Think springtime is the only time to clear your home of unwanted things? While spring evokes renewal and all the organization and spring cleaning that can spout from seeing flowers bloom, autumn adds opportunity to turn clutter into cash.
Fall is an ideal time to hold a garage sale. Buyers are always on the hunt for deals, but early fall weather brings people out for a drive to see foliage, pick apples, or simply take a walk before the cold of winter. For sellers, it is a time to cast off no longer needed summer toys, sporting goods, clothing and other items that clutter the home to make room for the coming deluge of holiday presents and purchases.
Whether your goal is to turn your extra stuff into cash or to wipe your clutter slate clean before the end of the year, garage sales and falling leaves are a match made in heaven. Here are five ways to capitalize on autumn and successfully purge your home of unwanted items while earning a few dollars:
1. Make Your Garage Sale a Must-see Event
Garage sales offer an interesting marketing perspective. Depending on your location, simply putting up tables of items for sale is enough to draw in customers. But if you want to take your garage sale to the next level, you need to think like a full-time retailer and leverage the power of marketing to attract buyers and encourage them to buy instead of browse.
Advertise using the usual means, such as craigslist.com and Facebook marketplace, but add some marketing pizzazz that evokes the season. Instead of titling your listing “Garage Sale,” call it an “Autumn Yard Sale Blowout.”
Consider the items that you are selling, too. If you have tables of gently used winter sports equipment, make it skiing and hockey-themed in addition to the fall.
While your online marketing should set your garage sale apart, keep it simple when it comes to signs. Most garage sale pros just want to know which house to park at, and even though online mapping means you can find any location with a GPS, make it easy and to the point with some small garage sale signs. Post a sign at the entrance of your neighborhood with your address in easy to read lettering. Mark your mailbox with a sign or some balloons, so that there is no mistaking the sale location.
Another way to drive traffic and reinforce the fall theme is to connect with other sellers in the neighborhood. This will also give your sale more variety and can make it a neighborhood event full of buzz.
2. Treat Your Garage Sale Like a Store
If you’ve ever walked into a grocery store with a plan to pick up a loaf of bread or a quart of milk, only to find yourself carrying bags of snacks and boxes of buy-one-get-one-free cookies, you’ve seen how product placement can influence purchases. You can use similar tactics for your garage sale and can use autumnal ideas as reinforcement.
Fall garage sales offer the perfect opportunity to sell Halloween costumes that your kids have outgrown. But don’t just pile them on a table. Set up a Halloween section with costumes and any seasonal decorations you are looking to see. Likewise for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holiday decor.
It’s also a general rule with garage sales to place your larger, big-ticket items closest to the road so that they are not overlooked. You also want to make your sale easy to navigate, and grouped in some order.
Add some little touches to help people make a decision, such as an extension cord for testing electronics. If you have records for sale, set up a record player so shoppers can have a listen first. Selling clothing like winter coats and jackets? Put up a mirror so buyers can try things on.
3. Get Your Kids Involved
Garage sales can teach important lessons on economics and organization, and they can be a fun experience for the whole family. Kids can also help attract buyers and can help answer questions about potential sales. If your child has a penchant for crafts or baking, you can light an entrepreneurial spark, too, by giving them their own space to market and sell their items.
If raising money for your own needs is not a priority, consider donating a portion of sales to a local nonprofit. This will impart the importance of giving to the community, but it can also be a marketing tool. If your goal is simply to clear your home of clutter, you may be surprised to find out how many people will buy when they know their dollars are going to a good cause.
Think of this strategy as a pre-donation drive: sell whatever has value and donate some or all of the proceeds to a charity, then donate the unsold items to a nonprofit that collects item donations.
4. Make the Sale Fun
Another benefit of holding a garage sale in the fall is that you still have some pleasant weather that can translate into a fun weekend day. With themes of harvest and Halloween, you can make your garage sale much more than just a collection of used things on fold-out tables. In addition to the themed placement ideas we discussed, you can decorate your garage and driveway with scarecrows, pumpkins, and hardy mums.
Getting the kids involved — yours or your neighbors’ — can also increase the fun factor for your garage sale. Offer free water or have your kids set up a cider, coffee and cookie sale. Small snacks are easy ways to make a few dollars, and often, buyers who haggle the price of a used mug down to a quarter will be happy to fill the same mug up with cider for a dollar. Even more so when sold by a group of children!
Another often overlooked way to inject some liveliness into your garage sale is to play music. Fall doesn’t have much of a musical theme to it, other than some Halloween songs, but make sure that whatever you play is soft and pleasing, instead of anything abrasive or potentially offensive. The tunes will not only make shopping more pleasant, but it’ll also keep you entertained for the hours that you are running the sale.
5. Make a Plan for Afterward
When your fall garage sale is done, you will have some leftover unsold merchandise. Plan now for what to do with this straggling merchandise. While holding a garage sale in autumn has many benefits, the colder weather increases the risk that you’ll just stuff your garage with whatever is unsold.
Whatever is left, make sure you can easily donate or trash by creating a plan now. If you are planning on donating to a charity, ask about their drop off or pick up services. Check with your city or town about bulk trash drop-offs, and see if there are donation bins for clothing, shoes, linens, books, and stuffed animals at nearby businesses or nonprofits.
You can also send out a “curb alert” via Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist indicating free items at the end of your driveway, but be aware that as cold weather and rainy days approach, the likelihood of people grabbing free items decreases. And a waterlogged sofa at the end of your driveway is not a good fall look in your neighborhood. The key is to make sure there is a path for your items to stay out of your home after the sale. Even if you don’t sell much, you can then congratulate yourself for a decluttering job well-done.