Full Storage Unit? Time for a Garage Sale!

20 March 2020

someone sorting through old records and books

As winter begins to wind down and the weather steadily gets warmer and sunnier, many people feel the urge to go through and clean out all the items they’ve kept in their storage unit over the colder months. It’s usually during this initial review that they’re hit with the realization of just how much stuff they’ve accumulated. Sure, you’ll want your Christmas sweaters next season, but is there really a reason to hang onto the tea set you got during the Yankee Swap party?

An easy way to clear out your storage unit is to host a garage sale. Not only will you free up space for more of your own items, but you’ll also make a little extra cash on the side. If you’ve never hosted a garage sale before, it can be hard to try and figure out where to begin. By taking things one step at a time, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a sale the neighborhood will be happy to attend.

Preparing for Your Garage Sale

Congratulations – you’ve decided that you’re going to have a garage sale! It is possible to put one on by yourself, but if you can wrangle some friends or family into helping out, it’ll make the process a lot more fun (and more manageable). 

Figuring Out Which Items to Sell

The quick way to solve this problem is to ask yourself, “Have I used it in the past six months, and am I likely to use it in the next six?” If the answer to either part of the question is no, then it should go out for sale. Now, if your goal is to use this garage sale to make money, there are some items that you can competitively price to bring in more dollars.

  • Games – No matter whether they’re old board games or vintage Nintendo cartridges, old games can go for over $20 each, especially if you post them for sale online. Even if they’re nothing special, old dolls or children’s toys can sell for around $1-3 each.
  • Gently-used Clothing – If your old socks are full of holes, they’re better off in the trash. Lightly used and clean clothing, however, sells quickly. Showcase what you’ve got for sale by handing them on a rack instead of trying to fold them up on a table. Depending on their condition, you might be able to sell them for as much as $5 per item.
  • Tools – Got a vintage shovel? A cute trowel? An old power saw that’s been retired since you upgraded to the latest model? Make sure you’ve got any batteries or power cords collected to go with them.
  • Furniture – Bookshelves are always a hot item, but any kind of furniture usually sells well (especially if you’re open to a little light haggling on the price). Aim to charge about a third of the original retail price if it’s a really nice item, and remember to leave some wiggle room for negotiations.
  • Shoes, Handbags, and Jewelry – Provided they’re in good condition, all three of these categories sell really well in garage sales. If they’re brand name items, include that on their tags – you’ll be able to charge a little extra.
  • Home Appliances – We’ve all bought items that sounded like the next best thing to sliced bread, only to bring them home and realize we wouldn’t really use them much. Garage sales are a great way to pass these items along to someone who will actually get some use out of them. As with any power tools, make sure that charging cords and instructional manuals are included if you’ve still got them.

No matter what you decide to put up for sale, take the time to give it a good clean. The same person who would balk at a dirty old picture frame may pick it up if the glass is clear and the frame is dust-free.

Spreading the Word

So you know what you’re going to sell. How do you get people to pay attention?

Make signs to post around the neighborhood (remember to write large enough that they can be seen from passing cars) and take advantage of online forums or neighborhood chat groups. If you’re posting online, attach nice photos of some things you’ll be selling. Above all else, make sure that you mention the date, time, and location of your garage sale.

Display is Everything

No matter whether you lay your items out on a table or use an old shelving unit for display, make sure that everything is clean and tidy. The people who visit should be able to clearly see what you’ve got for sale. If you’ve kept things neat inside your storage unit, it might be as easy as opening a box and arranging the contents on a table. 

If you’re selling clothing, do your customers a favor and organize it by size. Make sure books are neatly arranged and the titles are easy to read. If you’re selling several items “as-is,” consider setting up a specific section for them and make a clearly labeled sign.

Customers won’t want to heft through boxes on their own, so make it easy for them to see something they like. As with your items, everything should be free of dust and dirt, even if you’re using an old table that’s been in the back corner of your storage unit for a year or two. Give everything a good wipe so that shopping at your garage sale is a pleasant (and clean) experience for your guests.

Figuring Out Pricing

Assign each item an individual price, unless you’re selling a bunch of movies or books for the same price each. Make sure you print the price clearly and legibly. A small change like using a felt-tip marker instead of a pencil can make all the difference for a customer who forgot their glasses at home. Make sure everything is priced and labeled before the sale begins since your customers won’t stick around in line just to find out what something costs.

You may also be tempted to price items based on the emotional value they hold for you, or on the price you initially paid for them. Remember: these items are used, and your customers won’t understand or appreciate the memories that you made with them. Imagine if you were going to a garage sale and saw the item yourself, just as it is in its secondhand condition. What would you be willing to pay?

If there are items that you just want to get rid of, and that you’re not interested in recouping costs from, setting up a “Free” box can be a good way to entice passers-by to come and take a look at the sale.

Not Ready Yet? Get a Secure Storage Unit

When you’re ready for a garage sale, you’ll know. If you’ve reached the end of this article and you’re still feeling unsure, that’s okay! You’re allowed to hold onto your items for as long as you want. If they’re overflowing in your home closets, though, a storage unit could be a good interim solution. All-Stor’s self-storage units are electronically secured and climate-controlled, making it easy to keep your items safe at every point of the year.

For more information on our storage units and their range of sizes, give us a call at (973) 345-0080, or contact us online with any questions you may have.

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