is flooded with customers.
“It’s just easier when you’re checking people out,” she said.
On the other hand, some sellers said that by not pricing items and being receptive to a more open negotiation, merchandise moves faster and the seller’s final net income is greater.
“When you let go of that fixed idea of what you want for your junk, you make a lot,” Amy Rose said.
An employee of the Sheridan VA Medical Center, Rose said smaller sales especially stand to benefit from staying away from the price stickers.
“I actually make more money when I don’t put prices on stuff,” she said.
Start as early as possible
One thing almost everyone agreed on is that sales that start early are usually more successful.
From her front yard on Scott Street, Rose said serious buyers — collectors and those with specific items in mind — almost always arrive extremely early in an attempt to beat the crowds.
Many sellers decide to open shop at 8 a.m., but Rose said it’s never a bad idea to start even earlier.
While some hosts prohibit transactions before that hour in order to discourage over-zealous buyers from arriving any earlier, Rose has no such rule.
Her laid-back style of garage sale hosting encourages sales whenever possible.
Morrill agreed, saying that while sellers are often busy in the moments leading up to the start of a sale, it’s often wise to welcome the early buyers.
“You don’t want to turn anyone away,” she said.
Involve your friends
For sellers looking to draw in extra traffic and cut down on their workload, a cooperative garage sale with friends and neighbors is sometimes a lucrative solution.
Last weekend, a group of friends on South Tschirgi Street got together to host a last-minute sale and said the extra manpower made for an easier day.
By combining their merchandise, they were able to place more attractive advertisements in local media and set up fuller tables that appealed to passing drivers.
“It all came together really smoothly,” seller Mandy North said.
In addition to increasing the draw of the sale, the extra workforce provides an added level of security when it came to preventing theft.
“People will prey on garage sales,” Rose warned.
While roadside signs are still a necessity in directing drivers to a sale, online advertisements are increasingly important in attracting potential buyers.
North and one of her partners, Katie Redinger, said the proper utilization of online ad boards and social media groups was responsible for drawing in the majority of their visitors.
For her part, Rose said popular items such as tools and books are often sought after aggressively by certain buyers, so listing those items in advertisements is key in setting any given sale apart from its competitors.
Even the most experienced sellers conceded that hosting a garage sale is unlikely to make anyone rich.
“If you’re in it to make money, you might as well not have one,” Morrill said.
Instead, sellers said hosts should use the opportunity to de-clutter their homes and spend time getting to know their neighbors.
Rose said her favorite part of the garage sale experience is the time she spends sitting in her yard, striking up conversations with the people who come to browse.
“It’s really fun talking to garage sale-ers,” she said.
Rose said that on sale day, she often involves her children by helping them set up a lemonade stand in front of her home.
In doing so, they make some money, she makes money, everyone enjoys the sunshine and her house gets a little bit neater. Those factors, she said, are enough to make it all worthwhile.