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Yard sale aficionado shares shopping tips

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 26, 2006 at 11:12 AM
Let's face it: the value of a dollar just isn't what it used to be. But you can make the most of that dollar by hitting yard sales.

When researching the best yard sale tactics and tips, I stumbled upon Tess Gerhart and found a gold mine of information. She is the queen of the best deals, the diva of dollar stretching.


Gerhart graciously shared some of her tips and tricks for getting the best bang out of a buck via yard sales and garage sales.

Be prepared

Pack a cooler with beverages and snacks, along with a backpack with an extra change of clothes for everyone on board.

Make sure you have toys and games for your children to play with along the way. You might also find some new toys on your travels to entertain them.

If your kids are old enough, get them in on the action.

"I usually give them a couple of dollars and once that's gone, it's gone. So now they know how to wheel and deal," said Gerhart.

Like you would do for your children, go with a certain amount of money and don't go over what you've budgeted. This tactic will also encourage you to spend wisely and seek out the best deals.

Go to yard sales with a buddy. Make a list of items each of you is looking for, then you hit one part of a neighborhood or area of town and let them hit another.

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Yard sale season is another sure sign of spring

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 26, 2006 at 11:08 AM
Furniture, dishes, clothes, books, bikes and baseball bats are spilling out of open garage doors all over town. It's spring, it's above freezing, it's yard sale season.

In garages and on driveways the sales are as much a part of summer here as mosquitoes and barbecues.

The 50-year-old cultural phenomenon sports its own regular "clip and carry" section in the classifieds. It's small so far but poised to explode as May arrives.

Some people throw yard sales because they need cash. Some want to replace old stuff with new.

The Kamiloses, a retired couple, are moving into a fifth wheel next week and heading south soon to search for a new home. They put the stuff of their Alaska life on sale this weekend and hoped to get rid of everything.

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Pricing is key to successful garage sale

Stored under Selling Tips by Kevin on April 21, 2006 at 12:47 PM
How do I price this stuff? Pricing tends to be the hardest part of having a garage sale for many people. The general rule of thumb most recommended by experts is 10-20 percent of the retail price or value, but this just doesn't always cut it. You probably have a little more leeway during the Great Mukilteo Garage Sale because it attracts a lot of buyers, and some have a pocketful of money to spend. However, there's more to pricing than just a percentage of the retail price.

It can be really frustrating when you just have no clue at all what you should sell something for. Remember, there are no clear-cut, hard-and-fast rules on pricing garage sale items.

First you have to decide why you're having the sale. What's your first priority? Is it to get all that junk out of your house, or is it to make money? Think hard about it. Don't just choose one. It's always a little bit of both, but which is the most important? If it's to get rid of stuff, price low, of course. If it's to make money, just make sure you don't price too high.

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You never really know what drives a sale

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 21, 2006 at 12:44 PM
If there's one thing I have learned about garage sales over the years, it's that anything goes. You never know why someone is buying something, and you never know what they'll use it for. Although sometimes you might have an idea.

I've seen people sell toilet paper at garage sales - can you believe that? OK, I'll admit it, I was the buyer of "bathroom tissue," but that's another column!

Let's face it, people who go to garage sales are very resourceful. Take, for example, the lady who bought all of my old jeans. She transforms them into vintage purses on her sewing machine. Cool! And at a recent sale I saw a woman buy 20 mismatched pieces of bone china for $1. She told me she breaks them and creates mosaic tile projects. Then there's the guy who bought part of a Halloween costume from me - one gory rubber foot. The matching foot had melted in our garage! I'm still wondering about that sale.

Then there was the time I bought something at a garage sale and the seller was so curious as to why I would want it. She was, well, let's just say a bit perplexed. To help you understand why I wanted it, I have to take you back to my travels. When I lived in upstate New York, I would often take the train to New York City for shopping trips. One day I was perusing the boutiques in Soho and bought my first souvenir, a 4-foot-tall iron candleholder that came in two pieces: the stand and the iron bowl on top to hold the candle. OK, so fast-forward to Arizona. When we relocated here, the moving company lost the top part of the candleholder. I was pretty sad. One of my favorite possessions was unusable!

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Door slams on big garage sale

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 19, 2006 at 8:25 AM
Grosse Pointe's Greatest Garage Sale, a tradition in the Village shopping district since the late 1970s, won't be happening this year.

The Village Association fund-raiser, which had been scheduled for May 28 and 29, fell victim to possible redevelopment of the city-owned parking deck that houses it, said Village Association spokesman John Denomme.

"We could not have the garage sale and possibly stand in the way of any shovels that go in the ground," he said.

"And we had no way of knowing when that would happen."

The parking deck, located near Kercheval between Cadieux and Neff, has been tied to several different redevelopment possibilities for the old Jacobson's building, which is now being renovated as the Kercheval Place retail, office, restaurant and condo project. The garage's future remains up in the air.

Another glitch in holding the garage sale is the repaving of a nearby surface parking lot, which is scheduled around the same time as the sale.

Because most patrons of the garage sale parked there, Denomme said, holding the sale while the lot was under construction would have created parking problems.

The cancellation of an eagerly awaited annual event that accounted for as much as 40% of the Village Association budget leaves the merchants group mulling new ways to raise funds, Denomme said.

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Spring draws out garage-sale crowd

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 18, 2006 at 11:09 AM
There's a horde out there that prowls the streets on weekends, searching for signs that flutter on poles, classified ads and Internet postings, and arrows pointing to bargains.

With any luck, you'll be one of their targets.

Spring has sprung, so that must mean it's garage sale season.

Garage or yard sales might not seem worth the trouble to some, but they can be a very effective tool for getting rid of clutter and making a little money -- if you do it right.

Holding a garage sale is just like opening a little store, says author John Schroeder, whose book Garage Sale Fever! was released last May.

If you think about it as a store, "that way you consider the display, the pricing, the traffic," he said.

"You have to consider how much merchandise you have -- just the factors a small store would have, you have," he added.

Advertising, traffic and large quantities of items are all critical to a good sale, but pricing is particularly important. People are looking for bargains.

"The key is just pricing things inexpensively," he said. "The goal is to get rid of stuff. Some people do hold it just to make money, but the two can work together."

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Join forces with the neighbors

Stored under Selling Tips by Kevin on April 6, 2006 at 12:07 PM

Multi family garage sale. That is what will catch alot of peoples eyes. The ability to stop at 1 large garage sale over 5 small ones is very tempting to garage sale buyers.

Exploit this and team up with your neighbors to have a multi home sale or even a block sale. Make sure that if you decide to have one home where everyone places their stuff, it should be the most visible. Designate jobs for each of the families such as keeping things clean or taking the money.

Coordinate your prices. Sell similar items for similar prices and they will be more likely to sell. If 2 families are selling the same item and they have a price difference, who would want to pay more? Straighten these types of things out prior to the sale.

Be sure to have alot of easy to read signs that clearly state that it is a multi family sale.

Company offers unique way to hold garage sale

Stored under In the News by Kevin on April 6, 2006 at 12:03 PM
Hollywood Storage Center of Thousand Oaks is opening its door to neighbors who want to have a garage sale without using their own garages.

The Conejo Valley's largest self-storage center is inviting residents to sign up for clean, covered spaces to sell gently-used items at the Hollywood Storage Round-Up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., June 10.

In addition to featuring the community's largest yard sale, the round-up will include a celebrity estate sale by Flattery McGrady Concepts & Design, a barbecue by the Thousand Oaks Elks Lodge and free family entertainment including pony rides and live music.

The event will raise funds for Many Mansions' summer camp program for low-income children who live on Many Mansions' properties.

Community yard sale participants will receive a unit in one of the storage center's new buildings free of charge for 30 days. Space is limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis with a completed sign-up form and a $20 tax-deductible contribution to Many Mansions.

Sign-up forms are available at Hollywood Storage Center, 3425 Old Conejo Road, Newbury Park, or may be downloaded from www.hollywoodstoragecenter.com.

For more information, call (805) 499-2700.

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