The Organized Life

How to Advertise a Garage Sale

It used to be that to promote a garage sale, a family posted colorful signs around town. Now, in the age of the Internet, savvy sellers are going online to advertise their garage sales and attract more buyers.

Garage or yard sales are, of course, the tried-and-true way to make an extra buck during a household reorganization. Whether you’re looking to store more in your garage, unclutter your closet or lighten your load for a move, going online will help you make more space for the newer things in life.

The best yard sale experts have savvy and experience to help bring in interested buyers. Some of them shared their tips here to help Public Storage readers get more organized, and to find more treasures as shoppers.

Post Your Garage Sale in Facebook Groups

Sarah Carlson, mother and Real Housewives of Minnesota blogger (no relation to the reality T.V. shows), said she uses Facebook community groups not only to keep in contact with her neighbors, but also to post details about upcoming yard sales.

“Local Facebook group pages are always a great way to drive up traffic,” Carlson said. “Take photos of big tickets items and share them to drive up interest.”

Community groups are Facebook pages where former and current residents of a city or region usually share tips, safety alerts and other information about what is going on in a particular neighborhood.

There are some Facebook community groups, however, created just to promote local yard sales and not other neighborhood topics, said Chris Heiska, operator of YardSaleQueen.com.

An easy way to find out if they have Facebook groups dedicated to garage sales in your area is to type in “yard sale” then your city into the search bar at the top of the homepage. Go regional if you live in a smaller town.

Heiska, who lives in Maryland, has been running her yard sale website for about two decades and knows a thing or two about the trade.

“Twenty years ago, newspaper ads were the way to advertise yard sales, and they’re still there occasionally, but everyone’s advertising online now,” Heiska said.

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Use Garage Sale Listing Sites to Market Your Event

In fact, a multitude of websites exist to help sellers and shoppers. TreasureListings.com, which runs six other sites for yard and estate sales, lists between 10,000 to 20,000 sales every week, said spokeswoman Chrystie Vachon.

“People are going online whether they’re using craigslist or a site like one of ours to map out their sales,” Vachon said. “It’s big business.”

On any of their websites, like GarageSaleFinder.com, sellers can use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to promote the sales on their personal social media pages.

“People are not only using our websites to find garage sales, but also to promote them,” Vachon said.

Listing your sales is free on the website, and garage sale seekers can hunt by zip code.

“Buyers are going to want to know how close and convenient (a garage sale) is,” Heiska said. “No one wants to waste so much time in the car.”

For yard sale hunters in a hurry and on the move, Garage Sale Finder also has an iPhone app.

Heiska warns prospective yard sale sellers to read the rules on online forums or groups before posting about events online.

“Some have rules that say you can only post 24 hours before it starts,” Heiska said. “You don’t want to post too early anyway, because people may forget about it.”

Heiska also advises sellers to introduce themselves in their sale postings. More people will want to come.

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Post Pictures of the Big-Ticket Yard Sale Items on Craigslist

“They’ll usually come to the sale if they see something in a picture,” Carlson said. “They’ll show up for that item and then end up purchasing similar items.”

She said she’s had success selling a bicycle trailer, strollers, car seats, lawn mowers and sporting equipment on craigslist, to declutter her space and make more storage room in her basement, garage and closets. Sellers can upload multiple images on a post to attract a variety of customers.

Heiska also recommends using craigslist to research the garage sale competition and get ideas.

Shoppers also benefit, by seeing what items are available before they decide which sales to visit.

Heiska warned that when you post your sale on craigslist, people will ask to buy the product before the event.

“It’s a yard sale dilemma,” she said. She usually avoids the problem by posting the yard sale ad the day of the event or within a couple days of it.

Continue to Market the Old-Fashioned Way

In addition to online advertising, the experts suggest using old-fashioned marketing techniques to get the word out and about. Post signs, make flyers and talk to neighbors.

“Signs up in the neighborhood may catch the attention of people who didn’t plan on going to a yard sale that day,” Heiska said. “Word-of-mouth advertising helps too. Even signs on bulletin boards at a local library or something like that.”

And “keep your signs consistent - the color and size - so they can follow them all the way to your sale,” Carlson said.

Also ask friends and family if they want to add items to the yard sale. The more people involved, and the more stuff, the better the sale and the more people it will attract.

“It’s fun to have a friend to sell with you,” Heiska said. “The more people someone sees at a sale, the more likely they are to stop and check it out.”

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When the Sale is Over, Look to Sites Like eBay to Sell Leftovers

Several online sites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and smart phone apps allow buyers who have expensive items to auction them, usually for a fee.

This is a good way to sell any leftover garage sale merchandise. And some merchandise, Heiska said, should be sold online in the first place.

“High-end stuff, I would sell somewhere besides a yard sale, because people who go to yard sales want a bargain and try to haggle you down on prices,” Heiska said.

Other, traditional ways of selling expensive items like consignment stores and pawn shops are also still options, although you may be more likely to get more for you money online because you have the ability to set the price yourself and sell directly to a buyer.

At the end of the day, yard sales and online forums will help you unclutter your home and regain space to reorganize.

“Get rid of the stuff you don’t need so you can make room for new stuff,” Heiska said. “You’re giving someone a deal on things that they may not be able to afford new, so you’re helping people out by selling things cheaper than you would in a store.”

Photos courtesy of Chris Heiska