Garage sales can be a great way to generate some extra cash while, at the same time cleaning out your backlog of unwanted items
But if you’ve ever held a garage sale you know it involves a large commitment of your time and energy. To gain the largest possible pool of buyers, garage sales typically need to be held on a Saturday. Many people hold two-day garage sales (typically spanning Friday and Saturday). Either way, a large portion of your weekend is consumed by the sale. On top of that, the pre-sale preparation time – organizing, pricing, placing signs, moving items around etc. – is also significant.
At the end of the sale, if the weather cooperated, you’ll find yourself a few hundred bucks richer and feeling satisfied that your were able to unload a lot of your unused stuff. On the other hand, you’ll also be dog-tired, wondering if giving up your weekend was worth it and, likely, still facing a pile of stuff that just didn’t sell.
A few years ago, I started using Craigslist to sell my unwanted items. Craigslist is the totally free and incredibly powerful network of online classified advertisements communities operating in hundreds of US cities and more than fifty other countries.
Craigslist allows me to sell my unwanted items piecemeal, on my schedule. In the last year I’ve sold items on Craigslist that have generated about $1100 for me; from my experience, I suspect the same items would’ve brought maybe $300 at a garage sale. I attribute the difference to three factors:
- Less Pressure to Sell – at a garage sale, you are under the gun to sell things that day to justify your investment in time and effort. You don’t want to drag the stuff back in the house! Often, as the day wears on, you’ll deeply discount items and be much more willing to accept low-ball offers. With Craigslist, the pressure to sell at a deep discount is not there.
- More Targeted Buyers – Most people coming to a garage sale are “blind” with respect to knowing about the items you’re selling or their prices. The hope is that while wandering through the sale. a buyer’s interest will be piqued and they will make you an offer. With Craigslist, potential buyers have seen online pictures of the item(s) and know your asking price. If they make the effort to contact you, you already know they have a high level of interest in buying.
- Larger Audience – Your volume of garage sale visitors is mostly driven by the location and attractiveness of the signs you place. Craigslist offers far more exposure through their website and smartphone apps. Further, the buyer’s ability to search for what they’re looking for is a big advantage.
Overall, I find Craigslist to be a much better alternative than having a periodic garage sales. In a future post, well discuss some of the ways you can maximize the effectiveness of your Craigslist postings.