Pricing Garage Sale Items

It's spring time (or summer or fall), and your cleaning has rewarded you with lots of things to sell at your garage sale. How do you start pricing garage sale items? How do you know how much to sell things for?

pricing garage sale items

Follow these basic steps to success.

  1. Be realistic. Before you even get started, put your emotions on hold. I know that to you that souvenir T-shirt from your very first visit to Yellowstone is priceless, but it won't sell for much money at a garage sale. Your goal in the garage is to sell stuff, so be sure your garage sale pricing reflects that.

  2. For non-clothing items, use original cost minus a use factor. With items that are not clothing, there are a couple of ways to determine how much you should sell something for.
    • Starting with the original price, discount it by 30%. This is the reduction for the item no longer being brand new on a retailers' shelf with a warranty. From there, determine if there are any missing or broken pieces or if there has been alot of wear that would bring the price down further. For instance, you have a kid's table and chair set that you are selling that was originally $50. Taking the 30% off, your sales price could be $35. But, upon looking closely, you notice that there are some scratches and knicks in the table legs and on the chairs. They are minor but still there. This leads you to take 20% off of the starting price of $35 arriving at a final price of $28. Customers will likely try to haggle down from here but you've set a good starting point.
    • Check values on eBay or craigslist. In this electronic age, these are your competitors. Do a couple of quick searches and see what the asking price is for some of your larger items. This is a great way for pricing garage sale items such as desks, furniture and bikes.
    • If you have time, scout other garage sales in your area in advance. This will give you a good idea of what other people are doing so you don't underprice or overprice your items. Of course, you don't know if they did a great job of pricing, but if you see pricing trends that is a good indication pricing garage sale items in your area.

  3. For clothing, there are also a couple of ways to price items. First, you need to separate clothing into at least two categories: brand name/designer and store brands. People are willing to pay more for brand names at a garage sale just as they are when it is new. Second, consider these easy garage sale pricing strategies for clothing:
    • For brand name items, consider the condition. This will affect the price (just as it does with non-brand name clothing). If it is in good or great condition, you can price it at 10% of what you paid for it. If that was $50, then you should price the item at $5. If the condition is not good, then you need to drop the price by as much as 50%. How much you drop it will depend on what is wrong with it.
    • For no-name brands, consider these basic price points (adjusted for what you might see at other sales):
      T-shirts: $1
      Shorts: $0.50
      Pants: $1
      Outfits: $3
      Sweaters: $1.50
      Dress Shirts: $1.50
      Dresses: $3
      Shoes: $1
      Boots: $2.50
      Lightweight jackets: $3
      Winter Coats: $5
      Snow Pants: $5

    You can also consider having a separate table or area for the brand-name clothing with a sign on the brands that are available. That will help your garage sale pricing speak for itself.

  4. Be willing to barter. No matter how thoroughly you have researched pricing garage sale items for your garage sale, most people are going to ask if you will take less. That's part of the fun of the garage sale (at least for the customers). Don't be offended by the question. Be willing to negotiate within a certain garage sale pricing range. For example, if you have a side table that is priced at $50 that was originally purchased from Ethan Allen, you may be willing to go down to $35 or $40 - but not to $15. Most buyers are reasonable and will be willing to work with you.

With these tips for pricing garage sale items in mind, it's time to get out the stickers and pen. Put a price tag on everything - even if it says "best offer" or "contact owner" - so that people who are browsing know what the price is. This is how retail stores do it, and it works for garage sale pricing, too. If you need more garage sale tips, click here.

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