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How to Organize a Garage or Yard Sale

Updated on January 8, 2012

You’ve decided you want a garage sale, here are some helpful hints on how to organize a garage sale. This article is written for my friend Annette. Have a good sale, Annette.

What is the purpose of your sale?

First, ask yourself why are you having a garage sale? If it is just to get rid of your stuff then don’t price your items too high. If you paid $10 for something, you won’t be able to sell it at a garage sale for $8. Consider yourself lucky if you can get $1 for it.

Choose a date 3-4 weeks in the future

Give yourself enough time to plan, but not too much time. You need to think about 3-4 weeks ahead and spend all that time preparing for your sale. Garage sales take a lot of preparation, don’t leave it to the last few days before the sale.

 Don’t have your sale on a holiday weekend.

Start saving grocery bags

It’s really nice if you buy lots of things from a garage sale to put them in a bag provided by the owner. Be prepared to give bags to your customers, and paper is usually better than plastic.

Choose what time you will hold it

My suggestion is to sell 8am until 12 noon, then between 12noon and 1pm reduce your prices by 50%, after 1pm offer everything for free. Put this in your advert. Sometimes people have garage sales from 7am until 5pm and they spend a lot of time waiting around, especially in the afternoon. I assure you after 4 hours of working at a garage sale you will want to stop.

Look at when garage sales are held in your neighborhood. If the local garage sales all start at 8am, then start yours at 7:30am, then many people will go to yours first.

Get family members to help

Don’t run a garage sale all by yourself, get family or friends to help. Allow them to accept the money. Sometimes there’s 3 or 4 people all wanting to pay one person at the same time and sometimes people will leave rather than wait to pay.

Know your local garage sale rules

Does your city allow garage sales? Are you only allowed to hold them at certain times or on certain dates? Are you allowed to publicize them by sticking notices on local posts? Know your local rules and don’t break any.

Buy stationary supplies

Buy sticky price tags that come off easily. You can buy garage sale price tags with the price already printed on them. Also buy fluorescent garage sale signs, buy many all the same color. It’s easy to follow garage sale signs that are all the same color.

Move stuff you want to sell into your garage

Go through your house and decide what you are selling. As you decide, move your stuff to the garage. As you move it, price it. Then on the day you move your already priced stuff out to the yard, or if you can, just open the garage.

Advertise your garage sale

There are many places online where you can advertise your garage sale for free, you can advertise at,, in local yahoo groups. You can also advertise in the local paper, but that will usually cost.

Put up signs locally

The evening before your garage sale go round the neighborhood and put up signs pointing toward your house, with the address and the time of your sale. Make sure you point to your house from all possible directions. Park your car in a prominent place a little away from your house, with a sign pointing to your sale. Check if you are allowed to do this and don’t do it if there’s rain forecast overnight.

Decide if you want early birds or not

Early birds are people who arrive before the advertised starting time. They want to get the bargains so that’s why they come early. Decide for yourself if you want early birds or not. Some people see them as a nuisance, but other people think if they buy something, they don’t mind. If you don’t want early birds, put in your advert “no early birds”, or “early birds pay double”. If you don’t mind them coming, you can put “early birds welcome”. If you don’t put anything, chances are you’ll get some.

Talk to your neighbors

Tell your neighbors you are having a garage sale, maybe persuade them to have one too. More people will come if you say there are 2-3 families having a garage sale together. If your neighbors don’t want to have a garage sale at the same time, then at least you’ve warned them of the pending traffic problem.

Get some change

You need $1 notes, $5 notes and quarters. You don’t want to be unable to sell something because you don’t have enough change.

Don’t accept $100 notes or personal checks

If you have a forged $100 note or check book, the easiest place to get rid of it is at a garage sale. Just don’t accept them. You can even put in your advert, “cash only, no large bills”.

Lock your house

While you are out at the front of your house, someone can creep round the back and burglarize your house. Be safe and secure by making sure the doors and windows are locked or that there is another family member in the house.

Wear a fanny pack for the money

Don’t leave your money lying around or at the end of the sale someone could walk off with that too. The best place to hold your money is attached to you, in a fanny pack.

Don’t price too high

The idea is to get rid of your stuff, not solely to make a lot of money. So be reasonable with your pricing. If books are priced 25c to $1 and clothes are priced $1-$2, you won’t have much left at the end of the day.

Be prepared to lower your prices

I suggest in the last hour of your sale lower your prices 50% and say so in your advert. You don’t want to do all this work of sorting your stuff, moving it to the yard and then not selling it. If things aren’t selling, then change the price half way through the sale.

Turn your sprinklers off

Turn your sprinklers off a few days before your sale, then your grass will be dry and you won’t forget on the day. You’d be surprised how many people set all their stuff out only to have it dampened by their own sprinkler system.

Hang your clothes

People don’t want to look through boxes and boxes of clothes, if they are neatly hung they can see easily if there’s something they want to buy. If you don’t have a dedicated mobile clothes hanger, consider a rope or piece of wire across the entrance to your garage, or from the house to the nearest tree. Make sure you tie it well and that it will hold the weight of the clothes.

Have a $1 box

Have a box marked $1, or maybe a 25c box and put small items in the box that aren’t worth much. If you are selling things for 25c you don’t want to waste your time marking prices on them all.

Raise your items, don’t put everything on the ground

Try and show your items on tables at waist height as much as possible, don’t put everything on the ground. If your stuff is easy to look through, chances are you’ll sell more. If you don’t have enough tables consider using planks of wood sitting on chairs at each end.

Leave enough space between items for people to walk

I’ve seen garage sales where everything is on the ground and there’s no space to walk without walking on things. Imagine you are the buyer and plan a path for them to walk through.

Get your children to sell lemonade and cookies, or soda and coffee

You can buy soda from the supermarket for 25c a can and sell it at your garage sale for $1 a can. Make sure it’s been kept in the fridge overnight and it’s in a cool box while you are selling. If you are adventurous you can make coffee or cookies and sell them. If you are running a fundraising garage sale for a group, ask people in your group to donate baked items. Let your children keep the money for what they sell.

Don’t let the stuff back into your house

Once you have gone to the effort of removing stuff that you don’t want from your house, don’t let it back in just because it doesn’t sell. Put it in your car and drive it to the nearest thrift store that afternoon while the thrift stores are still open.

Take your signs down

Please remember that you have put signs up near your house, and it is your responsibility to take them down. Don’t leave them up all week.

Have Fun

Make sure you enjoy doing this, if it’s not a fun day and it’s stressful for you, then consider donating your items and not selling them.

Please take my "getting rid of stuff" poll

How do you usually get rid of your stuff?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • MopHolder profile image


      3 years ago

      There are a lot of things that go into deciding on the best garage organizer and chief among them is how much you will need to get at the stuff you are organizing in the future.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I have quite a pile for a yard sale but just can't get around to actually having one. Your tips are great. And thanks for telling us to take down our signs when it's over. I hate the litter of old signs for things that are over. Voted up!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I voted that I never give it away, because it is obvious that is my usual choice, although there are times when I have given away bags of clothes, and donated things to those curbside pickup people. I don't do well with the selling. Its too much trouble and I usually pick stuff that no one wants anyway. As far as throw it away...that hard for me. I need to practice that. Great post. I may try my luck at selling with these great instructions.

    • Dobson profile image


      8 years ago from Virginia

      This is a very detailed and well thought out guide to a garqage sale. We have doen may of these and I do not think I saw anything missing in your instructions. Nice hub!


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