To Garage Sale, or Not to Garage Sale? That Is the Question (in Spring)

March 21, 2016


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WACO, Texas (March 22, 2016) — How many events offer you the chance to buy neat stuff at a low price, unload clutter to good homes, join forces with the neighbors, spend family time together (while teaching your kids business skills), make money, go green while you spend some green, practice your haggling technique — and be trendy by "upcycling?"

Enter that harbinger of spring — the garage sale, also known as the yard sale. Whether you're an aficionado or a naysayer, a goer or a giver, here are some suggestions of Baylor University faculty members who do (or don't) love garage sales.

Tout your sale well in advance.

"The adage 'Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door' does not hold for garage sales," says Jim Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "You need to get the word out there about what you have to sell, where you are located and the times of your garage sale."
Newspaper ads and yard signs are fine (check city ordinances regarding permits and signage), but it's hard to beat online marketing.
Post pictures, directions and sale times on such sites as Craigslist for your area, gsalr, yardsales, yard sale research and garage sale finder, Roberts suggests. "When marketing your sale, take individual pictures of your best stuff and not just cluttered tables." (If you're a shopper, such websites can help you create an itinerary for the most efficient driving, timing and browsing.)

Try the raffle route.

"A good raffle of a single popular item can also generate much more money than you would get from simply selling the item," Roberts says.

Another strategy might be to charge a mere $1 for a box filled with several items.

Make it festive.

Be sure to make your sale a festive affair with such touches as music, balloons and streamers.


"Garage sales are a great way to find inspiration and the starting point for a way to express your artistic side by transforming and reusing," says Lorynn Divita, Ph.D. associate professor of apparel merchandising at Baylor and co-author of "Fashion Forecasting." "There is so much sameness now that buying older items means you are getting something that not everyone has — and individuality is something a lot of people value even more than a flashy label."

Besides, she says, "It keeps products out of the landfill!"

Preserve memories but cut down on clutter.

"People often struggle with the line between holding onto memories and having a house filled with clutter. Plan well in advance so that you have time to sort through items without the pressure of making a snap judgment the night before," says Elise King, assistant professor of interior design in Baylor's Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. "Look for creative ways to display sentimental items so that you're free to part with some of them.

"An inherited figurine collection may be sitting in a box in the attic because it doesn't fit your home's esthetic. Try photographing the figurines from varying angles and distances and use close, macro shots for a contemporary appearance. Change the photos to black and white and pick a few to print onto small canvases. This frees you to sell the figurines, so they can bring joy to their next owner; and it allows you a means of displaying them and the memories associated with them."

Strengthen relationships with your neighbors and enhance sales by advertising as a multiple-family garage sale.
This one is up close and personal for Karen Melton, Ph.D., assistant professor of child and family studies at Baylor, who is prepping for an April 2 sale with her neighbors. It also ensures plenty of hands on deck to help — maybe even one to keep an eye out for people who might try to slip off without paying.

Make it a family activity.

"Children learn from their experiences," Melton says. "Opportunities like garage sales can be a good way to teach them important life lessons about the value of money as well as discuss the importance of tithing. Also, when family members take on new roles, they increase their adaptability. Find a special role for everyone — just remember to keep it age-appropriate and allow children to take breaks."
Some ideas on how:

  • Make yard signs for advertising. "This is a fun way to work on spelling, writing, and creativity as there can never be too much glitter on a garage sale sign," Melton says.
  • Empower school-age children by letting them help with transactions — such as adding up the cost of purchasers' goods or making change. "This can strengthen their math skills and give them opportunities to interact with physical dollars and cents."
  • Let younger children bag the purchased goods or run a lemonade stand
  • Cater to the tummies of treasure hunters.

    "Here's my big close: I have seen, and been told, that many garage sales have made lots of money selling coffee, soft drinks, donuts, rolls and breakfast burritos," Roberts says.


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