The garage sale: Money for old rope

The garage sale: Money for old rope
02 May 2013

My husband and I had talked about holding a garage sale for ages, but somehow, it never actually happened. There was always something else to do at the weekend – or, the mountain of ‘stuff’ stored in our garage was just too intimidating to tackle.

Sometimes I’d look at it and think, ‘There’s cash to be made there.’ Other times I’d get disheartened and ponder, ‘Who on earth is going to buy all this rubbish?’

Necessity rules

In the end, it was necessity that made us pull our proverbial fingers out. We were rearranging things in the house and needed the space, so everything had to go. And, we figured, if we were going to have to drag the two washing machines, spare fridge and three cookers (yes - three. Don’t ask) out of the garage anyway, we might as well see if we could flog them.

A date was set and the event was advertised a good week in advance. Notifications went up on Dubizzle, while we fly-papered the neighbourhood – along with hand-drawn maps to our house.  The day before the sale , we painstakingly sorted out all the goods into groups; baby gear on one table, tech stuff on another, furniture at one end of the garden, next to toys, knickknacks and old clothes. My husband even dragged out several boxes of his old music CD’s, the now defunct reminders of the download generation. ‘Honey, nobody is going to buy those,’ I insisted. But he put them out anyway.

Organised operation

Then we labeled everything with post-its, writing the prices (or nearest offers) we hoped we’d get and went to the local shop to change a couple of hundred Dirhams into coins. Shattered and dusty, we went to bed early in preparation for the early start.

At 8am, the first wave came, paying the prices we asked – and only requesting a discount if they’d bought several items. I was surprised by how many of my old clothes and shoes went. Perhaps I wasn’t so unfashionable after all…

The second wave of buyers an hour later were more discerning. They haggled furiously over the technical goods. Apparently, Dhs20 for a Sony DVD player that still worked was ‘daylight robbery’… One of the cookers, a newish four-hob gas oven that we’d priced at Dhs300, was finally sold for Dhs100 to a tenacious woman who kept making phone calls.

By 10am, most of the good toys had been sold as well, and our sons decided to up their profits by selling homemade lemonade. It was a good idea, because the sun was well and truly hot by then. Unfortunately – they kept drinking the profits and only made Dhs10 out of the initiative – but still. At one point, a woman turned up wanting to buy a mattress. We said she could have it for Dhs40. She said thank you very much, carried off the mattress and never came back to pay us. Rule number one; take money upfront.

Timing matters

By midday, we’d had enough and shut the gates. We left a note outside telling people they could ring the bell I they wanted to come in. Several did, buying things in dribs and drabs.

The next day, we decided to clear up and had even called Take My Junk, who were due to arrive and remove the rest of our unwanted stuff. But, before they could, another wave of buyers arrived after spotting the open gate. They swarmed in and took advantage of our seriously knocked down prices. My sons sold the rest of their toys, while we shifted the last of the furniture and a couple of old suitcases.

Profit margins? 100%

In the end, we’d made over Dhs1,000 out of rubbish that we were prepared to throw away or give away. And we were surprised by the things that actually sold well. Almost all my beautifully laundered baby clothes remained untouched. A rather nice pine bed was also left behind. But, my husband’s CDs had sold like hot cakes. He’d priced them at Dhs5 each, and buyers had literally walked away with stacks of them.  Plus, we’d shifted all the appliances – even the ones in need of repair. Not bad at all. It had been hard work, but worth it, and our children had learned something too – plus their toy cupboards were a lot tidier!

Tips for a good garage sale

  • Advertise, advertise, advertise. Make sure everyone knows where and when your event is taking place. Put up notices at your local supermarkets, advertise on Dubizzle and fly paper your area at least a week in advance.

  • Decide on prices beforehand – otherwise it will be easier for the buyer to knock you down by putting you on the spot. Decide on the lowest price you’ll sell items for, but mark them with the price you’d like to get for them.

  • Start early. Aim to have your gates open and be selling by 7am. The hotter it gets, the less people show up. You could always offer homemade lemonade too. If people aren’t thirsty and hot, they browse for longer.

  • Don’t not sell something just because you think nobody will buy it. You’d be surprised at what goes and what doesn’t.

  • Hold your sale on a Friday morning and keep a sign on the gate all weekend to make the most of the passing traffic.

What tips do you have for selling your ‘unwanted’ stuff? Share in the comments…



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