Garage Sale Tips: How To Have A Successful Garage Sale

Hanna KielarNovember 07, 2019

Hosting a yard or garage sale is a great way to get rid of any items in your home you don’t need anymore and make a bit of money at the same time. It’s also a great step to take to get your home ready to sell.

And in the spirit of the Marie Kondo craze, an organizing consultant and author, there’s no better time than now to turn your extra clutter into cash.

Yes, it can be a pain to drag all of your stuff from your home and take the time to set it up, but if you follow our advice, it will be worth it. Here are some yard sale tips — from planning to advertising to pricing — that will give you the best chance at success.

Tips For Organizing And Planning Your Garage Sale

Clean And Declutter Your Home

This is the hardest part, but at least you’ll get it over with first. The truth is that most garage sales are more successful if you have a lot of items for sale. If you just have a small table of things, it may not be worth your time and effort.

Maximize your spring cleaning routine by keeping your future garage sale in mind, leaving no space untouched. Go through your garage, basement, attic –every nook and cranny.

When combing through your items, try to be ruthless. Have you used any of these items within the last 12 months? If you have multiples of items, can you pare them down to just one? As Marie Kondo would ask, does it spark joy?

Inspect What You Want To Sell

Once you have a pile of items you don’t want anymore, take a careful look at them. See if the items are still in good working condition or clean.

It could pay for you to spend some extra time wiping down bowls and plates or even washing some of your old clothes, so they look nice. Sure, people are buying your used items, but that doesn’t mean they’ll want to purchase dirty things.

You’ll also want to take a good honest look at what will sell. While your Beanie Baby collection is quite valuable in your eyes, other people may pass on them. Same goes for old items like VHS tapes or ceramic knick-knacks.

Organize Your Garage Sale Items Into Categories

While you take inventory of your items and choose what you’re going to sell, sort and categorize similar items together. For example, make a pile for books, baby clothes, and CDs. This will help with setting up the garage sale later because you can display these items together on the day of the sale.

Set A Date For Your Garage Sale

Now that you have gathered your goodies to sell, it’s time to choose a date for your garage sale.

The best time to host one is early spring because shoppers are excited to break out of their winter hibernation and browse for bargains in the sun.

But if your spring cleaning lasted until June, summer is the next best time to hold your garage sale. In fact, the second Saturday of August is National Garage Sale Day! Just keep in mind that no one wants to spend a sweltering summer day shopping outside in the sun.

If the early summer months are too hot, you might want to have an end-of-the-summer garage sale in September or even October. These months can be successful because there is less competition.

After you decide on which month to host your garage sale, choose a date and time. The most popular days for garage sales are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Fridays and Sundays may bring in a decent number of buyers, but Saturdays are the best day to host a garage sale because they will attract both casual customers and serious shoppers.

Depending on how many items you have to sell, consider holding a weekend-long sale and offer reduced prices on Sunday to clear out the rest of your inventory.

Most garage sales last 3 to 4 hours, typically from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., or 9:00 a.m. –  noon. Some garage sales may even go until 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. depending on how popular it is or how many items remain after peak hours.

Check For Garage Sale Permits

You might think that after you gather your items and set a date for your sale, you’ll be ready to roll, but don’t forget about your city’s ordinances. Many cities require a permit and sometimes a fee before residents can host a garage sale.

If you want to check if your city requires a permit for hosting garage sales, call or visit your city hall or look online. Permits are inexpensive, with most fees ranging from $5.00 – $15.00. Some cities may also limit the number of garage sales you can have in a year, the duration of each sale, what can be sold, and where items can be placed.

How To Price Garage Sale Items

Research Garage Sale Prices

Establishing reasonable yet lucrative prices are essential to any garage sale. When pricing your items, it’s important to remember one rule: price your items to sell. Don’t price your merchandise high and expect customers to negotiate your prices down because you will ultimately lose money.

Instead, create a fair price and stick to it. When pricing your merchandise, reference a pricing guide for help.

Here are some price suggestions:

  • Baby clothes: $1.00 – $3.00
  • Adult clothes: $3.00 – $5.00 (Name-brand clothes and clothes with original tags can be sold for more money.)
  • Books: $1.00 for hardcover books, 25 cents – 50 cents for paperback books
  • DVDs/CDs: $3.00 – $5.00 each
  • Electronics: No more than one-third of the retail price for used items or half the original cost for new items
  • Furniture: $10.00 – $30.00 for low quality furniture, or one-third of the retail price for sturdy or new furniture
  • Home decor: $3.00 – $5.00

It’s a balance: Keep in mind that if you set prices too high, your items won’t sell, but if your prices are too low, you won’t make any money!

Bundle Items

If you have a collection of similar items, consider bundling them. Things like a collection of records, a bucket of tools or a plethora of holiday items could be big sellers and provide added value to the shopper.

Make Price Tags Easy To See

Neon-colored stickers are best to tack onto items because they are bright, attention-grabbing, and much easier to use than tape. But remember to use low-tack stickers or tags that tie for easy removal on items that could be damaged by strong adhesive. Use a thin, black permanent marker when creating the price tags so numbers can easily be read!

To save some time, you can group items together and make a big sign for those particular items. For example, if you have a bunch of T-shirts, you can make a sign that reads, all T-shirts are $1.00 each. For individual items, make sure the price tags are on large labels so there is no confusion as to what the price is.

Tips For Advertising Your Garage Sale

Make Signs, If Allowed

Sometimes less is more, but not when advertising for a garage sale!

It’s important that you put signs throughout your neighborhood that draw attention and direct shoppers to your event. Purchase a pre-made sign or create your own using dark, block letters so that it’s easy to read from a distance.

Before you hang up any signs, make sure to check your city’s local laws to see if they are allowed.

Use Online Listings

In today’s age of technology, everything is online – even garage sale advertisements. Utilize technology to invite a wider audience to your garage sale by posting on these websites:

When posting about your garage sale online, make sure to avoid using all capital letters, only list the popular items you’re selling, double space between items you include, and use catchy headlines and phrases to attract more shoppers!

Spread The Word Around Town

Maximize your advertising and extend an invite to your community by posting about your garage sale in local listings or bulletins. Your neighbors are your target audience, so do everything you can to attract their attention and support.

Tips For Setting Up And Managing Your Garage Sale

Organize Your Yard Sale Space

Making your garage sale space inviting will help entice people to take a look at what you’ve got for sale. Of course, there’s no need to go all out and decorate your yard but putting some thought into how you’ll display your items can help you sell more. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Group similar items together or if you really want to get creative, color-code items as well
  • Put your clothes on hangers and use a clothesline to hang them or create some makeshift clothing racks with broom handles between two ladders
  • Organize books with spines facing outward so buyers can easily browse their titles
  • Use lightweight shelves to display small items
  • Team items that go together to help sell more items – put decorative cushions on a couch, or drape a scarf around a jacket
  • Make sure there is an area where people can test electronic items
  • Display large items and most valuables near the entrance to your yard sale to attract customers

Be Ready To Negotiate

Bargain hunters are to be expected and there’s no reason why you can’t negotiate a price that works for both of you.

The best outcome is to try to get the buyer to purchase a few items and then you can lower the price. Again, you can always encourage people to buy more by putting up signs that offer a discount the more items they buy, such as getting a free shirt when they buy three.

Have Change On Hand

Don’t rely on each shopper to pay you the exact amount of money that an item costs. In fact, you will always need cash handy to provide customers with the correct amount of change, regardless of how they pay you.

Make sure to have a lot of small change: quarters, one-dollar bills, five-dollar bills, and a little bit of everything else, just in case. You can organize your cash and coins by using a money box or an apron with multiple pockets.

Make A Plan For Unsold Items

Even if you don’t sell all of your items, don’t sweat it – you can box them up and take it to your local donation center so others can find value in those items. That way, you’ve accomplished your main mission of a yard sale, which is to get rid of unwanted items.

However, if you’re still looking to generate some cash, consider selling your items on these websites:

Have Fun!

Most importantly, be prepared to have fun. Yard sales are a great excuse to meet other people and see what items of yours will get more mileage.

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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Quicken Loans focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.