Anyone who has a garage sale must be nuts, and I am included in the bunch. I have had 4-5 of them over the years, but this time I have enough junk to fill a semi. If it doesn't sell, it will take me 4 van loads to get it all to Goodwill and the dump.
Rule Number One: clean out the garage before you transfer the junk to it. I went about it all bass-ackwards this time and it has meant working longer and harder to get it organized.
Rule Number Two: Have plenty of containers (boxes or bins) to put the stuff into, so that you can quickly pull most of it out onto the driveway just after you open the garage door on the morning of the sale. I do have plenty of boxes and bins, in fact, I have so many that there is less room for the junk. You also (it goes without saying) need tables to put stuff on. If it is all in boxes, most people will not sift through it.
Rule Number Three: Whatever start time you advertise in the newspaper, be prepared to open the door one hour earlier. The last sale I had was supposed to start at 8 a.m., and by 6:30, people were parking on my street and loitering in my driveway. One woman even had the nerve to show up on Friday night. It was in the summer, and I was making last minute preparations to the junk, trying to price and make it look neat. She walked up to the garage and said "I can't come tomorrow, so I thought I'd see if you would let me see your stuff tonight." I decided she had a lot of nerve, but to turn her away might have cost me a sale - so I let her look. She turned out to be an antiques dealer who was searching for old linens. She bought almost every piece I had (which was a lot, because I was selling the contents of my parent's home), but I had not priced it yet, so I almost certainly let it go for much less than it was worth. I will not make that mistake again!
Rule Number Four: Get as many $1 bills and small change as you can; I like to have at least $100 available. You wouldn't believe how many people come to a yard sale and try to pay for a 25 cent item with a $20 bill. Make sure you have a secure way to keep the cash close to you so it won't get stolen. An apron with pockets is good. Get friends and family members to help; you must watch to see that nothing valuable is stolen. If you are busy talking to someone about a piece of junk - someone else will see that you are distracted and take the opportunity to steal.
Rule Number Five: Call your neighbors the day before to warn them about what they are up against. Garage sale aficionados will park wherever they can: in other people's driveways or yards. If you see that happen, tell the customers to move their cars and be considerate of your neighbors.
Rule Number Six: Make a pact with yourself about what you will do with stuff that does not sell. If you don't, all of it may come right back into your house and clog up all those nice clean closets you just took all the stuff from.
Besides, you need to keep those closets cleaned out so that you can fill them up with all new stuff.
Rule Number Seven: Price everything in advance. Trying to decide a price for something after someone asks about it is a sure way to cheat yourself.
And if your garage is home to stuff you don't want to sell, either move it to a safe location or cover it with sheets. Otherwise, you will spend all day telling people that your lawn mower is not included in the sale.
Rule Number Eight: Try to place like objects together; have a bin for kitchen/cooking items and one for picture frames, etc.
This is all I can think of at the moment. If you are planning to enter garage sale hell and have any questions I have not answered here, feel free to leave a comment and ..........justaskjudy!
2-9-05: I thought of something else; when you are writing the newspaper ad for the sale, take time to think of everything you want to say. I got in a hurry this time and forgot to put the start time in the ad. Fortunately, I was able to call the classifieds and add it. If you can think of a catchy line to start the ad with, you will get more attention.