Survival Tips for the Garage Sale Novice

by ParentCo. May 31, 2017

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Hosting a garage sale is eerily like having a baby. It's painful, painful as all hell. You swear to all the Gods you can possibly conjure up that you will never, ever in a million years do this again.

It's too much work.

It's exhausting.

It damn near killed you.

A few years roll on by and then you think to yourself, "You know what? I think I'm ready to do it again!"

Babies and garage sales, two of the most taxing things a woman can do. The key is to know what you're in for and prepare as best you can. Let me help you. Heaven knows we can all learn a little something from my many blunders and missteps.

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Give yourself time to prepare

I figured that two days of prep time would suffice. I am clearly stupid. Give yourself a week at least! I worked around the clock, in the heat, with the kids at my heels, dragging bed frames, toys, furniture, and tubs of clothing up from the basement and I still barely got it all done. After huffing and puffing (and grunting and swearing), I finally got the garage filled with my goods.

Then I realized I still had to sort items, lay clothing out in some order, and price out everything. This was when I began to question my mental stability. Why in the hell did I ever think that hosting a garage sale was a good (or even sane) idea? Do I hate myself? Clearly I must because garage sale preparation is the most un-fun thing ever.

Arm yourself with singles

Think 'Lil Jon at a strip club. Get ready to make it rain singles for two straight days. You need that many singles and a few rolls of quarters to last you the 48 hours. Do not underestimate this component of mastering the garage sale. Without fail, a lovely elderly lady will purchase a candlestick for a quarter and hand you a fifty-dollar bill, and she will not be the only one. I thought I had this garage sale component locked down with my 10 singles, a few fives, and a handful of quarters. I was wrong. By noon I had to race upstairs and raid my daughter's piggy bank for singles and coins.

Line up childcare

At some point you will consider spending a lovely day selling your crap to your neighbors while your little ones play happily in the driveway and front yard. Please allow me to burst your bubble. This is the worst idea you've ever had. Abandon it and call grandma to watch the kids.

Toddlers and preschoolers are the worst garage sale assistants known to mankind. They will dump out all of the old puzzles, rip clothes off of tables and hangers, scramble sets of toys, and scream and sob when someone tries to buy them. They will run amok from eight until four and your garage sale will look like a scene from "Lord of The Flies." Running the garage sale with small kids will suck, I don't care how angelic your children are. Garage sales will turn them into hungry, whiny, half-nude, pee-pee trolls. After watching my twin toddlers "help" with garage sale set-up (aka pee in the yard and destroy all items set in their path), my fingers couldn't dial Granny's number fast enough.

Gather your garage sale badass essentials

The first day of garage sale hosting is hardcore. My girlfriend came over the day before to drop tables off and she warned me that customers would be lined up and waiting by eight am. Nah! I thought to myself. Again, I'm an idiot.

It had been far too many years in-between sales to remember this detail. They were there waiting, just as my girl had said they would be. This was a great big conundrum considering I still had to get the big girls to school in the midst of the grand opening. Lucky for me the gym teacher lives a few doors down and kindly took them for me.

Man oh man, did they come. Parades of professional salers raided my garage and the crowds did not let up one bit. After a few hours, I was starving, needed to pee, and in dire need of caffeine. Again, thank the good Lord for grannies because had she not watched the sale for 30 seconds so that I could relieve myself and eat, I would've perished right there in my own garage surrounded by old baby clothes.

Other goods you'll want to stock up on other than food and coffee are plastic bags (yes, people will treat you like a Costco employee), hangers, tape, a permanent marker, and sticky notes to write on. I know, I know, you did all the prep prior to the big day. Sticky notes don't care. By the second day of the garage sale, at least half of them will be missing.

Don't be a garage sale wuss

Is there anything more uncomfortable than haggling over a few dollars with someone old enough to be your grandmother?

Fine! You want to say. Take the damn comforter for four bucks! Just stop making me feel like the worst person ever for suggesting you pay one hundredth of what it's worth!

I had a man ask me if I would accept 10 dollars for two crib frames and two nearly-new crib mattresses. In my head I was screaming, "Hell no!" The problem was that I am such a garage sale wuss that I agreed to the price merely to avoid a few minutes of awkwardness with a random stranger.

If you're going to do this garage sale thing then you need to prepare yourself for the bargaining. Practice in the mirror if you must. You need to channel your inner badass or you will get taken to the cleaners by garage-sale savvy experts who've been in the game longer than you've been alive.

In the end, it will be all okay. I promise. It's not going to be easy, but you can survive garage sale weekend too. Just whatever you do, do not underestimate this community event. It is not for the weak-hearted.



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