“It’s always consoling to know that today’s Christmas gifts are tomorrow’s garage sales”. – Milton Berle
Summertime is for vacations, long lazy days of play and rest. It’s also a time for lawn, estate and garage sales. Many towns have community areas, where they will have large flea-markets with vendors coming from near to far. We have basements, storage lockers and every corner of our house filled with ‘Stuff & Things’.
Here are the steps to help you determine whether or not to hold a garage sale or estate sale:
Current Condition of today, people within North America, especially the younger generations, are not looking to buy ‘Stuff & Things’. Their lifestyles are geared towards minimal living. They are not looking for items to put on a shelf and collect dust. They are looking for more practical everyday use items. Collectors of ‘Stuff & Things’ are aging, and the priority is not to collect anymore. The days of finding the holy grail of treasures are far and few. Most probably what was valuable was sold by a family member in the 70s to 90s. Or what was very desirable is no longer. In other words, what you might have from your parents or grandparents might not be appreciated in the same way as a family member. The days of rows of antique stores in a major city have disappeared. Pawn shops, second hand stores have closed down in record numbers. Many sales have gone to online places like Kijiji or to Facebook Marketplace, depending on the item, its desirability and use.
First Steps to take.
1. Go through the whole household. If there are items which can be thrown away, given or to be sold as scrap metal and will serve no purpose in your life, then get rid of it. This will take longer than you can estimate, sometimes there are emotions or family history attached to an item.
2. All other items which you do not want to keep have to be broken down into 2 groups. One, the items that can be sold online like Facebook marketplace or eBay. And everything else, which might be interesting for a garage sale. Going the online route, you will have to take pictures, do a write up and post it. As easy as it sounds, it might take you 15 to 30 minutes per item. If you have 20 items, (300 minutes / 60 = 5 hours of your time to post 20 items using the 15 minutes per item)
Question: Are the 20 items worth more than 5 hours of your time? Or if you have to pay for a storage locker, are the items stored worth more than what you are paying for the rental?
If you still decide on doing a garage or estate sale, just organizing all the items in a common area to be at the ready to place on tables when your day arrives takes time. Then there is the question of what to ask for your ‘Stuff & Things’.Creating price tags for each item is time consuming. Then there is the time spent looking for similar items on the internet, to see what yours is worth. eBay is a good place to start, but only look for completed sales. Just because someone is asking for an amount does not mean it is worth that amount. Past sales are the best indication of what a similar item is worth. You can easily spend 15 to 30 minutes of time for each item searching for a comparable item. The days of just putting up posters announcing a garage sale are past. Social media marketing and or on-line ads on Kijiji is what people are using to look for garage sales in their area. Most of these sites have a fee associated for the announcement.
Your day is fast approaching, hopefully the weather is going to be nice. Maybe not, do you have a canopy?, or a garage where the tables can be placed inside and the people protected from the rain. You will have to start your day very early in the morning. Don’t be surprised to see early birds knocking on your door before you even had your first cup of coffee. Now you have to set up the tables, transport all the ‘Stuff & Things’ making sure all the price tags are secure, dealing with people who did not respect your start time and haggling over 50 cents while you are setting up. Depending on how well you did your social media marketing, expect to be very busy the first 5 hours in the morning. Doing this alone is not advisable. You should have a helper or two with you. Do not think that you will have time to make lunch or to do anything else except the garage sale. The moment you go inside, cars will stop. You will be asked if you have such and such items, like old gold or silver to sell, its best to say no, regardless if you do or not have. Or people looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My answer has always been, Gee, “I just sold it 15 minutes ago”. You will notice that it’s 5:00 PM and you have not stopped at all.
Your investment in time for that day is easily 12 hours, plus the time to look for comparables, sorting through all the ‘Stuff & Things’ in your household, garage and storage lockers. If you’re counting the hours for all your tasks, it can easily surpass 40 hours of work if not more. And if you had any helpers for your garage sales day. What is their time worth? Even though they might have had a lot of fun, or not. Hopefully your ‘Stuff & Things’ were more unique and the desirability of your items were very high. But if you spent 40 hours and made only $ 300.00, you made the equivalent to $ 7.50 per hour. Add the take out lunch / coffee / drinks, etc and it might come down to working for $ 2.00 to $ 4.00 per hour.
Many of the items that I have seen over the years at flea markets are items that were brought back by the seller because they did not sell, only to return on the vendor’s table hoping it will find a home. The question to seriously ask yourself, is it worth all the time and trouble? If the money is not going to make a big difference in your life, then maybe donating the items to one of the non-profit groups that can accept and sell them to benefit a charity.
If you come across an item where there might be some question on its value, it would be best to hold on to the item until you can get information from an impartial source free of a conflict of interest. If it has real value, that value will still be maintained over time.
Prestige Evaluation Inc. does not engage in any buying or selling of any personal property. Prestige Evaluation Inc. can not do any verbal appraising without a work file and consultation. It’s important for the seller / buyer to do his or her own due diligence, before accepting an offer to purchase or in selling your personal property. Any company referred or named in this document, there is no financial consideration or relationship between Prestige Evaluation Inc. and or John Grow.
About the Author
John H. Grow, ISA-AM, is a partner in the appraisal firm of Prestige Evaluation Inc. The firm specializes in antiquities, watches, clocks, jewelry, fine art, and collectables in general. John works with clients worldwide, museums, corporate, foundations, financial / Insurance firms and government agencies and on radio and television shows and charity appraisal fairs. A long time member of the International Society of Appraisers. (ISA) Prestige Evaluation Inc. can be found at http://prestigeevaluations.com and Grow’s email is [email protected]