How To Price Garage Sale Items

Knowing how to price garage sale items is half the battle when you decide to sell stuff in your yard or garage on a weekend. It's hard work to plan and execute a yard sale but it can pay off if you are logical and reasonable about the prices you charge. Remember that yard sale customers expect to save money and they are fully prepared to walk away if the price is too high or if you are inflexible about how much money you will accept.

You need to discard your emotional attachment to your "things" and realize that the shirt you were wearing the day you rescued a swimsuit model from an angry manatee in Florida is "just a shirt" to a prospective buyer. It may have cost $30 and be priceless to you, but you'll be lucky to get two dollars for it at your yard sale.

Here are some general guidelines for pricing items at a garage sale:

  1. Books are generally priced at one dollar for hardbound books and fifty cents for paperbacks. Only really elaborate coffee table books are worth two dollars.
  2. Stuffed animals aren't worth the dynamite it would take to blow them away unless the customer loves stuffed animals. Either way, it is best to price them at a dollar or less or even offer one free stuffed animal with every five dollars worth of other purchases.
  3. In department stores and boutiques, clothing is universally overpriced but yard sale customers who buy clothing do it because they don't want to pay retail. For that reason, be careful to stay in the one to three dollar range for clothing. The higher price would be appropriate for designer clothing in really good shape, the lower for everything else. As for children's clothing, remember that they wear it for only a year or so and keep the prices under three dollars in nearly all cases.
  4. Children's toys are best bundled into bags or little boxes and sold in bunches for a dollar or two. Larger units, such as toy ovens or elaborate play sets are not going to sell unless the price is under five dollars. The one exception would be cribs, strollers and other normally expensive units.
  5. Shoes should be a maximum of three dollars a pair, boots from five to seven dollars depending on wear.
  6. Electronics can bring in more money but only if they are in good working order. Do not lie about this. If the boom box you're selling has an inoperative CD player, put a label on it notifying the customer and be prepared to sell it for less.
  7. Also be aware that the age of technology is crucial. For example, a VCR was worth more money when everyone had them. Now that VHS tapes are almost as out of date as eight-track tapes, machines to play them never sell for more than five dollars. (The tapes themselves you'll have to price at fifty cents each or make them free with purchases.) You can go as high as ten dollars for a working DVD player and more for a DVD recorder or digital video recorder.
  8. Audio gear should be priced in inverse proportion to size; a stereo with big floor-mounted speakers is worth about five dollars; a small brand name stereo unit with tiny high-quality speakers could bring in ten. (Computers should be sold on an online auction site rather than at a yard sale.)
  9. Furniture and other big-ticket items should be priced at about 25-percent of their actual retail price and you must be prepared to be negotiated down to a level you can accept. Decide on what your lowest acceptable price would be before you face the customer.

You can price higher than that and count on the fact that some people will bargain, but some buyers will walk rather than negotiate.

An hour before you shut down, make everything half price that you really don’t want to take back in the house.

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