Family Home improvement

How to market your garage sale extravaganza

I had a garage sale recently. And following the basic rules of hosting a garage sale, I took out a classified ad that read: “Moving sale: furniture, household items, toys, sports equipment, tools and much more!”

The garage sale started at 8, which meant folks started showing up around 6:30. I’m not really sure why anyone bothers with times on the ads. It’s pretty much understood that, come sun-up, shopping’s on. I was anticipating that, however, so it was no big deal. In fact, several of the early birds actually helped me move some of the tables out into the driveway.

We had a good turnout for the sale, even though rain started up around 9:30 in the morning, which had us move everything from my driveway into the garage, which made all of the sale shoppers and helpers very familiar with one another.

Weather aside, I did, in retrospect, ask myself if I could have done something differently to market the sale, in particular in regard to the classified ad. Perhaps I was too general with my descriptions. I know classified ads are priced by the line, but I do wonder if I would have had a fantastic return on investment had I decided to bite the bullet and just pay for the extra lines to let folks know the amazing and fantastic things that awaited them at my, dare I say, enchanted yard sale? Perhaps my ad could have read:

World’s most amazing and magical moving sale extravaganza: Do not miss your chance to add to your home such majestic bits of awesomeness as:

  • Items that were once under the same roof as my wife’s grandmother
  • Toys and books that produce childhood memories that are remembered as far better than they really are
  • Things someone had big plans for at some point down the road when they got some free time
  • Pictures that have not hung on walls since the Montreal Expos were in existence
  • Furniture once used at a Christmas brunch because it’s the only time we ever needed a table for 12
  • A versatile couch that allows for napping, snoozing, sitting, and standing on to change the light bulb in the ceiling fan, assuming it’s properly placed in a room
  • Numerous kitchen contraptions that I would like to think I once knew what they were for, but will gladly craft an elaborate back story for this time
  • The comparable contents of a medium-sized mall-based B. Dalton Booksellers
  • Speaking of books, great find for collectors AND detectives — hidden in one huge stack of books are tons of recipes from Feel the rush of adventure as you comb your new purchases matching up the ideal chicken and spinach casserole that you received a 5-star review online!
  • Things I will most likely price at a dollar most of the time
  • Pickled peppers in jars for decorative purposes. You can’t eat them. Well I suppose you can try, but you have to buy the “I’m gonna eat these” waiver. That costs $1.
  • A disassembled computer desk that once housed my mother’s computers and thus, should you bring it to life, can provide hours and hours of discussion about what is has learned from quilting websites.
  • Items that once resided in my kids’ rooms but were snuck out here in the dead of night, lest they insist they need to keep it even though it hasn’t been touched in four years
  • Beloved and treasured knick-knack addition to my home that I am going to take the sacrifice and part with for the low, low price of $3. Ok, you got it. $2.

While the turnout for my garage sale was decent, I think we can all agree that the next time I do one, I need to be more aggressive with the marketing. The only problem with that, of course, is I don’t ever plan to do one again.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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