It's finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest and for many of us, the spring cleaning urge (sometimes knows as cabin fever) has been in full force for a few months. But when you try to declutter and make space in our homes, sometimes you are left with piles of old clothes, board games that haven't been played in years, or even an extensive 120-item collection of matching wine glasses. One solution, and often a profitable one, is to have a garage sale. Naturally, you want to make as much money as you can, while protecting your interests. With that in mind, here are a few quick and easy tips to make sure that your yard sale or garage sale is on its way to success:

  • What Should I Sell? That really depends on what you've re-organized so far. We've seen books, board games, clothing, old dining tables, chairs, children's toys and even clothing at yard and garage sales. If you haven't really used it or worn in a long time, it could be a good item. Just be sure to be firm with yourself - "I might need this one day" isn't always true.
  • When Should I Have the Sale? Weekends are best, and Saturdays are usually busier than Sundays. More than 75% of your business will come in the morning, so be sure to get an early start. In some areas, 8am is considered too late in the morning for buyers.
  • What Usually Sells Well? Kids' books and toys, unused beauty products, garden tools and furniture are usually the quick-moving items. Clothing, which everyone has plenty of at sales, isn't a great seller but a collection of kids' clothing can be an exception.
  • How Should I Price Things? If you're decluttering, price low. Otherwise, start out around 10% of what an item would cost new, and prepare to bargain down. Try bundling items together. For the last few hours, slash your prices and have a mini-blowout sale.
  • What About Safety? Use common sense: strong tables, nothing to trip over, sharp items out of the reach of small hands. Be sure to have a first aid kit handy, and if it's really warm consider providing water.
  • Am I Insured? Homeowners and renters insurance likely will cover you for liabilities to others - though you should check with us first for any limitations or exclusions. For instance, if you sell other people's stuff, craft items you make or regularly hold yard sales your activities might be deemed a business for which you'd need additional coverage.

You know from TV shows that people sometimes find really valuable items at yard sales. If you have antiques or anything that's been in the family for a long time, get them appraised first. Finally, if yard sales are not your idea of fun, consider donating instead and write off the value against your taxes. Then you can have the day off!