5 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale
Here's what to sell, how to price your items, and how to advertise your next rummage sale.
Out With the Old, In With the Money: Yard Sale Tips for Sellers
If your garage is just a storage space for clutter, if you can’t park your car in its designated home, it might be time to sort through the mess and set up a garage sale. We’ve gathered some tips and tricks so sellers can have a successful yard sale, including advice from Simplify Experts, Clever Girl Organizing and Goodwill.
What to Sell at a Garage Sale
“As Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘The word garage seems to be a form of the word garbage.’ Everything goes to the garage to die,” said Denise Allan, a certified professional organizer with Simplify Experts.
If clutter has inspired you to have a sale, start by cleaning out your garage and organizing your home to see what you need to get rid of and what may be worth some money in your pocket. When deciding what to keep and what to part with, Kathy Vines of Clever Girl Organizing offers a few important considerations.
When deciding what to sell at a garage sale, ask yourself:
- How often do I use this and why?
- Could someone else get more use out of this?
- Does it have sentimental value? Is it irreplaceable?
- Is it in good shape? If it needs to be repaired, is it worth spending the money?
- Do I own another item that serves the same purpose, or can I borrow it from someone else?
As you cut through the clutter and part with the clothes in the back of your closet or the bike hidden in your garage, decide if the things you’re keeping are in good enough shape to resell at your yard sale.
Sell This, Not That
Used toiletries (shampoo, lotion, makeup, etc.)
Toys (clean and not broken)
Mismatched items (like containers without lids)
Gently used kid/baby clothes
Old electronics (clunky TVs, computer monitors)
Rent a dumpster to throw away anything beyond repair, or that no one else would want secondhand. Some examples might be stained sofas, broken appliances and used mattresses.
“Be authentic to the life you are leading. If you have not camped in years, donate your camping gear. If your kids have launched your nest, let some of your ample sporting good equipment go. I have clients who have had landscape services for years with a full arsenal of yard tools. Donate those so they can bless someone else.”
5 Tips to Have a Successful Garage Sale
Now that you’ve figured out what to include in your yard sale, follow these tips to prepare and get the most out of it.
Tip 1: Price Items for Your Yard Sale
When it comes to putting a price tag on items like books, clothes and golf clubs you dug up, remember that you’re trying to get rid of these things. In order to get them to sell, you might need to ask for a lot less than you think.
So, how do you price items for a yard sale? Generally, items should be tagged at about 10% to 20% of the current retail price. For example, if something sells for $50 in store, price it at $10 if it’s in good shape or $5 if it’s a bit worn. Of course, factors like the item’s condition, demand and whether or not it’s in season can affect the price.
Before applying this rule, research to see how similar things are priced in your area. Go to other garage sales to see how much they’re selling those items for. Watch the shoppers to see if they respond to the prices or walk away. You can even check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and other online resources to compare prices.
Here’s a starting point for some items. However, keep in mind that in addition to the item’s condition and demand, name brand and size may cause you to fidget with the price as well.
Recommended Prices for Common Garage Sale Items
$1 - $5
Dishware and glasses
$1 - $3
$2 - $7
Pots and pans
$1 - $4
$1 - $5
50¢ - $2
$10 - $15
33% of the original price
$3 - $5 for complete set, four items for $1
25¢ - 50¢ for paperbacks, $1 - $2 for hard covers
33% of sale price for used items, 50% of sale price for new items still in packaging
Put a price tag on everything. Don’t make people find you and ask how much you’re selling an item for, because some just won’t bother. Use neon-colored stickers so people can’t miss the price.
Tip 2: Pick a Place and Date
Where you decide to set up is important. You need to be in a high-trafficked area in order for people to see your garage sale. If you live in a rural or quiet area, ask friends or family in a busier neighborhood if you can use their yard.
When picking a time, choose weekend mornings, about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and avoid holidays when people are out of town. Look ahead to the weather forecast to avoid rain or extreme heat. It’s also best to aim for the beginning of the month, when you can count on people’s purse strings being at their fullest.
Tip 3: Research Local Laws and Regulations
Some municipalities require you to have a permit in order to hold a garage sale. Make sure to check your city’s website for more information. Some may allow you to get the permit online. If your city or town does require a permit, make sure not to skip this step, or you could end up with a fine and get your garage sale shut down.
Tip 4: Advertise Your Yard Sale
Go back to basics. Take out an ad in your local paper and draw up handmade signs. Use bright-colored poster board and thick, black markers. These will catch people’s attention and be easy to read from a distance. Make sure to place them at main intersections near the sale location and at all turns leading to your yard. Don’t forget to draw arrows to point drivers in the right direction. You can also take out an ad in your local paper.
Make sure to include the following information on your signs:
- The words “Garage Sale”
Keep the signs simple so potential buyers can quickly read them as they’re driving by and easily get to you. Make sure to put the signs out at least the day before so avid yard sale-goers can plan to make a stop at your home, and so you don’t have to rush around the morning of.
How to Advertise Your Garage Sale Online
Handmade signs in your neighborhood are effective, but people have the internet at their fingertips everywhere they go. Try taking out an ad on your local news sites and Craigslist to expand your reach. Because they’re probably a little more expensive than a Craigslist ad, start ads on your local news sites one day before the sale and run them through the sale period. On Craigslist, you might be able to afford starting the ad a day or two earlier than that.
Draw people in by listing your big-ticket items and popular things like kids’ toys and collectibles. Snap photos of in-demand items to attract more attention.
It’s also a good idea to use social media accounts to let friends and family know you’re hosting a sale. It’s the easiest way to spread the word to everyone. If your community has a Facebook page, use it to let neighbors know they can stop by.
You might also try using the following yard sale sites:
Tip 5: Prepare Your Items for the Sale
Now for the most tedious part of all — setting it all up. Follow these tips to help you make some sales.
- Put like items together.
- Cover up anything visible that you’re not selling.
- Try bundling some items, like sets of baby clothes.
- Clean and polish items to make them look presentable.
- Put toys on a blanket in the yard at kid’s level to save table space.
- Display valuable items close to you so you can keep an eye on them.
- Set up a few days in advance if you’ll be using your (now clean) garage.
- Hang clothing on a garment rack so it’s easy for customers to look through what you have.
- Give yourself at least an hour before the start time to get everything set up, but know where you plan to put everything in advance.
- Use folding tables to display your merchandise. If you use a coffee table or other furniture from your home, people might think it’s for sale.
Greet shoppers as they arrive so they know who’s running the sale, but then leave them alone to shop so they don’t feel pressured. Let the items sell themselves, but be available for questions.
Extra Garage Sale Tips and Tricks
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your yard sale goes as well as can be planned.
Ask Friends and Family to Join Your Sale
Do your in-laws have some things they can sell? Is your sister also cleaning out her garage? Market this as a three-family yard sale. You’ll likely attract more customers with the additional items up for grabs.
Limit Your Inventory
While it’s good to have a lot of items to attract customers, having too much for sale can be overwhelming. Make sure you’re only putting out what will sell.
Have a Checkout Station
Have a designated area where you can pack up anything customers purchase. Gather all the grocery bags you keep under your sink and any extra boxes you have lying around to package items for buyers. Use newspaper to wrap up anything fragile.
Have Multiple Payment Options
If you accept credit cards, you’ll likely increase your sales. A Square reader makes it easy for a customer to make payments with a credit card. Advertise that you accept card payments — it’s a big selling point.
Wear something with pockets. An apron or fanny pack will give you a place to hold cash (a much better alternative to risking leaving a cash box unattended), your Square reader, extra pricing stickers, a marker and anything else you may need.
After the Yard Sale
Chances are, you have some lingering clothes, books or sporting gear you didn’t sell that you don’t want to bring back into your home. Try selling them again online on eBay, OfferUp, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity.
“Everything that can be found in your garage is fair game for donations. (When it comes to TVs, flat screens only.) We do recommend that oil and gas be drained from any lawn equipment prior to donation. We encourage people with any questions to give their nearest location a call to double check.”
Get Ready for Your Garage Sale
It’s time to start decluttering to build your inventory and prepare for your yard sale. If you find damaged items or need to clear out space before the sale begins, check out our disposal guides to find the best ways to get furniture, appliances and electronics out of your home.
Feeling inspired? Keep the momentum going and view more of our home organization posts to keep your house orderly.
Deniese is the founder of Simplify Experts based in Seattle. She founded the company to help clients turn chaos into calm. Her team works hands-on with clients to help streamline the clutter in their space. They aim to make organizing safe, approachable and fun to ensure it no longer takes a back seat to everyday life.
Kathy is a certified professional organizer, coach, speaker and owner of Clever Girl Organizing in Boston, MA. She works to bring serenity and order into homes and workspaces and works with clients to find and implement solutions to clutter.
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