How to have an estate/moving/tag sale
For whatever reason, you’re having a sale where you need to get rid of a ton of stuff. It could mean new beginnings or the death of a loved one- either way you first need to first ask yourself- is this even worth an estate/moving/tag sale?
I would say if you are getting rid of at least 40% of the contents of your home it is worth it. If it’s less-move it-wait until spring/summer and have a garage/yard sale.
Rule #1 YOU DO NOT NEED AN ESTATE SALES PERSON- You can totally do it yourself. If you have the will, you’ll do great. If this is due to a loss of someone it may be best to have someone else do it, don’t push your emotional boundaries but if you think you can do it yourself TOTALLY do! Nobody will have respect for their items like you would.
Rule #2 Organize it. Don’t want to? Hire an estate sales person and loose most of your money. You loose money with them for 2 reasons, 1 is they take a hefty percentage, 2 is that it’s not their stuff. They’ll put things in piles not knowing their value or worth and people will walk away from sales with a 1k item that they got for 3 bucks. Also, they have this silly 50% off the last day. Someone started it and the rest followed suit. If you are only having a sale for 2-3 days there is no reason to have 50% off because it’s new people each day. If people know you are having 50% off the last day they’ll just wait and pay half the price. But DO be willing to wheel and deal. More on that later.
- Clothes don’t do well. I had some of the best clothes, many with tags still on and people just don’t buy it. It’s not worth your effort. Take it to one of those clothes for cash places and donate the rest. Make sure you get a slip because you can write off the amount they were worth and get a deduction on your taxes.
- Furniture does best. People come to an estate sale looking for big items at little prices. Exercise equipment does great as well. Also garage stuff, guys will drive 3 hours just for garage items like mowers, snow blowers, tools etc
- If the house is set up like someone lives there, like furniture, rugs, positioning of things, lamps on tables etc-leave it that way and stage it to look magazine perfect the best you can.
- Take everything out of cupboards, cabinets and closets and set it up on tables, counters by category. DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY! You’ll be shocked what people will buy.
Rule #3 This is a great opportunity to find out who is really your friend on Facebook. Ask people to help with tag sale. The nicer the items, the more people will come so you’ll need help. You need AT LEAST 2 people. One person to talk to people and make deals- I suggest that be you- and another to ring people up. I would say 4 is the best number. 1 to make deals, 1 to greet people and walk around and ask if they need help, answer questions etc, one to just watch for thieves and also acts as a mover, helping people with heavy lifting and one for checking out.
Also, ask people to borrow folding tables, the more the better, you can never have enough.
If you are a lady, it’s best to have a guy there, not because you can’t do it yourself but because men won’t haggle you as much with a man right there. Also, guys are great for lifting things and helping customers. you wouldn’t believe how many customers come without a truck or with help to move large furniture.
Don’t forget to feed your friends. Pizza is always great and coffee for in the mornings.
Rule #4 ADVERTISE LIKE A BEAST
- estatesales.net They charge a good amount but it’s WORTH IT! People will drive 3-5 hours if they like the photos you post enough.
- Your local newspaper, if you live “outside the city” advertise in the cities paper and your local one. Make it short but make it stand out with a phrase like “Beautiful moving sale” etc.
- Facebook ads
- Get about 10 signs made and make them colorful, put them in busy intersections by your place.
- The app “Nextdoor” if the house isn’t registered on it- sign up and get the ad up, it’s free and nosey neighbors will stop by for a peek and end up buying things.
Rule #5 Tag everything and do so fairly. If you paid 400 for a couch and it’s 5 years old and in fair condition, the price should not be higher than 100. When tagging anything over 100 bucks know ahead of time your bottom line for it- like 70 is the LOWEST you would go. People WILL try to haggle you. Many of these people do this for a hobby. You’ll hear them talk to each other like, “Hey Bob, did you end up getting those records at that last sale? There’s some in this garage I think you’d like.” The nicer you are and the more stuff you have at good deals and in great condition, the more they’ll talk about your sale at other sales. I got a lot of people just by world of mouth that way. Anyways, they’ll come to you with an armful of stuff- say 100 bucks worth and say, “Will you take 70 for all of this?” Those are bulk deals and I personally love them- it’s getting rid of a ton of crap while getting a high sum of money in one transaction. As long as you are comfortable with the offer say yes.
Rule #6 YOU can make big sales happen. If someone wants only the bed to a matching bedroom set- tell them you’ll take x amount for the whole thing, significantly discounting the other pieces.
If someone is trying to talk you into 50 bucks for your $200 table, tell them you’ll do 140 and you’ll throw in that bookshelf you’ve been having a hard time getting rid of. They’ll walk away getting a deal and you’ll get more money while also getting rid of things you may have otherwise ended up having to donate.
If there are things you kinda wanna keep but are on the fence about, tag them higher and don’t budge on price. If they sell, great, you got a lot of money for them, if not, great, you get to keep them.
Rule #6 Hours and what days to have one. There is no question that weekends are best. I had a great deal of success on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday sale. I held mine from 9am- 7pm. It’s long days but you are sure to catch someone from every schedule with those hours. There will be lulls but don’t be discouraged, one minute you’ll have nobody and the next you’ll have 10 people in your house again.
Rule #7 Download the square app and go to Best Buy and get a card reader. Practice small transactions on out with your own cards so you get used to it before the sale. Make sure you advertise that you take debit and credit cards on ALL your ads. They will send you a card reader but it could take longer than what you have- plus- it’s not bad to have a second one so another person can ring up as well if necessary.
Rule #8 Take the best photos you possibly can, if you have a fairly new android or iPhone that will suffice. Take the photos in the daytime, the more natural lighting and less artificial lighting- the better the photos will look. Don’t take photos of things from above, take them more level with items. If you have entire rooms that are staged and pretty get photos of those. The more you can fit in photos the better but don’t EVER make piles, yuck. From what I heard a lot of estate sales people do that and there’s nothing appealing about a pile of anything unless it’s cash! lol I heard from MANY people that my sale was the best they’ve ever been to and that I should do it for a living to which I was like- HELL NO! hahahah- it’s a LOT of work but for one or 2 weekends out of my life- TOTALLY worth it.
Rule #10 Create Ambiance. Nobody wants to feel unwelcome. Have everything well lit, happy music playing at store level volume. Nice and warm if it’s cold out, nice and cool if it’s hot out, a fresh breeze if it’s a comfortable temperature with ceilings fans going on low to circulate air. Every house has its own smell, make sure you open all the doors and windows as much as you can in the week leading up to the sale. Feel free to spray something subtle to make it smell good but do it days or hours before the sale- not during or right before. Greet every person that walks through the door and create small talk if possible. Maybe, “Hi there! Feel free to browse every room, there is an upstairs as well!” Then leave them be, some people will want to chat but if you have other customers try to keep it brief so that you can be attentive to everyone.
Rule #11 Advertise within the home. Print off signs letting them know deals, such as 20% off clothes, 10% off 100 dollars or more etc. If there are certain rooms you want them to see put signs saying to check out the bedroom etc.
Rule #12 I feel like I’ve already said this but make it look as nice, organized, clean and clutter free as possible. Utilize every space. Set it up to look like a store as much as possible.
Rule #13 MANDATORY You MUST put on ads and signs in your home that you are NOT responsible for accidents or injuries. People are CRAZY and there are REALLY bad people out there that will try to swindle you by faking falls etc. Protect yourself.
Rule #14 Prepare WAY ahead of time. You need at LEAST one week to prepare for a tag sale unless you’re just making piles of junk and we already discussed piles. The nicer the set up, the more people will respect the price tag. If you display it like junk people will except to pay junk cost. Not an organized person? Ask an organized friend for help. Tackle each room and don’t move onto the next until it’s finished. Hold each item your hand and decide keep or sell. Once you have went through every room and every single item then it’s time to display. Think OCD, organize in rows, everything facing forwards etc. Next is tagging. I personally prefer tags with string, it takes more time but keeps people from switching tags and looks classier. Tag stickers are a good option for less costly items and also to be able to go quickly.
Before you start tagging, go through your sticker sheets of stick on tags or your string tags and price ahead of time. Write them all out ahead of time as a timesaver. These are the best prices and I would just stick to these to save time and not think as much:
You can get everything for your moving sale at uline.com the prices are great but the shipping sucks. If you know someone that runs their own business from a brick and mortar, Uline delivers to them for free so ask them if you can pay for the items and have it sent to their place and you’ll pick it up.
Rule #15 Have a second sale if you have the time about a month later. This also give you an opportunity to save time by holding items back and closed off in one room so that the next time you advertise you can say you have a bunch of new items for sale. Many people will come back and new people as well that may not have seen your ads the last time around. It won’t go as well as the first but it’ll still be substantial.
Rule #16 If it is nice out with NO chance of rain, open the garage, have items in the yard and in the driveway. This will attract people just driving by. I didn’t have this luxury as I did mine in the dead of winter but this would be great for spreading things out and attracting people.
Rule #17 No matter how much you’re ready to let go, it will still be a challenge. Separate yourself as much as you can and keep thinking of the end goal. Whether that’s cash, a new house, new decor, freedom of clutter etc, think of things that REALLY matter; loved ones, life experiences etc. Stuff is just that- stuff. Be as logical and business minded as you can. It helped me to imagine it wasn’t even my things. I did break down and cry twice but I knew in the longterm I’d be so much happier. Also, doing this yourself teaches you to not be a consumer, to stop buying things you don’t need or love. It’s a real wake up call and is good for the spirit.
Tips- Wake up way before the sale and get your coffee in because the most serious buyers will be in front of your house before you even open. They are the wheeler and dealers so you are going to go through the worst of it as soon as you open. Be ready and save yourself 2-3 minutes of silence right before the sale starts to clear your mind and go into calm.