If you have taken Peter's Clutter Challenge and now have lots of stuff you need to get rid of, a garage sale can be a great solution to your problem. "If you are organizing a yard sale, you have to let go of the idea of making money and instead tackle it from the perspective of having fun and just getting the clutter out of your home," Peter says.

Bruce Littlefield, author of Garage Sale America, says garage sales are a great voyeuristic adventure for the shopper. "I mean, where else can you actually be invited to someone's home or yard and be asked to paw through their stuff, then pass judgment on it or buy it? It's just an anomaly!" he says.

Bruce himself furnished his farmhouse for under $5,000 with finds from garage sales, and says he has picked up some important tips over the years when it comes to hosting a successful sale. Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Price items to sell.
  • Make sure you post garage sale signs and have your address clearly marked.
  • Don't be crabby. "Who wants to go into somebody's yard and meet someone who is not happy to see you?" Bruce says.
  • Donate leftover items to charity.

Peter and his neighbors hosted a neighborhood garage sale that brought in hundreds of shoppers. He says the secret to their success was incorporating humor and organization into the event. Here are some of Peter's tips:

  • Make creative and funny signs that draw attention to your garage sale. Peter says that a sign stating "Naked Garage Sale!" or "Mom and Dad are away, liquidating everything!" are sure ways to get people to swing by your sale.
  • Hold "blue light specials" every hour to move merchandise.
  • Use large tables to lay stuff out.
  • Keep similar things together—books on one table, clothing on another.
  • Have a plugged-in electrical cord handy so people can test anything that is electrical.
  • Don't lie about stuff you are selling—if it doesn't work, don't sell it.
  • Have $50 worth of singles on hand and keep money in a fanny pack around your waist so that you don't lose it.

A caller named Pat says she frequently uses garage sales to raise money for charitable organizations. She calls the events "free garage sales" and asks for donations instead of setting prices.

"I hand them a bag first and I say, 'We are here to bless your day, we want you to take whatever you need to take. If you would like to make a donation to us we would be more than happy to receive it, but if you can't, we still want you to take it,'" she says.

If your home is free from clutter and you want to pick up the art of shopping at yard sales, a caller named Meredith, the self-proclaimed "queen of 'garage saling,'" shares some advice:

  • Go early, when the garage sales first open.
  • If you like something a lot, walk past it as if you aren't interested, then nonchalantly inquire about its price.
  • Be polite and don't be afraid to barter.

Meredith says she often finds wonderful things at garage sales and thinks that garage saling is a great hobby. "I think of garage saling as being a recycling effort," she says. "If there is a treasure and I don't buy it, it will end up in a landfill."


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