3 Reasons why Your Garage Sale was a Failure

As I kid, I collected baseball and football cards. Many of my friends did as well. We would often sit for hours, scouring price guides and trading, and even simply admiring each other’s collections and those cards nobody was willing to trade.

What prevented us from getting most deals done was one simple thing. We all over-valued OUR cards, and under-valued everyone else’s cards. It was an early life lesson regarding how we behave and perceive value as consumers (and fantasy sports managers…cough cough).

This is the primary reason we fail at selling our stuff.

As of this writing, it’s about to be Spring, and garage-sale season. Call them what you want: thrift sales, garage sales, yard sales – it’s all the same thing. We clean all our excessive junk out of our houses, put it on display somewhere, and try to sell it.

This is a great way to clear clutter, and make some extra cash.

There are 3 key reasons your garage sale will fail though. First, you overvalue your crap. Secondly, people undervalue your crap. Lastly, the type of shopper at a garage sale is a bargain hunter – you have to appeal to that to successfully get rid of all your stuff and pocket a little extra dough. There’s nothing worse than spending 8 hours trying to sell your stuff, and still having most of it afterward. Help yourself by doing the following.

Stop overvaluing your stuff; price to sell.

If you bought an expensive brand new shirt at some point, first of all, shame on you. That’s a conversation for another day…but still, here you are with this $100 shirt that either doesn’t fit anymore, or for some reason you just don’t wear it anymore. Just because you were silly enough to pay $100 for it, does not mean it’s worth $100. It doesn’t matter what logo or brand is plastered on it – you big spender who bough it the first time paid the premium for that already. Now, it’s just a shirt. Most people in this situation do math like this. “I paid $100 for it, so I”ll only ask for less than half…half would be $50….eh, I’ll go half of that…$25….yeah, that’s a good deal.” If you try to sell a shirt for $25 at a garage sale, that shirt will still be there after you’re done. You have to be realistic with these prices.

They are going to undervalue your stuff; price to sell.

Many times it’s not even the price we paid, but the emotional attachment to something that causes us to overvalue it. Consumers at your garage sale feel no emotion toward your stuff. You might be really attached to a t-shirt you got on an awesome vacation, or your lucky sports team shirt or jersey, or a shirt you wore when you got engaged, etc. This can lead you to price items higher than you would otherwise (maybe in hopes that it DOESN’T sell). Nobody cares about your stories that go with any clothes or junk.

Folks shopping at a garage sale are a special kind of people.

Get ready for this, because it’s going to happen. Your old CD collection is going to be sitting out there priced at 50 cents per CD, or $10 for the whole collection…and someone will try go haggle the price down. Somehow, you were very rational when you pulled these CDs out and priced them. However, when someone offers you less than what you ask, something happens inside of you…and you become irrational. These stupid CDs that you can’t even listen to anymore because you don’t even own a CD player…these paperweights…suddenly someone offers you $8 for the whole collection and you’re offended.

You have to get over that. Always take the money. If they’re smart enough to offer a lower price (and many garage-sale enthusiasts are), you have to be smart enough to take the money and run.

Winning is not putting all your crap back in your house after a garage sale, it’s depositing cash or investing the cash you made from selling your junk. If you have something priced for $1, and you get offered 50 cents, just do it. First of all, any money is better than no money, and if you’re not lugging that garbage back home, THAT is what winning looks like. Secondly, when you are easy to work with and demonstrate that to the buyers, they will buy more of your crap. It’s a fact.

So, go get all your junk rounded up, get your garage sale ready to go – price that junk to sell and take whatever they’ll give you for it. The name of the game is clearing the clutter and making extra money, not trying to convince the world that your garage sale is some kind of glimpse as to how you are as a business owner or entrepreneur.

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Husband, dad, soldier, veteran, transportation manager, musician, and now a blogger and podcast host...sharing stories, experiences, and debates.

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