Start by making sure there are no local regulations against garage or yard sales. Then start organizing what you want to sell as if you were stocking a department store: Put china in one box, tools in another, books in yet another. Put clothes on hangers and sort and label them by size. When the time comes, display each in its own area. Department stores categorize because it makes it easy on their customers, and a customer who can find what he or she wants is more likely to spend money. Your customers are no different.
Look at things closely as you divide them into categories. If something is broken, throw it out or fix it. First impressions are lasting, and a customer who comes across a broken lamp is likely to decide that everything else is junk too. Clean everything. Run dishes and glasses through the dishwasher
and hose down garden tools to get off the dirt. Polish the bowling ball. Vacuum the sofa. A customer who comes across a yard sale where everything is clean and well organized will linger and more importantly, buy things.
As you’re organizing and paring down, put a price tag on each item before it goes in its box. As a rule stickers from an office supply store make good price tags, but larger items, like sofas or lawnmowers, should have larger string tags that are easy to see. Set the asking price of an item in good condition at one-fifth to one-third of the original price, but temper your pricing with some common sense. A $15 hammer might sell for $3 to $5. On the other hand, you’ll be lucky to get $1 for a rusted hammer with a cracked handle. Don’t expect to get $600 for a 5-year-old computer or $25 for a $75 piece of outdated software. Visit a few yard sales before you have yours to get a feel for local asking prices. Set prices in dollar amounts-$1, $2, $3—or in 25-cent increments. Setting odd prices results in a change-making nightmare. Price items such as glasses, plates, and silverware together-five for $1, instead of 25 cents each.
Books, books, books
Books are extremely heavy, but they are often also old friends. Get rid of old thrillers, diet books, outdated fix- it books, old travel guides, textbooks, and others you’re unlikely to ever open again. Check the hardcovers to see whether any are first editions or otherwise desirable and try selling them on eBay (see pages 20-21) or to an antiquarian book dealer. When you’re down to the core of your library, go through it carefully. Ask yourself which of those books you’re likely to read or refer to again. Get rid of anything you can bear to part with.
These can be a tough call. Are they heavy? Do you display them, read them, or play with them? Is your collection of vintage sporting goods really collectible or is it just a hodgepodge of old stuff you don’t use? Could you sell your items and make enough money to rebuild the collection at your new home?
All that food
Stop buying food a month before you move and start cooking with what’s in the cupboards. There is probably nothing there that you can’t get at your new home. If you buy it fresh at the new home, you won’t have to pay to move it. And now is the time to quit loading up at sales and start using frozen food from the freezer compartment and deep freeze. Unless you make a very short move, you can’t take frozen food with you.
Tackling the garage
Dedicate a day to cleaning it. Back out the cars and work section by section. Pick up everything piece by piece and sort it into one of three categories:
This is something I use.
This works but I don’t need it.
This is broken, useless, will cost more to move than it’s worth, or is obvious rubbish.
Pack category 1 as you work your way across the garage. Set category 2 aside for a yard sale. Put everything in category 3 in the trash.
DONATING GOODS TO CHARITY
Several charitable organizations can use the items you no longer need. If you have usable items that you’d like to donate, look into giving them to organizations such as the ones below. Most are nationwide, though not all may operate near you.
Vietnam Veterans of America and Military Order of the Purple Heart accept donations to resell to help veterans.
Goodwill Industries accepts donations of household goods that they resell to pay for training people who face barriers to the job market. Some stores recycle and resell computers.
HopeLine, operated by Verizon Wireless, accepts donations of any carrier’s used cell phones to benefit the victims of domestic violence.
Dress for Success accepts donations of interview- and work-appropriate clothing to give to low-income women who are entering the workforce.
Salvation Army accepts clothes that they sell through Salvation Army Thrift Shops. Proceeds from sales benefit the needy and homeless, disaster relief, and job-training programs.
City missions and rescue missions provide housing for the homeless. They usually accept clothing and small household items, which go directly to their clients. Some operate thrift shops that raise money by selling donated items.
Food banks operate in many towns and cities. You can donate canned goods to local food banks, which distribute the food to people with low incomes.
Local church and local charity resale shops accept donated items. Many churches operate thrift shops and use the money to support their programs, as do many local charities. Some collect usable household goods to distribute to families in need. Check in the phone book under thrift shops for the ones in your area.