My Secrets to a Successful Garage Sale

No matter what you call it – garage sale, yard sale, tag sale – it is a great way to make some extra money and to get rid of things you no longer need or want.

My secrets to a successful sale:

Planning – 

  • When do you want to schedule your sale, and for how many days?  Some may think that it’s not worth going through all the work involved in having a sale for just one day, but in my experience, you don’t really get that much traffic on the second day.  So it may be a judgement call on your part.  Do you have enough ‘stuff’ to sell that it would take two (or more) days to sell it?
  • You will also want to decide what day(s) you are going to have your sale.  For a one day sale, Saturday is probably your best bet, and if you are going to plan on multiple days, you will most likely want Saturday to be one of those days.  But what is your best option for the second day?  I like to do Friday and Saturday so I can have Sunday to relax and put the garage back in order after the sale.  But if you have a job that you can’t take Friday off for the sale, then you would do a Saturday/Sunday sale.
  • Will this be a single family sale, or will you be sharing the space – and work load – with friends or family?
  • Once you have decided on when, put it on your calendar.  Make a commitment to it!  If you are a procrastinator like me, that commitment will help you get started.

What to sell

  • Go through every room in your home and garage – every closet, cabinet and drawer.  Don’t forget the attic and the basement.  Be realistic about the things you have, is it something you really need or use?  When was the last time you used it?  Now is not the time for sentimentality.  Just because Great-Aunt Sally gave it to you for your birthday twenty years ago, if it is just taking up space, let it go.  Look at things with a critical eye.  You will have more appreciation for the space you are freeing up, and the extra cash in your pocket than you will for unnecessary things.
  • Popular items for garage sales are tools, electronics, collectibles, kitchen gadgets, toys and games, and children’s clothing.  Sometimes books and videos will sell, but they don’t sell well for me unless priced low.
  • In order to get the best sale price for your things they must clean, in good working order and not missing any parts.
  • If you are selling infants or children’s furniture or car seats, you will need to make sure there are no recalls on those items.
  • This process shouldn’t be rushed, though.  Once you have put your sale on your calendar, plan on spending a dedicated amount of time each week to add to your sale inventory.  The more time you have to look through every nook and cranny in your home, the more time you will be able to actually put a good inventory together.

Organize your inventory

  • While you are gathering the things you want to sell, keep like items together.  Picture a department store, would you find a hammer with children’s socks?  It will be so much easier when you set up the sale if you have already sorted everything.
  • Set the tables up with an eye for flow.  Keep your like items together in such a way that your customers will naturally go from one table to the next, and not hop back and forth.  For example, it would make sense for someone to look at your kitchen items, then flow to crafts, then flow to books or children’s items than it would be to flow from kitchen, to tools, to crafts.
  • Set up as many tables as you need to have your inventory spread out.  You don’t want those tables so cluttered that your customers will be overwhelmed and just walk on by because it would be too much work to look at what you are selling.


  • Be sure to put prices on all your items, or for like items with the same prices, just put a big sign up with your items identifying the price – for example all paperback books, you could say ‘Paperback books – 25 cents each or 5 for $1″.
  • Be reasonable about your asking prices.  Keep in mind what you would pay for this item if you were shopping at a garage sale.  If you would only pay a dollar for that item, don’t mark it as five dollars.  But also keep in mind that many customers will ask if you’ll sell that item for less, or give a discount for multiple items.  So you will want to allow yourself to bargain.  Just don’t be too strict in your bargaining if you really want to sell your items.  Holding out for your asking price could mean that you will still have that item after your sale.
  • If you have some collectibles, or higher-end items, do a bit of research for their worth.  Check out eBay or other auction sites to see if someone else is trying to sell the same or similar item.  How much are they asking for it?  If you have the time before your sale, go to other garage sales  or thrift stores that are advertising similar items and check out what prices they are placing on things.  However, this could be misleading, just because they are asking a certain price doesn’t mean they will get it.  But if you see similar items in multiple sales, for similar prices, then you will probably have a good idea of the item’s worth.  I would only take this step if I had something that I felt was worth more than just a few dollars, but not sure of it’s reasonable value.

Where to have your sale – 

  • The best place to have a sale is in a garage, in case it rains or is too hot, but if you don’t have a garage set it up in your yard or driveway, wherever you have the most space for your tables and any large items that won’t go on a table.  Make sure that you have adequate room for customers to walk around, and enough light for people to be able to see.  Coming into a dark garage on a sunny day is difficult to see.
  • If you have any electrical items in your sale, you will also want access to an electrical outlet so you can demonstrate that the item does work.
  • If you have to be outside, and have a large tent, or a canopy of some sort, that will help to protect your inventory and your customers from rain or sun.
  • Where you live may make a difference too.  If you live in town and your home is easy to find, you are lucky.  But if you live out in the country and/or your home will be difficult to find, you may want to look at other location options.  Another thing to keep in mind, is parking and traffic.  If you live on a street that has no parking on the street, where are your customers going to park?
  • So, do you have friends or family members who have an easier to find address, or better traffic flow or parking options?  Ask them if you can ‘borrow’ their address for your sale.  Encourage them to make it a dual or multi family sale.  the more families, the more inventory and the more people to help.

Advertising – 

  • In order to get as many customers as possible, you’ll want to make sure it is well advertised.  Make sure you place your ad well enough in advance that it will be published a day or two before your sale as well as the day(s) of your sale.  The best places to place adds are:
    • daily newspaper, weekly or bi-weekly local newsletters or magazines- when you place your ad, ask if they also post it in the classified section of their website.
    • Craig’s List – make sure you place your add in the right category and for your local area.
    • Public bulletin boards – check laundromats, banks, local grocers and diners sometimes have bulletin boards where people can pin up flyers.
    • Facebook
    • Word of mouth – tell everyone you know.
  • When placing your ad, don’t make the ad too long.  You will want to identify key items that you are selling to get people’s attention, but if you get too wordy in your ad, not only will it be much more expensive, but people may not take the time to really read the ad and just skip over it.
  • Put your address first, then the date(s) and time, and ask to have them in a bold font.  You want it to stand out.  When setting your time frame, expect ‘early birds’.  If you advertise to start at 8 am, you will probably have people pulling up between 7 and 7:30 am, especially if you have some popular items.  Most people will be considerate and let you finish your last minute set up, but be prepared for some who might want to just get in there and look even if you aren’t ready.
  • You will also want signs in front of your house, and at several major intersections leading to your home.  Just be sure to remove those signs when your sale is over.

What to do with ‘left-overs’ – 

  • Chances are good that you will still have inventory at the end of the sale.  You will have to decide if you want to pack up what is left and save it for another sale, or if you just want it out of your house.  Anything that is of little value or broken should find their way into the trash can.
  • Some clothing, toys, games, electronics can be sold at consignment shops.  Check your local area to see what shops are around.  If they accept your items on consignment, they will take a percentage of the sale price for their efforts.
  • Anything else can be donated
    • Books – check with your local library, senior center, day care center (for children’s books) or schools to see if they accept donations.
    • Clothing – check with homeless shelters to see if they have a need for the clothing.  If not, take them to the Salvation Army or similar charitable organizations.
    • Almost everything else – take to the Salvation Army or similar charitable organizations.
    • In some areas, it is common to just place unwanted items on the curb in front of your house.  People will stop by and pick things up, especially furniture and scrap metal.

Time to start prepping for our next sale!



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