Tag Sale Organization Tips


You may not know that I organize and run tag (or estate) sales for my church. We provide a service to folks wishing to downsize or for families of individuals who are deceased. We run as a crew with specialists in the various tasks necessary to run a successful sale. But if you are doing it yourself, you can learn from our system.

Pre Sale Set Up

We usually set aside 2-3 weeks for pre-sale set up activities. We bring in tables, lay out the flow of the sale, and sort items by type. We then bring in our pricing crew and price everything.

  • Organization
    • Bring in tables and display racks. Folks need to see the item to become interested in it. A jumbled pile will discourage sales rather than encourage them. The closer you can get an item to eye level for a standing adult, the better visibility the item will receive. Put small bookcases on top of tables or make racks from boxes and boards wherever you can.
    • Determine what areas of the home or garage you want the public to access and what the flow of traffic will be. You don’t want people bumping into each other and you want to have enough space between tables to allow people to pass each other without touching.
    • Assess the lighting in each area that you are using. You may need to supplement with lamps so that items are visible.
    • Arrange like items together. Kitchen items with kitchen items, knick knacks in the same area, books together, etc.
    • Small valuable items need to be at the cashier’s table where they can be monitored. If you have glass covered cases or jewelry boxes for these items, they’re much safer and appear more valuable.
    • Arrange books with spine up in rows on top of a table. Use small boxes(filled with books) on the ends of the table to hold the books in place. You can move the boxes inward to keep order in the area as the sale proceeds.
    • Resist the temptation to display smaller items on top of furniture that is for sale. There are two problems with doing this. Folks won’t realize tha the furniture is for sale and you’ll miss the attention of potential buyers. If the furniture item sells early in the sale, the items on top of it must be moved somewhere to move the furniture out. You don’t want to have to move a bunch of small items to the floor where they’ll get damaged and/or not noticed.
  • Pricing
    • We have a couple of people who are pretty good judges of what an item will sell for and these are the people who do the pricing for our crew. If you have help, decide who will decide the prices and who will place the price on the item. Then work in tandem, one person calling out the price and the other putting a price sticker on the item. This gives time for the pricer to examine the next item while the other person takes the time to write a price and put it on the item
    • Pricing items can be a bit tricky. I use my knowledge of what the item sold for originally and make a price of somewhere between 1/4th and 1/2 of the original price as my asking price. Unless the item is a collectible that has appreciated in price, this system works pretty well.
    • If you have time to research the recent selling prices online, do so. You likely won’t get the full price at your sale, but you can use the price you find as your starting point for the “1/4th to 1/2 of original price” rule.
    • Put a price on every item for sale. A note saying “make offer” screams that there is something wrong with the item or that the seller doesn’t know what the item is really worth.
    • Decide how you want to handle dickering and post your policy on signs. Signs saying “Offers considered”, “Prices firm”, “Half price at Noon on Saturday” are time savers for you.

Sale Day Tips

  • Check Out
    • Make sure you have lots of ones, fives and tens and change in your cash box or money belt. Establish a checkout area with a chair for you to sit on and table for the items to be placed on as they are totaled. Have some boxes and bags available for folks to carry away their treasures.
    • Establish a holding area for those who become heavily burdened. You love these people because they’ll spend lots of cash with you. You should do anything you can to encourage them to buy more.
    • Authorize only one person to do the dickering. Don’t send folks with price questions to various people for answers. You’ll be prey to the “so and so said this price” ploy that some unscrupulous buyers will try.
  • Fluff and Fold
    • Police your sale and straighten out messes made by customers. Refold items, replace things into their proper place.
    • Fill in holes. Move things around. Move things upward where they’ll be better seen. Get things off the floor as quickly as you have spaces on your tables to do so.

Post Sale

  • Have a plan for disposing of left over items. Those that are in good shape can be donated to a charity. Anything not in good shape should be tossed or given away free.
  • Toward the end of your sale, begin adding these items to your “free box” in hopes that they will walk away and reduce your garbage bill.
  • Box the charity items and bring them to the charity or have them ready and marked for pickup.
  • Do NOT bring them back into your home. If you really didn’t want to sell them, they shouldn’t have been in the sale in the first place.
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