Garage sales seem like a great way to declutter your home, and pocket a little cash at the same time. But if you haven’t hosted one before, it can be an eye-opening experience.
Before you begin lugging everything from your antique china to your Blac Chyna-inspired sunglasses outdoors and setting up shop, you should accept these universal truths that you’re likely to face on the day of the sale.
1. Early birds get the worm … and on your nerves.
Those aren’t raccoons in your garbage cans, they’re bargain hunters! Though you advertised your start time as 8 a.m., expect to find strangers milling through your yard, driveway, and she-shed before sunrise.
2. Be ready to negotiate like a ‘Shark Tank’ titan.
Even if you’ve priced something at a nickel, there’ll be a customer who’s ready to haggle it down to two cents. You’ll need plenty of change (and patience) to get through the day.
3. They’ll try and buy things you don’t even want to sell!
Customers will make offers on items you’re not selling, as in “How much do you want for your mailbox?” and “I’ll give you $2,000 for that mini van!” Even the half-eaten bowl of cereal your spouse is downing on the back deck is fair game in the eyes of these overzealous shoppers.
4. You may be more emotionally invested than you realized.
By midday, you may experience irrational connections to certain items and slip into a serious seller’s-remorse funk. Don’t be surprised if you want to chase down the buyer who’s driving away with the chicken costume your daughter wore for her first Halloween. The same holds true for that Cure album you just sold for $1. Wasn’t it playing in the background when your longtime crush invited you to the prom? “What have I done?” you sob while resting your head on a pile of kids’ sweatpants no one wants to purchase.
5. Things look different in daylight.
Though your goods might have appeared picture perfect in your basement, natural light can be one ugly truth-teller. Is that chocolate frosting smeared up and down the sleeve of your cream-colored ski jacket or something more concerning? You’ll wish you’d put a little more elbow grease into cleaning out that high chair when you catch a family of squirrels foraging inside it.
6. Trouble can start anywhere.
You anticipated there might be some fighting over those unopened hazelnut Keurig pods you bought by accident and were too tired to return, but problems begin brewing in the least likely places. Expect drama when your mom stops by to “help” and wants to know why you’re selling the monogrammed leg warmers she gave you in 1982. “But you told me you loved those?’ she’ll say, her voice cracking. “I don’t understand. What other things are you lying to me about?”
7. You’ll think you know what people want. (You don’t.)
You may think that nobody would pay cold hard cash for your daughter’s Rainbow Loom bracelet collection, or that 2009 hardcover edition of the Guinness Book of World Records which outweighs the child who bought it at the garage sale your neighbor hosted last spring. But, you’d be surprised at what people will buy! When in doubt, put it out…
8. Get comfy with “no.”
Strangers will ask :
- if they can use your bathroom,
- if you’ll arrange and pay for the delivery of your hot tub and swing set (also not for sale),
- if you still have the manual and warranty information for the decade-old Crock-Pot you’ve priced at $3,
- if they can put a hold on some bags of Legos until they can bring their kids, spouse, and in-laws back to check them out later
(Pro tip: Your answer to any and all these is a firm “No.”)
9. Brace for self-doubt.
Prepare to second-guess yourself because at some point in the afternoon, you’ll look around at all your unsold items and wonder why you didn’t just rent a dumpster and save yourself the trouble, because you really don’t want to drag all these items back indoors. What’s better…$10 for that old bunk bed, or having to get rid of it yourself at the end of the day?
10. Show me the money! (What money?)
At the end of the day, don’t be surprised if, after tallying up your sales, you realize your kids made more money at their lemonade stand.