I have had two very successful garage sales in the past four years. We had one after our home renovation 2 years ago and sold a ton of extra home renovation supplies, decor, and things we no longer needed. The garage sale that we just held had items that we’ve accumulated the last 2 years, that no longer fit the family, that we no longer need, or that we just haven’t used for awhile.
In order to host a productive/successful garage sell follow these 17 tips…
1- Prepare early.
Waking up the morning of and searching your home for things to sale is NOT a great strategy. Start at least a few weeks ahead of time and go through closets, drawers, cupboards, and each room looking for things you have not used for the past few years or that you want to get rid of. Put them in the garage or in a room all together. Add to the pile throughout the next few weeks. Also, when planning a day CHECK the WEATHER (rainy or cold weekends I would avoid). Also, I would discourage from holding garage sales on big 3-day weekends (I found they are less successful because everyone is doing fun family activities or out of town). If you live in an area with a lot of seniors who collect social security or near a big time industry that get paid at a certain time of the month, plan the yard sale on the following Saturday.
2- What to do one week before.
One week ahead of the garage sale, d0 another quick round up of items you want to get rid of. Ask neighbors if they want to sell anything at your sale. We had a neighbor that wanted to sale a desk, dresser, a side table, and a coffee table. Having more items on the lawn/driveway brings more people. It never hurts to fill up your yard. Many people won’t stop at small garage sales, so do your best to round up as much as you can and spread it out well (organize it). Borrow tables to put things on, use tarps and blankets, etc.
3- Arrange a babysitter (if applicable) & keep your dogs tied up.
We arranged to have a babysitter come from 7-2 pm. This allowed the set up and break down to go quick! Keep dogs tied up or cats inside, etc. Some people have legitimate fears or allergies and won’t get out of their car if you have animals out.
4- What to do the day or two before.
Post your ad on local classifieds, Craigslist, Facebook garage sale pages, and even your own Facebook page so your neighbors know (I posted Friday day, Friday Night and Saturday morning). Bonus– Put flyers on community boards, etc.
5- When posting use photos (if you have them) and very descriptive text.
Make sure to include the date and time you’ll be open and list items specifically. Many people search for key words (read more about that here) when deciding where they should go yard selling. Here is an example of the ad we posted (I removed my address and phone number before posting this blog post). That said don’t forget to leave your address on the advertisements!:
I put a ton of specifics. This way, if someone was searching a term online for something they were looking for, it would pull my ad.
6- Have cash in small bills available.
We had a change bucket, a bunch of ones, fives, tens and a few twenties ($130.00 worth to start).
7- Make good signs.
For signs further away from your house include the date, address, arrows pointing which way to go, and the time of garage sale. For signs closer to your residence just a use Yard Sale or Garage Sale with large arrows and maybe the date. Bonus if all of your signs are the same color or if you have balloons for busy intersections it helps people find you.
Get your signs up as soon as you are ready. Drag everything out of the garage and get things almost set up, then have someone go around and posts signs. Once the signs are all the way up everything is pretty much ready to go. And traffic starts coming. It’s worked great both times.
8-IMPORTANT—something I commonly see is that two garage sales will be held in the same neighborhood on the same day, yet the signage is not good enough for both.
Say people are following signs for a garage sale which is furthest into the neighborhood, but there is a garage sale on the same street. Many will think that the first one they see is the one they were headed to. The garage sale furthest in loses a ton of traffic because of this.
We had a lady doing a garage sale up the street so we put a sign near her home with arrows pointing towards our house which indicated there was another garage sale further down the street they should check out too. Make sure to do this if you want people to come to you.
9- Price your items with stickers or signs.
I bought stickers like these and just went along and put them on everything. This avoids the hassle of people asking how much things are, wondering what you’ll say, or wasting time (it really does make a BIG difference in sales). I made a poster board for the clothes that said $1.00 per adult clothes. .50 cents per baby clothes. $1.00-$2.00 per pair of shoes. This prevented the need to price everything out. For my maternity clothing (since they are generally more expensive), I put them in a large tote bin and labeled it $2.00 per maternity clothing.
10-Price your stuff low and accept offers unless you can resell it online.
There were a few items that I KNOW I can resell online. For example, we had a slab of granite, a Baby Bjorn, 4 truck rims, and a few other things. These items I would not budge on the already low prices I put on them. Since some of them did not sell, I will now list them on classifieds. That said, EVERYTHING ELSE I priced to sell. In the back of my mind I knew that everything that did not sell was going to be donated to Deseret Industries (thrift store), so I just sold them for what I could. I took almost any offer. Sometimes I would counter an offer but mainly I took every offer I received.
Also, when your prices are priced really well, people are going to buy more and stay longer and they won’t haggle so much. When I go out garage selling if I see astronomical prices, I immediately turn around and walk away. Garage sales are about decluttering and getting rid of items that you’d rather get something out of than purely donating. It isn’t about trying to turn a huge profit. If you want to make a profit from your items, read this post on how to resell items or this post on how to sell on Amazon.
11- Have your items organized.
- I put all baby stuff in one side of the yard. All clothing on two big tarps. Decor stuff on a big blanket. Hand bags in one area. Kitchen supplies on one table. Electronics on one table. All of my Jewelry went on a big white cardboard poster, etc.
- Clean out pockets of clothing for receipts, money, bank statements, etc.
- Group toys that belong together in ziploc bags and staple them shut and price them as a set.
- If something is expensive, write the retail value and what you are selling it for on the price tag or print out an ad with the retail price so people can see it is a good deal.
- Have boxes or plastic grocery bags to help customers put their things in.
Keeping things organized really helps people find more of the types of items they are looking for.
Bonus: Have fun music on (try some of these Pandora stations). We were streaming Pandora during the sale and it made it more fun for everyone.
12- Give big buyers better deals.
Allow buyers who are buying lots to bundle. If people had a lot in their arms and asked, “Can you give me a better deal on this particular item?” I would say, “Let’s count it up and then I’ll drop it a bit” So we’d count it up and I’d round down a few dollars or something. They seemed pleased with that and that way they weren’t trying to get me to go lower on everything.
13- Keep hydrated and shaded.
We face south so we were in the sun most of the day. I held an umbrella to keep shaded and drank a lot of water. It would have been better had we borrowed a pop up shade or something.
14- Lower prices towards the end of the sale.
Prime garage selling time in my area is 8-10:30. So at 11:00 as soon as buyers got out of their cars I’d say, “Its the end of the day, everything is 50% off except the furniture, granite, and stuff on this blanket”. It was easy to sell the rest of the stuff at 50% off already super-low prices!
15- Donate what you did not sale (or can’t sell easily online or on classifieds) for a tax write-off.
After the garage sale was over we just packed everything up that we didn’t want to try to resell online and drove it to a thrift store. We made sure to itemize what we took and got a tax donation slip. We are able to write off about $200 worth of items that didn’t sell at the garage sale—but I’m sure will sell at the thrift stores. Note- This goes on your yearly taxes as a donation. It really is only worth doing if you itemize your deductions/taxes.
16- Take down the signs and ads offline.
It is common courtesy to take down the signs soon after you are finished.
17- Keep track of money & count money afterwards.
Keep your cash on you during the sale (don’t leave it sitting on a table). Another great tip is to set the bill the person just gave you down (away from the stack that you have) while you are getting them change. That way they don’t claim they gave you at $10 when they gave you a $5.00 or something.
After the sale, while we ran everything to the thrift store, I ran to the bank. We were pleasantly surprised when we learned we made just over $300 (not including the furniture we sold for our friends)! Plus, we had $200 in a tax donation/write-off, and we have another couple hundred of high value items that didn’t sell (rims, granite, baby stuff) that we will list on classifieds. Decluttering will essentially add $500 to this month’s budget! The garage sale we had two years before made us $450 in cash- not including items we sold online. Not bad at all!
Garage sales can be profitable if you use the aforementioned tips!