How To Write A Garage Sale Ad

To have a successful garage sale, publish a clear, detailed newspaper ad that will draw customers who want what you have.

A newspaper ad is the single best way to draw a large stream of shoppers to you home garage sale. Don't worry if you're not a copywriter. The following tips will help you write a classified advertisement that will bring customers from all over your surrounding area.

1. Practice first. Never submit an ad off the top of your head. You may forget an important piece, then be unable to change it when you find out at the last minute. Write it out, conferring with your spouse or others who are helping to arrange the sale. Many newspapers offer a garage sale template that you can look over first. Or glance at the other garage sale ads in the newspaper to get an idea of what you want to say or not say. Write your ad a time or two, switching around pieces of information to see what sounds best.

2. Start with a heading and date with times. You may wish to bold the words "Garage Sale," unless the newspaper has another format for titles. Then add the date, taking care not to use an abbreviation that may confuse readers. For example, don't put just the numerical date, like "the 15th," and be careful with shortening the names of the months, since "Ma" might be construed as either March or May, or "Ju" could be considered June or July. The classified editor will help to oversee details like these, and most readers will assume the ad refers to the immediate time period, anyway. Then mention times, or you could have early shoppers waiting on your lawn by 7 a.m. or showing up at 8 p.m.

3. Add categories or examples. Next, add a few categories of the most expensive items you hope to sell or those with multiple items. Many customers like shopping for tools, baby things, and household furniture, so mention these specifically if you have them. Less interesting items include clothes, jewelry, and books, but if that's all you plan to sell, mention them anyway, as some folks shop for these, too. When listing three or more categories, you can alphabetize them or list by importance level.

4. Include address with optional contact information. At the end of the ad place your street address, possibly adding a few simple directions from the nearest main road to your street. Since you're probably paying by the inch or column, practice phrasing this part with the fewest words possible:

2311 Pinewood, one mile north Market Avenue.

5. Check pricing and proofread. Ask the classifieds editor for a price quote before drafting and submitting your ad. Sometimes a newspaper can offer a special, like three days for $17.50. The best garage sale days are Friday and Saturday, so it's a good idea to run the ad in the Sunday paper beforehand, and again Wednesday and Thursday or Thursday and Friday. Your newspaper special may mandate that the ad appears for three consecutive days, however. Proofread the ad several times to check for accuracy, especially with the address and email or telephone number if you decide to list these.

When operating your garage sale, ask customers how they heard about it. This will give you an idea of the newspaper ad's effectiveness. Keep your ad in a file for future use with your next garage sale. Enjoy your profits!

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