Intro: Dan is an accountant in his late 20s who lives in Calgary. He has never had any consumer debt, has a professional accounting designation and rarely pays full price for anything. He is happily married with one spoiled dog. He writes at his site called Our Big Fat Wallet.
With the weather finally warming up and the sun starting to shine, it’s time for our annual spring cleaning purge.
My wife and I recently bought a house, and although we have only lived in it for less than two years we’ve found it very easy to accumulate ‘stuff’ – old DVDs we hardly ever watch, magazines we have already read and plastic containers that have slowly piled up over time.
Last spring we decided to ‘purge’ our house of the items we no longer used – and there were lots of them.
One weekend we decided to hold a garage sale and the turnout was a huge success – a few hours of organizing, sorting and cleaning earned us $432.
What Sold – and What Didn’t
It was our first garage sale ever, and we learnt quite a bit on what was popular (and what wasn’t).
The biggest surprise came when we sold an old antique clock which we had no use for and didn’t ‘fit’ with the rest of the décor in our home. We bought it about 3 years ago for $40 and sold it for $80.
Other items that sold almost immediately were children’s toys, children’s clothing, household tools, small kitchen appliances and vintage movie posters. The children’s items were a hot seller for moms looking for a bargain.
Items that weren’t so popular? DVDs, scrapbooking supplies, an outdated PVR and old camera equipment. We found people we no longer interested in outdated technology – even at cheap prices.
Pricing Strategies that Worked
We knew we wouldn’t get top dollar for our items and we were completely ok with that, since many of the items we no longer used.
We priced our items similar to a discount retailer – items we knew would be a tough sell were in the ‘discount bin’ – where prices were significantly lower than normal (even for a garage sale).
Related: Raising Financially-Savvy Children
We also placed similar items together and offered a discount based on quantity. For example, we asked $10 for one pair of shoes but put all pairs together and marked them as ‘$15 for 2’ or ‘$25 for 3’. This way people saw the value in buying more – they paid a lower price (per item) and we increased our sales.
We hardly ever got the full asking price for the items we sold – but all prices were reasonable to begin with, so people felt more comfortable making an offer.
We found that most (if not all) people offered a price that was lower than what we were asking.
We would sometimes offer the buyer to ‘meet in the middle’ of the asking price and the offer. This usually worked well since it showed we were willing to settle on a fair price for both.
On other occasions we would combine all items a seller was interested in and agree on a price for everything.
Helping the Environment
By selling our ‘stuff’ we no longer used, we were able to make some extra spending money and help the environment at the same time.
The items we would have thrown away (and wasted) would get some extra use by others and they would be reused rather than replaced by new ones.
We also donated everything that didn’t sell to a local thrift store, which meant virtually everything we would have thrown out would get some extra use by others.
Have you ever held a garage sale? If so, what worked & didn’t work?