Kristen Tyler Knows How: Gearing Up for a Garage Sale

Expert advice on how to host a great garage sale in Livingston

Garage sale season is getting into swing, and sales are popping up all around town.  If you’re thinking of hosting your own sale, there are ways to make sure it is a success.

Patch recently got some advice from South Orange resident Kristen Cook Tyler, owner of MT House Estate and Moving Sales .   

“I’ve been running garage and estate sales for eight years,” said Tyler, who remembers being “dragged around” flea market and thrift shops by her parents.  Here are her tips on how to have a fun, productive – and lucrative – garage sale.

1. Join forces with other families. Think about hosting with neighbors, and divvying up the prep work.  “One person can be in charge of getting the permits, and someone else can do advertising and signage.”

2. Consider Friday.  “Friday can be as big a sale day as Saturday,” said Tyler.  Prime time is between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

3. Get a permit.  Visit Town Hall to hand in your form (http://www.southorange.org/forms/clerk/GarageSaleApplication.pdf) and pay the $10 permit fee.  Plan ahead, as it can take up to a week to get the actual permit.  

4.  Advertise.  Tyler suggests posting an announcement on SouthOrangePatch.com, and placing ads on Maplewood Online and in the News-Record.  Also, find out what kinds of signs are permitted.  “I have seen police take down signs that were on public property.”  Place signs on your own parked car at the end of your block or around the corner. 

5.  Price items before the sale starts.  “You don’t want to be pricing off the top of your head as people are standing in front of you,” Tyler said.  Decide whether your goal is to actually make money or simply to get rid of your stuff, and price it accordingly.  (Also, program the number of the local police into your phone “just in case someone starts arguing about price.”)

6. Price it right.  A good rule of thumb: price items at 25% of what you actually paid for them.  E-Bay is a good source for pricing guidance.  “Check the sales that say ‘completed’ for a sense of how much things are actually selling for.”

7. Know what items are hot.  “People really go for clothes, dishes, collectibles and furniture.”

8. No early birds.  “If you say 9 a.m., try not to start the sale before then,” Tyler said.  “It can be distracting for you as you’re setting up.  Just tell people you are not open yet.”

9. Give it to charity.  Arrange for a charity, such as the Vietnam Vets or The Salvation Army, to pick up unsold items right after the sale ends. 

Finally, if you have tons of stuff, you might want to hire a professional to hold an estate sale.  “You will get more money for the same items,” Tyler said.  She cautioned: “When cleaning out the house, don’t throw anything away!  There are treasures to be found in every house.”



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