Pick almost any city or town in the country, drive through any middle class neighbourhood or residential area on the weekend, and you're sure to spot at least half dozen garage sales.
What's being sold at these garage sales? The accumulated "junk" peoples no longer use or want taking up space in or around their homes. Are they making any money with these garage sales? You'd better believe they're making money! It's not at all uncommon to make $600 with a weekend garage sale. Is it hard to put on a profitable garage sale? Well, yes and no. It really does take some of your time, and also requires an awareness of a few merchandising tactics. But the problems in running a successful garage sale are small in comparison to the profits.
Who are the buyers, and how do you get them to come to your garage sale? Your customers are going to be everybody and you get them over to your garage sale with a little bit of advertising and promotion.
Let's look at the background: Everybody accumulates the kind of garage sale items that other people are searching for, and are willing to buy. These items range from no longer wanted or outgrown items of clothing, to furniture, tools, knick-knacks, books, pictures and toys. Many garage sale items are objects of merchandise purchased on impulse, and later found to be not what the buyer wanted. He discovered too late that he really didn't have a use for it, or he no longer has a need for it. Many items found at garage sales are gifts that have been given to the seller, but are the wrong size or incorrect choice for the recipient.
The problem with most people is that they haven't the time to gather up all the items "just taking up space" in and around their homes and staging a garage sale to get rid of them. Many people don't know how to stage a garage sale, and many other people feel that putting on a garage sale is just too much bother and work.
This is where you enter the picture. Your enterprise will be an ongoing garage sale of items donated and collected from these people who lack the inclination to put on garage sales of their own.
Step one is education: Spend a few weeks visiting all the garage sales, swap meets and flea markets in your area. Find out what's being offered for sale, what people are buying, and how the merchandise is being sold. Generally an item is tagged with a price, but the seller is open to almost any reasonable offer from the customer. Another thing you want to make mental note of is the way the merchandise is displayed, and how the customers are allowed to browse.
You start your own garage sale by cleaning out your own basement, attic, closets and garage. Talk to your relatives and friends; tell them what you're going to do and ask them for donations of no-longer used or unwanted items. It's here that you'll get your first experience in negotiating, and finally, an agreement for you to display and sell other people's merchandise for a percentage of the sales price. You'll find people explaining that they really don't have a use for a specific item or they really don't want to keep storing it, but because of sentimental reasons, "just hate to give it away."
Once you've had a little experience with this type of seller, you will be able to advertise in the newspaper that you buy garage sale items, or take them on consignment for a percentage of the final sales price.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is an internet marketing advisor.