I want to have a garage sale. I lack a garage (or yard). Is there anywhere I could go to set up shop?
January 20, 2008 11:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm cleaning out my Columbia, SC apartment and have a lot of stuff I'd like to sell. Is there a way to do a (non-online) "garage sale" without having a yard or garage? Would it be worth it to rent a stall at a local flea market?

I'd originally figured I'd just sell whatever stuff I had up on eBay or Craigslist, but it's turning out that most of what I want to get rid of seems too little and futzy to be worth putting out on eBay - and the Columbia, SC Craigslist is fairly anemic so while I will try it for some of my larger items I don't think I'll have as much luck with it as I'd like. I have somewhat of a -lot- of stuff, though (not a HUGE amount but enough to fill up a table or two), plus I'm a fairly broke grad student so I'd hate to lose the opportunity to scrounge up at least a -little- cash if I can. If I were living in a house this would be a lovely opportunity for a garage sale but I doubt the folks running my apartment complex would look kindly on me setting up shop in the parking lot (feh!).

Any thoughts on what I might do to sell my stuff locally? Could I maybe get a stall at a flea market or something - do they generally let someone set up shop for just one day (better yet, if you're familiar with Columbia and have had experience with any of the flea markets, are there any I should try or avoid?)? Is there something else I could do? Again, I know I could try Craigslist or eBay, but given that I have "a bunch of little things" rather than a few medium-to-big things it just doesn't seem like it'd be worth the effort, at least not if there -were- some alternative where I could just physically haul all my stuff out somewhere for a day where people could browse and buy in a more garage sale-y setting.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have =)
posted by zeph to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been to apartment versions of garage/yard sales, which was a little unusual but still drew a lot of shoppers. The important thing in that situation is to clearly mark which items are for sale, and to put them in one room/area, so that you don't have strangers wandering off into your apartment and picking up things you don't want to get rid of. It would be worth considering checking in with your apartment management first, though.

Otherwise, do you have friends/acquaintances/co-workers/people you know at church who have space and who might want to go in together on this? Going that route would also allow you to share responsibility and any expenses.
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2008

You could try to organize a community "garage" sale for your whole building, or even more people. Then perhaps you could look into reserving a park, blocking off the street, or something like that.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2008

I've been to a couple (garage-sized) storage unit sales, although you'd probably have to rent one for the whole month.
posted by glibhamdreck at 12:11 PM on January 20, 2008

I was (and still am) in the same boat. Many flea markets will let you set up shop for one day; however, I did so (in TX) and ended up losing money because the fee for the space was more than I made selling my stuff (and I got the cheapest space possible). Plus I went home with at least half of what I went in with, which was really frustrating. So if you go the flea market route, be sure to compare the gas getting there + the fees to what you think you'll really make.

I'm anxious to hear what others say about an apartment sale; I'll be selling most of my possessions (including big stuff like furniture) later this year but I'm concerned about getting in trouble with my semi-strict apartment complex for doing so.
posted by korres at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2008

Seconding runningwithscissors. Ask a friend with a garage or yard to loan you theirs for a day, then talk them into selling some of their crap stuff too.
posted by clh at 12:51 PM on January 20, 2008

this isn't the simplest route, but since you're a grad student, maybe talk to student council or a club about hosting group yard sale on campus. i'm picturing a bunch of tables along greene street outside of the russell house (if you're at usc).
posted by kidsleepy at 1:34 PM on January 20, 2008

posted by notsnot at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2008

I've found that to be successful you have to have a sale with multiple tenants participating. The two apartment sales I've tried on my own were busts--buyers just didn't come.
posted by aerotive at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2008

Whatever you do, let me know. I'm in the area and would be willing to come check it out. :)
posted by Glitter Ninja at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2008

I'd say a flea market would definitely not be economical—most of the vendors there regularly make money 'cause they have semipermanent spots, so if people just pick over their wares without buying a lot on a given day, they're not going to go bust. You have different goals than flea market vendors, I'm figuring, as you're trying to get a lot of disparate products sold cheaply and quickly.

It sounds like you need to get some friends in on this one; host it at the friend's place closest to the greatest volume of traffic, with multiple signs pointing to the location.
posted by limeonaire at 3:50 PM on January 20, 2008

I've seen several "street" sales in San Francisco.
posted by thedanimal at 4:03 PM on January 20, 2008

I lived in southern North Carolina for a while - just far enough from Charlotte to be out among the country folk. They had outdoor flea markets every weekend and it was basically a "park and sell" kind of deal. The fees, if any, were minimal. I was going to go out and do exactly what you have in mind - sell a bunch of stuff off. I heard that everything would sell, from used shoes to dead computers.

I ran out of time before I moved - I ended up giving all of the stuff to either Goodwill or to my friend's boyfriend who was a regular at the flea market. I understand he made a good bit of money off of it. Bleah.

Also, in the spring, I'd often notice park-and-sell garage sale type places. The one by my workplace was ten dollars a spot and was organized once a month. They got a lot of traffic. These sales were usually near community centers, fairgrounds or local businesses that catered to this kind of thing and the clientel was usually a good mix of folks - nothing too sketchy. Well, I did always wonder about that guy who sold steaks out of the back of his truck.

Anyway, I bet that given the area, you'd be able to find something like that near you.
posted by bristolcat at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2008

An acquaintance of mine invited everyone she knew to come by a sale in her house over a three day period. Basically a cross between a yard sale and a party. I bought a few things and paid more than I would have been willing to at a standard yard sale.
posted by yohko at 11:02 AM on January 22, 2008

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