What tips would you offer readers who might be planning garage sales this summer?
Signs. The No. 1 thing that people screw up is they don't put out enough signs, or else they're the cheap ones. You need big three-by-three signs that are bright at intersections, and you need 15 to 20 of them. The other tip is using your Facebook. You need to let people know on Facebook that you're having a garage sale. There's also an app called TagSellIt.com where you can add your garage sale for free or you can look up garage sales in your area for free.
[See How to Stop Feeling Broke.]
What about people who are going to garage sales in the hopes of flipping items? What are the hot collectibles they could be making money on?
First, you need to make sure you bring your smartphone, because this is the way you figure out if you're getting a good deal. I believe in antiques, tin toys, old comic books, old fishing gear, old tools, stuff like that. Really high-grade stereo equipment that is in perfect condition or if it has the box it came with, you can easily flip that on eBay and Craigslist.
If your expertise is old records, then you should become fluent in old records, for the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or jazz because a lot of those vinyl records are worth a lot of money, but then there are a lot of them that are worth nothing. Being an expert in two or three things would really help you be a weapon at garage sales.
Usually when we talk about flipping a house, there's a lot of "sweat equity" involved. When you talk about flipping furniture or other items, are you restoring or repairing it?
If it's antique furniture, you do nothing except for dusting it off to maybe tightening things. Restorations on antique furniture could be very, very costly, meaning that you would take away value of that item, so you more just want to clean it off and make it look as good as you can without changing the overall look.
With newer items like maybe a bike, say, you buy a bike for $20 and you know it's worth $120, you could fix the flat tire, put a chain on, or tighten things. That's all fine. But you don't want to put in too much money, or else you're cutting into your profits.
With consignment stores, yard sales, eBay, and Craigslist, people have a lot of different options for reselling items nowadays. Which avenue should you choose?
Big furniture is really, really hard to sell on eBay because everybody wants it shipped and that's a nightmare, so that could be really perfect on craigslist, which is free. eBay does charge you, so between when you sell an item, you're paying anywhere from 6 to 9 percent of that item in PayPal fees.
You do not have an antique store or another consignment shop sell your stuff. They take too much of a percentage and then they're only getting people that come into their shop or their closest clients. You need to eliminate the middleman, and you'll make more money if you go and sell it yourself.