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Garage sales help turn clutter into cash

Many people see spring and summer as a time to de-clutter and clean house, and they're glad to make a few bucks selling the extras. But there are more and less effective ways to sell castoffs. Here are five tips for profiting from your treasures. Associated Press

Advertise: The more people know about your sale, the more will come. Pepper the neighborhood with brightly colored signs, and advertise on Craiglist and websites such as, in your local newspaper and on bulletin boards.

"The most important thing is getting people to your yard sale," says Chris Heiska, founder of, one of the oldest yard sale sites on the Web. "Even if you have the best-organized yard sale, if you don't have customers, that's a problem."

Newspaper and Web ads should run five or six days before a sale, and they'll attract the most seasoned shoppers. But don't underestimate the importance of neighborhood signs.

Just don't spend a lot on the signs. Keep them one bright color, with the date and large arrows to catch drivers' eyes.

Balloons can add freshness.

Plan carefully: Make sure you have small bills and quarters on hand to make change and a fanny pack or apron to keep your money secure. Have a power strip and batteries at the ready to show people that electrical items work. Remember to offer your shoppers bags: plastic, paper, even old tote bags you never use.

And think competitively. Set your event at a time and on a day when yard sales typically occur in your area, and make sure you're ready at your promised start time.

"People don't want to wait around when they know other yard sales are going on," Heiska says.

Price things right: Remember that even though the items you're selling have sentimental value for you (or you remember what you paid for them), you can't count on getting a lot for them at a yard sale. Your customers are expecting a good deal. Anything you hope to sell for more than $25 or $30 probably has better chances on Craigslist.

"If you have a lot of customers and no one is buying anything, that might be a clue your prices are too high," says Heiska.

Before your sale, try visiting other yard sales and checking prices online for items you're selling.

Some general rules apply: Books are usually 50 cents or $1, and CDs are $1. Most things go for 12 to 15 percent of their original price, says Kurzeka, though you may get 30 percent to 35 percent of what you paid for drinking glasses, dishes and some linens.

Price as you de-clutter your home, and group similar items together in boxes.

Know what sells: The things that do best tend to be furniture, sporting goods, kitchen wares and tools. Toys and games can be good sellers if they are in good condition, and kids' clothes can be a draw, but only for children younger than 6 or 7.

Collectibles don't usually do well at yard sales anymore because it's more efficient to find them online. And most adult clothing isn't likely to sell very well.

Don't try to sell children's products that have been recalled or anything illegal. And toss the things that belong in the trash.

Presentation: Tidy your act, and don't invade people's space while they shop. Mow your lawn, and tidy your yard.

Display smaller items on a table and be available to answer questions — but don't hover.

Put price stickers on the top of everything, rather than on the bottom, so shoppers don't have to pick up every item they're interested in.

Garage sales help turn clutter into cash 06/22/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 4:30am]
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