Sterling Heights resident Rhonda Kasper’s father recently passed away, which is why  she hosted a garage sale. She was looking to sell items such as a stove, a washer,  a dryer, a pingpong table and a Sea-Doo watercraft.

Sterling Heights resident Rhonda Kasper’s father recently passed away, which is why she hosted a garage sale. She was looking to sell items such as a stove, a washer, a dryer, a pingpong table and a Sea-Doo watercraft.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

Buyers and sellers share tips for a successful garage sale

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published May 21, 2019

METRO DETROIT — ’Tis the season for garage sales.

As the temperature warms up, the number of garage sales around metro Detroit tends to increase.

C & G Newspapers spoke to homeowners who already hosted a sale, and a city official who assessed the state of garage sales.  

Sisters Linda Carter and Cindy Bromberg held a garage sale in Sterling Heights May 3.

“We wanted to have a garage sale early in the year to be one of the first, so people would come, which they did,” Carter said.

Their sale was posted online, featuring items such as baby toys, books, CDs, DVDs, kitchen items and Christmas decorations.

Carter said the most important component of a garage sale is for items to be reasonably priced, as their goal was to get rid of objects, rather than make a profit.

“If I don’t use something in a year, it’s included in the sale,” Bromberg said.

As with most garage sales, there were plenty of toys and clothing, since their children are grown up.

“The kids have outgrown the stuff, so it’s time to pass it on so someone else can enjoy it for their kids,” Carter said.

In addition to reasonably priced goods, they said it’s vital to make sure items are clean.

They said the plan for unsold items is to donate them to charity.

Despite the rise and convenience of online shopping, Carter and Bromberg believe that folks like to see what they’re buying in person.

“People are looking for bargains, and garage sales have better bargains than online,” Bromberg said.

John Magyar, of Clarkston, was in Sterling Heights for work and had a few minutes to spare.

“I go to maybe two sales a month,” he said. “I’ll pay whatever the price is. I don’t negotiate. The prices are so low, you can’t beat them.”

He thinks garage sales are becoming less popular, adding that people may be better off donating items to charities.

“I’ve had over 15 garage sales in my life and found you can get more money and it’s less work when you donate,” Magyar said. “If you have a lot of small items, I feel it’s not worth it. If you have bigger items, like furniture, then it’s better.”

One aspect of a garage sale that sellers and buyers agree on is the ability to socialize with others.

“I like going out, socializing and just meeting people,” Magyar said. “You get people from everywhere and it’s fun.”  

Also in Sterling Heights, Rhonda Kasper’s father recently passed away and her mother is moving in. She wanted to declutter to make room for her.

Kasper was looking to sell, among other items, a stove, a washer, a dryer, bedroom dressers and a headboard. The big-ticket item was a Sea-Doo watercraft.

Kasper typically has one garage sale a year and this time partnered with her neighbor, Mary Lou Francke.  

“People like to see garage sales, but I don’t think they’re as popular as they used to be,” Francke said. “If clothes don’t fit, if you haven’t worn it in a year or don’t love it, then get rid of it.”

Kasper said there have been years where having a garage sale wasn’t worth it, due to all the work involved.

She said garage sales have been negatively impacted in the digital age, saying that within 10 minutes of posting a pingpong table for sale online, it was sold and then picked up within a half-hour.

Like Bromberg, her rule is that if she hasn’t used an item in a year, it’s included in the garage sale.

When it comes to the placement of items, she said it’s important to categorize and keep objects like books, clothes and seasonal goods together.

Sylvan Lake City Manager John Martin said that an advantage garage sales have is that folks can look at and get a feel for certain objects.

“As opposed to looking at a picture online,” he said. “I think prices are less at a garage sale than buying online, and you never know when you’re going to find that very interesting something you wouldn’t find elsewhere.”

Annually, Sylvan Lake hosts a citywide garage sale. This year’s sale will be held May 23-25.

“I think there’s been a decline in recent years for garage sales,” Martin said. “In Sylvan Lake, we look at it as a community experience with everybody doing it at once. There’s more interaction.”

The sale is coordinated by the city’s Home and Garden Tour Committee.

Martin said that in Sylvan Lake, a $5 permit is required to host a garage sale. Check with your local municipality to see what is required in your area.