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How to Have A Successful Online Garage Sale

Updated on June 19, 2013
You can even sell BROKEN Electronics! This computer with a busted screen and missing keys sold for $65!
You can even sell BROKEN Electronics! This computer with a busted screen and missing keys sold for $65!
I suggest that you sell large items like this using consignment shops or on Craigslist to avoid shipping!
I suggest that you sell large items like this using consignment shops or on Craigslist to avoid shipping!

Want to lean more about selling online?

Did you become a junkie? Read about Starting your own Ebay Store!

Click Here to Learn More

So, you had some success, should you use a dropshipper to get your inventory for your Ebay store?

Read this article about Dropshipping

Need some Ebay Inspiration? Check out articles by Hawaiinodysseus. He brings to the table not only Ebay support and inspiration but also Ebay's connection to the outside world.

Here is one on 10 Great Items for Newbies to Sell on Ebay!

Try this one! Sold in 11 Minutes and 13 Seconds on Ebay!

Want to try a Penny Start Price? Check out his journey!


Sit in the driveway or at your laptop? You decide.

I am certain that most of you have seen the movie.."A Christmas Story", if you have -you will certainly remember how young Ralphie loved and talked endlessly about a Red Rider BB Gun. This is the same way that I talk about garage sales and junk. My husband calls it an addiction or an illness. He even repeats a mantra when I decide not to trash something but to save it for a future project or for an online sale. I heard him just the other day "I must remember it is an addiction, I must remember it is an addiction..." This mantra is from the same guy who has no issues spending my Ebay money....but that's a new topic, I digress. I think my "addiction" to selling my junk started at a very young age along with my addiction to sweets....

As a young girl, I remember the excitement of a garage sale. I remember how my mom would start getting ready a week or so in advance by washing, labeling, and sorting the items. We would recruit a family member to join our efforts because as we all know, misery loves company. We would awaken early on the day of our "pop-up" business and would post our signs, set up tables, and get our cash registers (empty cigar boxes) ready. That was the fun part...then came HOURS upon HOURS sitting in our driveway to only make enough money to go to McDonald's. Did we strike it way. Did we have a great time..heck yes.

Much to my husband's dismay, I have passed this tradition down to my children. We start early gathering everything we no longer need, price it, set up our tables, and even practice our customer service. My children get a huge thrill out of tagging items and watching people sell take them away in bags. After my third year of my own garage sales, I realized that the times had certainly changed since the garage sale days of my youth.

  • I believe that we had at least 20 people per sale stop by and ask if I was selling broken, do they really think I wouldn't run it across the street my self and rake in the cash? They seemed angry that it wasn't in my inventory!
  • Neighbor relationships are more awkward than they used to be. My neighbors telling me that they see that I am not leaving the house for work anymore or noting our comings and goings...leaves me a bit nervous.
  • Garage sales simply aren't what they used to be. No on is really looking for that fun "junk" item, they are looking for things to profit from. I do it too so I know! They are looking for name brand clothing, a missed treasure, or a valuable item selling for pennies.

So, I had to change my approach. I sifted my children's addiction to online garage sales! Instead of tagging items and setting up tables, we take pictures and ship. My younger children wake up each morning asking if its time to do our Ebay business. My husband shakes his head in defeat now everyday instead of once a year. If you have extra things to get rid of and need to make CASH, you don't have to wait until the Spring either! You can have an ONLINE GARAGE SALE and sell everything ONLINE that you would have sold in your traditional sale. you usually make more for it too! There are things to know and to watch out for when starting your first online garage sale that i want to share to help you in your transition from driveway commerce to e-commerce!

FIRST - Choose your "store location". You have a few online marketplaces to choose from.

Craigslist -If you are selling large goods, it is best to try sites like Craigslist because there are no fees and no shipping.

  • There are ZERO FEES on Craigslist (in most cities) to post your items.
  • You do not have to worry about shipping fees or wiring money (actually,never wire money)
  • Be warned that in recent years, Craigslist has been used as a means for criminals to find targets. Always meet with a potential buyer in daylight, outside of your home if possible, and with a friend.
  • Watch for scams asking you to wire money or to hold a portion of a money order for them after cashing a check sent by a third party.
  • No paypal needed! You get cash from the buys in hand on the spot.

Ebay - this is my drug...I mean my online marketplace of choice. You do not meet with buyers and all transactions happen online. You DO have the choice for online pickup only if you prefer. I will be focusing on Ebay for the remainder of this article due to safety factors.

  • You will need to set up a paypal account. There are no fees to use papal until you are using it enough to be deemed a "seller". Note that your money may be held for 10 days at first while you are establishing your seller rating. This is to prevent scams but rest assured your money is safe.
  • Ebay will allow you to sell 50 items or $5,000 with no "insertion" fees or posting fees. You will be required to pay a "final value fee" which is a portion of your final selling price plus shipping costs.
  • You can print shipping labels directly from Ebay using your paypal account BUT I would suggest going to the post office for the first few sales until you get a feel for shipping prices. There is nothing worse than having your package delivered to your own door.

Freecycle - This is basically if you need items taken that are of little to no value. If you have a bag of clothing that doesn't sell, old washers and dryers, etc. Post them on freecycle and 9 times out of 10, they will be picked up for you. There is no fee to use freecycle but remember you make nothing from it. There is a bit of everything and sometimes nothing on there! I have found everything from trampolines, soccer goals, down to magazines!

SECOND - Find your inventory!

This is easy since you have stuff to get rid of! Even though you can post at your own pace, it is important to get organized and know what you are going to sell.

THIRD - Set your prices

Start by going online to Ebay and seeing what like items are selling for as well as shipping fees. Be careful not to look at asking prices or you could set yourself up for failure, you want to sell your stuff not just list it.

  • Be careful offering "Free Shipping" just to look competitive. I did that on an item and ended up "paying" the person to take my item. The shirt sold for $4.99 but cost me $6.00 to ship!
  • If you have something desirable and want to see it take off..start the bidding at 1 penny! People love these penny starts and get addicted to bidding on them. You may make more this way.

FOURTH - Get posting!

Ebay has made this so easy to do! They now have an APP for your smartphone where you can manage your whole "online garage sale" experience. Posting takes just a minute and checking your items is even faster!

  • be honest about your items condition
  • USE the free pictures to bring your item to life!
  • Check out your shipping options and do what is best for you. I like to offer both first class and Priority Mail.
  • be competitive with pricing!
  • Allow "Buy It Now" if you just want to make money fast instead of seeing where it can go. This allows the "customer" to not have to deal with waiting out the auction. They can simply choose to buy it at your set price. I have offered this before and sold the item in 5 minutes...maybe I was too cheap. I also recently set a Buy it now price and the auction price went over it! So Ebay must not allow the buy it now option close to the auctions end.

FIFTH - Manage your business

Yes, I said business. The benefit of the "online garage sale" is that you don't waste your time sitting in your driveway for three days on end BUT you will still need to work your "store-front" .

  • Ship within the guidlelines that you set forth
  • Keep posting! If you have a lot of stuff, keep it moving!
  • Respond to questions from potential customers quickly!

I hope that these tips help you have a successful online garage sale. Please know up-front that you may end up finding this process extremely addictive! I started with an online garage sale and ended up running my own ebay business. It may be because my phone makes a cash register sound when something sells...Or I could just be a junkie in more ways than one.

I wish you luck with you garage sale--or new business venture--which ever it turns out to be.


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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      What a great idea - the online Garage Sale, almost as good as a Car Boot Sale. I do love actually being at a sale where I can meet my customers. I love the idea that you are encouraging your youngsters to explore their own entrepreneurial ideas from an early age. Nice too that you are willing to share your knowledge with others, thank you.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      This is so great of you to share all your hard-earned knowledge about selling on ebay. I applaud your creativity and perseverance, most especially in light of the fact that your husband does not share your addiction! This is the type of info that we all need to get started with online selling. Voted Up+++

      ;) Pearl

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I can recommend A great site where you can create your own Virtual Garage Sale.

      They say: "A jumblet is a virtual market stall on the market place The word jumblet is a coined word from the expressions "jumble sale" and "outlet". In your jumblet you can present things that you are willing to sell, primarily in your neighborhood. You can also display homemade things for sale like handicrafts."

    • bac2basics profile image


      5 years ago from Spain

      Hi MommyMay. Many thanks once again for answering my question, it´s really appreciated and very good of you to take the time. have a great day and good luck with the selling :)

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      TRUST ME bac2basics..That is not a NO BRAINER! I learned this the hard way after shipping my first 2 items then not being paid for them. Once the auction ends, the bidder will send the money to your paypal account. This could be the minute the auction ends or anytime for a period of a rarely takes more than a day for them to click pay! After they do this, you will get a notification from Ebay that the item has been paid for then you sip it! If you are a new seller, Ebay will place a hold on your money for 2 weeks to ensure that you are a trusted seller. After a few weeks and transactions, they will then begin releasing your money the second you are paid. I hope that clears it up! Once you start selling and getting all makes sense. Ebay really does do all of the work for you!

    • bac2basics profile image


      5 years ago from Spain

      Hi MommyMay. Me again !!just gathering more great information from you for the future. I have sold at car boot sales in the UK but a long time ago. Car boot sales are the British equivalent to garage / yard sales I suppose , except you load the car up and drive to a venue. They are very popular in the UK and always draw big crowds on a sunny Sunday afternoon. many thanks once again for sharing your knowledge :) Oh just remebered a question, do you wait for money for items to turn up in your paypal account before shipping ? This may seem a no brainer but I am new to all this eBay stuff and have never bpought or sold anything on-line.

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks bredandanges for reading! Flea markets are a lot of hassle not to mention a lot of time at the sale! Ebay is so easy and I tend to get more for my items there. I get close to full retail even on used items! Good luck on selling!

    • bredandagnes profile image


      5 years ago from Ireland

      Great advice.Will definitively look into ebay garage sale.We don't have the garage sale concept here in Ireland.We have a thing called car boot sale which is a bit like a flea market-but its way too much trouble.


    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      "Hello Joe!" FREE is a great word in the ebay business! See you at the meeting and there had better be donuts!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Good morning, Heather!

      From the seller's perspective, there is no such thing as FREE shipping, because someone has to pay for it. So another way to look at FREE SHIPPING is to incorporate the cost of shipping to you, the seller, into the price of the item. It can still bear the label of FREE SHIPPING. The majority of buyers understand this consciously, but subconsciously, the word FREE still appeals to them from all the other similar items in the mix.

      But you're absolutely right about your original way of looking at it...that if you the seller are going to bear the cost of the shipping, then reserve free shipping for items that will more likely than not fetch a high dollar amount.

      At the very least, free shipping is a method of drawing traffic to lots of your other items, not just the item offering it.

      Again, this particular hub is very well written and so appealing to lots of people who either want to get started or fellow eBay addicts like myself. "Hi, Heather! My name is Joe, and I'm an eBayaholic!" LOL!

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      When you post your item, Ebay has a tool that will allow you to set the weight and method of shipping and will give you an approximate amount. I used a bathroom scale to get started. My rule of thumb is to only offer FREE shipping on items that I know will fetch a high dollar amount. I say if you decide to sell on Ebay, start with charging shipping for everything. It certainly won't keep the item from selling and protects you from losing money!

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      My pleasure! Thanks for checking it out. Judging from your profile, you are pretty ambitious, you may get addicted too!

    • Carolyn2008 profile image

      Carolyn Gibson 

      5 years ago from Boston

      a very fine article. I enjoy purchasing from ebay because you get what you see. On purchasing, how would you price out advance shipping costs to avoid selling an item for $4.99 and shipping it for $6.00? Thanks for the tips.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Mommymay, this is such a great idea. I never even thought about an online garage sale, but may try your ideas because we've got so many things we can get rid of. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for your comments point2make! Ebay is a fickle beast sometimes and it is nice to be able to share what I have learned!

    • point2make profile image


      5 years ago

      Excellent hub on eBay selling. Well done. It can be difficult getting started on eBay and those interested in trying online selling need to seek out those, like you, for advice. Voted this hub and shared

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you stephanieb27! If you are a beginner, check out the links to the hubs from Hawaiinodysseus! He has a knack for penny auctions and finding rare items! I have been clearing my garage out on ebay and am ready to go pro! Happy Ebaying!

    • stephanieb27 profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      I've sold one item on eBay and hoping to sell more. I'm learning the ropes and your hub definitely offered useful suggestions! Thanks! :)

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you sarashuihan for stopping by and reading. I hope it helps others because I had so many questions getting started. I assumed it was all free and tried to offer free shipping on everything. After losing money my first day..I learned!

    • sarahshuihan profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      What a great introduction! Thanks for writing this!

    • Mommymay profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather May 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for your words and your understanding of my affliction! It really is something only an another addict can appreciate! It is amazing to see what can come from an addiction. I hope to branch out soon to the "treasures" that you sell. Thanks for your support and happy selling and shipping!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      I'm just about as addicted to articles of this sort as I am to eBay, Heather! This was an awesome, liberally humorous, and especially reader-friendly hub, and I was compelled in a fashion only another eBay addict could understand to vote up and across, tweet at all the birds on the telephone pole, and share with my followers. You will also be featured in my pinterest board of favorite people. Thanks, Heather! Keep 'em coming!

      Aloha from the PNW!



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