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10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

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10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale, yard sale or estate sale! Plan your strategy and earn cash! Plus FREE Printable Yard Sale Signs and Price Tags

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10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

Beit a garage sale, yard sale or estate sale – the season is here! (YAY!)

Now is the perfect time to plan your strategy and earn the most cash for your unwanted stuff!

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You can also learn insider secrets and find the best yard sale deals from your neighbors at their garage sales!

Selling your unwanted stuff at a yard sale is also a great way to recycle, rather than throw things away.  I enjoy an occasional yard sale, but actually HAVING a yard sale seems like SO much work it makes me cringe!  It’s hard to get motivated!  So, here are the TOP tips for yard sales to maximize your return on investment and your hard work.

Gimmie’s Top Yard Sales Tips – How to have a successful yard sale

  1. NEED A PERMIT? – if your area requires a permit, be sure to get one in advance to avoid potential fines!  Call NOW and see if there are any updates to yard sale laws in your area. Before I moved from Southern California to Wisconsin, I planned to have a few yard sales to get rid of everything I could. Unknowingly, I had a yard sale on a weekend they weren’t allowed. Luckily I didn’t put up any signs (because a neighbor had signs all over directing traffic past my place), but when a city worker stopped by and shut us down, he told us that putting up signs without permission carries a fine of $100 for the first and $50 for each additional sign. OMG! And, the city I lived in did not issue permits but did allow anyone to have sales ONLY on the first weekend of each quarter. Thankfully that was the weekend following my attempted first sale, so I packed up that day and just did it later.
  2. ADVERTISE / SIGNS – online and in the newspaper – be specific; include pictures and prices when possible. There are MANY free resources such as your local Facebook Garage Sale groups, Marketplace, Recycler, Cheapcycle, Craigslist or find local sites on which to list your sale!
    • Post signs at strategic locations, heavily traveled intersections near your sale, and even in local markets!  Invest in some brightly colored paper at the dollar store for eye-catching signs, and please take them down after your sale! If you’re going to make your own signs, make sure they are readable!
    • While you’re at the dollar store, grab a few helium balloons to tie to the signs to draw more attention to signs.
    • WORD OF MOUTH -Tell friends/neighbors and ask them to spread the word! Ask customers that day to tell their friends too.
  3. ORGANIZE MERCHANDISE / STAGING Group like things together to make it easy to find. Just like a store, you could have different areas for different items, such as a clothing section, shoes, household, electronics, etc.
    • HANG CLOTHES when possible (garage sale idea: a closet pole between two ladders works well, or tie up a closet pole to the rafters in your garage)
    • TABLES – Make displays and table space (yard sale idea:  if you’re low on big banquet tables, saw horses and plywood, or an old door on boxes works great!) Consider windy days might knock over breakables, so set up accordingly.
    • CLEAN YOUR STUFF! Nobody wants to pay for dirty, dusty crap that should have been cleaned up. 😉  Take some time and clean things so they display better!
    • STAGING – When you position your stuff, think about window displays. Window dressings are a way stores and shops lure customers in to check out their stuff. Put your brightly colored items, cute, unusual or eye-catching things out front. And, be sure to stage the lower priced things by the entrance to your sale! When customers arrive, they’ll see low prices and think, “wow, these prices are great!” and be more likely to enter and buy something! It’s also a good idea to have a “FREE” section out front to lure people in!
    • SHADE – if you have a canopy or EZ-up, it’s a welcome relief to shoppers who may linger longer if they have a spot out of the hot sun!
    • BAGGING AREA – this is the perfect time to use that huge bag of plastic grocery bags you have!  Have them on hand for customer’s purchases. Another great idea is having newspapers handy to wrap up breakables.
  4. GROUP / MULTIFAMILY SALES – Join or organize a neighborhood or multifamily yard sale. Sale-goers will be more likely to visit if there’s more stuff for sale. However, city-wide garage sales aren’t always the best for sellers! Surprisingly, from the people I’ve polled and from my own experience, when you have a sale during a huge city-wide sale your competition is so strong that you might not sell as much as you’d think.  That’s the time to price things really low and make sure your sale is one that can be easily found by potential buyers.
  5. ACCOUNTING – Keep track of what you’ve sold (especially if you’re collecting for multi-family sale), and be sure to make correct change! For multi-family sales, you could use different color price tags to note who the item belonged to.  When item is sold, remove the price tag and stick it to a notebook. At the end of your sale, tally up each family’s earnings and divvy up the proceeds.
  6. PRICING – How much should you charge? The key is pricing fairly: not too high, not too low. You can loosely compare to thrift store prices, although garage sales are typically priced much lower.
    • MAKE CHANGE – Make sure you have cash to make change ($1 dollar bills, quarters, etc.)
    • CLEARANCE – Consider marking everything down on the last day (and be sure to make BIG signs showing that!) For example: “Last Day! Everything is 50% off!”
  7. PRICE TAGS – make price signs such as “clothing $1 per piece” or “everything’s $1 unless otherwise marked.”  Or, put prices on each item. Masking tape works great as price tags, just write on with a marker!  Feel free to use our FREE Printable yard sale price tags (scroll down), or, buy “dot” stickers at any office supply store for under $3 per (example: Avery Permanent Color Coding Labels, 0.25 Inches, Round, Green, Pack of 450 (5791))  People will be more likely to buy if they know what things cost. I’ve been to lots of sales where nothing is marked, and I usually just leave. 🙂
  8. ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS – more people will shop, and shop bigger, if they can pay with their credit or debit card!  Get a FREE card reader we recommend and turn your smartphone or tablet into a mobile credit card machine!
  9. CLEAN UP – plan to have Goodwill or Salvation Army pick up unsold items you don’t want, at the end of your sale.  If you itemize your income taxes, charitable deductions can be a great write-off!  Or, post the items on Craigslist or Freecycle (if your group allows).
  10. LEMONADE STAND – don’t forget to offer refreshments! You might just make more on lemonade than any other item! Check out our cheap-yet-amazing lemonade recipe, and consider offering cold cans of soda pop, water, cookies, hot dogs, etc.

65 replies on “10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale”

The day of the sale take some pictures of all your stuff and post it on facebook or other social media. I had some people see an item and come right over so they could buy it asap!

When we had an estate sale after my aunt & uncle died, my cousins weren’t prepared. (I am anal about stuff. I didn’t know til nite before) YOU MUST HAVE $1.00 bills and a lot of them as well as quarters. People come prepared with small bills and they haggle to get stuff under $5. You MUST have change to give them or they will leave.

If ur selling furniture, make sure ur signs state to bring a truck or trailer to load them up. If someone comes w/out means to haul it off- if they truly want it, they can pay for it and u can tape a SOLD sign along with their name/number in case they are not back. Let the purchaser know AHEAD of time, if they don’t come back- item will be resold.

make sure everything has a price on it and it all smells good…..and is clean it will sell better if it is….thanks

If it sale is indoors, try grouping items as if they are when they are used. Clothing all together, u can either have them on tables or hanging up depending on what is available. Shoes, ties, jackets put near the clothes so they’ll buy matching items. Kitchen stuff stays in the kitchen w cabinet doors open. Quilts comforters sheets, just have folded in den or somewhere people can see them. Bric a brac, knick knacks, collectibles have them in well lit area on tables so they can get good look. Costume jewelry is fine to have out & displayed, keep expensive jewelry under glass or locked up and only show one piece at a time.

Be ready an hour before your start time! People will show up early expecting you to be ready! Don’t be just setting up at your start time!

And if you want $5 for something, mark it as $10, and then discount it to $5 aor 1/2 price! People like better bargains!

I suggest u have something for them to carry out their items. I use the plastic grocery bags or boxes I get from USPS or UPS. Some old timers bring their own totes to put stuff in. It’s a good way to recycle the hundreds of bags cluttering up ur cabinet and ur floor of boxes.

Instead of having goodwill or the Salvation Army pick up your leftovers.Put your items half price after a certain time and it will sure drum up some BUISNESS

Another tip for buyers… dont buy just cause its a great price make sure you can use what you buy or it will be in your yardsale pile

I try to do things in advance so I am not exhausted the night before. By ironing your clothes out you can get more moneu . Appearance is key when it comes to yard sale clothing. No one wants a wrinkled shirt. 😉

I am always friendly and make sure I don’t crowd or appear to be pushy. I don’t want to run my buyers off. Also I always make sure to have a free basket of small toys or books to give to the kids to keep them happy while Mom shops, plus the little ones have a free toy to take home, at no cost to Mom and Mom is given a few extra minutes to make some purchases. Also I try to set it up like a cute store, the more attractively laid out the more I may sell!

Always have plenty of change on hand to break bills, but be wary of someone trying to give you a $100 bill at a yard sale. I have known many people who have been taken by false bills. They don’t expect yard sellers to take the time and verify bills or to know how. If you are unsure of a bill, politely refuse it.

Be sure to have every thing clearly priced, have a lot of change-many people come straight from the ATM, and be ready for those who want to keep bartering with you and be firm with the price that you really want.
Yes, you want to get rid of some of your stuff but you do not want to give it away after sitting out there all day.

Start saving grocery bags, boxes, and newspaper so people can get stuff home in one piece at no cost to you.

I just started accepting credit cards! It’s easy and convenient for everyone and when I’m selling bigger ticket items they actually sell easier because people are able to pay for them.

I make sure I sort clothing by size and gender and label them as such and that way it’s easy to shop. When I go to a yard sale and see a box of clothes I don’t bother. I purchased a few cheap clothing racks from amazon and hang them like my own department store.

One last thing I do is pretty much organize all of my inventory by category. Easier shopping for the customers means more $$ for me 🙂 and less stuff to bring back in!

Best Yard Sale tip is to not over price items, keep in mind you are selling in your yard, not a dept store =)

Also, if selling something with multiple pieces, make sure ALL the pieces are there, getting a bad reputation with damper your business for further yard sales

As you sort through the items you want to sell… price them as you pull them off of shelves and out of closets…price it there and then and put it in the box. That way, when you have enough stuff it is already priced, dusted and ready to go!

Look for community yard sales and prepare ahead of time to have a friend or family member go with you for safety and get out as early as possible for the best items to find.

Make sure items are clean you will get more money for them. When a sale starts to wind down start slashing prices like fill a bag for five dollars.

Oops, looks like I answered the question wrong. I recommend making everything half price at a certain time, 11:00 or so. Post the info in advance so people have the opportunity to stop back for that one item they could probably live without but at 50% off they have to have!

Don’t be afraid to buy, sellers are much more likely to make a deal with you if they see you buying other items.
Keyword. Bundling.
Example. You ask the price on a shirt they are 2 dollars each. You go and find enough to fill a bag. When you go to pay, some people don’t want to unload your bag and count every item so they will just quote a price. Even if they do make a point to count every item they are more likely to take a lesser offer. Just ask.

Color coded stickers for like priced items always worked great for me , especially when they had a huge pile of stuff 🙂

My tip is to get up early and get your stuff out. Lot’s of people are early birds for yard sales even if you advertise “no early birds”. I’ve found the ones that get there first are usually looking to buy fast. Also be willing to negotiate. Lately I’ve seen that most people are looking to save some money no matter what so if you mark things a little more then you’d normally ask then if someone wants to barter on the price you can be willing to go down a little. It makes the customer feel like they are getting a bargain and you still get what you wanted on the items!

I always rent out the local Shrine Club and have several families involved.. the more the merrier and it’s inside so rain or shine!!

Set up all your tables the night before so you can going as early as possible the next morning, people love to be first and early. I like to group items according to price I love to have specific dollar amount areas then people walking up can grab a bunch of $1 or $2 etc. items I think it encourages them to get more and spend more, yay.

Offer free coffee, water, or tea when having a garage sale. It makes guests linger a little bit longer and makes them more likely to buy something. Coffee, water, and tea are cheap freebies and your guests will really appreciate the kindness. Also, garage sales are a great time to get your kids to have a lemonade stand!!! We did that last year and my son made over 20$ for selling a solo cup of lemonade for .25 cents!!! Great for hot summer day yard sales!!!

Don’t forget about the “hubby’s or boyfriends” that us ladies try soooo hard to get to come with us. To solve this, set out an old lawn mower or power tools out front in plain view of the road, and you’ll probably get more business. It’s also smart to set up a small table with nothing but “man-things” (jars full of screws and nails, electronic parts, tools and parts of tools, etc.). This gives the men something to immerse themselves in while the women find all the real treasures. (you’re welcome)

Always present your items in a neat and organized way! Also if there are multiple individuals participating color code the tags for easy recognition! Offer cold water to keep the shoppers out longer!

Get the kids involved!! We let the kids have a lemonade sale. Took an old piece of plywood lying around and spray painted Lemonade 25¢ on it. I think they made over $10!!! It’s a great way to teach them about money and they had a blast. Plus who can resist a cute kid selling some lemonade! 🙂

Really work to make items look nice. Adding stringed price tags is a nice touch. No stickers to fall off and it just looks good. Also be organized, clothes hanging from the trees doesn’t look very nice as well as rumpled clothing thrown in boxes Take pride in your stuff. You will make more sales.

Only mark items in .25cent incriments nothing under .25. That way the only change you need are a roll of quarters and your bills. Quick and easy to make change. 🙂

Bundle items at low prices. Place same priced items (non-breakables) into a large bin/box. Pin outfits to a wire hanger to ensure the pieces aren’t mixed up during the sale. Offer courteous water/lemonade on warm days.

Always price just a little higher and always be willing to negotiate. It is good to have that space for negotiation so you can make more money.And always remember if you are going to throw it away after the yard sale,just go ahead and sell it cheap. Better to make something than nothing at all. :0)

Advertise! Make sure you post about your sale a month before and continue until the sale so people can plan ahead.

Have a box of freebies and samples any one that buys gets a freebie works every time always have change and be friendly

If you have some bigger items or higher priced items, make a list with the description and prices. That way if someone walks up to you and asks how much is that TV you can just look at your list. You can then mark off when sold. If you have things left that are on the list you can attach the list to the outside of the box and you will know what is in it….the things not marked off.

I would LOVE the coupon binder. I am working with several younger mothers helping them learn how to coupon and bargain shop.

Make sure everything is clean, make sure that everything is in order, books in one place, clothes on a rack sorted by size and separated out male/female, make sure you have a price on everything, have the change that you need,. Start on time, be friendly, have a smile when you say Hello. Take pictures of what you have for sale and post on facebook and/or craigslist. Make sure that you have your signs up early.

First off… REMEMBER YOU ARE HAVING A GARAGE SALE AND YOU ARE NOT THE MALL!!! Don’t expect to get high dollar for your belongings… You are having the sale either because you need the money, you throwing out your trash ( which is MY treasure), or your trying to dec litter your home!! People yard sale for bargains and the art of haggling… When having a yard sale don’t get upset when people want to low ball you- it’s part of “the game” , have a good heart and just have fun.. One never knows… That person may really be in need and you just made their life easier!!! Bundle things for bargains, goes quicker and less clean up for you!! BUT REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT a retail store, even if some stuff still has tags, or “ONLY BEEN WORN OR USED ONCE” 🙂 never fails

Last good tip… Don’t leave your spouse ” my husband for instance” unattended to negotiate!! Lol he never heard the last of that!!

Price low. When we had a garage sale we sold my stuffed animals for 25 cents each or 5 for a dollar. Plus I sold drinks for like a quarter I think. I was like 5 at the time.

If you have little kids have them sell drinks. Especially of its hot out ice cold drinks work wonders.

Also make sure your items are clean and in good shape. Barely used items sell better than very used items

when going to yard sales, i always carry dollar bills and change…
when having a yard sale i learned not to make change for the first hour or so or it will wipe out all of your change in your FANNY PACK…

Keep in mind that your having a sale and DON’T post notes on your things saying “Selling on eBay for $50.00 I don’t care what it’s going for on eBay I’m at a sale UGH!!

In our area we have a Facebook garage sale site. Take pictures of everything and post them on there as well. Or take pictures and post them on twitter or your own Facebook .

Organization!!!!! Make sure everything is organized. People don’t want to search thru a load of tee shirts in random sizes ranging from baby to grandma. Section out areas if you can to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. If you are doing a sale with friends use the same color/size stickers for yourself while your friend uses the neon green square for her items. Also when you are “checking out” a person take the stickers off (put them on a piece of paper) so you know how much each person has made at the end of that day. Also make sure you if you’re selling any high value items such as a table, lawn maintenance items ect. make sure you know some information about them and also have some sold/hold stickers for the people to come and pick them up just in case they didnt have the right transportation for the item.

Make sure to have a sheltered area where a swift breeze won’t blow over your breakables….not only can you not sell those items, but people with little kids will usually leave because of the broken glass (not even giving the seller a chance to clean it up).

Post it on all your local sites. We have several Buy/Sell/Trade sites. Post it on your site and also your friend’s too!

I seem to have yard sales on the hottest of days. I sell ice cold bottles of water & cans of soda for 50 cents and individually wrapped cookies 10 cents each. It’s not a money maker but people love this idea!

Make sure your yard sale signs are readable and price things accurately. I dont want to pay $5.00 for a vase I can get at the dollar store!

always clean everything up the better things look the easier they will sell…. price mark everything for easier looking for the custoemr

I like to take some small childrens items, maybe cars or stuffed animals, kids book..and put it in a box and when people come with children, I let the children pick an item that they can have for free. It occupies the children while the adults can look maybe a little longer than they would have otherwise!

When pricing, remember you are having a yard sale, not a driveway department store. Customers can quickly be turned off by over priced used items. Seek out and pist on local facebook groups that list 4 sale items and yard sales. And biggest thing – please please please take down your signs at the end of the weekend/sale!!!!

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