10 tips for having a killer garage sale

Last Friday I had a killer garage sale. Almost everything was sold before noon, my kids made more than fifty bucks each, and I raked in several hundred dollars. I’m no garage sale expert, however, now that I’ve hosted one that was awesome I thought I’d share 10 tips that helped make it a success.

Tip #1:

To advertise, I ran an ad WITH PHOTOS on Craigslist and I posted on our neighborhood facebook group. To find out if your neighborhood has a facebook group, do a search for your neighborhood on facebook, ask neighbors in your neighborhood, and look through the groups that your neighbors have joined on facebook.

I also promoted the garage sale a week in advance by posting pictures of my loot on instagram. Several items sold just from these teaser photos before the sale even began.

A day or two before your sale, place several large signs around your neighborhood. I use foam core board from the dollar store. The most important things on a sign are the words “Garage Sale” written very large and a huge arrow pointing the direction the driver needs to drive. People drive by signs quickly. Make them large, easy to read, and “follow the arrow” type signs.

Tip #2:

You have about 3 seconds as a car drives by to make a good first impression. Either they will stop or they will keep on driving. By placing all your large awesome items out front, you are telling the driver/shopper that you have awesome stuff and lots of it.

Tip #3:

Place a large well-marked “free pile” right out front. The lure of something free will get almost any driver to stop. I put a bunch of stuff I was going to donate that I didn’t think would sell in the free pile. It was just enough temptation to get the shopper out of their car. Also, people feel bad stopping and just taking something for free. They will typically find something to buy so they don’t feel bad for just taking the free stuff.

Tip #4:

To have a really successful garage sale you need to have lots of stuff. The more stuff you have sitting out, the better your chances that people will pull over and shop. My friend Beth from Free Stylin’ came over and brought a car load of stuff to sell. It was just enough extra that it made our garage sale look full.

Tip #5:

Having a garage sale is the last-ditch effort to make some cash on stuff you are probably going to donate. If it doesn’t sell, you will get nothing for it, so price it low! A quarter is better than getting nothing and just donating it to goodwill. If you are wanting to make big bucks off your stuff and sell it for what it’s worth, list it on ebay or craigslist. Garage sales are for just getting rid of the crap already!

Tip #6:

If you want your stuff to sell, put a price tag on it! Most people won’t ask how much something is. They will just set it back down and move on. If you want to sell it, stick a price tag on it. It takes extra time and energy to price everything, but it is worth it.

Tip #7:

Organization is key when hosting a garage sale. As people shop, corral items closer together. Move shelves closer to the front of the garage as you run out of items. Keep your area clean and tidy.

Tip #8:

Plastic bags are a garage sale hosts best friend. I used gallon-size zip-loc bags to keep items with multiple pieces together. For extra large items I used ikea bags and reusable grocery sacks that were clearly labeled with a black sharpie. All the large bagged items sold within an hour!

Tip #9:

The harder you try to keep like items together, the more you will sell. Have an area for bags, kids stuff, kitchen stuff, home decor, books, furniture, clothes and shoes.

Tip #10:

If the price tag on the item wasn’t obvious enough, I’d use tan painters tape and a sharpie to label items even more clearly. I’d label bags with the contents of the bag and I’d label baskets if everything in the basket was the same price.

Bonus tip: have a .25 cent kid bin and put it on the ground! Most people that came brought little toddlers with them. The kid basket was a perfect distraction for the little ones while mom shopped. It kept them busy and out of trouble. Plus, they would always find a toy or two, and at twenty-five cents, mom couldn’t refuse the little trinket at check-out time.

Honorable Mention:

If you want top dollar for an item, list it on craigslist. People shopping at garage sales want $10 furniture, not $200 furniture.

I tried to sell this set of 6 chairs for $200. I thought they would get snatched right up. No one shopping garage sales is looking for a set of 6 chairs, and they probably don’t have $200 in their pocket.

Save the big expensive items for craigslist.

Have fun planning and hosting your very own garage sale!


If you have any other awesome tips, please share them with us in the comments section.


     
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Comments

  1. This is SOOOO good! I’m super impressed, Allison! I think I’ve rubbed off on you–totally organized! I love it!

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  2. All great tips. My other one, which it appears you did- is make sure stuff is clean! I can’t believe how many sales I’ve stopped by where stuff is covered in dust, or otherwise dirty. No one wants to put that in their car!

    I noticed you marked all of your books separately, but in the future, I’d just throw them all in a box (with the bindings up so they can see the titles) and then use a sharpie on the box to say “all kid books 25 cents”, “all adult paperback 50 cents”, all adult hardback $1″. I’m with you about selling it cheap!

    • Clean = absolutely! I didn’t even think to include that. I would never sell something dirty. Gross. I have seen so many yucky garage sales tough. People, clean your stuff!

      And great tip on the book box!

  3. the Garage Sale Queen of the Universe is my good friend and all these tips are spot on. Also, she doesn’t like to go to group garage sales very often, she says most of the good stuff is already gone.

  4. I’m having a garage sale weekend after next – excited to get rid of the clutter finally! http://www.styleoyster.blogspot.com

  5. Lots of great advice. I just had a yard sale over the weekend at my house and the previous weekend at a friend’s house. Sold lots of stuff and used a lot of your tips. I posted about what I did to make my sale successful over at my blog here: http://controllingcraziness.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-have-successful-yard-sale.html

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. OMG! I wish every garage saler would read this. I have been going to garage sales since I was a kid, tagging along with my mom. Now it is me who is bringing my 2 little ones. My 3 year old now shouts “GARAGE SALE” whenever she sees a sign. I totally agree about pricing things low. If you want big bucks for something, list it on Craigs List. Overpriced items are such a huge pet peeve of mine. I usually bring $30 for the day. You are so right about pricing. I rarely ask the price on an item unless it is something I really want. Something else that I kinda hate are dealers getting to sales before they are open and buying all the good stuff. Part of me knows that this is what some of my super fave DIY bloggers do, but it kinda ruins it for all the normal people who want nice stuff too. Great post. I obviously feel strongly about garage sales ha ha. Love your blog.

  7. Very timely! I’ve never wanted to have a garage sale because way back when I did have one, it was a major pain in the ass! But I had a design intervention last week so I’ve got a ton of stuff to get rid of. Usually I just donate but I told my husband that I thought we’d participate in the neighborhood garage sale next spring and to start cleaning out his crap too! I’m starting my collection in one room and I figure that by May (in 8 months!!) I’ll be ready for it. I’m grabbing pricing stickers now and pricing them as I put them in the pile!!

    And being a major garager myself, I can’t agree more with the price tags!!!!! Nothing irritates me more than to ask the price of something!!!!

    PS – I LOVE garage sale-ing in Austin!!! You guys have the best!!!!!!

    • Trust me, it was a huge pain in the ass to get this ready! But I consider making more than $600 a success. It made it worth all the hours I put into getting it ready.

  8. Let me know next time you are having one, I will plan my vacation around it! ; )

    • Donna, haha you are awesome. The last one I had before this was 8 years ago, so it may be awhile. I’m hoping I can keep my hoarding tendencies at bay and won’t have to have another one.

  9. I agree about the signs. They are the first thing someone sees and need to be done well. I wrote a whole post on that once! And large arrow and garage sale is all you need…I don’t need to know your address, or what time you think you are going to be out there, I just want to know where you are. That’s it!

    • Rachel, I remember your post! I forgot it was you that wrote it. I kept that tip in mind when doing my signs. I made 4 signs that all matched. They had a large arrow and said Garage Sale Friday 7am on them. Awesome advice!

  10. Great tips! We’ve had a few garage sales and they’ve always been sucessful because we advertise, price and organize everything. It also helps to have all your signs matching so people know they are following the same signs.

    As a buyer, I think everything should be priced. Unless I really, really love something I won’t bother asking the price.

  11. I would love to shop at your garage sale, and I want that hutch!!! :)

    • Larissa, I still have the hutch. It’s Ethan Allen and it’s $60 for both pieces. Live near Austin? I’m about to put in on CL so let me know.

      • LOVE that black hutch…wish I’d been around when you were selling it. Unfortunately now I”m broke in Dallas…which is why I’m having a garage sale!

  12. OH this is so helpful! I’m prepping for a big garage sale next weekend & this helps big time as I plan! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Thanks for the ideas..there is one thing that seems to work well where I live because we do have some men that go to garage sales as well as women so we try to have some men stuff too.. working electronics, good used tires and or wheels, tools, sports equipment, jeans and work clothes if possible..anything that moves.. camping stuff, Lawn equipment, garden supplies…I notice a lot of garage sales focus on women and kids and the men that come are bored…So I try to get my husband to clean out old stuff he doesn’t want or need to add to the stuff..it at least gives the guys somehting to look at so the wife can look a little longer..mentioning this in the ads I think will get more interest where guys are concerned over going to a garage sale first that doesn’t..

    • This is an excellent tip! I should have done this. We had a few men asking about lawn equipment and laptops.

    • You are so right. I am surprised the number of lone, older gentlemen garage sale. They are always looking for the same thing. Tools, lawn stuff, jewelry, and Hot Wheels. I think a lot of them in my area resell at the 3 local flea markets.

    • TOOLS! If you want men to attend with their wives/partners, include this word on all signs and in all your advertising. An old boyfriend taught me this. Worked like a charm. But only if you have tools.

  14. So, Allison, you still have any of that American Girl stuff? nice post!

  15. I love all of your tips and they’re all dead-on accurate! I’ve had several sales over the years that each netted $500+ and all by following these same rules. One other tip I have is that if you are selling clothing – hang them up. I can’t tell you how revolting it is to go to sales and see piles of clothing heaped like laundry on tables or in boxes for people to paw through! Ugh. Kids clothes sell great when they’re neat, clean, hung up and matched into outfits and I can make some dough on them to re-outfit my own kids. Garage sales are like painting walls…the more work you put into prepping everything, the better your results will be! (love the HOH!)

    • Janet, great tip! I didn’t have clothes to sell because I have a twin niece and nephew that get all my kids hand-me-downs, but you are spot on. Wash everything, hang it up, and even better – sort it by size and label it! Makes it so much easier to shop through.

    • I helped a friend with a sale last weekend. She had all the REALLY nice adult stuff ($5,10, or 20) on hanging racks….but there was not enough room for the boys clothes…also good quality, almost all Quicksilver, clean and ironed. So only the REALLY nice boys stuff got hung…suits, ski clothes etc.

      The rest would have to be folded. So I brought over some boxes from Costco the kind for displaying merchandise…where the sides are cut diagonally, and the front is almost all open except for a small lip….and made sure they were the right size for folded items.

      Then we sorted the clean and pressed shirts, pants, shorts, then each category into sizes and labeled the inside back, and outside on all sides with what was inside (quicksilver boys pants 26 $5) . (and of course made sure to include this category in the ads). Because they were folded neatly and stacked in an opensided box, 1)people could see exactly what was there and if it was the right size 2) It was easy for some to look the stack or at any one thing without messing everything else up and 3) It set the expectation of “order”. EVERYONE who took an item out to look at it, folded any unwanted item back up properly and put it on the stack where the found it.

      We also discovered that Costco boxes are wonderful for displaying and corralling all kinds of things…Shoes can be lined up in long narrow boxes with handles (different box for gender, kids, adult, athletic, new/newer items etc. ) also great for , books (sorted by type) with spines up. The boxes really made it easier to rearrange and condense as things got sold, prices could go on the outside of the box rather than individual ly (mid sale price reductions MUCH easier too!), And at the end of the sale, with just a little bit of combining boxes, leftovers were already packed up!

  16. Great tips, Allison! I love the free pile idea. I don’t know if I have the determination to do a garage sale anytime soon. Hah!

  17. great tips. I consider garage sales a chance for people to pay ME to haul away my junk. I have placed a few valuable items in my yard sale and am always astounded at what people offer. One item was an absolute steal at $150. I knew it was risky, but I figured I’d go for it. Someone offered me $10. It was worth more than that just in scrap metal.

  18. You still have the hutch? I would totally get that from you after I get paid on the 15th!

  19. The timing of this post is perfect for me, and ful of great tips – good thing as I’m having a garage sale on Saturday and had no idea what to do! Thanks!

  20. Hi everyone, great blog and advice!

    I accidentally stumbled on this site as I was looking for some Garage Sale advice. I’ve had a few of them over the years and I am always quite organized – pricing on everything, clothing separated by size/sex and neatly folded on tables, good signage, etc. However, it seems like the people that are not organized and literally just throw the stuff into boxes, and/or right on their front lawn, have a lot more people and sell a lot more.

    I’m having a hard time with the idea of throwing everything in boxes like that. Our subdivision Fall Garage Sales are this weekend so I’m down to the wire on getting it ready and need to either get things organized on tables, etc. or round up some boxes. I would love to hear your input on this and any other suggestions. There will be a ton of clothes so that is my main concern.

    Thank you!!

    PS – just realized you are in Austin. We are in Twin Creeks Sub in Cedar Park so if you’re in the area this weekend stop by the sales. The official time is 9-1 on Saturday.

    • I think it really helps if you have several eye-catching items that people want (big furniture etc) right in the front to hook people in and make them want to pull over. Also, the free pile right in front with a big sign is a great way to lure someone into your sale. Good luck with your garage sale this weekend!

  21. I know this is an older post but what we have found to work also is the last hour or so of the sale we have a fill a bag for $1 and people will take more of the clothing items that way and it is less that we have to haul off to donate.

  22. Tina Howard says:

    I just have to say that your words are sooooooo very true. I have wanted to share these tips with others(other people having sales). I have been to so many sales and the items are so overpriced I want to give them a talking to right there. I have had several sales myself and they all have done well. I stick by a few rules myself and you have said them well. Price everything, mark your items cheap (what would I pay for it at another sale) and always make deals, after all you are wanting to get rid of it. Great post!
    One last tip I will share that has been very successful for myself, everytrhing on the second day is 1/2 price.

  23. Linda Crews says:

    In our area yardsale signage is enough to draw huge crowds- so I prefer NOT to advertise as I don’t want the “pros” showing up at 5am with a $100 bill trying to buy a $50 kitchen table for $8.

    Things I want to move I price low. But to enhance my inventory and encourage fewer drive-bys, I also bring out a lot if items that I’d only sell for “the right price” and price them accordingly, and those items there’s no negotiation. I paid $30 for it, would sell it for $20… But for less than $20 I’ll keep it.

    I also don’t make ANY deals on value items until after the initial rush. The early birds are the real hagglers and why sell your sewing machine for pennies on the dollar at 7am, when the 9:00 casual Yardsaler will surely pay a fair but higher price.

    When negotiating is someone offers $10 for a $20 item, I say “No, but if you give me $20 you can have $10 anything else for free.” This puts more cash in your pocket and more “stuff” off your tables.

    Last time I had a yard sale, several neighbors joined in on our street. I won’t do that again! Too many folks stopped at my house… Then we’re going to “come back” after strolling (or driving) up the street to see other offerings… They almost never come back.

    After 9:30/10:00 then the rules go out the window, except for my higher-priced filler items.

  24. awesome pics! this looks great. drawing up the yard signs are my favorite part in planning for a garage sale/yard sale! :)

  25. Great tips, Allison! My extended family used to have a giant combined yard sale every summer. I’ve been a yard sale rat since I was a toddler, I guess. I had put together some yard sale tips of my own a couple summers ago, but didn’t have any photos to share because I wasn’t a blogger the last time I hosted my own sale. As soon as the weather warms up here, I’m ready to host one again, and I’ll be sure to take photos this time. Your photos really helped illustrate your points and made the post interesting.

    Here are my tips in case anyone is interested!
    http://www.imbusyprocrastinating.com/2011/07/tips-for-hosting-yard-sale.html

  26. I’m with you on the signs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen written-in-pencil 1-inch-tall-lettering signs as I whiz past. Ain’t NOBODY gonna stop their car to read a sign! What were they thinking? Hahaha

  27. To avoid thefts, rope off the area where your items will be and position the ropes (two strands is better) so it isn’t too easy to duck under them. Position your payment table right next to the entrance/exit so shoppers have to walk past you to get out. If you can have a friend come over to lend moral support and and extra set of eyes (you will need bathroom breaks etc…) that helps avoid thefts. We had a set of two way radios stolen because access was too easy, no cordoned off area, too much commotion from the swarm of people who dropped in. If the thief had been forced to walk past us on the way out, he/she probably would not have tried this. The larger your sale, the more items you have, the more important this is. If you have a fenced, secure backyard, you may wish to consider using it, with lots of signs out front advertising what you have in back. Positioning payment table right at the gate, and lock any other gates that leads out of the yard. Also, I’ve seen some people sell snacks, baked goods and coffee (people get hungry and their kids will beg them) and it always seems to sell well. Plus they stick around longer while they eat.

    • Yes to all of that….I’ve never had a theft, but a friend just had a lady fill her tote back with the most expensive clothing (only $10 at the sale, but originally sold for over $200) she tried to chase her to no avail. And the sale was for CHARITY….cleft pallat surgeries in needy countries. Heartless. From now on if someone comes to my sale with a bag any bigger than a piece of paper, I’ll ask them to leave it in the car.

      • Kathy good advice about theft. I think if someone is bringing their own bag maybe ask that they leave it with you until they are ready to pay. It is a good way to recycle a bag. I think in our area the kids are the worst for theft, seems they come with parent, pick something up and while they walk around with the parent next thing I know it is in their pocket. Sometimes I catch them and sometimes I do not depending on how busy it is. Sad we have to watch out for this kind of behavior anywhere let alone a yard sale.

  28. Sunshine Flower says:

    A free pile! What a great idea, I wouldn’t have thought of it! I’m going to take your tips AND the tips from the Garage Sale Wars TV show and make lots of money! I need a new laptop (I’m at the library typing this right now, sigh). Anywho, thanks for the tips!

  29. Another good tip is to advertise in your local newspaper… The ads tend to be very cheap and work as well.

  30. Amy Stephens says:

    These are awesome tips, I love it! Especially the price tagging EVERY SINGLE ITEM – such an important detail that I never thought of! You rock. Seriously. As for the advertising, there’s a site that I usually get all my yard sales from that I think would be helpful for those looking to advertise sales, and those hunting for treasures. Here’s the link: http://www.yardsalesearch.com/garage-sales-texas.html/?rf=b

  31. please when you advertise with signs put the dates along with the days. I’ve seen many old signs with just “Fiiday” or “Saturday” on them and have no idea if’s for the previous week or coming week.

  32. Nice tips, Do you sell the black piece of furniture on the picture ?…

  33. You mentioned big ticket items are better to put on craigslist because garage salers are not looking to spend that much

    I actually do a hybrid. I put big ticket items in ads on craigslist ahead of time in their category. The week of the garage sale, I repost the item, and indicate the item will be available for sale at the garage sale, and provide the link for the sale. At that time, I also individually advertise items as low as $20 if I think someone might be shopping for that items in it’s category…..this would be new, nearly new, or in demand items that I want a decent price on. It is essential that you have pictures on those items.

    Someone doing a text search for an item in all of craigslist will find it on your garage sale ad. But a non-garage saler looking for just the right prom dress, or NIB athletic shoes, will likely browse the picture gallery of the category.

    A couple of advantages….you are not having endless appointmens for folks to look at a dresser, since anyone interested comes during garage sale hours. AND you don’t have strangers in your home. AND it ;brings more traffic to your garage sale. They may have come to buy the Athletic shoes, but then they see all the rest of it and browse. It’s a lot of work, but in the last sale, we had a lot of folks come to see the advertised furniture ($250 and up but worth 4x that!) or the beautiful evening dress (selling for $75 but orig. 300!) and whether or not they purchased the sought-after item, most still left with a lot of other stuff.! And yes, the evening dress sold for the asking price to someone who was waiting when we opened up. The furniture got discounted a little, but not too much…all bought by folks seeing the individual ads, not the garage sale ad)

    Another trick if you do this….I also create some sort of code that I included in all posted items and the garage sale ad. I let t folks know about it so they could search by it and see everything that was posted for the sale…and also look for any updates/additions along the way.

  34. These are great tips and would love to add an app that I created. My family loves to do garage sales and I always thought the checkout process could be better. Love any feedback and/or if you like it perhaps you could share with your followers!

    Thanks!!
    Paul
    Here is a video, or search Garage Sale Checkout anywhere apps are sold.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2-1DEAzslo

  35. Robert Connor says:

    Hi Allison,
    We love the pics and will use this advice on our next yard sale in Aug! Have a great day on purpose…

  36. As everyone else has mentioned you have great tips. When having a garage sale that includes multiple people’s stuff (spouse, children’s, parent, etc.) that you want to keep the money separated, how do you suggest doing this? In the past I have put everyone’s initial/price on a removable label and stuck it in a notebook so we could divide up the money at the end. Just wondering if there is any easier way to do it.
    Thanks for your input!

    • I got a note pad and made several columns – one for each person. As items were sold I wrote down the dollar amount that I collected for each item in the appropriate person’s column. At the end of the day I added it all up. That way, if the buyer talked me down from the sticker price I didn’t over pay one seller.

  37. Fantastic tips, and perfect for this time of year!
    I love the idea of a FREE pile to get some attention as people drive by:)
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  38. I followed your advice for my garage sale this weekend – and it turned out awesome! I started advertising a couple days before, and sold about $200 before the sale even started. Then I organized like crazy, and SO many people kept going on about how nicely everything was laid out & it was fun to shop at! I ended up selling $850 just at my sale (INSANE!!) plus the $200 I got from the pre-sales! I am PUMPED!

  39. Great tips! I can’t wait to try them all out this Saturday! I love the Free Pile and Kid Bin ideas, too. Thx!

  40. All great tips and I do them all, but we never have anybody come since we live where people consider “the country”. Like you said, people are looking for cheap, and they are not willing to drive a bit out of their way to look for cheap things. Every sale we have had, we spend more for the ad in the local paper than what we take in.

    • Lee Ann, I hear ya. We just moved out of our cookie-cutter neighborhood in the ‘burbs to the “country”. I highly doubt anyone will come out here for a garage sale. Next time I have one I’m going to do it at a friends house.

  41. Awsome!!!

Trackbacks

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