As the weather warms up, garage sales begin appearing all over the U.S. Garage sales are a great way to clean out clutter while making some extra dollars for home improvements, bills, vacations or even “retail therapy.”
Marcela Iannini, department chair of Advertising and Design & Media Management at Miami International University of Art & Design, says, “Garage sales are great opportunity to employ basic marketing principles in a fun way; a little innovation and creativity go a long way to maximize sales.”
“It’s important to start with the basics of marketing – the four P’s – price, product, promotion and place. In garage sales it works best to think of the product as the garage sale itself and the items to be sold as product lines or brands of that product,” adds Cheryl Pilchik, Advertising faculty at The Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Dr. Larry Stultz, department chair of Advertising and Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, agrees. “It is imperative to use the same thinking retailers use to maximize the visibility and sales opportunities for a garage sale.”
Below are some helpful suggestions from Iannini, Pilchik and Stultz on making the best of your garage sale:
* Product and price: Product mix is important in retailing. You can either focus on one type of product (kids’ toys or garden tools, for instance) or a broad mix of products. Study sales in your neighborhood to see what works best. Check out the prices, too. You should consider not only the original cost, but also what others charge at sales like yours. Rather than use a lot of time individually pricing each item, consider grouping like items together on large tables, posting the same price for all items on that table – like retailers do.
* Place (scheduling/location): Think about a high-traffic area – retailers pay a premium for high-traffic locations. Perhaps you can team up with several neighbors and choose the house that has the most street visibility. Knowing your target market is paramount in timing your sale. Consider scheduling with other activities in your neighborhood – art shows or community events will help draw additional traffic.
* Promotion (advertising/marketing): A successful garage sale requires careful planning and promotion using proven advertising strategies to make your sale stand out. One successful strategy is choosing a theme related to the items to be sold and carrying out the theme in all aspects of the sale. For example, if most of the items to be sold are from the 1980s, you’d play 80s music, have everyone working at the sale dress in 80s style and use 80s elements in your flyers.
Whatever your theme, consider the following to promote your sale:
1. Neighborhood signs and flyers, placed on local business, PTA and school/church bulletin boards – and where permitted, on street corners or in yards.
2. Local newspaper listings and online listings like craigslist.org.
3. A social networking fan page with an event for the garage sale inviting friends and family.
4. Your own Facebook and Twitter pages to inform your “friends” and “followers” about your event.
5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest on the day of the sale to distribute special offers, share photos of items for sale or offer incentives for referring fans or customers.
Give your garage sale a facelift to keep it fresh and appealing. Borrowing effective strategies and tactics used in the merchandising and advertising industries to engage the customer and communicate with them on their terms will help to ensure your success.