By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Garage sale takes preparation, helping hands
When headlines around the world recently screamed out: $5 GARAGE SALE FIND WORTH $2 MILLION, it started me thinking. What is more amazing? The fact that someone bought an Andy Warhol sketch for a sawbuck, or that in this era of eBay and Craigslist having a garage sale wasn't obsolete? Garage sales are alive and thriving in Metro Detroit.
A garage sale is a great way to rid your home of clutter and unused items. But it takes planning. Find out if your city or neighborhood association allows you to have a garage sale, whether you need a permit and what the rules are for signage.
Next, check your homeowner's insurance to make sure it will cover any accidents that could happen, such as someone tripping and falling in your garage during the sale.
Now you can get organized and prepare your garage sale. One thing you can do ahead of time is start saving those plastic grocery bags to use for bagging your customer's purchases. Here are some other basic tips to help make it a success:
1. Clean and organize the garage. Before you can have a sale, you need room to display all the items in your garage. That requires moving and storing things that clog up your garage space and separating or covering items in the garage you don't want to sell to avoid confusion.
2. Determine what to sell and price them. Go through your home and gather any items that you haven't used in a few years, and then sort them into categories and put prices on them. Also, price things in multiples of 10 cents or 25 cents to make it easier when taking the money and making change.
3. Be realistic about your pricing. Unless you are selling antiques that have been appraised, remember that most of the things you are selling are used and are no longer of any value to you. Price them to sell. A good source for pricing guidelines is available at www.GarageSaleSource.com.
4. No dogs or kids allowed. Whenever possible leave the dog in the house or backyard and make sure the kids have something to do or are with a babysitter. That way you can concentrate on the sale and shoppers won't be scared away by a barking dog or accidentally trip over your child's toys.
5. Find helpers. A garage sale can be a tedious task. It is best to get family members and friends to help staff it throughout the weekend so there is always someone to give you a break when you need it and help you sell things.
One area most people don't think about in planning a garage sale is crime prevention. It's not uncommon for your visitors to be looking for more than just deals.
Crime prevention experts Officer James Feld of the Troy Police Department and Sgt. Alan Patterson of the Farmington Hills Police Department both agree that it is vital to have more than one person to help with the sale so there is always someone watching out for dishonest people.
"It's not uncommon for people to have things stolen from their garage or home while they are having a garage sale, so they do need to take precautions," said Feld.
Feld suggests that you be wary of quick-change artists who like to confuse people by passing multiple bills back and forth and say they were short-changed in an effort to steal money.
"You should only have enough money on hand to make change and have someone working with you at the sale so you can put large sums of money in a safe place in the house or take to the bank throughout the day instead of leaving it around where it can be stolen."
Sgt. Patterson also suggests having the sale only during daylight hours to lower the potential for theft and to make sure you take even basic precautions like locking all your doors, both front and back.
"We'd like to think that people won't try to steal something, but you really need to be aware of your surroundings to prevent crime, even during a garage sale," Patterson said.
These are just a few tips that will help make your garage sale something to brag about, even if you don't find a million dollar painting.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.