Price, placement will help garage sale items sell

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By Samantha Shriber
C & G Special Writer

Yard and garage sales fill the neighborhood as summer carries on.

There are various reasons to host a sale. For example, nonprofit organization Tigerlily Cat Rescue hosts an annual sale in Sterling Heights to raise money for feline rescue services.

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Others put on sales in relation to moving, to create more space in their homes or simply to remove the burden of neglected items.

Alicia Harlan, of St. Clair Shores, is the administrator of the St. Clair Shores Garage Sale Facebook group, which serves more than 3,780 members. Harlan also has been employed at a family-owned estate sale company for the past 12 years.

She said that one of the biggest reasons to host a garage sale is to declutter a home, especially if one is moving and in need of getting rid of unused belongings.

“Also, when your kids have grown and you’re not having any more, it’s a great way to get rid of their old items,” she said. “Then you can help someone else who maybe can’t afford to buy new items.”

Although she runs a social media group that serves as an outlet for exchanging, trading and purchasing goods virtually, Harlan prefers in-person sales, she said.

“Just for the sake of condition,” she said. “It’s very hard to buy something without touching it. Pictures don’t always show true color, or stain or chip or scratch.”

She said that in-person sales give buyers the opportunity to hold items and the means to determine if an object is truly worth its price.

“One of the top suggestions I can make is to price it right,” Harlan said.

Immediately after an item is taken home from being bought new from the store, the value depreciates, she said. 

“You have to keep what you paid for it and what your personal feelings for the item are out of the pricing,” she said.

Harlan said that she often sees yard sale items being listed for far more than they are worth. She said that sellers must be realistic when pricing in order to secure a successful sale.

Harlan said that giving away free goods at a sale is also a frequent mistake that she witnesses with sellers.

“Why would people want to pay for anything when they can get something for free?” she said.

Rachael Mucha, of Warren, has been operating a garage sale since the summer of 2015, she said.

Her sale takes place every two weeks in Roseville during the summer season, starting July 14. The sale is a joint effort between Mucha and her boyfriend’s mother, who are both unemployed.

Mucha saw the sale as an opportunity to earn additional money in light of tough times, she said.

“I don’t work or have a car, and things haven’t been good with life,” she said.

She said that she soon learned that hosting her sale is not only a source of income, but also a pastime that keeps her in a positive mindset.

“Garage sales can be really fun to put on, and also to go to,” she said.

The two have been selling video games, holiday accessories, clothes and baby goods at their sale. 

After spearheading the sale for the past two years, Mucha has learned that organization is the key to a successful garage sale.

“We put items together so that if someone is looking for something specific, we can say that it is in that area over there,” she said.

The placement of an item is vital to the likelihood of it getting purchased, both Mucha and Harlan said.

“The easier it is for people to shop, the longer they stay and the more they’ll spend,”  Harlan said. “Keep things off the ground; there’s a lot of people who can’t bend down to look at something, and they won’t ask for help. They simply won’t buy it.”

Mucha said that maintaining the sale in a clean space and being nice and available to assist customers are necessities to putting on an effective sale. But she also said that a lack of preparation and failing to keep goods categorized in an orderly manner can lead to a quick downfall.

Not having enough space to place all on-sale items is another obstacle to be aware of, she said.

According to a July 11 press release from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, it is illegal to sell recalled items. Buyers and sellers are advised to search the recall list on the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission website to prepare for the season’s sales.