By Kathy Flaxman
The coat went for $25. Huge, old, and worn, but down-filled with a hood. Its buyers? A young trendy couple, that planned to use what some might call a fashion disaster as a fishing coat. Frosty weather will never deter them. When Gerry Mason moved, downsizing from over 3,000 square feet to under 1,500, he had a solution. Sell, sell, sell.
"We got rid of basically everything from that old coat and an extra microwave to our collection of vinyl records," he reports. "It was hard work, but exciting and we cleared over $500."
Ever moved and transported boxes, unpacked and labelled, from your previous move? Perhaps you've changed homes but nothing's really changed. Does your décor include items so dated, it borders on antique?
If your possessions are starting to own you, it's time for a shake-up. Particularly if you are moving, it's time to lighten your load.
And be ruthless in disposing of items. The lava lamp you got in university lives again - only in someone else's home. Plastic chairs and kitchy kitchenware are trendy. The garage or lawn sale is an excellent way to pare down your belongings, before you transport your life.
Of course, like everything good, the garage sale (yard sale, condo sale, street sale) requires some work. Step one: decide what's for sale. Tag it with prices and consider your bargaining style. Are you a haggler, someone who thinks of negotiating as a sport? Here's your opportunity to flex your financial muscles - start your pricing a bit high. Or, if you're a timid type, ask for less in the interest of easy, fast sales. Get some idea of what the items are worth by scouting out the competition (local second hand shops, Goodwill) and factor in the 'I won't have to move it' value.
Merchandising is critical. Think in terms of pleasing presentation, not piles. If you're unloading some furniture, why not turn it into a showcase unit for those lovely ceramics you collected in Majorca and your collection of 'interesting' glassware. Clothing for sale? A dressmaker's dummy or stand alone coat rack can be invaluable, and do hang something eye-catching. That French bustier that no longer fits you will attract lookers and provide a little entertainment value.
And entertainment is important. Music is more than the food of love, it's the ringing of your cash coming in. Create a fun atmosphere that suits your style and consider giving out or selling drinks and snacks. Hungry, cranky shoppers are bad for business.
Now to get the business, advertising is a must. What works best are large signs posted at key intersections, complete with map and arrow. Arm yourself with florescent sheets of bristol board and markers at daybreak on sale day.
If you can afford it, or have large items then consider placing a newspaper ad. More is always better, but the most traffic comes from the traffic - people out and about in cars, on bikes, or taking a walk.
Items that will whoosh out of sight fast are camera or electrical equipment, furniture, and small appliances. Glassware and chip-free dishes move quickly too. Put out some things that still have life, but no longer sing to you. Once you're in your new home, you will, armed with your profits, be ready to start buying again, and what's more fun than shopping?
Insider Tips for Simple Successful Selling
Plan how you will cope with earlybirds. Janice, a Leaside resident, was inundated with shoppers who arrived in trucks and forgot to put out her best items! "Still," she says, "I made over $600, a shockingly good amount for things I didn't want to own any more."
Location, location, location: use the real estate and be visible. Get your goods out to the street! Keep only the overflow in the garage, if possible.
Have an electrical power source so buyers can test that toaster.
Labels and markers - stock up! Masking tape works too, but be neat.
Change - you will need a cash box with lots of loonies and toonies.
Pricing - want to make your life easier? Don't have odd number pricing. Lowest price? $1. Bundle items together to make them worth it, and have a free table or two for one spot. See someone hesitating? Throw in something extra and watch that item leave your premises. Remember, you won't have to move it!
Consider renting a table. Gerry Mason notes: "You don't sell your displays that way."
Great neighbours make a great sale. Yours can be one or two houses together, or a couple of apartments with goods in the front courtyard.
At the end of the day, give it away! You do not want to move these things. Pack it up and donate to charity. You've had your fun, move on.