This is for you Marisa. :)
Holding a Garage Sale:
If you don't have tables: Build a box table - stack cardboard or plastic boxes 3 deep and 2 or 3 wide, then put flat boxes on top -tape these together - then put one of those $1 tablecloths over the whole thing - voila - a table. Don't have stuff (especially clothes) on the ground, people don't look through that stuff. Don't have it in boxes either, as if people will spend time looking through boxes.
Show prominently - people often drive by craning their necks to see what you have, and kid and baby stuff usually gets them to stop.
You could probably tie a clothesline from the tree to the garage.
Get some garment racks for clothes (borrow them, or target has a great cheap one for $10).
Put the times you are open on the signs you put up around the neighborhood. Take the signs down when the sale is over. There's nothing I hate worse than going through a neighborhood looking for a garage sale that is already closed. Waste of gas and time. Makes me want to come back and paper their yard. lol.
7-11 - Full price
11-2 - half price or "deals"
2-4 - Stuff a grocery bag for a $1.
4-5 - Give it away for free. The people coming by are usually just as needy as the people who shop Goodwill. :)
Don't overprice. Most people who shop garage sales have a budget. They have a certain amount of money set aside, and if the item is too pricey, that means less money for a "find" at another sale. It doesn't matter that you spent a hundred bucks on it, you can't charge 50. 15 or 20 to start out with might be reasonable, but don't be surprised to still see it there at the end of the day if you don't keep marking down the price. Baby stuff you can start off with at a good price, especially cribs, high chairs and other necessities. If you can't get the price you want, you might want to try selling it on Craig's List for such big ticket items.
Shopping Garage Sales:
Spring is the THE season for garage sales. Spring cleaning and all that. After you paid off Christmas, start saving money for garage sale season. I know people who have special savings accounts specifically for garage sales.
The best garage sales are held by communities and subdivisions. Church and Apartment garage sales aren't bad either, but you will have more luck hitting the jackpot at a community garage sale. Look especially for those that state in their ads *more than 50 homes*, etc. If you are a regular garage sale shopper, you know that often you might not find anything at a garage sale, which makes going from house to house in a community so much easier than going to individual garage sales that you find in the paper.
Established richer neighborhoods rarely have baby stuff, more older children and antiques.
Bring a list of things that you particularly are looking for.
Bring a list of people that you usually buy presents for on birthdays and holidays. Keep thinking of those people as you look over tables.
Carrying money - I've tried coin purses, ziploc bags, fanny packs, wallets, etc, and yet I still find the easiest way to keep money together without losing any is to go to the bank on Friday, and go through the teller window, and on the withdrawal slip, ask for $5 bills for however much you are withdrawing (serious garage salers usually draw 80 to 100 bucks each weekend, you can always put a deposit on something and go find a bank if you discover an expensive item, and of course, you can always put money back in the bank at the end of the day, or keep it until the next weekend) and the envelope that they give you really is the best money holder.
Make sure you wear shorts with pockets in order to keep the money envelope on your person. Or if you want to forego sunscreen on your legs, wear capris or kulots.
Keep your purse in your trunk. You won't need it.
Bring sunscreen. Apply often. Especially on your face, neck and arms. Legs too if you are wearing shorts (especially back of knees).
Bring an umbrella. It can easily start to rain or sprinkle mid-morning, especially in Texas.
Bring at least 3 water bottles. Stop off at 7-11 before you start, and buy your drink of choice - gatorade or slurpees. ;)
If you are taking kids with you, make certain that you have plenty of water and snacks, as well as items that will keep their interest. Serious garage salers usually find a babysitter, or leave the kids with the husband. Kids will definitely slow you down. Only take kids with you if you have absolute control over them. There's nothing worse than some kid running around a sale with a negligent mom looking over the merchandise.
If you are pregnant, you are getting in and out of your car often, so make sure you practice the safe ways of getting in and out of the car, otherwise you can get really sore. Best way to get out of a car is to bring both legs together, push with your arm against the steering wheel and put both legs together on the ground. Best way to get into a car is to sit first and bring both legs together onto the car floor.
Leave Early. Serious garage salers leave the house before 7.
Most garage sales (especially community ones) are pretty much over by noon. Individual ones tend to stay open later, maybe even till five. The closer it gets to June, the earlier they close up, because its gets really hot. If you are having an individual garage sale, if you do stay open till at least 3pm, you can get a lot more traffic - you are not in direct competition with other garage sales.
Plan out your attack before you go. You might be able to hit 3 community sales (over 100 garage sales) in a day if you are diligent. Look through the newspaper, the newspaper online, and craigs list. Then map the areas you want to go. Mapsco are great, but if you don't have one, just look everything up online, and either write out or print out directions.
Make sure that you have your own garage sale either at the end of March or middle of June to make space for all the new stuff you bought. This is a great time because it doesn't interfere with community sales - most of which are in April, May and beginning of June.
Have a plastic bucket in a closet to put all presents in. If you are really organized, you will wrap up the presents when you get home and tape an index card describing the present and who it is for.
The biggest tip is to know your merchandise. I often can find 2 or 3 items in a season for really cheap (like $10) and then turn around and sell them on Craig's list or Ebay for a $100 or more. This will help pay for the entire garage sale season, and if you are really lucky, you won't be out any money at all!
If you are pregnant, I probably don't have to tell you that garage sales are the absolute best place to find baby supplies. Often, I will find an item that a regular person doesn't know what it is or what it does, and so it is still there, even at the end of the day. Examples of recent finds: Brest Friend brand new in package, a Bumbo, a baby sun canopy, Infantino slings, etc.
After your baby shower, go out to garage sales, and buy all the things that you didn't receive. :)
Baby clothes are usually priced at 50 cents an outfit. When you get home, wash and sort the clothes into age groups, and place in large ziploc bags until needed. If you find a stain that you hadn't noticed, Rinse the outfit in lemon water (1 part lemon juice to 5 parts water usually, or squirt the lemon directly on the stain if its small), and place on your outside clothes line (or outside on some bushes or a garment rack). The stain will usually be out in 2 or 3 days of sunshine.
If you find vintage baby clothes (i love these) that are yellowed with age, soak them in lemon water for a few minutes, and then put them outside for a couple of days.
If you are getting big items like couches or furniture, and you don't have a truck, find some movers on craig's list or the yellow pages ahead of time, and tell them you'll be calling them with an address on Saturday for a moving job. You could also hire a couple of teenagers if you know any and tell them you'll pick them up at around 3 pm in the Uhaul truck and then go to all the homes where your new furniture sits with a big Sold sign on it.
That's all I can think of for now. If you want to go Garage sale shopping with me, let me know by the Friday before.
And yes, I have helped people in the past find specific items for a fee.
I would need:
1) List of things to purchase with a price in mind for each item. ie. Toaster Oven $15 max.
2) Feed money to purchase, plus basic fee, in advance.
3) You will receive your items, a detailed receipt, and your change.
4) You pay for the cost of the item, Plus the Basic Fee: $10 for the service, plus $1 per item found. If it is a group of items ie. baby clothes or shirts etc., then that fee is usually $5 per garage sale. ie. I find 10 baby outfits at one garage sale, you would only pay $5 service fee for the group, not a $1 per item ($10).
5) If it is something large, like a piece of furniture or a bike, I will take a picture with my cell phone, text it to you, and if you reply in the affirmative, I will purchase the item and have them hold it for you with a sold sign. Then you would make your own arrangements to pick it up.
5) If you are interested, click on the Contact Me button.