Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

by admin on June 6, 2011

Summertime is prime time for garage sales.  Having a garage sale is not only about making some extra money, it’s about de-cluttering, getting rid of things you don’t

need and creating space in your life, both literally and figuratively.  I promise that you will feel a lot better after clearing out all that stuff from your life and your home.

Simply having a garage sale does not ensure that you will be successful, however.  There are some simple steps that you can take that will catapult your chances for success.


The first of the month is generally better, as some people get paid then.  Saturdays are the best days.  Make sure you check the weather forecast, as poor weather will destroy your event.  Reschedule if necessary.  Check other garage sales in the area.  Do they typically start at 8:00?  Start yours at 7:00 and get the jump on the shoppers.  Most of your action will occur early, and you will typically get a line of people right at the start if you advertise.


Use all the free resources that you can.  Craigslist, local free internet listings, signs, community bulletin boards are all free or nearly free resources.  Advertising in the classified section of your local newspaper is very effective and recommended as well.

When you make signs, make sure they are bold and clear.  You want the words “YARD SALE” or “GARAGE SALE”  in big, bold letters.  Don’t just scribble on there with a sharpie, no one can see it.  You want something that can be decipherable from a block away.  Make sure an address is on there, the hours of the sale and an arrow pointing the direction.  Oh, and make sure the arrow is pointing the right direction.  Finally, put the signs in a location where they will get the most eyeballs, such as a nearby busy intersection.

Getting Ready

Here is a list of items you will need to gather

  • Labels
  • Bags
  • Sheets and/or tablecloths
  • Tables if you have them.  You can also use plywood supported by sawhorses or some other makeshift contraption.
  • Long extension cords if you are selling any electrical equipment
  • Plenty of change
  • Fanny pack to keep the money in.  Don’t just leave it in a cash box somewhere.
  • Sunblock –  you can thank me later for that one.
  • Cold drinks

A common mistake is to wait until the last minute and get overwhelmed, making you unprepared for the sale.  Stage your stuff the night before in the garage if possible.  Place price tags on everything.  The last thing you want to do is have to quote prices on the spot for everything.  It will appear that you are just making up prices on the spot, probably because you will be.

Price things to sell.  No one cares about sentimental value that you may have attached to anything.  They will pay what they thing it is worth to them, so you will need to either let go of your attachment or lower the price.

You might consider having a lemonade stand or selling soft drinks.  If you have kids it’s a great way to let them join in, make some cash and learn a thing or two about running their own business.  Folks get thirsty and you might as well be prepared for that.  Some people even cook burgers and hot dogs, but you may not want to bother.  After all, you are there to get rid of stuff, right?

The Day of the Sale

Early Birds

People will show up early.  If you advertise for 8:00, they will show up at 7:00 to cherry pick items.  I wouldn’t let them.  They should be content to wait for the scheduled start time.  They are probably there to buy things to resell, which is fine, but fair is fair.  Feel free to let them browse, however.

Happy Hour

One strategy that you can use to increase sales is to lower the prices during the day.  You might for example cut prices in half after noon, or cut by 25% at 11:00 and by 50% at 2:00.  This way you can keep the sales going all day and have a better chance of selling more items for what they are worth.  If you opt for this approach, make sure you advertise it.

When You Are Finished

You may want to keep stuff, you may want to throw it out, or you may want to give it away.  Charities need things, so it’s a great way to support them and get a tax deduction.  Box it up and handle it then.  Don’t make it another pile of clutter gathering dust.

Follow these simple guidelines and you will have much better success, less stress, more space in your life and more money!


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