Every single day, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of garage sales happening in a typical American city. It doesn’t matter how big your city or town is. There’s always a garage sale. As long as you can get to such sales fairly quickly, these are money-making opportunities.
In the typical garage sale, items are sold at a very low price. In fact, in the last garage sale I went to, there were a lot of items sold for less than a dollar. The best part? You can haggle. You may find something being sold for a dollar, but nothing is stopping you from asking if you can pay 50 cents for it.
Making Money Off Your Local Garage Sale Finds
When you sell your old stuff, you run out of stuff very quickly. That’s the bottom line. Even if you’re selling on eBay, you’re going to run out of stuff. This is why I suggest you look at the different garage sales going on in your area and look for deals there. You can make quite a bit of money buying low and selling high.
The following guide teaches you how to do this the right way. A lot of people think that as long as they can open and eBay account, then they will make money. Wrong! A lot of the stuff that you can pick up at a garage sale won’t sell on eBay. Even if they do, they actually cost you more money because of shipping and handling. They simply are just too much of a hassle, and you end up losing out. You have to do it the right way. Here’s how I do it.
Step #1: Go through eBay and see what sells
This is crucial. Sell only stuff that is already hot on eBay. Don’t put yourself in the stupid position of trying to create demand for something that is not in demand on eBay. If it’s not already selling, forget about it.
Next, make sure you think in terms of categories. Don’t just focus on the fact that a lot of people are buying a specific product. Look at the category for that product. Is that category also hot?
This is important because you can’t always find a specific hot product in your local garage sales. Think more broadly. Look for products that fall within that same product category. If you are able to find those products in your local garage sale, then you can make money. Think in terms of categories. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Step #2: Create a garage sale scouting plan
Before you get out there and start going through the different garage sales going on in your town or city, you should have a plan. This plan spells out what you’re supposed to do depending on what you find. Here’s the shortlist that I use when I scour my local garage sale circuit for good deals.
• Product categories
This is a list of the only categories that I will buy. If a product doesn’t fit in these categories, I don’t buy it. I make sure that these categories or hot on eBay. Products in these categories sell out very quickly on eBay; otherwise, I won’t put them on my list.
• Maximum price
This is crucial. Before I get out the door and start hitting up my local garage sales, I have a clear idea as to the maximum price I’m going to pay for an item. If I go over that price, I’m not going to make a profit. This is why I need to stick by that price.
With that said, the price has to be realistic. It would be nice if we could all pick up a Ferrari for $10. Good luck with that happening! You have to be realistic as to what your maximum price is.
The good news is most garage sales have rock-bottom pricing. People put up garage sales because they have a lot of stuff they want to get rid of. This gives you a lot of room to move. Still, you have to have a maximum price.
• Minimum buying condition
You have to be clear as to the minimum physical condition of the garage sale product that you’re going to be selling on eBay. Study the condition of all the products in the category you are thinking of trading in.
Are all of them used? Are most of them used? If they are used, just how good of a shape are they in? Do buyers insist on the very best condition or are they very open-minded? Better yet, would they take whatever they could find?
Pay close attention to all the sales and recently concluded sales of products within the category you’re thinking of buying and selling. Try to establish an average condition that is guaranteed to sell. Stick to that condition level. Don’t take any chances and buy products that are broken in the hopes that somehow somebody will pick it up. You’re not going to make any money if you do that. You’re just going to end up storing junk.
• Create a systematic itinerary
Create a cruising schedule and itinerary. Usually, garage sales are not announced to the public. You often find them by accident. You’re passing by a street on your way to meet a friend, and you see a garage sale. That’s how these things normally work out.
To maximize your chances of stumbling upon a garage sale, you should have a little road map set up where you can systematically slowly scout out your neighborhood and surrounding areas. You have to be systematic and methodical about this; otherwise, you’re going to miss a block or you’re going to overlook a geographic area. That’s too bad because there might be a garage sale or two going on there.
• Set up a gas budget
Obviously, trawling your local area for good garage sale deals is going to eat up a lot of gas. It helps tremendously if you have a very gas-efficient car. But even if you didn’t, try to be as efficient as you can in mapping out your garage sale scouting itinerary.
Generally speaking, you should pass through an area at least twice. Sometimes if you start too early in the morning, the garage sale hasn’t been put up yet. However, if you are just going to go through that area once, you might overlook a garage sale that was set up around noon. Try to pass by all areas in your coverage area at least twice.
• Get ready to negotiate
The most effective negotiating tactic that I personally use is the door-slammed- in-the-face tactic. I would come in and ask for a really, really low price. If they reject me, I then leverage it up little by little. By starting really low, you influence the buyer regarding the value of their product.
People aren’t stupid. They’re really not. When people keep telling them or at least one person tells them that something they own is worth very little, that plants a seed of suggestion in their mind. By slowly walking back from that rock-bottom price, you keep reinforcing the suggestion that the thing that they’re selling isn’t really worth all that much. It’s only a matter of time until you get a price that’s still lower than their advertised price.
I’ve gotten really amazing deals using this tactic. The downside is you really have to have a thick face. You have to toughen up and be able to handle rejection.
The good news is you can do this for fun negotiating at garage sales, but this skill pays off tremendously in many areas of your life because, let’s face it, most people face a tremendous amount of challenges and rejection throughout their lives. By toughening up a bit through the practice of low-ball negotiation, you become a more effective person.
Step #3: Execute your plan and shop wisely
When you go through your itinerary and you spot a garage sale, stick to the plan. Look for items that are in your target product category. Look at the items very closely.
What should you look for?
• Signs of wear and tear
• Signs of damage
• Signs of repair
• Signs of parts replacement
As much as possible, ask the owner if you can test out the item if it needs to be plugged in. Also, make sure that you bring batteries with you because there are certain items that need batteries. Whatever your situation is, make sure you thoroughly look at the item and handle it.
Warning: Garage sales are purely cash-based and everything is sold on an as-is basis
There are no warranties with garage sales. If you buy it, you’re stuck with it. Keep this in mind because if you do not do your due diligence by handling and inspecting the products closely, you end up losing money.
Step #4: Negotiate hard
If you notice that very few people are looking at the products that you want to buy, negotiate harder. Generally speaking, you should negotiate hard. Start with the low-ball technique that I described above. Start low and then walk back from it. At the very least, there’s a high chance that you will get something lower than the advertised price.
Next, offer to buy in bulk. If the seller has a lot of products in the category that you are buying, offer to buy them all (assuming that they all meet your minimum quality requirements). When you’re buying in bulk, you get a tremendous bargaining advantage. Use this advantage. Insist on at least a 25 percent to 33 percent discount.
I know a lot of people who go to garage sales and end up getting 25 percent to 30 percent off the already rock-bottom pricing. That’s how effective bulk buying can be.
Step #5: Take good photographs of the products you’re selling
It’s very important for you to get the prospective eBay buyer to think and feel that they are looking at the product itself. Take as many pictures as you can. Make sure these are very sharp and well-defined. Show all the slight damage or worn state of the product. Don’t hide the ball.
Also, take specific pictures for each specific product that you’re selling. Don’t bait and switch. It’s just going to blow up in your face.
Step #6: Create your ad
Once you have the pictures squared away, create your ad. Make clear that there are no refunds. Make clear that there are no returns. Assuming that you send what you advertise, the buyer takes the risk. Spell it out in your ad.
How Much Money can You Make from Buying and Selling Garage Sale Items?
Depending on the kind of product category you specialize in as well as the demand on eBay, you can make quite a bit of money. We’re talking about double or even triple your money. This also depends on how good of a negotiator you are.
Believe me when I was starting out, I couldn’t negotiate my way out of a wet paper bag, but as I went from one garage sale to another and from one flea market to another, I got better at it. I just got used to the whole thing, and I was able to flip products for bigger and bigger profits.
As a rule of thumb, try to double your money. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it. It takes gas, time, and attention to go from one garage sale to another. Factor that cost into your profit margin.
I know a lot of people who do this for a living who don’t bother to do that and I’d be surprised if they’re actually making a decent profit. I know it sounds crazy, but your time is actually worth something.
Think of it this way. How much would you be paid if you were doing something else? Factor that price into your margin.
eBay Garage Sale Flipping Success Tips
Cashing in on old and no-longer-used items can be a lucrative way of making money on eBay, Craigslist, and other platforms. Follow these tips to maximize your success and profits.
Tip #1: Use as many different platforms as possible
I know this might come as a shock, but eBay is not the only online trading platform available. Not by a long shot. There are many other local or semi-local or even regional auction sites. There are, of course, a wide range of classified ad sites like Craigslist you can use. Sign up and use as many of these platforms as possible. Advertise the same products on all those platforms, and you should be able to get a decent enough flow of inquiries to unload your inventory.
The name of the game here is to clear your inventory. You are not a warehouse; you are not a collector; and you are definitely not a hoarder. Don’t settle for a pile of stuff that seems to grow every single week in the middle of your living room floor. Don’t do that. Don’t turn your home into a warehouse.
Sign up for as many online exchanges as possible so you can increase your chances of clearing up that pile as soon as possible.
Tip #2: Invest in good copywriting
If you don’t write all that well, or you have a tough time organizing your thoughts or describing things, leave it to the professionals. You can find high-quality writing services from providers like Gene Eugenio, an American writer who charges rock-bottom rates. If you like taking risks, you can even try Fiverr.
Regardless of what you do, make sure you get professional help. Your text can mean a difference between success and failure. Your text has to adequately and clearly communicate the value of the product that you are advertising on eBay or other platforms.
The title of your ad must draw eyeballs. This is not easy to do. Either you need to put in a lot of practice and learn from your mistakes, or you can skip the learning curve and hire a professional copywriter.
Tip #3 Sell only light and compact items
When I started garage sale flipping, I would sell anything that was hot on eBay. Here’s the problem. A lot of the stuff that’s hot on eBay are actually quite heavy and take up a bit of space. I’m talking about blenders, small appliances, things like that.
While I was able to sell them, my profit margin wasn’t all that big because of shipping and product handling. Even if the buyer will assume shipping costs, weight and bulkiness are still issues because you’d still have to handle those products. At the very least, you’re going to have to pile them up in the middle of your living room floor. They take up a lot of space. They may take time to handle. It’s a hassle.
I started making a lot more money by focusing on small things. You’d be surprised as to how many pieces of jewelry are sold at garage sales. Personally, I like buying and selling jewelry because they’re small, compact, and they’re worth quite a bit of money.
You can also try light items that are fairly small like comic books, small accessories, fancy bookmarks, or small pieces of electronics. The key here is to pick products that are light, small, and command a decent amount of money. These products do exist. You just have to do some research.
Tip #4: Focus on turnaround time
As much as possible, beat the competition when it comes to turnaround time. People don’t like to wait around for their products. Try to find the fastest shipping option possible, but make sure to shift the cost of shipping as much as possible to the buyer.
The Final Word
If you like this method of making money from the Internet, please share it with your friends and family on Facebook or other social media platforms you’re on. Please leave a comment sharing your experience using this technique. If you have any questions regarding any of the steps or details that I’ve shared with you, leave a comment and I’ll get to you. I respond to all comments. If you have any tips or suggestions on how to get better profits with this technique, I want to hear from you as well. If I find your suggestion or feedback useful, I’ll even publish it through an update to this blog post. My goal in setting up this blog is for our community to help each other make more money. Click Here for more free money making ideas.