Garage sale signs What not to do and how to drive traffic to your sale

As you all know, I am a frequent garage saler.
In place of garage sale finds Friday today, I thought I would share with you a few tips on how to drive traffic to your garage sale with the right sign.
Garage sales are called all sorts of things.
Rummage sales
Estate sales
Patio Sales
Yard Sales
Church Sale
Neighborhood Sale
Let me explain a few of these terms to you.
An estate sale typically means that someone is liquidating an entire household of years of accumulated treasures.  Most of the times people have died, sometimes people are downsizing or moving out of the country.  Usually, it's a whole house and you are free to walk from the garage, to the kitchen, to the bedrooms and examine all of the goodies there are to offer.
A word of caution.
You are in someone's home.  Alone.  Make sure someone knows where you are.  I usually take this time to give my husband a call on my cell phone.  I will rarely take my kids to estate sales if I am by myself.  Usually the estate sale is busy and there are lots of people around so you are in no form of danger, but just be cautious.  If it feels weird leave.  
I usually find lots of vintage treasures at estate sales.  I can almost always bank on the fact that I will find sewing notions (old people sew), and there are usually a lot of tools or household cleaners (slug killer for a quarter anyone?).
I don't love estate sales when they are run by a corporation.
I can usually tell because the signs will mention something about the company who is running the estate sale.
They will be professional signs typically with the company name underneath.
There are typically people collecting money at a table and will take credit cards.
This company takes a percentage of the sales so they like to mark up the items at the sale so they make more profit.  I usually find books for a quarter, at an estate sale run by a company they can be upwards of $10.  No thanks.  I usually walk right back out the front door if this is the case.
A neighborhood sale is typically a group of houses in a neighborhood all having a sale at the same time.  Some neighborhoods will only allow the residents to have garage sales on these dates.  Most neighborhood sales are held annually and are worth going to since you can get more bang for your buck.  Several of the neighborhood sales I go to each year have 200+ homes participating.  
The downside of neighborhood sales are that you can't hit them all or be the first one at each of them.  
Eventually the sales will get picked over and all of the good deals will be gone in the first 30 minutes.
Church yard sales or fundraising garage sales are my second least favorite garage sale behind estate sales run by estate companies.
In my experience, church and fundraising garage sales require a lot of hands to pull them off and make them successful.  Those hands are working days ahead of time usually and while they are working, they are cherry picking the best items before those items even make it to the tables of the garage sale.
I rarely *intentionally* show up at a church or fundraising garage sale but when I do I rarely find anything worth talking about.
O.k. with that out of the way, let's talk about
how to get traffic to your yard sale with the right sign.
Most people who know that I garage sale every weekend ask me how I find the garage sales.  With the invention of Craigslist, people have started posting ads for their garage sales there for FREE instead of paying money for an ad in a newspaper.
I don't always check craigslist for garage sales though.
I usually drive the same "loop" every week and follow signs.
Not every sign is worth following.
Because I am out every week, I usually remember the signs that have been stuck on the pole week after week.
If I am out on a Saturday, I won't follow a sign that says the garage sale started on a Friday. If you are having your sale on both days, that's fine.  Just don't advertise it. A shopper wants to always think they are the first ones there getting the best selection.
Some signs are really hard to read.
If I saw this sign I wouldn't know where to go.
I don't care what your address is or what items you have, I want an arrow any place I have to turn.
While witty, this is too much for me to read in a split second before I have to know where to turn.
No arrow.  So where do I go?
This screams of drama
This is all kinds of wrong.

This may be true but it's really creepy

This is the perfect sign
or if you want more information this one works too because the arrow is so large

All you need is an arrow.
That's it.
So what did we learn today class?
Dead people have good estate sales but only when run by their bereaved relatives and all you need is an arrow.
Yep, that's about it.
How do you find garage sales?


Mrs. S. said...

In 2011 when that guy predicted the "world would end" it happened to fall on our city wide garage sale weekend. Everyone in town was having end of the world sales-so funny!!

The Side Gig said...

I think your comment about company run estate sales could be a regional thing. I live in Michigan and many of the company ones (local companies) will do awesome deals on the last day. They often have "bag sales" where anything the last day can be put in a bag for $5. As I search these sales for re-sale items and things for my house, that is an awesome find. Also check out they often put up pictures beforehand!

Happy Hunting!

Jamie said...

I needed this laugh today! Love the grandma and divorce ones :)

Erika said...

Good "estate sales" are hard to find here. If they are true estate sales (as in someone died or is selling off everything), almost always a company is running it and they are pretty expensive. Plus, professional resellers line up literally hours before hand and get the good stuff. A lot of the other estate sales are really just garage sales.
I'm always jealous of people who live in areas with great deals at garage sales. Here it seems that people over price their junk. It can be crazy.

suzieQ said...

I use Craigslist and Yard Sale Treasure Map which I learned about from Thrift Core: it highlights sales on your route and you can plan your stops.
There aren't too many professionally run sales around and the jury is still out how I feel about them. I rarely will stand in line, since I don't have the time or money to make it worth my while. I kind of think of myself as a vulture, going through the bones. My only complaint was once, the person I was paying was giving me a sale's pitch that the items I was buying were so worth the money, etc. Didn't care for that.
Bad signs are the worse, when they either don't have enough on a long, country road or when they are OLD. When people don't take their signs down, they should have to pay a penalty with any money they made.
I am amazed at some of the modern items that are found on the West Coast, though I bet some people would be green about some of the old timey stuff I am able to find. I guess it works out.

The Berg Family said...

I am cracking up, reading some of your tips and some signs on here! I love your advice....relevant, true and so simple really: an arrow:). Thanks for another great read, and helpful tips!

Unknown said...

I am so new to your blog but I love it! :) Keep writing such great posts! :)

Meaningful Mama said...

Not planning a garage sale anytime soon, but I saw one of the signs on the Gingerbread link party and had to come over for the laugh.

Cap Creations said...

Wow you managed to find some crazy signs! And yeah I've had the creepy I gotta get out of here feeling at a sale before. Not good. Thanks for joining us at Cap Creations.!

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

Ha! That cracks me up, I feel as if you were with me even just this morning. I was hung up on that same thought about the arrows with every new sign I saw. Some had two arrows, but so small you couldn't be sure which way they were pointing until too late. So many wrong turns were made by me this morning because people try to tell so much on a sign and they use colors that don't show up. Just give me an ARROW! I'll know what it means; because I'm looking for it! Great post!

David Berg said...

This is great info. My wife passed this along to me and it sounds like you actually met her at a garage sale they held, today. Would you mind if I shared some of these tips on a blog that I run, here in Browns Point?
I will be sure to give you credit and link back to your site on items, as well. Great site and my wife is following you regularly!!!

Unknown said...

I was sure the Grandpa Died sign was the ticket. lol. Guess not ;) Hilarious however! said...

Hilarious and full of good info! Glad I am not the only one who thinks about going into someone's home alone. My husband tells me (jokingly) that I watch too many Lifetime movies (not really) but you just get that odd feeling!!

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