Making some extra cash with spring cleaning, garage sale


By Cherie Lowe

When the weather turns warm, my heart starts to flutter. I can encourage my kids to play outside. The flowers bloom without fear of frost.

I can finally open the windows, taking in the sweet smells and sounds of spring. The entire neighborhood springs to life, with people waving at each other, taking strolls on the sidewalk and parks packed with family fun.

Out with the old — the cold weather gear and snow shovels — and in with the new — the short sleeves and baseball gloves.

For this very reason, I begin to clear through each room, removing items we no longer use. Clothes that we’ve outgrown get placed in a pile. Appliances that never seem to be used find their way to a box. Decor that we once we loved sits sadly on the floor. It’s time once again to clean up and clear out.

Best of all, this spring time purge is perfectly timed with friendlier temperatures. Why not make a little cash while lightening the load? After all, garage sale season coincides with my instinct to scale back and clean out. To host a successful sale, you need to employ smart strategies.

Coordinate your efforts

The more product available, the more potential lookers. If your schedule allows, host your individual garage sale during a subdivision’s greater concerted effort. You’ll benefit from the neighborhood-wide advertising and foot traffic of your neighbors.

If you’re like us and don’t live in the confines of a subdivision, choose to host your sale when the closest neighborhood has its or move your items to a designated table at a friend’s house.

Advertise well

A small sign at the end of your driveway might pull in a few interested buyers but you’ll have greater success if you advertise well. Use traditional methods such as newspaper ads and large, visible signs outside. Coordinate these efforts with online promotion.

Host online, in-person presale

Let your friends and family have the first shot at all of your best merchandise. Conduct a pre-sale night online or in person the night before the sale actually begins. The exclusivity allows you to drum up word of mouth promotion and spreads the word further.

Create online, driveway buzz

We all have “big ticket” items with high demand that can entice shoppers to drop by. Pieces of furniture, large fitness equipment, household appliances and other large items should be visibly placed where passersby can see them, near the end of a drive.

And if you can, post great photos of the same hot selling, desired merchandise on your social media channels. Not every shopper can snag your great deal, but they might be drawn in and end up making an alternative purchase.

Use smart pricing

It’s easy to overvalue our stuff. After all, we know exactly how much we originally paid and the quality of the product better than anyone else. However, in the end if you’re selling things in a garage sale, more than likely you no longer need or want the item. This means you need to be realistic about your pricing strategy.

After all, the item is pre-owned and not brand new (even if you’ve never taken it out of the box). And at the same time, you don’t want to underprice your inventory.

You want to make the hassle of setting up a garage sale, the price of advertising, and of course your time worthwhile. Ask yourself what you pay for the exact same item if someone else was selling it.

Skip the tiny tags

Zone items by price. Create a table with 50-cent items, one with $1 items, one with $5 items and so on. That way, if items aren’t selling, you can easily move them around to lower prices without much hassle.

Turn your trash into treasure. You’d be surprised at how much people will pay for items you really would like to move along into a new home. Be smart and remember to use your dividends well.

Your garage sale could help you pay off debt, save for emergencies, or maybe even plan a nice summer vacation. May your efforts to clear out the clutter bring home the bacon this spring.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to