Pricing is key to successful garage sale

Apr 10, 2013

Our series of articles on how to have a successful garage sale continues. – Ed.

How do I price this stuff? Pricing tends to be the hardest part of having a garage sale for many people.

The general rule of thumb most recommended by experts is 10-20 percent of the retail price or value, but this just doesn't always cut it.

You probably have a little more leeway during the Great Mukilteo Garage Sale because it attracts a lot of buyers, and some have a pocketful of money to spend.

However, there's more to pricing than just a percentage of the retail price. It can be really frustrating when you have no clue at all what you should sell something for.

Remember, there are no clear-cut hard-and-fast rules on pricing garage sale items.

First you have to decide why you're having the sale.

What's your first priority? Is it to get all that junk out of your house, or is it to make money?

Think hard about it; don't just choose one. It's always a little bit of both, but which is the most important?

If it's to get rid of stuff, price low, of course. If it's to make money, just make sure you don't price too high.

Always keep in mind that most people are looking for some serious bargains. They're not going to buy your old scratched up coffee table for $20 when they can cover a free cardboard box with a $5 tablecloth and no one will be the wiser.

They're also not going to pay $50 for your five-years-old bride's maid gown that they'll have to pay to have altered, whether you paid $300 for it or not.

Put yourself in the buyer's place. What would you pay for it if you were someone else?

Forget completely what you paid for it.

Look at it. Give it a price if it were new and in good condition. Now check it over again and subtract some money for scratches, dents and other flaws.

Subtract a little for the kinds of supplies that might be needed to fix it up.

Many people want to bargain – expect it and act accordingly. You can always refuse to sell an item at the price your customer offers if you're confident you'll get your price later.

What about tagging? Some experts suggest that you avoid the hassle of marking a price on each object, and instead have a table for $1 items, a table for $2 or $3 items, and so on.

You don't want to leave items as “make an offer” because then you may get no offers. A lot of people won't bother unless it's something they've been hunting high and low for.

Clothing is a little easier to price than other items, until you get into the higher priced brand new stuff you just never wore.

A t-shirt should never be priced higher than $1 unless it's in fantastic condition, or brand new.

Socks, never higher than a dime, possibly a quarter to 50 cents if they're new. Remember, you had your smelly feet in those.

Jeans in good condition usually go for up to $2.

Shoes are variously priced, depending on size, condition, and brand, but it is possible to get $5 for a nice pair of once worn brand name shoes.

Baby clothes in good condition bring a higher price because they're higher in demand with the garage sale crowd.

Decent brand name clothing can go from $1-$5. Anything that's stained shouldn't be priced for more than a quarter.

Furniture can be difficult to price.

A good couch may sell for up to $200, but the regular prices run from $75-$150 for one in good condition.

Dining sets can go for $25-$400. If something is that expensive though, you're better off trying the classifieds.

Mattresses – keep them cheap. No one wants an old used mattress for $50 when they can go to the local bedding store and get a new one for $75.

Bedroom sets usually sell well, but only if they're not overpriced. If it's in fantastic good-as-new condition, try 25-30 percent of what you paid.

Coffee and end tables are a dime a dozen. Don't try to charge more than $15-$20 or you'll be disappointed.

Most little miscellaneous things, like jewelry, knick-knacks, frames, and other household non-necessities are usually 25-50 cents.

Books are the same. Try up to 50 cents for paperbacks in good condition, and no more than $1-$1.50 for hard covers.

A frequent garage sale buyer isn't going to pay $5 for your used hard covers when they know that the next sale is going to have them for 50 cents.

Your best bet is to go to a few sales before the Great Mukilteo Garage Sale and see what others are charging. It will give you an idea of what the people who will come to your sale are expecting to pay.

You can also take a peek at classified ads to see what people are asking for larger items.

Anything that's still in the box, has the directions, has the tags still on it, or in some way is obviously brand new can bring more money. Jack the price up on those things.

If you have the original price tag on it, that's even better. You can try to get a third of what you paid.

Deadline looms for placing your ad for the Great Mukilteo Garage Sale at 5 p.m. Friday, April 19.

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