Do you wish you had the money, time and creativity to fill your house with eclectic pieces and unique finds? Turns out, smart style may not be so far out of reach. It just takes a good eye — and a little bit of luck — to furnish your house in a mix of the today and yesterday.
Just ask Stacy Gall, of Kankakee. Called the Garage Sale Queen by her friends, Gall's historic house in the Riverview district in Kankakee is full of modern moxie, quaint finds next to modern pieces.
"I don't just get everything from a garage sale. I'm just good at spotting a few gems," she said.
"You really don't have to be avid about it to score something amazing. Just go when you can, even if it's one neighborhoodwide sale per year," said Gall, who also serves on the city council. "It's a great way to save money on decor and still decorate in a way that looks expensive."
She also holds her own garage sale each year, which she uses to declutter her house and sell things that have gone out of style.
There may not be one right way to garage sale, but there are certainly some wrong ways. Whether an avid saler or the once-a-year-type, here are Gall's tips for all things resale, from buying to selling to finding the perfect place for that lamp.
Buying and decorating
DO take it seriously. I start early, right after I get my kids to school, and I go until about noon while I'm still feeling good!
DON'T buy just anything: I am very picky when garage sale-ing. I don't like junk. I do, however, love eclectic things that just can't be found at the mall.
DO stop at neighborhood sales: I find that it's usually the older homes that have the best treasures. When I see a cute older lady working the sale, I know there is something I must have: An old broach? A vintage scarf to tie on my Kate Spade bag? A pair of lamps that are bright yellow and mid-century chic? Yes, I suppose I do a bit of "profiling" as I pull up to the sale.
DON'T be afraid to barter: If the sale is on its last day, why not ask for a cheaper price? But if it's the first day of the sale, I think it is poor etiquette.
DON'T be afraid to try something new: I've always said, "Style can't be bought; it's something we are all born with." Garage sales are an economical way to find these things.
DO know your style: I always keep in mind what my main style is. I have sort of a mid-century modern mixed with a bit of an eclectic vibe in my home. If you have some [item] or a particular style in mind, those are the things that will catch your eye when shopping in someone's garage. If I'm thinking about vintage Pyrex bowls, well, by golly, that is what ends up catching my eye at a sale!
DO mix the old and new: My home is filled with unique and vintage things, along with things from Target and Pier 1 like everybody else. If you have too many vintage or unique things, they won't stand out and your home can feel more like an antique booth.
SUB: Having a sale
DO hold a sale with others: You get way more traffic when there are several sales happening at the same time. We have the Riverview neighborhood garage sales each year.
DO make it like a store: I like to make my garage sale kind of like a store. I have different "departments" such as housewares, kids, women's, men's and so on. Organization is key!
DO use table cloths: This may sound silly, but it makes a difference. Just trust me on this one.
DO play music: It makes people feel comfortable, especially if they are the only person shopping.
DO price for its worth: If clothes are name-brand and not very worn, you can price them higher, say $4 for a shirt, $7 for name-brand jeans. If clothes have been thoroughly worn, I recommend a dollar or less.
DON'T put your emotions into your price: Take your emotions out of the equation. You can't price things high because you have some type of emotional attachment to your items. I generally sell things for 75 percent off the price that I paid. Sometimes that still seems like too much, and you have to use your gut.
DON'T price below 25 cents: If it's not worth a quarter, then it's not worth putting in the sale. Remember, you have to make change when your customers pay, so you don't want to mess with nickels and dimes. You can thank me for this tip later!
DO post signs strategically: Post signs at the end of your block or near the busiest street closest to you. If you put the sign up, they will come!
DO purchase a newspaper ad: But only list the most important information and end it with "too much to list," because isn't that the truth? Then make sure you are clear with the details: Address, date and time.
DON'T put expensive items right up front: If people look at them first, they may think your items are overpriced and head back to the car.
DO close up early: Your time is worth money, too, and I wouldn't recommend sitting out too long. A Friday and Saturday sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. will do the trick. The early bird gets the worm in the garage sale world.
DO use the profits for something fun: I make anywhere from $700 on up at my garage sale each year, mostly on my clothes and accessories, and I use it to go on vacation!