This year I kept track of the economic output of my garage sale as compared to other opportunities available and the results were sobering.
Here are the financial results of this year’s big multi-family garage sale:
Total: $174.00 / 30 hours labor = $5.80 per hour.
I sell books online through eBay, Amazon and various other bookselling sites from the comfort of my basement. Occasionally, during the garage sale, I’d sneak out of my duties to look at my orders. I sell around 30 books a day and it takes some work, but when I was sitting at the garage sale all I could think about was, “Wow, I could be working on my book inventory but here I am haggling over the price of a nick-knack priced at $1.50. How does this add up? The fact is; it doesn’t. In the world of economics it’s called Opportunity Cost. When you are doing one thing, it means you may be forgoing something else which will make you much wealthier and happier. In this case, working a garage sale meant I wasn’t working my book business or having a good time with my kids.
Average day of book sales:
Total: $300.00 / 3 Hours Labor = $100.00 per hour.
The garage sale was a complete financial flop compared to the measurable opportunity of selling books online. So in the future, instead of garage sales, I will sell anything worth over $10.00 on eBay, put larger items on Craigslist, and donate the remainder to charity. Almost anything will sell on eBay or Craigslist if the price is right. I took all the kids clothes that didn’t sell at the garage sale and put them in two lots for sale on eBay starting at $9.95. It took me 20 minutes to photograph and list each lot.
Results of Selling Garage Sale Leftover Items on eBay:
Total: $73.00 / .66 (40 minutes) hours labor = $110.60 per hour
Much more efficient than a garage sale.
Opportunity Cost of working the garage sale:
$110.60 – $5.80 = $104.80 per hour * 30 hours = $3144.00
So in textbook economics my garage sale cost me $3144.00 in opportunity cost!
Steve warned me… again. I pooh-poohed him…again. I did it…again. But no more! I am through with garage sales. Anyway you look at it; a garage sale is not a good economic decision. There are those out there that will say “I made $2000.00 on my garage sale this year.” I have a friend who insists it is a great money maker for her. She even takes a 10% cut if you want to put anything in her monstrous suburbanite sale. But, for the average American, a garage sale is not the best way to get rid of your stuff. Today, there are betters ways. Namely, Craigslaist and eBay. When you have a garage sale you usually have a small amount of items that are worth something and a whole lot of junk that’s worth nothing.
To find out more about how you can start your own internet based business check out Skip McGrath’s site.