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Customer Not Always King : Snappy Reply Vital for Successful Garage Sale

June 12, 1988|RALPH SHAFFER | Special to The Times

What's the first thing to do when you're getting ready to move to a new home? Getting moving company bids? Borrowing money from your brother-in-law?

None of these. Top priority is a mandatory garage sale. And the biggest feature of making it a huge success can be often overlooked. This is not a wide selection of stuff for sale. Nor low, low pricing. Nor fancy signs with balloons.

The important ingredient in a good garage sale is having well-prepared answers for your customers--especially crisp sale-clinchers.

In a full-service garage sale operation you need to be psyched up to reply without hesitation. Something like this:

--"Sure it's brand-new. It's just that my son can't wear wool."

--"Yes, yes, all the pieces are inside. And you heard me-- don't take the tape off the box."

--"You mean you want $5 off this and $2 off that and a dollar off the one over there? Forget it."

--"It is marked, the size. See, 84-by-70, and I asked you-- don't unroll it."

--"That spot will too come out. I didn't have time."

--"No, there's no place to plug it in out here. But it works fine. I told you it works fine."

--"That's just the way the cushions look in this outdoor light. It was just reupholstered last month--I can show you the bill."

--"Well, it's my cousin's. And that's what he wants for it."

--"A place to try on the pants? You kidding?"

--"So it's a little rusty on top. Take some steel wool--here, I'll show you."

--"Test it for leaks? With water? Out here?"

--"Change for what? A hundred, or you could owe me?"

--"Count that again, will you, before we close up? We must have sold more than $11.47. We've been out here 14 hours."

Shaffer is an experienced garage sale consultant and free-lance writer based in San Francisco.

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