Planning an Apartment Community Garage Sale

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Planning an Apartment Community Garage Sale

aptsherpa · Sep 20, 2016

commuinity yard sale antique furniture

You’ve got loads of junk—old baseball card collections, a never-used tennis racket, clothes you always thought you’d be able to fit into again but never quite did— piled up in your apartment, and you’re sure your neighbors do, too. You’d like to organize an apartment-wide garage sale, but you don’t know where to start. Never fear, the collective wisdom of people who’ve done it before is assembled here to help you out!

Start Planning Early

Before you start dreaming of card tables lined with useless but adorable items, make sure that your apartment management approves of the undertaking. If you’re going to hold the sale on apartment property, you need to work especially closely with your landlord to make sure everything about the sale will be acceptable to him or her. If you’re holding the sale elsewhere, you’ll still want to run some things by management for approval. For example, will they have a problem with you using the apartment complex’s name in advertisements? Will they be willing to help advertise the sale to residents, perhaps in the form of a flyer? Depending on the nature of your apartment community, your management may be resistant to or accommodating of the garage sale. Regardless of the situation, make the best of it. In addition to checking with your apartment management, you may also need to obtain a permit from your local government. Also consider the safety issues in this situation, and investigate whether your insurance will cover any accidents. After ensuring that you can have the sale (and do so safely), you’ll need to do some more specific planning and take action.

Delegate Responsibility

A community-wide garage sale is likely to involve more work than one person can do alone (at least without going a little bit crazy). To preserve your sanity, you should enlist the assistance of a few trusted individuals in planning and executing the garage sale. The three main areas you’ll need to cover are advertising and sign creation, labeling and pricing goods, and managing the money and inventory. The individual in charge of each category can recruit additional helpers to achieve their goals. Once your leaders have been selected, they’ll need to advertise, organize, and manage the sale. You should also be sure to plan a management schedule for the day of the sale itself so that at least two people are staffing the sale at all times.

Advertise Widely, and Push Your Biggest Items

Your garage sale is no use unless people come to it! Having an apartment-wide sale provides the added benefit of built-in customers, especially if you hold the sale on apartment property. It’s hard to pass up that cute Christmas tin that’s only 50 cents when you encounter it on the way to your apartment. But your sale will be a real success only if you attract “outsiders” to buy items. Survey your potential participants to see what types of items they’ll be selling. Antiques and designer clothing can be big draws, and household appliances and other electronics also sell well. If people come to your sale to buy these big-ticket items, they’ll likely pick up a smaller item or two as well. And remember, placing a classified ad in your local newspaper is only the start—there are many free online ad services (some of them garage sale specifics) that will reach a wide variety of people.

Establish Clear Guidelines for Pricing and Display

The biggest point of contention in a community garage sale is likely to be the money. So-and-so wants to sell his old 45’s for $1 each; you sell them for 75 cents, he wants the garage sale to pay the difference. Be sure to gain an understanding before the sale about each participant’s flexibility with regard to price. If someone isn’t at all willing to reduce the price of an item, make sure to clearly mark the price as firm, or come up with a color-coding system or “fixed-price table” to indicate that some goods are not to be reduced in cost. The sale should help enhance the sense of community in your apartment complex, not create contention between neighbors over a five-dollar garage sale item.

You may want to create an inventory system to show whose items sold for what price—it sounds involved, but an Excel spreadsheet can do the job, and will save you a lot of headaches in the end when it comes to figuring out whose items earned what. When tracking your inventory, start planning how you’ll display items. Make sure you’ll have enough tables, and figure out how you might hang articles of clothing—procure a bar for hanging, as well as a variety of hangers. Boxes and baskets can be great ways to display similarly sized or priced items. Tailor your display to fit the items you’re selling, and your sale will succeed.

Execute Expertly

Once your sale is planned, all that’s left is to execute. Put up all the signs you’ve carefully created so that people can easily find your sale. Set up the sale so you’re ready at the time you’ve advertised, but keep in mind that people may show up early. Be prepared to let them know that the sale starts at the specified time and not any earlier. Once the buyers start arriving, make sure at least two people are staffing the sale at all times—one to watch and assist buyers, one to handle the money and inventory.

Above All… Be Flexible

No matter how much advance planning you try to do, there will inevitably be a last-minute rush to get some items in. Be flexible and attempt to accommodate as many items as you can. The more, the merrier! In the same vein, be flexible on price—a garage sale isn’t much success if it sticks to listed prices but doesn’t actually move any merchandise. Take the above tips to heart and you’ll have a successful and lucrative sale!

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