Garage Sale Tips:
How to Have a
Successful Garage Sale

Have you ever wondered if there were great garage sale tips that you could find to have a successful garage sale?

garage sale tips

I know I've been impressed by people who have made their annual vacation money through their annual garage sale - and clear out clutter at the same time. How do they do it? If you have a great garage sale tip you'd like to share, go here and let us know about it. Or, just keep reading!

Fortunately, there are no great garage sale secrets. There are some great tips on having a successful one that are listed below. The key to all of these garage sale tips is to think about them from the customers' point of view. If you keep these key things and your customers in mind, you are off to a great start!

Garage Sale Tip #1: Have your sale on the weekend - in the best time of year possible.
The first part is pretty easy. Your decision here will be whether you want to open on Friday as well as Saturday. The next piece can be a little trickier. The best time possible may depend on where you are located. Here in the Midwest garage sale season starts in late April and goes through mid-June. There are sales before and after this timeframe, but that is the height of the sales. It's to your advantage to plan yours in a similar time as others near you. Why? Customers don't typically get in the car to go to one sale - they visit several on the same day. You can use the advertising and traffic of other sales to leverage customers to visit your sale as well. (This goes nicely with Garage Sale Tip #2)

Garage Sale Tip #2: Advertise, advertise, advertise - but do it cheaply.
Don't break the bank with fancy signs. Eating into your profits by paying for signs or other advertising defeats part of your purpose in having the garage sale (the money part, not the clutter part unless you keep all the signs). What are some cheap ways to advertise?

  • Posterboard and permanent markers. This is a great option but best used in dry weather. Rain tends to melt these signs.
  • Premade signs from a discount store. These are usually in one section with the "For Sale" and "Open House" signs. The advantage to these is that they are often pretreated to handle some rain and come with their own stakes. Plus, people know what these signs look like so they are more likely to notice them as they are driving around.
  • Balloons. This idea is often used to direct people to a house for a party. It can work for garage sales too. Attach them to your garage sale signs for an even easier way to find you (and be sure to tie some to your mailbox so customers know when they have arrived).
  • Free or cheap ads in a local newspaper or on a website. It's not easy finding a free resource to post your sale, but there are a number of neighborhood newsletters that circulate. Depending on the size of your sale, you might also consider some cheap ads in "nickel" newspapers. Any option is to post it online. Try or to see if this might be an option for you.

Garage Sale Tip #3: Get your stuff together - and make it look good.

Gathering stuff to sell at a garage sale can seem daunting if you haven't been through the closets or basement in a year - or five. But if it's something you have had on your list to do anyway, having a garage sale can be the incentive you need to get moving. Make three piles (I'm sure you've seen this method on TV): donate, sell and throw away. Anything that goes in the sell pile is stuff for the garage sale. As you decide to sell it, think about how you will set it up for customers to see. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but do consider how many tables you will want, if you need to hang clothes, and if you need to have electricity for items that will be plugged in (to show that they work).

As you set up the sale, think about it from shopper's perspective. When you go to a sale (whether at a store or a yard sale in your neighborhood), what types of items are you more attracted to? Those that are in a jumbled pile which require digging (and hoping) or items that are neatly arranged? Most people are drawn to the neatly arranged displays - it just looks like less work. So, unless you have some really great stuff in those piles, lots of people are going to walk past them. Not a great way to get least not lots of them.

Garage Sale Tip #4: Use garage sale pricing to your advantage
Garage sales are certainly the place for haggling, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't price things to sell. A good rule of thumb for clothing is to start at 10% of the retail price. So, if you paid $30 for an item, you would sell it for $3. If it's showing a little wear or fading, then you will want to make it a little lower.

Prices for other items such as electronics or bikes should be based on what people will actually pay for it. One of the best ways to judge this is to look at similar items on eBay or Craigslist. On eBay, you can see what something actually sold for and not just what it was listed for. You can also get ideas by visiting other garage sales in your area. The drawback is that you don't know what something really sold for or if the seller was way off base. With the two online options, there are usually a number of items for sale, and you can get a better sense of the average price.

Your goal is to make as much money for your items as possible without overpricing them to the point that no one wants to haggle. If items are priced too high, people will leave without making any offer.

Garage Sale Tip#5: Be attentive and courteous to your customers
Your successful garage sale can be helped by talking to customers and answering questions. The garage sale is like a temporary store where customers may have questions or need help. If people feel like there is stuff they want and there is someone nice to help them, there are more likely to stay longer and buy more items. (It's the same reason someone greets you when you go shopping in a regular store.)

If you've set up your sale well, this won't take much time. The prices will be clearly marked. The merchandise will be well laid out so people can see the items. What's really left then is answering specific questions and possibly negotiating on price.

With these five garage sale tips, you are well on your way to a successful garage sale. If you have tips of your own you'd like to add, you can share them below.

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