10 Tips to a Wildly Successful Garage Sale

Spring is in the air, and garage sale season has begun. The great weather has motivated me to do a little spring cleaning and decluttering. I’m considering holding a garage sale of Friday to make a little money off my treasured possessions (aka useless junk). With that in mind, this article is all about holding a successful garage sale. Here are 10 tips to help make sure your next garage sale is a success.

10 Garage Sales Tips

Advertise Your Garage Sale

It’s a fact. If nobody knows about your sale, you won’t make any money. It’s important to advertise your garage sale. Spending a few dollars to advertise in the newspaper is usually a good investment. At the very least, put up an ad on Craigslist.org, and make sure you use word of mouth to promote your sale, too.

Price Everything

Have you ever been to a garage sale where nothing has a price tag? I have, and I usually get back in my car and head to the next sale. Garage sale shoppers don’t like to ask for prices. Worse yet, if it’s busy, they might not be able to get your attention to ask for a price. It’s better to have a price for everything, even if it’s color-coded stickers. Just make sure that you have a big sign telling everyone what price each color stands for.

I’m also of the belief that bargain pricing is better than trying to get the maximum amount out of each item you’re selling. Presumably you’re having a garage sale to get rid of stuff. I’d rather take bargain prices and get rid of more stuff than charge premium prices and have to decide what to do with the garage sale leftovers.

Have Plenty of Change on Hand

Do not short-change yourself (pun intended). You should have, at the very least, a roll of quarters, a roll of dimes, a roll of nickels, 20 one dollar bills, a few fives, and a couple of tens. I usually have around 40 one dollar bills, because I hate to be stuck without change. I also seem to attract early morning shoppers who pay for $2 items with $20 bills.

If you’re working your sale alone, it’s imperative to have enough change. You’re going to have to turn people away if you can’t make change. If there’s nobody else home to do a change run for you, your sale could end up being a bust.

Keep Security In Mind

While garage sales are fun, they also attract less than honest people. I held a garage sale with a friend one time, and someone walked off with an expensive piece of jewelry.

If you are selling small, expensive items, make sure you position them close to you and away from the street. Keep an eye on them as much as you can.

Also make sure your money is secure. I like to wear a fanny pack that holds my change. I just feel better knowing that my money is with me at all times. That way, if someone has a question about an item, I can walk over to assist her, without worrying about whether my money is safe.

If you’re bringing in a lot of money, it’s also a good idea to put some of the money in the house for safekeeping periodically. That way if your money does get stolen, you won’t lose it all.

Neatness Matters

When you set your stuff out for display, make sure it is displayed neatly. If you are selling clothes, they will sell better if you find a way to hang them up. At the very least, fold them neatly, and separate them by sizes. Things will sell better if like items are grouped together and people don’t have to dig through piles of junk to find the treasure they’re looking for.

Having neat displays also tells people that you care about your stuff. Shoppers will be more apt to believe that you’ve taken great care of the stuff that you’re selling if it’s displayed neatly.

Make Sure You Have Bags Available

Many people will not come to a garage sale prepared with a bag. You should save your grocery bags in the weeks leading up to your sale, so you can offer them to your shoppers. If you see a shopper holding a few things, ask if they’d like a bag. The more people can hold, the more they will buy!

Refreshments Never Hurt

Make your garage sale welcoming. Offer coffee on a cool morning. Lemonade is great on a hot afternoon. Muffins also go over well with early morning shoppers who may not have taken the time to eat breakfast.

Serving refreshments is also a great way to get the kids involved. People love to buy stuff from kids, so have your kids run a lemonade stand. An added benefit is that your kids will learn about customer service, counting change, and entrepreneurship.

Bright, Clear Signs Are a Must

I hate following signs to a garage sale, only to get lost, because the signs stop. Make sure your signs are clear. Neon yellow paper works well for garage sale signs. It grabs attention, and black writing shows up well on the sign. Make big arrows, and put signs on every corner, so a driver doesn’t wonder if they missed a sign.

Just make sure you obey the laws of your town in hanging up your signs, and please take down the signs when your sale is over. There’s nothing more annoying than following signs to a garage sale that ended a week ago.

Offer Bargains as the Day Goes On

My favorite garage sale strategy is to offer bargains when the sale is coming to an end. If I do a sale on Friday, I will post a sign saying “Everything half price after noon!” By doing that, I get the benefit of selling things at full price for the serious early morning shoppers, and I get rid of more stuff by selling things at a discount to the afternoon shoppers.

I have two goals when I hold a garage sale. The first is to make money, and the second is to get rid of stuff. By slashing my prices when the garage sale is almost over, I accomplish both.

Have a Plan for the Leftovers

When your garage sale is over, you will have stuff that didn’t sell. DO NOT bring it back into your house! You don’t need the clutter. Before you even begin your sale, have a plan for what to do when it ends.

One option is to put a post up on Craigslist or Freecycle, offering everything free for whoever hauls it away. Another option is to see if a charity in your area offers a pickup service. If you’re going with that option, set up the pickup time well before your sale. I usually have to schedule pickup a month in advance.

Hopefully these tips will help you make your next garage sale a huge success!

Do you have any garage sale tips to add? I’d love to hear them!

Photo by leighblackall.

22 thoughts on “10 Tips to a Wildly Successful Garage Sale”

  1. Hello,

    I am from Oklahoma and have found this site today. I love the idea of sharing comments with people from all over the world. I just wanted to say that there is a website, I believe yahoo invented and its for free classified ads for people all over the world and there is much to be offered, even free things locally. The name is Kijiji.com. Check this out. I have found so much on this site. Its another craigslist. Have a great day.

  2. @Gibee: I usually take my kids clothes first to the local “Once Upon A Child” resale shop. They give decent prices for stuff, but they’re kinda ticky about what they’ll take. I then put what they don’t take into my sale for about a $1 each.


    Once I get motivated to have a sale (once every 2 or 3 years), I usually have 3-day sales (fri/sat/sun). I’ve always found Fridays and Saturdays to be steady business all day (9-6); Sundays are a bit slower overall, but fairly active from 10-ish AM to 3-ish PM. (Casual salers heading home from church, or to/from brunch & lunch?)

    A couple of tips that I have found helpful:

    I put out my easy-to-read signs [scraps of wood, painted white, with black lettering] before evening rush hour on Thursday, for free advance advertising. [Make sure you collect them all after the sale is over!!]

    All items in my sale are priced in multiples of 25c, so I don’t have to deal with dimes, nickels, or pennies. Any knick-knacks or small toys that would be less than a quarter can be grouped with similar items, or put out in a FREE box.

  3. Thanks for these tips… I’ll be having a yard sale in a few weeks, but was wondering how you price kids clothing? I have boys clothing from newborn to 24 months, and was wondering if I should price things differently, or just price everything at $1 or $2 each? Is that a fair price for kids clothing?

  4. Hey,

    I totally agree with Matt, going to tag sales is so much fun and you’ll never know what kind of treasures you’ll find! I checked out tagsellit.com after I read about it here and it’s great! I even set up my own virtual tag sale. Now, I can manage it from work and didn’t even have to take time off. Best thing is, it’s inexpensive, you can easily manage it and add more items. It’s great!


  5. As a buyer, I love going to garage sales. I often wonder how beneficial they are to the sellers though. Between the set up time and chancing rain/snow it seems like it’s becoming a better option to list items on new sites like tagsellit.com or Craigslist or Ebay. I seriously hope the days of being able to walk around the town and find great deals aren’t gone though.

  6. I love garage sales although here in the Uk they are called Boot Sales and are carried out in large fields or derelict factory sites, mainly because we don’t have large yards or garages, well most of don’t.
    Spring is a great time to clear the clutter and start a fresh. Go for it

  7. Hello, again. I kept getting an error message this morning when I tried to leave my previous comment, and I realized it didn’t keep all the info.

    We have a bag sale towards the end, and a buy the whole yard sale sale!

  8. @Mydailydollars – Friday sales are definitely not as good as weekend sales, but we have soccer all morning on Saturdays and church all morning on Sundays, so that’s not an option for us right now.

  9. Hi! Great article! I just wrote about this last week over at my blog. We are planning a yard sale to happen in the next couple of weeks. (I’m praying for good weather, but those days have been few and far between here.)

  10. Quick question for you, Lynnae. . .do you have as much traffic on a Friday as you do on a Saturday? I’ve always held ours on Saturdays, but realize that a Friday morning sale might be a calmer option for our family.

  11. One option to get rid of the things you don’t sell is to donate them to your local Good Will or Salvation Army. Most of those places will give you a receipt for your donations so that you can count them as a charitable donation on your tax returns. I think that’s a good way to get rid of your stuff, support a good cause, and still get a little something back in the end.

  12. I shop yard sales, but I won’t hold one myself. It’s too much work for me and I really don’t like the stress of it all. I prefer to donate everything I would otherwise sell to my church twice a year when it holds its rummage sale. That way I can deduct the approximate value of the items from my taxes and the church gets some money out of it – all without me having to do the selling myself.

  13. Nice tips, everyone! If I have a sale, I will definitely use them! I like the idea of a bag sale and a buy the whole yard sale sale!

  14. Great article, Lynnae! I especially love serving coffee to people. It cheers them up, and they stay longer. Also, pleasant, quiet music in the background is nice. It needs to be QUIET so that people can talk (and neighbors can sleep), and pretty universally-liked, so that people aren’t turned off by something obnoxious. But I think it adds a pleasant experience, too. Plus, it’s nice for you, who’s sitting there all day.

  15. One of our favorite things to do is mark most items a set price (like 25 cents ) then have the rest tagged. My kids also like to bake cookies and sell those for 25 cents a piece–this is where most of our revenue came from the last few times, and brought return customers.

  16. Garage sales can be fun but I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have cool stuff or what but I usually barely make any money off of them (you know, for the work put in). But it is a fun way to meet people.

    One thing I did last time is join forces with another family having one. We shared the cost of the classified ad and helping each other set up. The more people selling at a garage sale, the more it seems to attract. Just thought I’d throw that out there!

  17. Great tips, Lynnae! One tactic I like to use is placing signs strategically to piggyback off other advertised yard sales in your neighborhood. I look through the paper the morning of our yard sale and find others close to us who have advertised their own sale. I place a sign at the end of their street with our address and an arrow. To return the favor I tell people about their sale as they are leaving ours. This one little tip has greatly increased foot traffic at our last couple sales.

  18. I particularly hear your point about the change. Sounds like your garage sale is better prepared than our county library. For some reason, we only have about $40 in the cash drawer to start and a few $2 fines paid with $20s can leave us with just the big bills and change. It can put a big damper on your business if you need exact change.


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