Garage sales are a great way to make a bit of extra money.

What I didn’t realise is how many cool ideas you could implement to jazz it up. It may start off as a blank canvas, but with a little effort you’ll have a Mona Lisa on your hands in no time.

If you’re ready to make some easy money, get down to business and start putting together your garage sale business plan. Here’s mine…

1.0 The opportunity

To acquire products at no cost and sell them at a profit.

This is not only an environmentally friendly initiative (recycling all your possessions) but also an opportunity to have some fun!

1.1 Mission

Make a profit off my old belongings in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

1.2 Keys To Success

Visually appealing
Well promoted
Organised layout
Friendly environment
Effective sales strategy

2.0 Company overview

Give your garage sale a name. Use buzz words like ‘retro’, ‘antique’, ‘vintage’, ‘jewelery’ and ‘china’. Include your own name in the title too, then customers can put a name to a face when they arrive – it will make the stall more approachable.

Register your business as an ‘event’ on Facebook.

2.1 Start-up requirements

It’s good to set a date for your garage sale a month from when you start planning. Start collecting plastic bags (or ‘enviro’ bags) and newspapers leading up to your sale. You’ll need them for packaging. Below is a list of things to do in the lead up to your big day:

  • Raid your house for things you want to sell – be brutal. Do this once a week.
  • Ask your friends and family to fill a box of things to give you (provide them with a cardboard box to fill for a higher response rate).
  • Source your equipment – tables to set up on, chairs to sit on, fanny pack (or money box).
  • Clean all your items a few days before.

3.0 Products

Once you have your collection of goods to sell, categories them. A typical stall layout will be:

  1. Clothes
  2. Electrical
  3. Entertainment
  4. Decorations
  5. Furniture
  6. Miscellaneous

Make sure all your items are clean and clothes have been washed. Vintage and retro clothes are all the rage at the moment. If you’re in Brisbane this weekend, check out Undress Brisbane.

You also want to think about how you will label and package your items. An easy way to manage the prices is using a colour coded system explained in 6.1 Presentation Strategy.

4.0 Target Market

Identify your market. Are you selling old retro clothes? Have you got a collection of kids toys to get rid of? Is your old china collection up for sale? Figure out who your stall is best suited to – this will make your marketing efforts more effective.

You can also tailor your stall to suit the target market. For example, if you expect a lot of younger people, play some ‘young’ beats. If you expect a lot of mothers, set up a children’s play area.

5.0 Competitor Analysis

Your competitors are often your allies when it comes to garage sales. Rally up your neighbours. People are more likely to attend a garage sale if there are another two in that street.

To gain a competitive edge on your neighbours you can:

  • Play music
  • Have a sausage sizzle
  • Create buzz by bringing along friends to help out
  • Keep your prices low and clearly marked
  • Make sure you have a power board hooked up to a power source so that your customers can test out any electrical appliances.
  • Parking: If you have allowed room for parking and sign-posted it, people are more likely to park next to your stall.

Another way to get friends and family on board is to ask them to fill a box of things to sell – and take a commission of what’s sold. They may be more willing to trawl through the junk under their house if they can take a cut of the profit. You could offer them 20%-40% of the profits – depending on what you think is fair.

6.0 Marketing Strategy

When you set the date of your garage sale, start by listing it online. Check these out:

  • What Garage Sale http://whatgaragesale.com.au/
  • Garage Sales http://www.garagesales.com.au/
  • eGarage Sales http://www.egaragesales.com.au/
  • Gumtree http://www.gumtree.com.au

Your poster is the next project. Here’s a good example of one:

You can also download a basic template from here. [http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT010104299.aspx#ai:TC006090382|]

Put your poster up 1 week out from your garage sale. The poster needs to clearly communicate what it is, when it is and where it is. Then you can add some of the ‘featured’ items that will be at your stall.

Be specific about the start and finish time. Bargain hunters are often up early so if you make it a morning thing it will create a sense of urgency.

Some locations to target:

  • Your local shopping centre
  • Corner shops in the nearby area
  • High traffic areas on sign post
  • Get some long pieces of wood and hammer them into grassy areas at busy intersections in your area.
  • Put a sign in your front yard for any locals that might be keen to check out your sale.

Aim to put up 10 posters and keep them within 5-10km of your house.

Place an ad in the local paper – it’s usually free!

Print out 20 post card sized posters and do a letterbox drop in your street.

Create a Facebook event.

For a more authentic look, hand-write your sign. It will give it that second-hand look.

6.1 Presentation Strategy

A well presented garage sale is like a well presented cake, irresistible. Key presentation elements:

  • Set up on tables (not the ground) – people don’t like to bend down.
  • Make sure all clothes have their sizes marked.
  • Provide a source of power to test out different appliances.
  • Play music for a groovy atmosphere.
  • Clearly mark each items using the colour coding system. You can purchase coloured stickers from Woolworths or Coles. Then simply come up with a price range for your items and price accordingly.

Packaging is an important part of the sale. Provide newspaper to wrap breakables and plastic bags for your customers to use. Set up a ‘packaging’ table and put some cheap, last-minute buys in a basket on the table. Even just some chocolates. They may grab one or two in an impulse buy.

Providing food and drink is a clever way to make a little extra money. A sausage and drink can go a long way.

Set any toys up in the children’s play area (marked with their price sticker) so that parents aren’t being nagged while browsing – and they might end up buying a toy.

6.2 Sales & Pricing Strategy

Here are the top 5 tips for selling at a garage sale:

  1. Expect to haggle. Set your prices a tad higher than you expect to get to allow room for haggling.
  2. Check out prices on Ebay to get an idea of what you can sell things for. Usually you can sell items at 25-35% of what they cost when new.
  3. Make sure you have enough change – and the appropriate coins/notes.
  4. Bundle smaller items together –
  5. Don’t bad mouth any of your items. This one may seem obvious, but you may find yourself slip out with “oh I’ve never known what to do with that one” or “that one always seems to be in my way”.

7.0 Human Resource Plan

Get your friends on board! See if they can duck in for an hour or two and help out. Remember to feed them!

8.0 Financial Plan

Money rule #1: Keep the money on you.
Money rule #2: Keep a record of all your items and mark down what they sold for – this is important if you are taking commissions.
Money rule #3: Don’t go overboard with buying food and drink – depending on how well you market your garage sale you can expect between 10 and 30 people to come.
Money rule #4: Lock your house – you never know what people’s intentions are.

Good luck with your garage sale. I’ve heard of someone making over $1000 on a weekend!

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