Whether your goal is to purge your home of stuff you no longer need or raise some cash -- or both -- you have options.
You can sell your items on an auction website like eBay, list them in classifieds on Craigslist or give the stuff away. Or you can create a killer garage sale that turns your castoffs into cold, hard cash.
PLAN AHEAD. Give yourself more than a few weeks to get ready. Make sure the date you select is not conflicting with a holiday or community event. Check local laws regarding signage, restrictions and a requirement, if any, to get a permit.
GET ORGANIZED. It pays to put your stuff in order. Designate your sale area. If there are items in close proximity that are not for sale, cover or clearly mark them "Not for Sale." Take the time to repair and clean your sale items and your sale area, too. Dirt, grime, chaos and clutter will repel shoppers. A nicely ordered space will draw people who are ready, willing and able to buy.
PRICING. The majority of people who pass through your sale are merely looking for something they can use without having to pay full price for it. Your goal is to get rid of your stuff while recouping some of the money you spent to buy it in the first place. Research the price of similar items on eBay or Craigslist. For high-ticket items priced over $100, make sure you include manuals, warranties or other information that would be beneficial to the buyer.
ADVERTISE. At the very least, put a sign at the end of your street. If you really want to attract motivated buyers, get serious with the advertising. Consider an ad in a local newspaper. Join NextDoor, a private social networking service for neighborhoods where you can interact with neighbors and get the word out about your sale. Post on local bulletin boards, and circulate flyers. Put some time and effort into this because you want your ad to stand out.
SETTING UP. Make your layout deliberate. Group things in sections. For example, put all kitchen items together in one area, and toys and games in another. Make sure all of your clothes are hung. Rig up a makeshift hanging clothes rack with two ladders or hooks from the ceiling. Do not pile clothes on a table or in boxes.
POINT OF PURCHASE. This is the checkout area, where you will collect money. This is a great place to sell cookies, coffee, sticky buns and bottles of water. If you have lots of small random items like small toys, jewelry and other items that don't go with anything else, divvy them up into small lunch bags; tape them closed; and mark them "Grab Bags!" Add a reasonable price, and place them right by the checkout. Sit back, and watch them fly off the table.
PREPARE FOR THE WORST. Bad weather is always possible, so make sure you have a few tarps available. If rain is a possibility, relocate electronics, books and paper items just inside the garage or under a cover.
GET HELP. If you want to knock your sale out of the park, get some expert help. I recommend "The Garage Sale How-to Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Hold a Successful Garage Sale" by Cindy Sabulis, available on Amazon. This guide is worth its weight in gold and could make all the difference between a total waste of time and a big profit-making success!
Mary Hunt's weekly column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.