I’ve had a lot of garage sales over the last 15 years but none as successful as the last two. We made over $1000 each time and are gearing up for another one soon. Here’s a few tips that I believe helped us get there.
1. As I organize and get rid of clutter, I add all the unneeded items to boxes labeled ‘garage sale’ knowing that we will probably have enough accumulated by the following spring for a garage sale.
2. For a month or two before your sale, save paper and plastic shopping bags to use for shoppers that purchase multiple items.
3. We have always lived in centrally located neighborhoods making it easy to hold a garage sale. If you don’t, you may find a family member or friend that wants to join you to host at their centrally located house. The more traffic nearby, the better.
4. I like to hold our garage sales on a sunny weekend in the late spring right before school gets out because we typically have a lot of moms stopping by while their older children are in school. Find out if your neighborhood or local area has an annual garage sale, it may be worth scheduling your sale then because of the additional traffic.
5. I’ve found Friday to be a FAR better day for a garage sale than Saturday and both are better than a Sunday. We sell 2x as much on Friday as we do on Saturday. In some cities, I understand that Thursday is garage sale day. Either way, ask around to see what weekday is the garage sale day and then follow it up with a second day.
6. We start at 8am and typically stay ‘open’ until 5pm on Friday and then close early on Saturday, around 1 or 2pm, so we can enjoy the weekend.
7. Beg, borrow and steal as many tables as you need. We also clean off one of the garage shelves and wheel it out to use for the sale. A great layout makes a big difference. Some people will not dig through piles of clothing or books so make it easy for them to see everything. Here’s a few suggestions on how to display what’s for sale:
- Designate a table for each type of item: kitchen, household, toys, home decor, tools, etc.
- Clothing : divide by men, women, boys and girls and HANG UP as much as you can. For what you cannot hang, lay out a tarp or blanket and organize the clothing there.
- Books : I use baskets or tubs to organize books by adult vs. children and stand them all up so it’s easy to flip through each one
- Toys : divide by boys vs. girls, where its obvious, and group by type of toy (if you have that many)
- Jewelry and small, expensive items : keep them near the ‘checkout’ area where it’s easy to keep an eye on them (sadly, I have had a few pieces taken without pay)
8. Make sure everything you are in selling is in clean and working condition. Wash your clothes and fold them neatly. Wipe down anything dusty. Have batteries or an electrical plugin nearby to show that electronics and toys work.
9. Put all of your big items out by the curb, they will encourage people to stop to see what else you have.
10. Gather all the cheap toys (i.e. Happy Meal toys, Dollar Store stuff) and anything else that you don’t think is worth even a quarter and put it into a box labeled FREE. Sit it on the curb at the front of the sale so anyone driving by can see it. You would be surprised how many people stop just to look in the box. It’s also a great place to keep kids busy while moms are shopping your sale.
11. Here is my primary pricing philosophy: I would rather sell it for half price and have cash in hand than haul it to Goodwill the next day. That being said, here’s a few ideas for pricing your items:
- Price EVERYTHING. People do not want to ask for the price. Make it simple by using these preprinted garage sale stickers and putting up simple signs such as “All books are 50 cents”.
- People that shop garage sales are looking for a deal. If you’ve never shopped one, you might want to visit several so you can get an idea of pricing in your area.
12. On the last day of your sale, designate the last couple hours to sell everything 1/2 off. If there are a few items you are not willing to go that low on, just put them off to the side.
13. Starting 2-3 days before your sale, advertise in as many places as possible. In the listing, make sure to have:
- Dates AND days, times and address
- A list of large and popular items (i.e. lawn mower, couch, table, bike)
- Highlight anything you have a lot of such as baby clothing, books, tools or anything collectible or vintage
14. Here’s several ideas for free advertising:
- Craigslist.org : choose your city/area and post under the garage sale category
- Facebook : search for local groups such as ‘swap’ or ‘garage sale’ or ‘resale’
- Garage Sale Finder
- Yard Sale Search
- Local newspaper : your newspaper may have a free online listing for garage sales
- Yard Sale Treasure Map : this app allows you to post your sale and find others nearby
15. Buy several garage sale signs or brightly colored poster board. Make A LOT of signs and post them at all intersections within a mile of your home. Many people will be driving through your area, see your sign and try to find your sale so make sure your signs lead directly to the sale whether the driver has your address or not.
16. Make sure to use all the same posters (or poster color) so the driver knows they are following the signs to the same garage sale. Use a thick BLACK market and put the DAYS (not dates), times, address and a HUGE ARROW on each sign so the driver can quickly see which direction to head. I personally like these signs because they stand up on their own and I don’t have to find a post to awkwardly hang a sign on.
17. A great way to earn a few extra bucks or give your children an opportunity to be an entrepreneur is to set up a lemonade or baked goods stand. Other things to sell:
- coffee and hot chocolate
- donuts and breakfast goods
- lemonade and iced tea
- brownies and cookies
- bottled water
- popsicles and popcorn