Are Refreshments Worth It?

It's the quintessential garage sale sight: two kids, bored and hot, one with her hand on a pitcher of icy lemonade, the other twiddling with a stack of Dixie cups.  Refreshments have earned a little extra money at yard sales for kids and their parents alike -- but are they actually worth it?  Here's a look at the pros and cons of setting up a stand to sell food or drink at your garage sale.

A cup of hot chocolate with cookies are placed on top of a table.Pro: the ingredients are dirt cheap.  Whether you choose to serve glasses of lemonade or make a few batches of Rice Krispies Treats, you can purchase the ingredients for under $10.  The lemonade powder is probably going to run under $3, if you go that route, and lemons are an inexpensive fruit, especially during summertime.  Cake mix boxes for brownies are about $1 each, and a box of Rice Krispies runs around $3-4, plus a couple bags of marshmallows for $2-3.

Con: you can't sell them for much.  It's tough to make much of a profit on a refreshment stand, unless you've either got a reputation for amazing baked goods or it's the hottest day on record (and everyone wants lemonade).  Low prices will attract shoppers, but won't make much back very quickly and you'll have to sell a lot to make it worthwhile.  Higher prices will keep thrifty shoppers away.

Pro: it's a great venture for kids.  If you have children who want to participate in the garage sale, help them learn business lessons from putting down money up front and carefully calculating cost, income, and profit.

Con: it's a pain to sit in the same spot for hours.  Leaving your stand unattended isn't unheard of, but you certainly won't make money while you're gone.  You could always take shifts if someone is helping you supervise the garage sale, but you can be less distracted when you're an acting entrepreneur than when you're just taking shoppers' money.

Pro: you could potentially spark interest in your product.  Maybe you choose to go the totally homemade route instead of using store-packaged materials for your refreshments.  If you're good enough, you might pique interest in what you make -- enough to garner the potential customers to start a small side business.  Baking (or drink mixing!) is a skill that many envy and admire, and that some are willing to pay good money for.

Con: people can get it elsewhere for cheaper.  A thrifty garage sale shopper isn't likely to buy 50¢ lemonade from an adult unless it's darn good lemonade, so unless your kids are manning the station, you might find that people hold out for the grocery store.

Pro: you can show off a culinary creation.  If you decide to go a less traditional route, you could showcase one of your personal recipes and gauge the reaction of your paying customers.

Con: it's a lot of work.  A garage sale weekend already eats up so much of your time that you could find yourself wishing you'd never committed to baking 50 brownies.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if a refreshment stand is worth the hassle (and potential profit).  In the meantime, check out GarageSaleCow.com, where you can minimize your stress over the garage sale weekend and advertise your sale for free!




Comments (7) -

Stuart Nelson
Stuart Nelson
2/15/2013 11:16:16 PM #

Definitely, I enjoy making these cookies with my girl. She owns this catering service and they make pastries such as cakes, cheese sticks, chantilly, brownies. I would help bake the cookies and mix the ingredients myself. It doesn't take too much of your time and it clicks because I lot of people have a sweet tooth. We could pack them in five or tens or sell them by piece and still sell like wildfire.

Betty Grace Neuman
Betty Grace Neuman
2/15/2013 11:28:06 PM #

Cookies was, is and always will be my first love. Those chocolate chip cookies are my favorite with a little bit sprinkle of raisin or peanut would be the icing to the cake. My mom would make these cookies when there is a gathering and that would somehow be our snack or even dessert as weird as it seems. Its cheap to make and you could from selling those too.

Tobin Frost
Tobin Frost
2/24/2013 12:56:05 AM #

A hit refreshment to sell is lemonade. You only need cups, a lemon puree, some ice and water and you have a lemonade to sell. Depending on the weather, you can add or lessen the amount of ice you put in the lemonade. If its hotter than it normally is, you can pump up some more ice to provide a cooling and refreshing feeling. Just park your booth in the proper spot to gain more costumers. godluck in your road to being a Lemonade Tycoon Tong

Dominic Venson
Dominic Venson
2/24/2013 1:01:56 AM #

Have someone to switch shifts because you can't do it by yourself. You can only sell so much. You also need to take a break, have a meal and rest. While your doing that, your partner could take your place to assure your business is up and running. While selling, you can play your favorite music to fight boredom.

Preston Head
Preston Head
2/24/2013 1:09:47 AM #

When you think of it as a lot of work then it surely will turn out that way. You can't afford that kind of mentality of you want to succeed. If you want to get rich, do something you love like baking for example. When you're baking, you're enjoying it because it's what you want and you're happy to share your talents to other people. But if you are doing something out of obligation or because you're forced then you would always complain and you can't perform your job well. Don't let other people tell you what to do, life is too short to live someone's else's dream.

Homer Beach
Homer Beach
2/24/2013 1:15:55 AM #

Start your business with a refreshment booth in a garage sale. You should make your way up from there. If your costumers like your product then you could have the break you've been waiting for. They could start inquiring about orders and you can start delivering your homemade cookies to establishments and catering services. It's hard to continue to work hard if your not getting the results you've expected yet but you just need to persevere and continue what you're doing. Just believe that everything will turn out for the best.

Kay Loreen Kavenaugh
Kay Loreen Kavenaugh
3/3/2013 2:00:19 AM #

When you want to do this kind of little business venture during a garage, you must always look at your market. First, What's up for the season? Second, how much money will I capitalized in this business and is the profit worth it? Third, is it appealing to the children? It's quite a fact that when a product is appealing to the the children, of course they will force their parents to buy them that drink, juice or whatsoever. Then after that, they will go together with their children and see your garage. It's like hitting two birds in one stone. Free advertisement and while gaining money at the same time.

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