Garage Sale Tips: How to plan and execute a successful garage or yard sale

My garage sale tips will help you to be successful at turning unwanted items into big profits! Having a garage sale is a lot of work - hopefully, in the process you will rid your home of a lot of unwanted clutter and bring in some extra cash, too!

Garage Sale Tips

Advertising your garage sale tips

  • Signs One of the most effective ways to advertise your garage sale is to put a sign up at the nearest intersection to your house labeled with your address and the dates of your sale. Put it up the day before your sale and be sure you take it down when the sale is over. Make it big enough so that people in oncoming cars can read it easily; make sure the lettering is big enough and dark enough to read, too.
  • Fliers You can make fliers on your computer and put them up in various places depending on your situation: at work, in your neighborhood, on local bulletin boards provided for that purpose in area businesses, etc. Be sure to include the times and location of your sale and some other information to interest people in your garage sale, such as, "multi-family sale" or "lots of kids clothes and toys".
  • Newspaper You can advertise your garage sale in your local newspaper, but if they charge for it, there may be a better way. If you are going to take out a paid ad, at least get someone else to join you in your sale and split the cost of the ad with you.
    Some newspapers have online versions where you can advertise garage sales at no charge. There are also other classified options - see the Classified Ads section of my Declutter page for more details.
  • Craigslist You can advertise your garage sale on Craigslist, too, although I am not sure how effective it is.
  • Wording your ad Mention furniture, baby items, garden tools or other desirable items you have to offer in your ad. Potential customers often look at all the ads and decide which ones are worth their time according to what it mentioned in their ad. If there is nothing they are interested in, they may not choose to come to your sale.

Garage sale tips: getting ready

Check with your municipality and homeowners' association for restrictions. Some jurisdictions require a permit, or limit the number and timing of yard sales. Know the rules!

  • Use tables and arrange things nicely - people don't like to dig through boxes
  • Put similar items together and make the area neat and appealing to look at. Avoid jumbles of things in piles. 
  • Arrange books, games, CDs, so that names can be read.
  • Arrange clothing by size or age. By this I just mean general categories: Ladies clothes; teen boys' clothes; baby clothes; etc.
  • Clean things up - Clean, fresh-smelling clothing hung on hangers commands a higher price than stained and rumpled items tossed into boxes; Fold sheets, table clothes, etc. neatly; Wipe the dust off of knick-knacks; run dishes through the dishwasher. People will be more drawn to your things if they look clean and are presently attractively.
  • Hang a rope or chain from the ceiling to hang clothes on.
  • Go through pockets of coats, etc. How often have you put on a coat in the fall and found $10. in the pocket from last winter? 
  • Make sure any items you don’t want to sell are put out of the way or covered up. Inevitably, someone is going to want to buy your new lawnmower or your gardening tools if they are sitting there in plain view.
  • Set some of your larger/more desirable items outside of the garage or even near the road to attract customers. Many people will drive by the site of the sale to scope it out before deciding whether or not to stop. If they see something that interests them, they are more likely to get out and come for a closer look. 
  • Have some bags on hand for customers who buy multiple items (save plastic grocery bags up for a while before so you have enough)
  • If you’re selling any electrical items, make sure you have an extension cord handy so that interested customers can test them. 
  • Put your pets away! No matter how friendly or harmless your dog is, some people are afraid of dogs or allergic to them. Also, it is safer for your animals to be out of the way of the increased traffic that a garage sale brings.
  • Consider having bottled water and/or soda for sale. It is easy to fill a cooler or a large bucket with ice and put the drinks in. (Use something that your family will use if it is not sold.) Put a sign on the cooler that tells what it is and the price (I sold cans of soda and bottles of water for 50 cents).
  • Consider having a box of free items. Include things like toys from fast food kids meals, small and cheap stuffed animals, cosmetic items that are not new, but usable, non-perishable food items like a half box of tea bags that you didn't care for, etc.
  • Don't leave your money sitting around. Keep the money that you have for change and from your sales in your pocket or a fanny pack on you - don't tempt fate by leaving it in a box under the table, on the table, etc.

Pricing for Garage Sale Tips

How much you charge for items depends somewhat on your goals for the sale. Decide if your main goal is to get rid of unwanted items, or to make money.

If getting rid of things is your main objective, then you will charge less in order to insure that you sell most everything. If making money is your goal, then you will want to research prices and see how much you can reasonably charge for an item, then price it slightly higher to allow for bargaining.

  • Price your items in easy increments to make calculations easier (25 cents for small items; $1. and $5. increments for larger items.)
  • You can either price each item or have a table or bin of things at one price. I prefer to price everything rather than trying to come up with a price when asked for one. There are also timid shoppers that won't ask for a price, but simply pass the item by if it is not marked. 
  • For larger items, use larger price tags (or signs) - it is hard to find a tiny sticker on a large piece of furniture! Make it easy by making a large sign with the price and some information on the item (brand name, notes on its condition, specifications, etc.). You can print this on the computer for a neater look if you want.
  • Have a calculator on hand to total up sales

The bigger the better!

Invite friends and neighbors to join you in your sale. The more contributors you have, the more things you will have to sell - which draws more customers. It also provides more help with putting out the word before the sale and "manning the store" on garage sale day.

After the sale garage sale tips

Wrap up your sale when you said you would. A yard sale is a lot of work, and you're still not finished. Dispose of the leftovers, either to the charity pick-up or by boxing and delivering the items yourself.

Be considerate of your neighbors and next week's yard sale enthusiasts. Remove all signs, and return your sale site to normal.

Then go count your proceeds--and take the family out to dinner. You've earned it!
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