ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The 10 Worst Garage Sale Mistakes

Updated on July 24, 2017

Who doesn't love a good garage sale? Seeking them out for weekend shopping is a fun (and often rewarding!) hobby or occasional activity. But having a garage sale? While also entertaining and worthwhile, it's a lot of work.

If you are going to all the effort of purging, cleaning, pricing, setting up, advertising, and running your sale you want everything to go great. Well, let's be honest. You want it to make a lot of money.

So avoid these mistakes and make your next garage sale great!


A Late Start

Be open by 9:00 AM, if at all possible. Why? This is the hour by which many regular garage sale fans (and the ones most likely to spend time and money at your sale) are out and about at their first stop of the day. Many people even plan a garage sale route and your house might get skipped if it doesn't start until much later than the surrounding area's yard sales.

Poor Timing

No one can control the weather. A rainy day that makes you close up shop is unfortunate. I wish you the best of luck against mother nature!

What you can steer clear of is having a sale during the wrong time of year. Now of course the best garage sale seasons may be regional. Personally I am most familiar with the mid-west, where "too early" = "too cold", but if you wait too late in the yard sale year then you might find the rush has worn off for many shoppers. Often by late August people are no longer as interested in coming out in the heat to trek across lawns for cheap merchandise, not after having already spent the summer and late spring doing so. The people become pickier, more likely to haggle, and less easily impressed (meaning the smaller your sale, the less people will actually get out of their cars).


Cash Preparation

When hosting a garage sale, be sure to have the proper change beforehand. You may not be able to get to the bank the morning your sale starts or your bank may not open until 9:00 AM (and you'll be open then, right?). You absolutely will need change at the start. These morning hours are usually the busy ones, after all! Not to mention because it's early in the day, people often still have larger bills such as tens and twenties. You'll be handing a lot of cash back.

Oh, and don't forget the coins!

A note on "large" bills: remember not only the possibility of scams but also your limited change (no matter how much you started with). You are not a bank and cannot be expected to safely accept a $100 or to break a $50 for a $2 stuffed animal. Don't be afraid to say no - often people will 'miraculously' come up with a smaller bill after the big one is turned down!


Collectors Value

It's always good to know the value of what you're selling at a yard sale. Sites such as eBay and Amazon can be valuable tools in pricing fairly without losing out. Perhaps you can get $5 for that old toy instead of the .50 cents you had assumed!

That said, don't expect to have success with online pricing at a garage sale. This means no charging what the item "sells for on eBay." Garage sales are typically for bargain hunters, not collectors able and willing to pay top dollar.

A note on eBay print-outs: If you'd like to show browsers how much something is worth on eBay, thereby illustrating your excellent price, be sure to showcase a range of prices it clearly sold for (not simply asking prices, in other words).

No Prices

As a frequent garage sale customer I can tell you nothing turns me off more than having to ask the price on everything. Not only is it inconvenient and time-consuming, it's awkward. Suppose I don't like your price? Now I have to admit it to your face. Unless truly wanting something from your sale, many will simply walk away. The extra minutes involved in looking for a price tag, considering whether or not to ask, deciding on how much is too much for me to spend, then actually getting your attention is enough time passing to halt an impulse purchase (which relies on split-second desire).

The no-tags, no-signs, "make an offer" approach to yard sales is also going to create extra hassle for you when multiple people are rummaging around and throwing out questions.


(Lack of) Cleanliness

No reasonable person expects a sparkling clean garage or dirt-free lawn at a yard sale. But do put some effort into clearing and cleaning the worst of the mess - especially on the stuff you're selling! No one wants a doll that they have to clean old bits of food off of or a Christmas ornament with sticky-from-candy finger smudges. Dust the antiques, wash the clothes, and scrub down the dirt-covered playhouse.

Keep in mind the issue of cigarette smoke and pet hair as well. If the clothes reek after you've done your best to remedy the issue, best not to bother trying to pass them off to others. If a book is mildewing? Trash time.

No Organization, Plenty Of Clutter

You don't have to lay out your garage sale like a fashionable boutique in order to increase your sales. Just avoid a few messy trends:

  • Separate unrelated items as opposed to a giant box full of everything from Happy Meal toys to cooking supplies. Don't forget, you can always make small items "related" by giving them the same pricing! But a little organization still goes a long way.
  • Not having groups. Your customers will have a much easier time finding things they are actually interested in if, say, books are in one section while Christmas items are all spread at the end of one table.
  • Inconvenient setup. It's probably not a great idea to put stuffed animals behind (very breakable) porcelain dolls. And if you really want to move those boxes full of books then consider (if at all possible) setting the books up high enough that shoppers don't have to bend in half or crouch on the ground to browse - most people won't bother for more than a minute, max.

Dogs: An Adorable Nuisance

I strongly suggest leashing your dog or putting him/her in the backyard. No one wants to be told what to do (or not do) on their own property, but it's simply a reality that the general public does not love your precious pup the way you do. I see a lot of tight smiles and mumbled "That's okay..." at garage sales where Fido is running up to people at full speed or yapping at their ankles, with only a halfhearted "No" from the owner.

The point being that potential customers are more likely to linger and focus on what you're selling if not being followed or otherwise pestered by the family pet. Keep in mind that garage sales are often tight spaces with multiple people and lots of objects scattered about. You don't want anyone to trip over a curious dog.

Make your garage sale sign easy to read from the road.
Make your garage sale sign easy to read from the road. | Source

Poor Signage

It goes without saying that yard sale signs are a must. If you live in a location that doesn't allow the posting of any directional signs, even on your own mailbox, then... well... you may be out of garage sale luck, I'm forced to say. If you'd like to give a garage sale a try anyway, post in your ad the lack of signs so that people will be aware and not simply drive past you. Consider whether something such as balloons or a yard inflatable would be allowed to attract attention.

No Advertisement

Thankfully the options for garage sale advertisement are numerous and sometimes even free. If you're going to pay money to promote your garage sale then be sure it's a reliable service - not only trustworthy with consumers' money but does a good job with it as well. In addition to newspaper ads and other paid advertisement options, check out free sources for garage sale promotion such as specially designed yard sale finder apps, Craigslist, and local Facebook groups. Utilize at least two sources.

Best place to advertise a garage sale?

See results

One last note... Don't forget to have fun. Seriously! You may not make a killing at this year's sale and even if the cash never stops flowing you will likely - at some point - feel as if it was all too much effort. So focus on the happy aspects of yard sales: meeting new people, chatting, spending a day outdoors, getting a chance to sit down and read (while supervising the sale in between customers), the opportunity for your kids to sell lemonade, and a general feeling of classic summertime.

What are your personal garage sale tips? What bad yard sale habits drive you nuts?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Diana Abrahamson 

      2 years ago

      Thanks for your useful info.. Agree ..not enough change can be embarrassing!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley Marks 

      2 years ago from California

      Everybody loves garage sales. I think the best advice is to clean the items before you try to sell them. Otherwise, go see a haunted house movie instead. Bye!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Shopping is not my favorite thing, but garage sales are very interesting.

      Great ideas here.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley Marks 

      3 years ago from California

      Some good ideas here. Everybody loves a garage sale, don't they? I'd like to visit one right now. Later!

    • Amanda108 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Silva Hayes: What a great idea!

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 

      4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Hi, great Hub. Here's a tip for garage sale signs. Instead of the hassle of driving stakes and staples to the poles, etc., place your signs on the sides of medium-size boxes. Set the boxes at the intersections where you want your signs to be. Place a large heavy rock inside each box to keep it from shifting about or blowing away. When the sale is over, just drive around and easily retrieve the boxes.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      A great hub which will benefit many. Now looking forward to many more.


    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      timing of a garage sale is critical. Of course, timing always depends on location. good hub. Voted up!

    • dearabbysmom profile image


      4 years ago from Indiana

      I'm having a garage sale in about a month, so this is a timely refresher on the i's to dot and t's to cross. T hank you for sharing!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)