Moving Sale: Ultimate Guide Index
|Planning and Prepping
Step 1: Take Inventory of Your House
|Promoting and Selling
Step 4: How to Promote Your Moving Sale
Step 5: How to Sell Like a Champion
Step 6: When Your Moving Sale Ends
Moving Sale: Welcome to the Guide
Moving is a necessary evil. Your job might change. Your family might grow. You might just want to go somewhere it doesn’t rain 9 months a year. Whatever the reason – you’re going to have to move eventually.
(You can get some extra tips in this great video below!)
It is at this moment, when you look around at your collection of impulse purchases, that you realize you have way too much stuff. And you really don’t want to pack it all. Well, you’re in luck! People LOVE moving sales. The thought of walking onto someone else’s lawn, gazing upon their worldly possessions, and haggling on the sticker price is a time honored tradition. It’s an opportunity for you to make a little cash and cut down on the amount of boxes you will be loading, or paying the movers to load, come your move date. But how can you knock this moving sale out of the park? So glad you asked.
Take Inventory of Your House
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you have. And it’s more than just looking around your living room. Systematically compress your house, room by room, collect all the things you don’t use on a daily basis. Pull everything out of the closets, clean out those drawers, and pull the boxes from the attic and basement.
Make a pyramid of possessions in the middle of your garage, leaving nothing out, this is not the time to decide what you intend to keep or sell. Just take everything out, stack it up, and stand back. This is undoubtedly going to be a nostalgic experience for you. There is no reason that you need your tattered t-ball glove, circa 1987, but you just haven’t had a reason to toss it yet. That’s why you need to employ a hoarding interventionist. Your good friends are best suited for the position. They will work for pizza and beer and have no qualms telling you to get rid of things that well adjusted adults just shouldn’t own.
Once backup arrives, start separating your things into 3 piles. Plan for this to take some time. More than likely you will find a few letters, trophies, and pictures that will have you reminiscing about the good-ol’-days of young love, tighter abs, and fewer wrinkles. Enjoy yourself, but try to stay on track. Slowly but surely you will want to split that one giant pile of stuff into a ‘sell’, ‘keep’, and ‘maybe’ pile. Remember that the goal is to eliminate the amount of packing and moving you are going to have to do. Leave your emotions at the door.
Anything that you put into the ‘keep’ pile you can go ahead and box up so that it’s move-ready. You wont have to deal with these things again until it’s time to unpack them at your new home. This means using strong boxes, bubble wrap, and identifiable labels. The ‘sell’ and ‘maybe’ piles can be less organized since you will need to work these piles again. The reason you need to make a ‘maybe’ pile is because when you are going through your things the first time it can be very difficult to make a black and white decision to sell something. Give yourself the reprieve of a gray area. The second time sorting through these piles can be a little easier to let go since you have already considered what life would be like without your Mickey Mouse shaped home phone. It’s a little mental trick. Go through everything 3 times for best results. There shouldn’t be a ‘maybe’ pile in the end. Just a ‘keep’ and ‘sell’ pile.
Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to pitch items into your ‘sell’ pile. Most often, the people around you will have a few lingering items in their homes that they are looking to get rid of. These can add to your inventory of “for-sale” items and entice more people to come to your robust offering. It also makes your friends, family, and neighbors aware of your upcoming moving sale.
If Jerry across the street knows that next Saturday you are going to be selling that BBQ grill he has been eyeballing all summer then he might just stop by to take a few things off your hands. Don’t forget to go through all of the pockets and storage compartments of your items. It is amazing how many people will walk to your table of purses just to check the interior compartments for a forgotten wad of cash or some misplaced earrings. Make sure they don’t make out at your expense.
This is a great opportunity to create a whole home inventory list for insurance purposes as well. Here are some more resources on creating an inventory of your home before a moving sale:
How to Price Your Moving Sale Items
One of the most difficult exercises of a moving sale is figuring out what each item is worth. An easy way to gauge the market for larger ticket items it to look on Craigslist and eBay. Look at the prices they are selling for, not the prices that they are listed for. There are going to be people that have similar items to yours but have grossly overpriced them to see if anyone bites. This isn’t going to be a good strategy for your 1 or 2 day moving sale. You want these things to go! So price them accordingly. For smaller items, try to group them together at a bulk discount. Such as pricing your DVD collection at $3 each or 5 for $10. This will encourage people to buy more items than they originally would have and make them feel like they are getting a screaming deal.
If you want to get the best price for your items you will need to stage them for sale. Clean up the old toys, iron and hang your shirts, and if you have the original boxes and owner’s manuals to your exercise equipment and electronics be sure to attach them. For the bookworms in the crowd, there are several book buying companies that will be more than happy to quote your collection. Some will even come to your house to do it. You will get more money from a company that understands the value of your hardbacks instead of selling them 3 for $1 to anyone that will take them. This is true for DVDs and CDs as well. They might not want all of them, or any of them, but it’s worth a shot.
Some of the most popular items at moving sales are small kitchen appliances, craft supplies, tools and hardware, CDs, DVDs, baby items, childrens toys, and sporting equipment. Try to group like-items together so that people can easily locate things that interest them. Most importantly, make an inventory list of all the items you have up for sale. Include a short description, your asking price, and a space to write in the price you actually sold it for. This will become a priceless document for you come the day of your moving sale.
Pricing your items for a moving sale can be a tough judgement call. Here are some more resources on pricing your moving sale items:
Choose the Perfect Date for Your Moving Sale
Choosing a date for your moving sale is a pivotal decision that is often undervalued. First off, you will want to pick a weekend (preferably the first weekend of the month since it is a common pay-day and people will have plenty of expendable income to exchange for your goods).
9-to-5ers have weekends off and perusing your wares is a common weekend activity for hundreds of bargain hunters in your area. But most are fair weather shoppers. Check your local forecast, do a sun dance, and shake an angry fist at any dark cloud you see. A rainy day can end your moving sale before it ever begins. You should also look at your community calendar for big events, parades, or holidays that you may be competing with. It’s not always possible, but do your best to be the only show in town.
Your location plays a large role in any moving sale success. You have to start by ensuring that you aren’t violating any local ordinances. See if you need any permits to host a moving sale in your area. You don’t want a silly ticket to evaporate all of your profits. It’s also a good idea to think about parking. People might keep on driving if it looks like they have to park a half mile from your mini-marketplace. You can try to bribe your closest neighbors with cookies and cakes to rent out their driveways or move their cars off the street. Anything you can do to maximize your space.
While you’re gifting your confections you can take the opportunity to see if your neighbors have any unused card tables that you can borrow. Items placed on the ground, or out of eye level, are going to be much less likely to sell. Most people have an extra table laying around the garage somewhere that they wouldn’t mind letting you use.
Timing is a HUGE part of hosting a successful moving sale so it’s important to get it right. Here are some good resources on choosing your moving sale’s date and time:
Making people aware of your moving sale is key. Obviously. If you promote it, they will come. The tried and true methods of generations past still work today, but there are some new strategies that also have proven effective. Your local newspapers will often have a section dedicated to moving sales and garage sales. Many times you can list your moving sale for free. Some papers charge a nominal fee, regardless, it’s well worth it for the exposure.
Hardcore moving sale shoppers will plan out their weekends using this text treasure map. When promoting your moving sale try to mention one or two of your sure-to-be-hot items. Spreading the word about your inventory will get better results than a generic “moving sale here” plug. In addition to your local papers, post your moving sale on Facebook (post in popular “for sale” and “garage sale” groups in tandem with your personal timeline), Twitter (hashtag the name of your city and “moving sale”), Craigslist (start promoting your moving sale a few days prior and keep going until it is over), and local community forums. Signs and flyers are a staple of any moving sale. Get creative. Your witty text and hand drawn graphics need to be legible to the traffic driving by and interesting enough to get people to detour over to your moving sale. Put these signs in high traffic areas with arrows directing them to your location – include your address and your moving sale’s date and time.
Your moving sale should be a spectacle to anyone who may be driving by. Think balloons, signs, tables near the road populated with desirable items, and staged big ticket items near the back to draw people all the way in. Fill the air with good, family friendly, music and the smell of delicious food. You can sell hot BBQ and cold lemonade alongside your old couch. People will be much more likely to take a look at what you have to offer if there is food involved in the deal. Wouldn’t you be?
During the sale, be sure to update your Facebook and Twitter accounts with live posts from the moving sale. Let people know what is still available, what has sold, and why it is someplace that they should be. Help people find things to buy with category signs on the merchandise tables. You know how big grocery stores have the signs above all the aisles to let people know where they can find dog food and shaving supplies? Same concept. People are just going to get overwhelmed by anonymous tables of assorted wares and walk away. If your moving sale looks well organized then they will take the time to browse their favorite sections.
All the planning in the world will not help you if you do not properly promote your moving sale. Here are some more helpful guides on just how your moving sale should be promoted:
How to Sell Like a Champion
You’ve emptied your home, staged your goods, promoted your moving sale, and, finally, the day has arrived. You need to be prepared for the early birds. They want your worms. It is probable, no matter what “start time” you specify, that you will have people show up shortly after 7 AM. Have your moving sale thrift shop ready for business. You will want to set up a convenient packing desk for your customers. One of the things that stops people from buying more on these impromptu shopping sprees is the fact that they don’t have a way to transport what they buy back to their house. This is an easy fix for small items. Have an empty table with boxes, wrapping paper, and other packing supplies available for anyone that is purchasing multiple items.
You will also need to have plenty of loose change. You can bet someone will want to buy a $0.25 “World’s Greatest Uncle” coffee mug with a $20 bill. Go to the bank a day or two before and get at least $50 worth of change and small bills. And keep it on you at all times! It is way too easy for people to distract you and walk away with your money box. A fanny pack works much better. And you get bonus points for style. Have your inventory list close at hand throughout the day. Update it every time you make a sale so that you can easily track what’s left and how much money you’ve made.
As the CEO of a moving sale, you need to know that people are going to haggle with you. If you sticker price that weed wacker at $35 it is inevitable that someone will offer you $20. Understand this when putting the sticker prices on there in the first place. Too high of a sticker price will drive away interest but you will want to give yourself some wiggle room. Try to stay true to your original price at the beginning of the day and a little more flexible by the end. You don’t want any items left at the end of your moving sale, so be negotiable. A good way to increase your profits is to be knowledgeable about your items, know why they are worth full price, and convey that to your potential buyer. Shoppers will be pointing out all of the flaws so you need to be able to counter with some positives if you want to move any of this stuff.
Which brings us to a major downfall of amateur salespeople; do NOT talk badly about your inventory. It may be mostly “junk” to you but you don’t need to say that. Talk up your stuff. Get other people excited about buying that Michael Jordan poster. Tell someone why it’s a good idea to buy a Pulp Fiction VHS tape. “Totally vintage”. The better you are at finding silver linings the more you can line your pockets. You need to be able to prove that any power equipment or electronics you are offering are in good working order. Have a small gas can, an extension cord, and some spare batteries around to be able to prove the functionality of your Game Boys and lawn mowers.
If your moving sale, day 1, is a success then you wont have any inventory left. But if you had a large number of items, or a few setbacks that left you with an unacceptable remainder, be prepared to open for day 2. This is especially true if you were able to hold day 1 on a Saturday. Wash, rinse, and repeat everything you did to set up for the first time. Except, this time, do it better.
It all comes down to the art of the deal! If you don’t know how to haggle and sell your moving sale items then you will either be left with a lot of things that didn’t sell or sell a lot of things too cheap and not make any money. Take the time to learn some backyard negotiation skills in these moving sale guides:
When Your Moving Sale Ends
Check your remaining inventory against your inventory list. Smaller items tend to disappear at moving sales so you should check to see if you lost anything. Most of your knick-knacks and small leftover merchandise should be donated to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army. They take nearly anything that is clean and in decent condition.
Bigger items that didn’t sell, because of high price tags, might be worth trying to sell online. Craigslist and eBay are obvious go-to options. Facebook also has several local “for sale” groups that are great for moving random household goods. See if your friends, family, and neighbors that helped you with your moving sale want to take any of the leftover inventory off your hands. That’s a simple win-win. You can also see if your neighborhood pawn shop is interested in anything you have left by giving them a quick phone call.
After you’ve exhausted all these options, the chances are, anything left is yours to keep. Plan a trip to the dump and the recycling center. Remember to take down the signs that you used to promote your event. It is really important to recycle those when you are finished. Otherwise they make your neighborhood look tacky, until they fall down, and litter the ground. Nobody wants to be a litter bug!
Count your money and take your family out to dinner to celebrate. Or put it towards your future moving expenses. Or buy a new flat screen TV for your new house. Your options are endless.
At this point you should be in a much better position to make your move. If this experience has exhausted you, and your DIY quota for the month has been met, you can call Olympic Moving & Storage to help you with the rest. They will come to your house, give you a free quote to complete your move, and do the rest of the move for you. From packing, to loading, to delivering, and unpacking. You can sit back with a lemonade and a smile. Whatever you decide to do – good luck with your move!
When your moving sale is all said and done, when you have reduced your household items and made some extra money, you still may find yourself with some leftover items. Here are some resources that can help you figure out what to do with them all after your moving sale:
Hosting a Moving Sale Conclusion…
Hosting a moving sale can be a lot of work – but it can also be a lot of fun! You make money, save on your upcoming move, and reconnect with old items you may have forgotten about during your fast-paced day-to-day life. Take this opportunity to start fresh and look ahead to building new memories in your new home!
Have any moving sale tips that we left out? Let us know in the comments section below!
About the Author
Elijah is a marketing evangelist and relocation specialist. He writes regularly for Olympic Moving & Storage and Bekins Northwest. He has also been featured on several of the industry’s most authoritative blogs as a guest writer. You are welcomed to contact Elijah in the comment sections below his posts, on his LinkedIn page, and on Twitter.
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