As the weather warms and Summer schedules slow to a crawl, signs begin to pop up all around. Pink signs, white signs, signs on wooden stakes, signs taped, or stapled, or nailed to light poles, all directing you to one thrifty shopper’s utopia or another. Garage Sale season is upon us and Rusk County’s Garage Sale Queen has some tips and tricks for all the front yard business people.
Dottie Seligman, she’s hard to miss with her platinum curls and hot pink shirt proclaiming her title in large metallic gold letters. Every step closer reveals another proclamation of her rummage sale royalty, from the Garage Sale Queen cap to the handcrafted garage sale sign earrings.
Selling the castaway treasures of her friends and neighbors has long been a way of life for Seligman. Decades of trial and error, huge sales, and missed opportunities have honed her specific set of skills, and for those RC residents thinking of throwing together a last-minute yard sale and getting rid of some of their junk our Queen of all things discarded wants to share her wealth of knowledge.
Once you’ve made up your mind to empty your closets and cupboards, the first on the list of important things to remember is your permit. Smaller cities, like Mt. Enterprise, don’t require a permit to set up your wares but Henderson officials will check for one if they spot your goods. Permit forms can be found on the City of Henderson website at www.hendersontx.us. Don’t even start hanging out clothes or lugging around furniture until you’ve secured your permit.
“A few of my friends told stories of people coming to their sales pretending to be from the City and claiming that they owed them 30% of their profits,” said Seligman, “but I called the city myself to see if this was true and they assured me that the permit was free and there was no city official that would come to any sale requesting a percentage of their profit.”
Be cautious and aware of your surroundings during these sales. Scamming and stealing from others has become a regular threat so investigate claims such as these before handing over funds.
Signs, signs, and signs. The most important part of any garage sale is the sign. Without those glaring pronouncements on every street corner pointing the masses in your direction, you may as well just load those goodies into a trash bag and toss them.
“Orange and pink, those are the best colors for garage sale signs,” said Seligman. “Large, bold letters and make sure arrows are pointing in the right direction.”
She’s seen every version imaginable of these posterboard pointers and recounted seeing a white board with all information written in pencil. The City of Henderson requires that these signs be no bigger than six square feet.
Placement of these hand-crafted signs is also important.
“I’ve seen people use everything from duct tape to chewing gum to stick these signs to light poles,” she said with a cheeky giggle. No matter the city you’re intending to set up your short-term sale, officials frown upon the use of electric poles as advertising space. The reluctance of those using these areas to return and reclaim their promotional materials from these poles has led to some cities banning the signs altogether as an eyesore and possible littering. The City of Henderson requires all signs to be on private property with the permission of the property owner or person with legal control over the property. Any signs on utility poles and street signs are subject to immediate removal.
“Pick up your signs,” she said, exclaiming her frustration at searching for a garage sale only to find the sign had been blowing in the street corner breeze for two weeks. Henderson’s rules restrict signage to placement no more than 48 hours before a sale and removal to 24 hours after the sale closes.
Arrangement of your items is vital to any good garage sale.
“Don’t put your clothes out front,” said Seligman, coaching on proper retail arrangement. “If I drive up and see clothes I assume that’s all you have. Put your large items out front and you’ll attract more interest.”
“Group items together that make sense,” she said, continuing her master class on all things garage sale. “Glassware in one area with price tags on the side to avoid dropping, tools in one place so the men have something to look at so they won’t complain about the time you’re taking. If you just threw your items here and there it shows that you didn’t care about it, so if you don’t, why should I? And remember that I’m old, pick your clothes up off of the garage floor because it’s too hard for me to bend over and look through it.”
“Just because your trash might be my treasure doesn’t mean I want to dig through a pile of random stuff to find it.”
If you’ve secured a permit, properly placed your signs, put that couch out front, and laid your folded clothes on a table be on the lookout for the Garage Sale Queen. If she happens to grace your tiny flea market give her a curtsey and follow her advice to the letter.