How to Have a Good Garage Sale

Planning Your Sale

Garage sales aren't all about the profit, but the money is usually a major goal. No one would plan to not sell anything, but not planning well can be a missed opportunity to take full advantage of the opportunity to maximize profits.

The strategy you use for advertising, pricing, and displaying merchandise can influence your potential success. The following tips can give you some guidelines and creative ideas to make a little more. When these separate little ideas are added up, you could possibly double your profits.

Choosing a Location

Location is as important in garage sales as it is in real estate. You might think you can't do anything about your location, but keep these tips in mind:

  • If you don't live in a populous area, then team up with a friend or friends who do live in a good spot. (there are many other benefits to teaming up)
  • Choose a property near a busy street
  • Choose an area near a lot of other residential properties

How to Advertise

Get the most out of cheap advertising to keep your profit margin high using these tips:

  • Use free website postings including Craigslist.org, YardSaleSearch.com, garagesalefinder.com, and gsalr.com.
  • Have your signs ready to put on the street one week in advance, so you can give people enough time to plan to come who drive by your neighborhood.
  • Remember that most neighborhoods have multiple entrances, so you'll need multiple signs.
  • Use as bright of a color as you can for your sign.
  • Include hours you'll be open for business.
  • Include the street address.
  • Use an arrow at every intersection to indicate which way people should go to find your sale.
  • Keep your sign uncluttered and legible from a distance.
  • Make sure to secure your signs well with stakes, staples, and enough tape to prevent wind from taking them down.
  • Laminate your signs, or use some form of plastic or metal background if rain is expected during the preceding week.
  • Advertise in the local newspaper if the cost is not too much. (Sometimes this is not worth the amount, but could be useful depending on how many people you can go in together with to split the cost)
  • Give something away for free and make a big sign such as: "Free Flowers!" or "Free Car Wash!"

How to Make Extra Money and Get Rid of More Stuff

Sometimes a garage sale can be an opportunity to make money in creative ways. Kids can participate in some of these ideas:

  • Sell refreshments (water, sodas, cotton candy, ice cream, hot dogs, etc.)
  • Sell arts and crafts that you make such as greeting cards, jewelry, or quilts.
  • Sell plant starts in pots that you dug up from your own yard.
  • Offer a car wash at a cheap price, or offer a free car wash while customers shop.
  • Advertise a business such as home painting, lawn service, or dog walking.
  • Hold an auction at the end of your garage sale, and advertise this to everyone who comes earlier in the day to get them to return.
  • Schedule your yard sale just after the first of the month when people have more available money to spend.

How to Set the Price of Items

Yard sales are in the same class as thrift stores, so go to a thrift store to get a general idea of how to price items. Also use these tips:

  • Use sites like ebay to get an idea of what items may be worth, especially if you think the items may be worth a lot. Amazon has an Android app that allows you to scan bar codes of items to see how much things are selling for on Amazon.com. Use that and then cut the price in half.
  • Never place a sticker price or write where glue or ink could ruin an item. For example, don't put stickers on vintage record sleeves. This can diminish value to collectors. Instead, label a larger container or a plastic bag that contains the item.
  • If you set your prices high, place a prominent sign stating that you are willing to negotiate your prices.
  • Expect to get roughly 50% of what you would pay for an item if it were new in a retail store.
  • Copy retail stores by marking things with high prices and advertising to everyone that everything is half price. You still make the same amount, and shoppers think they got a good deal.

Safety Tips

Safety is an important part of planning a yard sale. Unsafe situations could potentially lead to great costs. Use these tips to keep yourself and your possessions safe:

  • Cash boxes are easier to steal from than money in your pocket. Either way, keep your money out of visibility and stay alert.
  • Cover up or hide any super expensive items that may be in your garage that you don't want strangers seeing, including empty boxes of expensive items. People could be checking out your place to burglarize.
  • Use the buddy system since people you don't know will be walking in your yard and/or your garage.
  • If you are by yourself, keep a phone close by and act like you are not alone. For example, put two chairs up as if there were someone else running the sale with you. Poor two drinks and leave the one you are not drinking half full.
  • Don't keep too much cash in your cash box. If you get too much cash in your box, take some inside so it looks like you don't have a lot.
  • Make it your policy to never let anyone in your home during a garage sale, even if they seem nice. This will prevent people from casing out your place for burglary.

Organizing the Merchandise

The way your organize your merchandise can influence how much you sell. Use these tips for setting up your displays:

  • Keep valuable items near where you'll be stationed during the sale.
  • Make enough items visible from the street that people want to stop to check it out, especially furniture items.
  • Set up an extension cord and keep batteries handy so you can demonstrate any electronic items to prove working condition.
  • Place similar items together so people can categorize each table by glancing without missing what they are looking for. You can also set items that are the same price together so you don't have to price items individually.
  • Put items you want to sell the most down toward the street. That way people will have to walk by those items twice as they come toward and go away from your garage.
  • Place toys low to the ground for children to easily access.
  • Make sure you have items that both men and women would be interested in visible. They might be looking for different types of things, but they may not stop if all they see are things they are not interested in buying.

Preparation and Planning Tips

Good garage sales always start several days if not weeks before the actual sale. Before you get too far, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get some cash in small bills and change so you are prepared to break larger bills and give change.
  • Find out about any city or state laws about how garage sales are legally conducted including where you are allowed to place signs and what you can and can't legally sell. Also check on neighborhood association rules.
  • Neighborhood garage sales generally attract more shoppers and can save you advertising costs. Find out when your neighborhood or a surrounding neighborhood's is.
  • Get your entire household to go through their belongings to come up with as much as you can for your sale.
  • Ask family and friends to see if they have any items they want to sell in your garage sale. They may just give you items, or you can offer to sell on their behalf at a 20% commission.
  • Figure out where you will put your own vehicle/vehicles. Usually, you will want to keep the street clear for customers to get a good view and have easy parking.
  • Decide what hours you are willing to be open for business. Sometimes starting a little earlier than most other people can provide an opportunity to attract the serious garage sale buyers who are known to knock on garage doors early.

How to Keep from Getting Bored

Hopefully you don't become too bored because you are running the sale with at least one other person and you are busy selling items, but keep these ideas in mind if you get bored while running a yard sale:

  • Play background music for your enjoyment and your customers' enjoyment
  • Don't distract your customers with too much talking, but be available when they do ask.
  • Keep a good book close by
  • Surf the internet
  • Talk on the phone
  • Play games on your phone or tablet
  • Bring a TV out to the garage

Make sure to use bright colors for your Garage Sale signs. Include an arrow pointing in the correct direction at every turn.
Make sure to use bright colors for your Garage Sale signs. Include an arrow pointing in the correct direction at every turn.
Get your stuff out of the garage and visible if possible, that way people can easily spot the sale from their car in the street.
Get your stuff out of the garage and visible if possible, that way people can easily spot the sale from their car in the street.
Keeping your merchandise outside of the garage can cut down on the awkwardness of people in your garage... and the awkward small talk.
Keeping your merchandise outside of the garage can cut down on the awkwardness of people in your garage... and the awkward small talk.
Group like items together in an uncluttered way, so shoppers can focus their eyes to distinguish items.
Group like items together in an uncluttered way, so shoppers can focus their eyes to distinguish items.
A plastic storage container turned upside down or saw horses can be used as tables for a yard sale.
A plastic storage container turned upside down or saw horses can be used as tables for a yard sale.
Create a simple walking path for people to view your items closely.  The closer they are, they more  likely they are to pick up items.
Create a simple walking path for people to view your items closely. The closer they are, they more likely they are to pick up items.
If you are working together, make sure to keep track of individual sales items to split the profits fairly.
If you are working together, make sure to keep track of individual sales items to split the profits fairly.
Keeping data such as how many people stop and how many people drive by and look can help you analyze any changes you make.
Keeping data such as how many people stop and how many people drive by and look can help you analyze any changes you make.
Being comfortable can make a huge difference.  Keep a fan handy to ensure you don't let the heat keep you from staying open.
Being comfortable can make a huge difference. Keep a fan handy to ensure you don't let the heat keep you from staying open.
Stay hydrated and entertained with some water, a cooler with snacks, and some reading material.
Stay hydrated and entertained with some water, a cooler with snacks, and some reading material.

The Difficulty of a Garage Sale

What's the Most Difficult Part of a Garage Sale

  • Cleaning out your stuff
  • Setting up the merchandise
  • Advertising the sale
  • Having to deal with people
  • Being bored, hot, hungry, or needing to pee
See results without voting

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Comments 3 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Great tips in this hub....I will be sure to share this hub with my neighbors as we are about to have our summer garage sale with all of us....usually about 5 or 6 of us do this about twice a year...and we usually get a good turnout...but your hub should make it even better....thanks for sharing...voting up and useful.


monicamelendez profile image

monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

I didn't know that there were sites were you could advertise/promote your garage sale. Very cool and useful.


MopHolder profile image

MopHolder 22 months ago

We find ourselves in the predicament of not knowing what to do with a certain possession, so we store it in the garage till we next decide what to do with it.

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