Growing up with parents who would cross over three lanes of traffic without checking a mirror because they just saw a small garage sale sign at the turn we were about to pass, I've been to my share of "junk" sales. I was a timid child, quietly browsing the merchandise. I was never brave enough to ask the sale owners for their asking price of an item, so sales with affixed price tags "tickled my pickle." For that reason I suggest tagging all items if you have the time, or just some if you don't.
Tagging: The Bad
Before I dive into the many benefits of tagging your items I should mention that there are some drawbacks. Lets discuss a couple. Almost all of your garage sale patrons will be on the hunt for a bargain, that's why people go to garage sales. Price tags have the potential to scare off these frugal buyers, by expressing a form of rigidity in price. To prevent this from driving off potential buyers, place someone in charge of your cash box (who won't walk off with it and is well versed in arithmetic) and mingle with the crowd taking note of interested buyers. If you see someone eyeing an item with some uncertainty, interrupt and get a feel for their thoughts. If they express concern about the price consider negotiating, especially if your sale is past its half way mark. If you truly are trying to get rid of things, bargaining is a must.
Tagging your times is also very time consuming. It is much easier to just lay it all out there and come up with a reasonable price as people ask. If time is factor, I suggest setting up a little early and tagging items as you wait for customers to arrive. Grab a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker and start with your larger items, such as furniture or toys. This will allow you to concentrate you price "barking" in an area where you can consolidate your smaller items. (Price "Barking": Shouting split decision prices to multiple customers asking about the price of item.)
Tagging: The Good
Price "barking" is one of the main reason I believe tagging your items is a smart idea. Especially if you don't have a lot of help, the constant query for prices can be very stressful. You have to decide on a price on the spot and usually you will end up shouting out a price that will make your customer extra happy and not necessarily the price you think would be reasonable. Taking some time beforehand to look at your items and make a calm, rational decision about how you will price them, will make your big day a lot less stressful and make sure your items are priced accurately.
If you are employing help at your garage sale I highly recommend tagging. Tagging your items makes checkout by someone who does have all the prices in his head, like you do, as simple as adding it all up. This will allow quick and easy checkout which your customers will appreciate. You know those garage sale hunters, there's too little daylight to hit all them sales.
A coworker of mine would always ask me if I had anything I wanted to contribute to her yard sale. All the while I was thinking, "Why would I let you make money off my junk, when I could sell it myself? Get away from me!" I didn't know that she was going to give me the income generated from my "junk" through a carefully designed processes that she had perfected over her many years of yard-saling. She used different color tags for each person's items which allows the merchandise to be mixed up without worrying about ownership, and customers could checkout with all their items at one time. She then collected the tags as she rang them up, marking any discounts that she may have negotiated. At the end of the day she would use her color coded system to determine everyone's cut of the earnings. I suggest using this system for multi-family sales as it allows your customers much more freedom to shop without worrying about keep track of who's items they are picking up.
Tagging Furniture/ Large Items
- Use masking tape and a permanent marker. Masking tape will easily peel off most hard surfaces and is considerably cheaper prepared labels or sticker tags.
- The cheapest way to tag items like mugs or glass cups is with a grease pen. This can get messy, so you may want to use masking tape as well, but I've seen grease pens work well at thrift stores.
- Office supply stores are now selling tagging guns that most retail clothing stores use to tag their items. It uses a needle which pushed a double sided T-shaped plastic fastener which secures a paper tag to almost any article of clothing (or fabric for that matter). These guns and supplies can get pricey averaging $50 for a starter kit. If you want a cheaper way to secure a tag to clothing you could use a regular office stapler and staple your tag directly to your garments. Keep in mind that staples can cause a little more damage than a tagging gun, however, stapling works just as well for me.