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10 Tips: How to Have a Successful Garage Sale and Make Money

Updated on August 12, 2017
How to have a successful yard sale. 10 tips.
How to have a successful yard sale. 10 tips. | Source

How to Sell Everything at a Yard Sale

Yard sales, or garage sales, are very popular ways to de-clutter your home or office and make some money on the side. Almost every weekend local papers have advertisements of sales in your area, selling everything and anything from clothing, household items, books, electrical items, toys, games, collectables and everything in between.

Whilst there is no science to having a yard sale, there are some important elements which need to be taken into consideration to ensure the ultimate success.

Preparation is Key

Do a thorough spring clean of your home and even those of your family members if they are up to it. If you don't think you have enough for a good spread, ask your neighbours ahead of time to join in. The more the merrier.

A sale with lots of items will see prospective buyers hang around longer and therefore may have a greater propensity to purchase.

Make sure items are relatively clean also; dust away cobwebs, spot check clothing and only put out items that are hole-free or stain free (unless you create a rummage box of damaged goods which people can use for scrap fabrics or used parts - which is also a good idea anyway).

If you have manuals, guides, original boxes, tags or original pamphlets of your products make sure you gather these up too and place them with your items for sale. They can add value.

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Items never to buy from a yard saleItems to buy at a yard sale and resell online
Items never to buy from a yard sale
Items never to buy from a yard sale
Items to buy at a yard sale and resell online
Items to buy at a yard sale and resell online

Items to Avoid and Items to Sell At A Garage Sale

Do not get over excited and put everything and anything out for sale. There are some items which do not sell well at all. Be aware of the top 10 items that people generally are warned to steer clear of at garage sales.

Typically these are of a hygienic nature or those that have safety features which may be out of date based on age and changes to manufacturing rules. You do not want to be liable.

On the flip side of the coin however there are a long list of items which keen resellers keep their eyes out for. If you have any of these items, be sure to check this list, then you may be in for a small windfall.

If you are selling anything on this highly desirable list, I suggest pricing them accordingly (knowing demand) and also making sure they are in tip top condition. Their location is also critical so to ensure they are spotted straight away!

Get Help To Run Your Garage Sale

Do not be shy about asking for help. You may need assistance not only preparing your items for sale, but setting them up on tables, on racks or in boxes.

A second pair of eyes and hands will also be good to ensure items are fit for sale, that there is nothing left in pockets of jackets and jeans and that the prices you are considering are appropriate.

On the day of the sale it is critical that you have helpers keep an eye out for those with quick fingers. We don't want theft. In addition if you have a lot of buyers you may want some extra money collectors too.

How To Advertise Your Garage Sale

Do not forget to advertise.

Use local newspapers, sign posts, noticeboards and free online advertising opportunities. Facebook, Twitter and online social media networks are also wonderful, as well as friends, family and neighbours, local schools, kindergartens and councils.

Be careful however as you may end up advertising to a far larger market than you can cater for.

Make sure your signs are bold, clear and specifically state the date, time and location of the sale.

How To Lay Out Items At A Yard Sale

Think about how you are going to set out your items for sale.

If you have a table with everything on it you may find people rummage through your goods and make a huge mess, meaning others cannot find what they are looking for.

Try to group items and display them accordingly.

  • Books do well lined up so people can browse the titles.
  • Clothing should be hung on racks, particularly dresses, jackets or pants.
  • Group clothing also into gender and separate children/baby clothing from adults.
  • If you have a bundle of soiled clothing or items with holes, then put them separately into a box and clearly label it as 'Usable for Scraps'.

Using the guide for most-wanted items to buy at yard sales, put these ones in the front (if you have them for sale).

Any valuable items that you have, make sure they are placed where you can keep a (closer) eye on them.

Group items into themes also. For example toys together, books, movies and music. Shoes, clothing and accessories. Crockery, nicknacks and smaller items do well on a trestle or table, off the ground.

How To Price Items

Make sure that every item you have for sale is priced.

It may be a huge task to prepare them all, however it is better to be done ahead of time as on the day you may not have a second to think.

There is always room for bargaining at a yard sale and do not be fooled to think that people will not try to lower the price. Be prepared to drop prices, particularly when your sale is coming to an end.

Use masking tape or blue painter’s tape to mark boxes, hangers, clothing or items as this is easily removable and will not damage your items.

The main thing to remember is not to overprice your things. Remember this is a yard sale.

People come for bargains and many come to buy items to resell. Whilst it is nice to make a lot of money, remember too that you aim was to rid yourself of clutter so what you make is a bonus. A good rule of thumb is to price items about 1/3 of their original price, group things in buy 2 get one free, or bundle items together.

Use prices also that are easy to transact with. Do not make something $2.55. Make it $2. Use round numbers to help with all the loose change that you will need.

How To Collect Money

Now, where and how are you going to collect all the money you are earning?

Best option is to keep it on you at all times.

Leaving your earnings in a money box or tin on a table is a big red flag for a potential thief.

Use a money bag, a waist bag, a handbag with a long strap that you can hang over your neck or even an waist-apron which has a front pocket.

Make sure you are prepared with lots and lots of change. Small coins and notes.


Not only are you wanting helpers to protect your items from being walked away unpaid for, but a key to safety here is to ensure your home is locked, securely.

I have heard many instances of where a thief has entered into a property from a back entrance whilst the sale is busy happening out the front. This is not meant to scare you, just be forewarned and prepared. Lock up.

This goes for your car also and making sure your pets are secured too. If you have other household items visible that are not for sale, including bicycles, portable pot plants, signs or tables and chairs, it may be an idea to move them away.

Another key security aspect is never to ever wear your best jewellery on the day. You never know who is watching. Keep that inside your home locked away.

Remember you are inviting total strangers to your home so protect yourself.

Opening Hours

Even though you have advertised that your yard sale will go from 9 am to 12 noon, without any doubt I can assure you that people will arrive much earlier. Much much earlier.

Professional buyers have their days planned and their routes lined up. Chances are they will arrive on your doorstep before you have even set up for the day.

If you are planning to set up the night before, do so only if you can secure your surroundings to avoid items being taken. If you are setting up on the morning of the sale, get up extra early and be prepared.

Be flexible too. If you are ready to open even though you have an hour before the official time, and someone does come along to buy, make the decision ahead of time if you are willing to 'open shop' early. You do not want to knock people back but then again if you are not ready you will fall behind.

Just be prepared.

Demonstrating Items

If you are selling electrical items it may be an idea to have a long extension lead available, or a portable power outlet, for people to try the item out to ensure it works - particularly if you are selling it at a high price.

Toys with batteries also are better sellers if they can be demonstrated. Have some spare batteries available for people to use if necessary.

Stick with these rules of thumb and you should have a successful yard sale over and over.

If you have spare paper or boxes around, offer these to buyers to wrap and protect or carry their items away. Extra plastic bags that you may have collected from the grocery store can also be very helpful and can be used for their 'shopping' bags.

Be prepared with your items, your small change and your prices and be prepared for the early bird visitors as I assure you they will come.

If you have dropped prices and still at the end of the day you are left with a few valuables, you may want to try selling them on eBay yourself, refer to my essential guides, or enlist the help of an eBay trading assistant.

© 2012 WorkAtHomeMums


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    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      7 years ago

      Brilliant hub well thought out and laid out - Thank you for the effort. Voted up and interesting.


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