How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

By Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021 Creators.com
September 1, 2021 Updated: September 1, 2021

Whether your goal is to purge your home of stuff you no longer need or you want to raise some cash—or both—you have options. You can sell your items on an auction website such as eBay.com or list them in the classified in a local newspaper or on Craigslist.org. You can unload unwanted clutter on social platforms such as NextDoor and Facebook Marketplace.

But some things never change. There’s just nothing like a well-organized, killer garage sale to turn your castoffs into cold, hard cash.

Depending on where you live, you may call it a “yard sale,” “garage sale,” or “tag sale,” but all of its monikers mean the same: We’re ready to negotiate because everything must go!

Garage,Sale,Sign,On,The,Lawn,Of,A,Suburban,Home
At the very least, put a sign at the end of your street. If you really want to attract motivated buyers, get serious about the advertising.(Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock)

Plan Ahead

Give yourself more than a few weeks to get ready. Check local laws regarding signage, restrictions, and a requirement, if any, to get a permit.

Make sure you consider what else is happening on the weekend you have in mind. You don’t want to go up against major competing events, such as your town’s high school graduation or the opening date of the fair. You do want to time your sale to coincide with complementary events, such as arts festivals that bring lots of foot traffic to your neighborhood or seasonal “yard sale days” sanctioned by your local community.

Clean Up

Assume that nobody wants to buy dirty, dusty, or broken items. That means everything you are selling needs to be cleaned prior to the sale. Don’t go overboard; just make sure everything in your sale is as attractive as possible.

Get Organized

It pays to put your stuff in order. Designate your sale area. If there are items in close proximity that are not for sale, cover or clearly mark them as “not for sale.” Take the time to repair and clean your sale items, and your sale area, too. Dirt, grime, chaos, and clutter will repel shoppers. A nicely ordered space will draw people who are ready, willing, and able to buy.

Clothes,On,The,Rail,On,The,Summer,Outdoor,Vintage,Fashion
Rig up makeshift hanging clothes racks with two ladders or hooks from the ceiling. Do not pile clothes on a table or in boxes.
(tartanparty/Shutterstock)

Pricing

The majority of people who pass through your sale are merely looking for something they can use, without having to pay full price for it. The goal is to get rid of your stuff while simultaneously recouping some of the money you spent to buy it in the first place. Research the price of similar items on eBay or Craigslist.

Advertise

At the very least, put a sign at the end of your street. If you really want to attract motivated buyers, get serious about advertising. Consider an ad in a local newspaper. Join NextDoor, where you can interact with neighbors and get the word out about your sale. You can advertise your garage sale for free on dozens of reputable websites, such as GarageSaleFinder.com. Put some time and effort into this, because you want your ad to stand out.

Setting Up

Make your layout deliberate. Group things in sections. For example, put all kitchen items together in one area and toys and games in another. Make sure all of your clothes are hung. Rig up makeshift hanging clothes racks with two ladders or hooks from the ceiling. Do not pile clothes on a table or in boxes.

Point of Purchase

This is the checkout area where you will collect money. This is a great place to sell cookies, coffee, sticky buns, and bottles of water. If you have lots of small random items such as small toys, jewelry, and other items that don’t go with anything else, divvy them up into small lunch bags, tape them closed, and mark them as “grab bags!” Add a reasonable price and place them right at the checkout. Sit back and watch them fly off the table.

Get Set to Accept Payments

While mobile payment technology like Venmo and Cash App is often expected these days, some garage sale buyers still prefer good old cash! That means you’ll need plenty of change in your cash box to break $20 and $50 bills early in the day. Visit the bank a few days before your sale and pick up at least $100 in change. While at the bank, pick up a reusable cash envelope (or repurpose an envelope from your house) to ferry cash to a secure location inside the house. You don’t want random people eyeing the hundreds in cash you’re likely to have on hand at the end of a busy sale.

Get Help

If you want to knock your sale out of the park, get some expert help. If you want to learn from the best and send your profits through the roof, read “The Garage Sale How-to Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Hold a Successful Garage Sale” by Cindy Sabulis. This guide is absolutely worth its weight in gold!

Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021 Creators.com