Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Big Garage Sale

We are in the home stretch of clearing out our house before we move. With only a couple of weeks to go, we still have a ton of stuff to get rid of so we decided to have a garage sale today. We've never had a garage sale in the dead of winter since most people equate going to garage sales with spreading your stuff out across your drive way on a sunny day but with no time to spare we decided to give it a shot anyway. Here's what happened:
  • We usually have our garage sales run from 7am to 3pm. It's a good thing we decided to start at 8am this morning because at 7am it was still pitch dark outside, something we hadn't even considered!
  • The only advertisement we did for the sale was on CraigsList and that one small, free, advertisement brought in a whole lot of people.
  • There was a swarm of "professional" garage salers who showed up bright and early and seem to know each other by name. While they were looking at our stuff I overheard them talking about other sales they were going to and about their resale businesses.
  • One guy told me that he used to sell boat parts as a full time business but since the economy tanked, he decided to resell household items which is a good business to be in during a down market.
  • It's a bit sad to see all of our stuff which we spent our hard-earned money on be sold for pennies on the dollar. That's a lesson for my shopping future as now when I buy something, I also consider what I can resell it for (usually about 10% of retail).
  • We did sell quite a bit of stuff (earning about $1,500.00 but that included a couple of big items). But we still need to have a sale next Saturday and probably the Saturday after that (we told each customer that came today to come back next Saturday to check out the stuff we didn't have room to put out today).
  • We find that one-day garage sales work best. If we have a Saturday and Sunday sale, Sunday is usually pretty dead (not many customers) and we are usually tired from all of the work on Saturday.
  • It was a bit difficult inviting friends to our sale. They wanted a super low price on stuff and we felt like we had to give them the price they asked for but if we would have sold some of these things to strangers we would have got a little higher price (ie: yes we want to get rid of everything but we still want to make money on it otherwise we would have just carted it to the thrift store!).
  • We also live in a very multi-cultural area and you can tell the people who are from countries where bargaining over every little thing is the rule instead of the exception. They drive pretty hard bargains. I let hubby deal with them.
  • It is much better to do these sales in the summer because it is SO COLD in our garage (where we held the sale).
  • Unlike past garage sales where we either spent the money we earned from the sale by running to the mall right after we closed up shop or spent the money on paying off a bill (final debts will be paid when our house closes) we decided to put the proceeds from our sale into our emergency fund and not spend any of it.
  • Overall, when you need to liquidate your stuff quickly, having a garage sale (as well as selling stuff on CraigsList) is the fastest way to make it happen.


  1. well done on the garage sale. People dont do as many garage sales/yard sales in the uk. Generally we have car boot sales where everyone goes to say a farmers field with their car or a designated car park. You get charged per car say £9.00(not sure about dollars) and sell from wallpaper paste tables. Maybe you have them too.
    I think you have both exciting times ahead. When you declutter and sell stuff you realise how little you actually need as a person. x

  2. I have a garage sale every year. I always feel like I am getting rid of a ton of stuff, but then I look around and there is still so much more. I think what you are doing is admirable and, although I'm trying to embrace minmalism, I'm not quite as far along as I'd like to be but I'm working on it. :)

  3. Clamco--I know what you mean. We got rid of a ton of stuff but are still planning more garage sales because we still have so much stuff to get rid of!
    Changing One Thing--In many of the larger cities in the US they have what are called swap meets where people rent a space on a daily or monthly basis then they pull up their car filled with stuff, unpack it, and sell it to the public who wander around and shop. Most stuff is used but people also sell new stuff. It's really a great place to find some good deals!
    Thanks for the comments!