The “Garage Sale King” Shares Secrets of a Successful Sale

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Every spring there’s a community-wide garage sale in our town and we like to get in on it. After all, you can make hundreds of dollars in one weekend selling things you want (or need) to get rid of any way, like the pair of duck decoys gathering dust in our garage or the frightful clown figurines I inherited from my aunt (as they say, “one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure”). 1116200_695488353810672_1208156024_oBut, we learned the hard way you can’t just set out a mishmash of stuff hoping people will come along and buy your second-hand goods. It takes planning, organization and some know-how to make your sale a success. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time and effort.

After our first garage sale was a bust (we had no idea what we were doing), we consulted our friend, Larry, who is known around here as the “Garage Sale King.” That’s because he manages to rake in between $2,000 and $3,000 every year peddling everything from bikes and baby clothes to fishing tackle & flower pots. Suffice it to say, Larry knows what people want and what they’re willing to pay for them.

Here are some inside tips Larry shared with us:
Sort and set aside items you want to sell. Make sure they’re in good condition (they may be used, but no one wants to buy things that are dirty, stained, torn, or broken). Some of Larry’s top sellers: kids’ clothes & toys, kitchenware, furniture, sporting goods, camping gear, tools, lawn/garden supplies, collectibles, books, CDs, DVDs, games, and jewelry.
Pick dates & times for your sale. According to Larry, Fridays and Saturdays are the best days and Sundays tend to be a wash. However, he’s been known to get quite a few customers on Thursdays as well. As for times, Larry suggests opening your sale around 8:00 a.m. and closing it no later than 5:00 p.m. Serious garage-salers like to shop early so they can get first dibs on the good stuff (I guess it’s an “early bird catches the worm” kind of thing). Some will even show up the night before to get a sneak peek at your wares, so be prepared!

Check out Delightful Order for Garage Sale supplies like this printable sign.

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Check out Delightful Order on Etsy for some great garage sale supplies.

Advertise. Your best bet is to put up big, legible, two-sided signs (with days and times of your sale, your address and arrows pointing in the right direction) around town and at the end of your street a few days before your sale. Balloons will get their attention too. NOTE: check with your city hall first to make sure there aren’t any restrictions on signs. Other advertising avenues: flyers, the internet and local newspapers.
Decide what you’ll need ahead of time. Some of the essentials: long tables (borrow them if necessary) to display your merchandise, a garment rack or long shower rod to hang clothes, shelves for books & knickknacks, a card table for checking out and chairs to sit on, labels/tags for prices (use big ones for larger items), a cash box (a shoe box or an old metal tin works), tablet & pens to tally/keep track of purchases (a portable calculator may help too if you’re bad at math like I am), bags & boxes for carrying merchandise and newspaper for breakables. Don’t forget the cash! You should have enough small bills and coins to make change.
Price items accordingly. Shoppers are looking for bargains – we’re talking how low-can-you-go deals here – so don’t overprice your merchandise and be prepared to haggle, even if it’s over a measly 50 cents! Use round numbers like .25, .50, .75, $1.00, etc. so it’s easier to make change. On the last day of your sale, mark down whatever’s left by 50% or more to get rid of it. Or, do what Larry does and let people fill a grocery bag for $5.00. Have a free box for items that would go for less than a quarter, like little toys for kids. Of course you want to make some money, so click here for guidelines on garage sale pricing. Hint: If more than one person/family is involved use different colored labels or people’s initials to keep track of who’s selling what.

Old objects in secondhand trade market
Focus on presentation. Arrange tables so it’s easy for people to navigate between them and set everything up in a neat and orderly fashion, by category. For example, line up books, movies & music by genre, display clothing by gender, size and type, and put similar items next to each other. Place more desirable merchandise, like furniture, sporting goods and small appliances, in a prime spot so people notice them right away when they walk/drive by.
Create an inviting atmosphere. Play music in the background (it doesn’t have to be elevator music, but nothing loud or offensive – after all, children and grandmas come to these sales!). 1781b0a2410890434b3ea36de0f984dfOffer beverages like bottled water and soda, and maybe a few treats like cookies or bars for $1.00. Better yet, have the kids set up a lemonade stand and let them keep the profits.
Make checkouts easy and pleasant. Be courteous with customers and carefully pack their purchases. Always smile and thank them when they leave. Remember, happy customers are loyal customers.

Follow these basic tips and you’ll be a garage sale guru in no time.

Good luck and have fun!

Catherine B enjoys her work, but is looking forward to retiring so she can write whatever (and whenever) she wants at home in her pajamas.

Fun with Photo Books: The Lost Art of Real Live Albums

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When it comes to the latest in reading technology, I have the Kindle, an iPad, an iPhone 6 Plus. But nothing will ever replace the feel of a hardcover book in my hands.

I crave the intimacy of holding a book, its weight, an unbroken spine, the smell of fresh pages or of an old book, its antiqued pages rendered almost transparent by time, the satisfaction of anxiously flipping the page to see what the next will hold.

These are the things I can’t give up.

But photo albums are a different beast, right?

It’s nothing short of revolutionary to have all of your photos available in just a swipe or a keystroke online. Years of photos are stored in chronological order on Photobucket, Flickr, Facebook, or Instagram, out there in the ether for eternity…never to be lost to fire or flood. Plus you can share them instantly, in real time, with everyone you know, plus strangers, too.

Then last week, I ordered yet another camera online. It was Best Buy’s Deal of the Day and it was an offer too good to pass up! To my surprise, because it wasn’t advertised, I got a FREE Shutterfly 8×8, 20-page, hardcover photo book with my purchase (a $30 value.) A digital download just appeared in my cart, which was really nothing more than a link to the Shutterfly site where I could create my book.

I’d just gotten a new puppy in December. I had literally 100s of photos sprinkled liberally throughout Facebook and Instagram. I decided it was worth my time to sit down and create a book.

The fact that Shutterfly let me upload all of my photos directly from Facebook was a huge time-saver. I didn’t have to hunt through all the December folders on my PC to find the photos from my Puppy Shower. All my best (no outtakes, blurry images, etc.) photos were stored by event in Facebook.

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Yes, I had a puppy shower. What? You mean everyone doesn’t do that?

Having created a couple of photo books in the past I knew that I wanted to pay the up-charge for glossy pages, and no black backgrounds. Matte, black pages show fingerprints! However, I did like the matte cover. So I paid an additional up charge for that.

Before I started laying out the individual pages, I uploaded all of my best photos to Shutterfly first. Once you start a project in Shutterfly, it creates a gallery for you to upload photos to, and as you use each photo, it disappears from the gallery. That way you don’t leave out any of your favorites.

Then rather than simply inserting the photos chronologically, I tried to tell a story from beginning to end. As you can see from the title page, the photos are somewhat chronological, newborn puppy, the puppy shower, the first day home. But I also used specific photos that lent themselves to the template I chose. All the photos fit a square format. And the colors complemented each other.

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My little fashionista – her big fashion spread.

After that, I had pages that were themed, Weezy playing in the snow with her brothers, Weezy’s favorite toys. Weezy’s most adorable outfits, sleepy puppy, and so forth.

Once I was finished, the book was so cute, I couldn’t help but pay for expedited shipping. So the whole project ended up costing me about $20.

The end result, however, is PRICELESS! I love it. I have to admit, I swooned a little bit when I opened the package, removed the plastic and smelled those fresh glossy pages.

Unlike old-school photo albums, I now have a thin, hard-cover book, that’s no thicker than a children’s book, and sits neatly on my bookshelf. Nothing cumbersome, like the Mead Trapper Keeper of yore, with photos falling out, or flimsy cellophane pockets. Plus, Shutterfly also supplied an electronic link to the entire book, including front and back cover, so I could share it electronically by email, or Facebook if I wanted to.

There are a number of photo book sites available online. I’m just very pleased with the quality of Shutterfly’s. I think a lot of people think photo books are just for baby pictures, wedding albums or family vacations. But they’re not!  I love creating photo books for out-of-town guests when they come to visit. I send the book to them weeks later after they’ve returned home. And I know how much it’s appreciated because a fabulous friend of mine chronicled our entire trip to Louisiana in a gorgeous photo book, capturing everything from my face covered in powdered sugar from my first beignet, to our up-close and personal encounters with alligators roaming Avery Island. I cherish it! I can relive the whole adventure.

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Gnomes and other little creatures frolicking in my fairy garden.

If you’ve ever fancied the idea of publishing your own book, whether on a hobby, like gardening, birding, embroidery, or writing a children’s book, creating a photo book is a great way to get your feet wet. For instance, I love needle-felting and creating little gnomes and other creatures, and placing them in miniature vignettes. My friends look forward to seeing my posts on Facebook, (or at least they pretend to) so last year I put together a photo book of my miniature scenes as a personal holiday gift.

If you have online folders full of photos from your garden, or your hikes through the woods, or boating adventures, take an hour or two and drop them into a photo book. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a book comes together, and how satisfying it is to see your memories come to life in a story, one that you can pull down from the shelf and relive again and again.

For more ideas on using your favorite photos in the real world, be sure to visit www.smartperks.com next week for tips on decorating your home with your photography and personal artwork.

-Melanie

When she’s not blogging for Smart Perks, Melanie is staring glassy-eyed at Pinterest, her Pin It finger splinted from overuse. Besides crafting, gardening, shopping and cupcakes, the loves of her life include her three naughty terrier pups, the smartest and best-looking dogs in the world, and her husband.

 

Addendum: I received this information on the duration of the free photo book promotion from Best Buy Customer Care.

After research, I would like to let you know that most of the cameras we carry come with a free shutterfly photo book. Best Buy regularly includes Shutterfly Photobook codes as promotions for purchases of Digital Cameras, DSLR, Computers, and other products. These codes are a great value to the customers, and are extremely popular. If a specific camera comes with it, the free shutterfly photo book is marked as free bonus item however, we are not certain when this promotion is going to last. This is a partnership between Best Buy and Shutterfly and, I believe the promotion is continuously good until advised by Shutterfly otherwise.

Displaying Collections at Home: Telling the Story of Who You Are

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To paraphrase the lyrics of one of my favorite songs from Brandi Carlile, The Story, “All these collections that I have, tell you the story of who I am, so many stories of where I’ve been, and how I got to where I am.”

I am collector of many things.

An unapologetic sentimentalist.

Most of the things I collect are tied to people that are no longer with me, the things they were passionate about. Their enthusiasm was passed on to me during my childhood.

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For instance, my lifelong love affair with Scottish Terriers can be traced back to my Grandma’s mother, Agnes McPherson, an immigrant from Scotland in the early 1900s. Grandma had three Scotties, when I was growing up; Maggie Mae, Molly, and Katy, as well as many treasured Scottie collectibles. Now that I’m an adult, and my Grandmother has passed, I not only have Scottish Terriers of my own, but I also participate in Scottie rescue events, and collect Scottie cookie jars and other vintage Scottie pieces. 10999751_1099436016749235_8500138522877573280_oMy Scotties not only provide me unconditional love, but remind me of  my beloved Grandmother and my heritage. I am comforted, consciously or subconsciously when I am surrounded by my dogs, or walk into my craft room and see a line of Scottie cookie jars smiling down at me.

I love to see what people collect, because it says so much about who they are, what they value, what their dreams are, what they consider beautiful.

I feel that someone really becomes a true friend when she invites me  into her home, and I can see the objects she chooses to display, from books to children’s artwork, stacks of fabric,  salt and pepper shakers, vintage furniture, a bowl of wine corks inscribed with dates, or treasures brought home from her travel adventures. The more eclectic the collection, the better!

Unfortunately I think that collecting has become synonymous for many people with hoarding. And that is SO wrong. Hoarding is a disorder. A compulsion that you can’t control. It’s cluttered. It’s too much. Certainly, it would be easy to impulsively snatch up anything that even remotely resembles a Scottie for me. But my home is not that big! 10842196_1099435850082585_3079311481449000304_o Besides, if objects are packed too densely together, it’s hard to really appreciate each piece individually.

So stop and think before you buy…

  • Is this piece truly unique? Do I already have something like it?
  • Does it speak to me, in its singularity, in its beauty, in a feeling it evokes?
  • Is it simply a like item in the group of objects I collect? Don’t buy it if you’re not crazy in love with it.
  • Will it complement other pieces I already have?
  • Where will I put it?
  • Do I have a specific room, dresser, shelf, table in mind where I can display this piece and it can be enjoyed, and seen regularly, by both myself and my guests.
  • Does it complement my home decor? If my color palette is muted grays and blue, I don’t want a piece that’s neon green.
  • Does the scale of the object fit the space I have to work with?

Color and size are really important in creating a harmonious, or visually pleasing display. Group like or complementary colors and textures together.10403226_935878583104980_6204714097999486948_n

I have a friend who groups all the books in her built-in bookshelves by the color of the cover. At first I thought that was a little nuts. I like mine by genre. But my books (I’m a Lit major, can’t part with them) are on display in my living room and all those colors and jackets jumbled together were a kind of visual assault on my peripheral vision. Grouping the books together by color really helped make the room look more organized, improved the visual flow, if you will, so that the eye moves over the books like a wave.

Make your collections a conversation starter. Although matchbooks are becoming an anachronism…like the rotary-dial telephone, if you collect restaurant matchbooks, a colorful collection of matchbooks in a clear glass bowl on your cocktail or end table, might spark a conversation of a restaurant you and your guest both love, or a favorite vacation destination.

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Check out controllingmychaos.com for a how-to on recreating this display

Another discovery that I made on Pinterest revolutionized my life. Okay, a little bit of hyperbole…BUT – I am an avid crafter. And I love to collect craft supplies. There are literally entire boards on Pinterest devoted to taking your craft supplies out of the cupboards and drawers, and making them part of your craft room decor. Best of all, no more frantically searching for your favorite spool of ribbon, because there it is, hanging on a peg board, right in front of you when you need it.  Most of us have heard the story about how multimillionaire television producer Aaron Spelling’s wife had an entire room in her mansion devoted to gift wrapping, and scoffed at the luxury.  But deep down I was thinking, “Ohhhhhh, that would be so convenient.”

If you’re interested in seeing more, I’ve created a Pinterest board with a bunch of really cool ideas for displaying collections of every sort imaginable.

I hope you check it out, and become inspired to take your collections out of those boxes you’ve squirreled away, and put them on display to be enjoyed every day.

And just for fun, I thought I’d include my neighbor Marty’s collection of Allis Chalmers tractors. We all have our passions.

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-MB

When she’s not blogging for Smart Perks, Melanie is staring glassy-eyed at Pinterest, her Pin It finger splinted from overuse. Besides crafting, gardening, shopping and cupcakes, the loves of her life are her three naughty terrier pups, the smartest and best-looking dogs in the world, and her husband.

Ta Dah! Welcome Our New Baby…

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Meet My New Puppy Eloise!

Okay, so I did get a new puppy. Weezy is a Cairn Terrier, and almost 5 months old now. She looks very sweet, and has a keen fashion sense, (especially color-coordinating her stylish ensembles with her accessories, aka toys,) but don’t let the face fool you. Little Hannah Lecter will bite your nose off, if given the chance, which is why she started obedience training on Saturday.

But that wasn’t the new baby I was referring to. Last week we launched the new Smart Perks website with a bright, bold design, fun new features, and, of course, what Smart Perks is all about, great money-saving offers on merchandise and services.

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I don’t know if you’ve ever launched a website before, but months of planning goes into it. And not just the fun stuff, like making color choices, developing logos, artwork, and fun features; such as games, weather-bugs, and weekly merchandise deals.

There are also wire-frames to be created (don’t ask,) and seemingly endless discussions of navigation to make the site user-friendly and intuitive, so that ultimately site visitors can get to the deals that much faster.

The whole Smart Perks team got together and brainstormed content ideas, like the featured tips from experts, on everything from electronics to home improvement, decorating and organization, whatever we thought our Smart Perks audience could use to make their lives easier, using less of their precious resources – time and money, and help them work smarter, not harder, so they can simply relax and enjoy the good life!

After that came the coding, coding, and more coding from our brilliant tech team. And testing. Weeks of testing on every browser and mobile device we could get our hands on.

Finally the day came last week with much fanfare and a mostly pain-free labor, as we launched our new baby out into the world.

Pinterest_-_2015-03-10_11.24.30We’re proud of the new SmartPerks website, our Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest boards,  and this blog. Our team consists of creative, passionate people with a wide variety of interests, hobbies, and talents, and we want to share them with you. We want you to look forward to more posts like the ones you’ve seen so far, including what we hope will be helpful information, tutorials, and inspiration. Maybe even some tips on training your new puppy – Miss Weezy has provided lots of hands-on experience.

So I hope you’ll stop by the new SmartPerks website, say “Welcome to the World, Baby,” and take a look at what we have to offer. There are over 35 new offers in the Spring Smart Perks mailer. If you’ve never received a Smart Perks mailing, visit the new site and sign up. There’s also a great offer for a free $25 gift card, when you receive your first free Smart Perks mailing. Smartperks.com – see you there!

-MB

When she’s not blogging for Smart Perks, Melanie is staring glassy-eyed at Pinterest, her Pin It finger splinted from overuse. Besides crafting, gardening, shopping and cupcakes, the loves of her life are her three naughty terrier pups, the smartest and best-looking dogs in the world, and her husband.

Confronting My Clutter: How I Spent My Weekend

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There comes a time in every shopaholic’s life when they must confront their demons.

For me, it was reading this article about clutter from The New York Times last week, and recognizing that a lot of the stress in my life was coming from years and years of collecting stuff.

I am a lover of things. I have many passions, a variety of crafts, books, magazines, baking, dressing my three dogs in adorable outfits, holiday decorations, home decor, gardening, tech gadgets, make-up.

However, all that passion leads to a shady part of town that everyone wants to avoid, Clutter City. It’s just two blocks up from Hoarder Town, a place I never want to live.

Cure For Hoarding, Red Open Blister Pack.

Clutter is like having a baby grand piano swinging on fraying ropes over your head.  It’s always there…adding one more layer of stress to your already stressful life.

Warning signs that you may have a clutter problem:

  • You have to move things off the table to sit down and eat a meal.
  • You open a kitchen cabinet and a sauce pan falls directly on your big toe.
  • You open the medicine closet and face creams, make-up remover, Band-Aids and cotton balls tumble out.
  • You spend a half hour or more each week hunting for something you put away just a day or two ago.
  • You have 7 pairs of scissors, but can never find one when you need one.
  • You cannot see the floor of your walk-in closet.

Luckily for me, the winter cold, and the fact that my husband was out of town for the weekend, gave me the perfect opportunity to undertake an organizational project of this magnitude. It took me all day Saturday and half the day Sunday to get the job done.

The areas I tackled were my craft room, my spare closet (where everything that doesn’t have a home elsewhere is hidden from view,) built-in bookshelves, and my holiday/winter decorations. I’d done my bedroom, linen closet and kitchen last month. The make-up drawer and medicine cabinet are still an unspeakable mess, but I’m saving those for another day. Don’t try to do the whole house at once.

A655609First I gather up my tubs, something else I hoard, plastic tubs of all shapes and sizes, with locking lids.  That’s another blog in itself, my addiction to organizational tubs.  I also use garbage bags, standard, and heavy-duty contractor grade bags.

The best way to get started is to make things worse before they can get better, by taking everything out of the closets, drawers, or cupboards, whether it’s your underwear drawer or the dreaded utensil jumble in the kitchen.

Then it’s time to take a fearless inventory, and make some critical life decisions.  What will stay and what will go?

I create piles. First a pile of like items.

For instance, in my craft room,  all my scrapbooking, card-making, papercraft stuff, like stickers, various papers, stamps, colored-pencils, stamp pads, go into a pile.

Then I have a doo-dad pile, pipe cleaners, buttons, ribbon, etc.

Adhesives are lined up on a counter…I have 8 different kinds of glue and glue sticks. Wood glue, fabric glue, archival scrapbook glue stick, Super glue, Tacky glue, it goes on.  You see my problem clearly now, right?

Then I sort through the individual pile, and I sub-sort by color, holiday, purpose, etc. This is actually fun. I love rediscovering things I’d forgotten (hoarder trait.) At this point gather the stuff that’s squirreled away in random spots all over your house that goes into these piles, from the bedroom to the kitchen counter. I can usually cull a few pile-worthy items, lessening the clutter throughout my home.

Then there’s the stuff that I realize, if I’m honest with myself (hence the fearless inventory,)  I will never use. These things go into a separate pile, the stuff that needs to go.

The stuff that needs to go, can go to several places (in order of requiring the most work to least):

  • Garage sale
  • Consignment shop
  • eBay
  • Craig’s List
  • Goodwill or thrift store
  • Charity that will pick up bags and boxes of donated items from your doorstep
  • As a last resort, the garbage. This is typically where damaged things I had a sentimental attachment to, or space-hogging packaging materials, end up.

Be sure to write down everything you donate and store in a file for taxes (you have one, right?) Here’s a link on how to value the items you donate. Then wrap breakables, and pile them with non-breakables, clothing, towels, etc, into your heavy-duty contractor bags, and move to the basement for selling, garage for pick-up, or directly to your car for drop-off.

After taking care of what must go, I place my “now-neatly-sorted items” into my clear plastic tubs (I should own stock in Sterilite and Rubbermaid) and label the container with my label maker (okay, I can’t find the batteries,) or masking tape and a Sharpie. The smaller things, like buttons, or my husband’s nuts and bolts, go into canning jars, upcycled spaghetti or baby food jars,  tackle boxes, or anything that can be put neatly back into my cupboards, or stacked with the labels facing out.

wooden branch shelf with colorful books isolated on whiteYou might think, why would I want to waste an entire precious day off decluttering? Well, because I don’t know about you, but for me, removing the piano looming over my head, threatening to crush me like a grape, is a huge incentive.  I get an enormous feeling of accomplishment, and relief that I got that out of the way for another year, (assuming I keep it up, maybe 6 months…we’ll see.) And sitting down to an organized house is like staying at a fancy hotel, no worries, everything is in its place. It’s a fabulous feeling.

For more organizing tips from an expert, look to the new Smart Perks website coming soon.  It’s a gold mine of helpful information for saving your sanity and money, too.

-MB

When she’s not blogging for Smart Perks, Melanie is staring glassy-eyed at Pinterest, her Pin It finger splinted from overuse. Besides crafting, gardening, shopping and cupcakes, the loves of her life are her three naughty terrier pups, the smartest and best-looking dogs in the world, and her husband.