Saturday, March 7, 2009

Garage Sale Success

Tips for a successful garage sale:

•Signage is key. Make sure signs can be read by someone driving past. Littlefield suggests attracting people to a sale with colorful balloons or a vintage car. "You want large items to collect eyes," he says. Also, place an ad on craigslist and in your local newspaper.

•Have plenty of change. Five-dollar bills and singles are a must. If you can, grab some $2 bills — some shoppers will be so excited to receive one they may tell friends where they got it.

•Add a neighbor and his junk. The more stuff to look at, the more people you are likely to attract.

•Set up the sale as a real store. Hang up clothing and avoid clutter. If it looks like dirty clothes stuck in a hamper, "People aren't going to buy it," Littlefield says. Price everything, too — unmarked items in retail stores can cause frustration — something you don't want at your garage sale. Have an extension cord handy to test electrical items.

•Get a permit if required. California, Tennessee, Utah and South Carolina all have permit laws. Check on your state's requirements.

•Give your leftovers to charity. "You'll feel good about it and get a tax write-off," Littlefield says.

•Price fairly but competitively. Pricing at 20% to 30% higher than value will invite bargaining, which is good. Use humor — perhaps on signs — to invite bargaining.

•Use masking tape to price goods. This will help deter theft. During your sale, the sound of ripping tape should be a cue to check your inventory. Just make sure the tape doesn't damage items.

But if dealing with strangers in person and coping with potential weather problems sounds terrible, the online marketplaces may be a better option.

Different e-markets have different rules and formats, but here are some tips to keep in mind when selling items online:

•Do some research. In many cases, all of your competitors' information is easy to see. Take a look at how others price similar items. Use keywords in your postings that helped previous sellers. But also look for ways to set your ad and item apart — the goal is to drive traffic to your sale.

•Take a picture. A professional-looking photo in an ad will help sell the item. Use a cloth backdrop to make your item stand out.

•Be honest. "It's OK to sell things that are chipped and cracked, but you need to be honest," Waddick says. "Show an additional photo so people know what they are bidding on."

•Mention shipping/pickup arrangements. This varies by site. On eBay, for example, the seller is responsible for shipping items. You determine the shipping costs and arrangements in the listing. Be competitive but fair. On craigslist.org, transactions can occur similarly. But if a transaction is local and will be done in person, safety and cost issues must be considered.

•Remember that feedback occurs. On sites such as eBay, after every sale, buyers and sellers have the opportunity to comment. Feedback will affect future sales, so be honest and treat your listing and buyers like a business.

•Consider fees and payment options. EBay charges a listing fee, listing upgrade fee, a commission fee and a final value fee. Though small, they can add up. For example, a shirt listed in an eBay auction for $12, with pictures and bold font, will cost you $5 in fees. Though the site is not affiliated with eBay, you can calculate your fees at ebcalc.com. PayPal and other payment options allow sellers and buyers to trade products for cash without revealing either party's financial information.

Q&A On Car Waxing

Q: My dealer said that my car’s clear coat of paint would never need waxing. The people at the car wash say that it does. Who’s right?

A: That depends upon what was actually said. If the dealer said that your car would never need waxing, they not only put you in the car -- they also put you on. However, if what they actually told you was that today's clear-coat finishes stay shinier longer, resist wear longer and don't need as much maintenance because they are more resistant to UV radiation, then they were being straight with you.

But the car wash is also contesting for the George Washington/Cherry Tree Award. They’re not out to lose a steady customer just to sell you a one-time wax job. To these people, paint is paint and armor it isn’t. Every day, they deal with cars like yours with factory paint jobs like yours, and every day, they see what can happen to even the finest factory finish through misinformation, neglect or both.

The car wash will tell you that although the new clear coats may resist heavy damage from UV rays, there is nothing in the new paint to counteract the destructive effects of bird droppings, tree sap, industrial fallout, acid rain and thick-enough-to-chew air pollution that tries to finish off your car's finish every day.

My advice is to keep the pollution pox from scarring your car with a nice, thick coat of protective wax.

Today's $$ Tip

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