There are many people in the US who choose to organize rummage sales a few times a year and in order to achieve that you need to be organized, creative and friendly. However, there are 10 rules to organizing a rummage sale and we’re ready to tell you all about them, so listen up!
Why rummage sale? First of all, it could start like a fun activity and grow into a real source of profit within a few years, especially if you know what people want to buy and are realistic about your prices. Without further ado, this is how to organize a rummage sale and knock it out of the park:
1. Collect things that you no longer need year round
In other words, don’t throw anything away, unless we’re talking used wrapping paper, extremely damaged items and so on. You could donate your clothes to charity, but how about sell them and volunteer at a canteen instead? Try gathering everything in a shed somewhere. Also, when someone asks if you need this or that item, always give a positive answer, take everything home and save it for your rummage sale. What better way to de-clutter your home and make money at the same time?
2. Write everything on a piece of paper
Yes, keep track of all the items you’ve gathered over time so that you have enough time to think about your strategy. Don’t overlook fixing up some items that don’t work or just look back. A coat of paint will increase the value of your merchandise, so why not do it? You might also want to look online and visit other rummage, yard or garage sales and look for really cheap items that you could flip. If you’re crafty, this could be your next big project.
3. Enroll a few helpers
You won’t be able to take care of everything, so enroll a few friends, siblings or just your family. Explain to them what you are trying to achieve, how you want things to look like and have a little brainstorming session to split the responsibilities. The men could fix some old furniture that you plan on selling, the girls could take charge of the decorating pieces, while the kids could give their input on how to place everything.
It’s important to plan the sale ahead of time (about a month before, to make sure your little helpers clear their schedule) and then start working on the actual staging process a few days before. It’s important to figure out where everything is going to be placed, next to which other items (you can organize your items by price, utility, color or eye level/ above eye level and so on. The important thing is to get them organized, basically, no matter the criteria).
4. Yes, advertise!
It really doesn’t matter if you’re from a small or a big town, as long as you know how to properly advertise your business, because that’s what it is. First of all, put up banners around town, send fliers and posters to your local restaurants, shopping areas, business buildings, schools, country clubs if there are any in your neighborhood and don’t forget to create an event on Facebook to invite everybody, in which case think of a fun and intriguing description, a few teasers portraying items you’ll be putting up for sale and so on.
5. Timing is precious!
You have to be careful when choosing the date of your rummage sale. Our advice is to pick a spring, summer or early fall date. Needless to say, winter is the worst idea! The best, however, is probably spring. People tend to spend more money during spring because they feel the need to mark the transition from cold to warm in a significant way, which means they’ll be looking for benches, rocking chairs, picnic blankets and baskets, good china, colorful jewelry and clothes and so on.
If you picked July or August as a date for your sale, take into consideration the heat wave and make sure to open your little market early in the morning, taking a break for lunch and opening up again after the sun goes down. You really have to work with what you have!
6. Establish good prices
Yes, you have to make a profit, but high prices are not going to win you any fans! Visit other garage sales, take a look at those prices and try to imitate other vendors. Also, you may want to invest time and/or money into your price tags: go for something bald, a popping color and a nice font. You want your sale to look well-organized, trust-worthy and a good investment, not a sloppy garage sale put together at the very last minute.
7. Offer treats
OK, maybe not offer. But putting up for sale some home baked cookies and lemonade could be a great idea, especially for those customers that spent more than 30 minutes deciding what to buy. Plus, who doesn’t like cookies? Ask a kid to sell the lemonade or cookies (this will make you more money, people tend to be more generous around kids!).
If baking is not your strongest suit, then maybe you can ask your mother or your grandmother to help you out. Make sure to give the treats a nice presentation: nice wrapping, cool slogans, and maybe colorful lemonade cups. Think like an investor and act like one too!
8. Team up with other businesses maybe?
Yes, if you are selling household items, how about you team up with someone who sells handmade jewelry, beverages, and handmade dolls and so on? You’ll be able to use the same location and diversify the merchandise, which will only make your customers feel excited. There is one golden rule when associating with someone else: make sure you are not selling similar items or one of you will end up selling nothing because of the competition.
9. Decorate and be organized!
By all means, don’t forget to make your little sale look good: try decorating as much as possible, creating posters, banners and even matching t-shirts, if you have some plain shirts and a really good sharpie at least. How to decorate? Well, paper flowers, origami, plant pots and anything you can think of.
If you happen to have some wooden boards around the house, how about building yourself a nice shed, just in case it starts raining all of a sudden? Also, make a list of all your items and cross off the list the ones you already sold in order to keep track of your belongings. After a couple rummage sales you’ll get the hang of it!
10. Serving with a smile!
Don’t be mean to people, even if some of them will try and bargain with you for the last cent! Remember that their goal is to get the lowest price and yours is to sell at a reasonable price. A technique that anyone can use is the overselling: when someone is indecisive about buying an old vanity for $30, for example, you can jump in and make a suggestion: you can get both this vanity and a lovely flower pot for $35, deal of the day!
The idea is to push forward another item in order to make the total amount of money seem like an irresistible offer! Remember to always be nice, polite, to offer assistance and ask people what they are looking for. If you connect with them, they will feel more at ease when buying something.
We wish you good luck with your rummage sale and don’t forget to keep track of all your items, your expenses and profit as well as the things you could done better. Sometimes being nice and warm to your customers matter more than a well-organized rummage sale, but who says you can’t have both?