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Successful garage sale can clear your home of clutter

There's a jingle in the air. It's the coins spilling out at garage sales. Now that the worst of summer's heat is behind us (right?) it's safe to go back into that stifling garage. Oh, it used to store cars, but we've parked a year's worth of stuff in it instead. With a plan and patience, we'll make some money, but that's just one plus. If you're entertaining the idea of selling your home, it's a good idea to cull your belongings. Your home will show better when it's not jam-packed with books, furniture and other odds and ends. Plus, think how much easier it will be to move to your new place once you ditch all that stuff you don't need or want anymore. Here are some ideas. Mimi Andelman, Times staff writer


Advertise in newspapers, online and anywhere you can tack up a sign.

Ask neighbors to have a sale when you do. A street sale brings more customers.

� Buy a carpenter's apron to stash the cash and keep your hands free. Don't use a cash box. It may disappear.

Have plenty of change, from coins to dollar bills.

Don't go it alone; have another adult or responsible teen, or you'll go batty trying to keep track of browsers while you're making change.

Save supermarket plastic or paper bags. Have newspapers to wrap breakables.

Wash that dirty Dutch oven your mother-in-law gave you and the dusty mug from Niagara Falls. Gunky, junky stuff doesn't sell.

Borrow tables from friends, or create makeshift tables with sawhorses. If you can, drag a bookcase or two outside to display items for sale. Better yet, if you want to, sell the bookcases.

� Have a chair for yourself set up in the shade.

Dogs belong in the house or back yard.

Keep your doors locked, and do not allow anyone to go inside your house.

� Post signs reading "No Refunds or Exchanges."


� The driveway and lawn are where things go, not the garage. You don't want folks snooping around, or to find out later that your husband sold your vacuum cleaner.

Don't put items directly in front of your chair. Folks don't like to browse in front of you.


Put prices on everything. Otherwise, when three people approach you at once asking "How much?" you'll unravel.

Group similar items by price. "Hardbound books, $1; softcovers, 25 cents."

� When it comes time to pay you, they'll offer less, and you'll probably take it. That's expected. You want to get rid of the stuff.

Furniture gets a higher price tag than most everything else. But the love seat and ottoman you paid $500 for aren't going to go for even half that. Ten or 15 percent of the price you paid — really — will get them out of your hair.

� Have a basket of free stuff for the little kids, like fast-food toys and other small trinkets.

� For the first-timer: Folks will not pay you as much as you think. Be realistic and ready to bargain.


Turn on the stereo you're selling. Have the kids sell cookies and cold drinks.

Have an extension cord ready at the electronics table. The toaster oven won't sell if it doesn't work.

For clothing, group by men's, women's and children's. Pile on tables if you must, but if you have a way to string a sturdy line between trees, go for it. A rolling clothes rack is terrific, if you can borrow one.

Organize items in groups, such as hardware and lawn tools; kitchenware; children's toys; costume jewelry and ladies' accessories; collectibles.

Straighten tables as the day progresses, particularly putting items you really want to sell in a more prominent spot.

Holidays sell. Right now, Halloween and Christmas items could be brisk movers.


� When it's over, do not return any items to the garage. Let go. Take them to a charity store; the junk goes to the dump.Psychologically, it's wonderful to free one's self of unwanted stuff — stuff that's wanted and needed by others, to boot.

Information from Times files was used in this report.

Your link to garage sales: For an extensive list of local garage sales, go to our BayLink section. On Saturdays, you'll find a map of the bay area plotting the locations, with details such as "Saturday only" or "Multiple days." When you're ready to hold your garage sale, go to or call toll-free 1-877-321-7355.

Successful garage sale can clear your home of clutter 09/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 4:30am]
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