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Clean up with a garage sale
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Think like a retailer
Most of us like to shop in stores that are clean and feature attractive displays. Garage sale shoppers are no different. "You want to show that this is a store, not a garbage dump," Pedigo says.

Make sure clothes are clean. Organize things, putting like items and sizes together. Use enough card tables that you've got a place for everything. Hang dress clothes. Let shoppers know whether all pieces of a set (of dishes, for instance) are included. If you're selling electronic items, have extension cords so customers can see they're in working order. Stock up on grocery bags that customers can use to cart away their purchases. Use old newspaper to wrap any fragile items.

Make sure every item has a price tag that's easily visible and includes the size, if appropriate, says Pedigo. "People don't like to ask the price, and they don't like to search for the size." If the item is new or almost new, indicate that.

If several families are contributing goods to the sale, make sure the tags indicate which items are from which family.

Heiska recommends against using color-coded tags and telling shoppers that, for instance, all items with blue stickers are $1. It's confusing and too easy for people to switch tags.

Another tip: If you've got an item that still is a hot seller, such as a kid's toy, attach a picture of it from a recent catalog, advises Heiska. Customers can see that the price they're paying is a fraction of what it costs new.

Stay safe
Most garage sale shoppers are just looking for honest bargains. A few, however, would like more than that. Use a fanny pack or apron to collect money and make change. Just about every garage sale expert has heard stories of unattended money boxes that disappeared. Similarly, place small valuables, like jewelry or video games, where you can keep an eagle eye on them.

Don't let shoppers into your house. "They may be checking it to see if you have a dog or to find out where your exits are," says Heiska. If they need to use a restroom, provide directions to a nearby store or restaurant.

Finally, try to have at least two adults on hand throughout the sale. That makes it easier to handle any rushes and helps turn off would-be thieves.

Handling the money
To get your sale going, have on hand about $50 worth of change and small bills. Keep a calculator on the check-out table, so that you can quickly total customers' purchases.

After the sale, total up your take, and divvy up any money that goes to other families. Then, you can decide how best to save or spend your hard-earned money!

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: July 25, 2006
 
 
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