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10 Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

10 Secrets to Having a Successful Garage Sale

For those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you know our garage sale last week was a smashing success. In fact, all together, our family (along with my siblings and parents) made over $1000 in the 2 1/2 days we ran the sale. Considering that our highest-ticket items were $20 and the majority of our stuff was priced at $0.25 to $2, that’s a lot of stuff sold!

I’ve had a number of successful garage sales over the years and here are my top 10 tips for having a successful sale:

1. Collect Clutter Year-Round

I mentioned recently that I have an ongoing Garage Sale Stash. When I come upon something we no longer need or use and I don’t know anyone to pass it onto, I stick it in a box under the stairs. Once a box fills up, I start another. And another. Without much effort at all, by the time it’s the month of our annual garage sale, I usually have at least 8-10 boxes of stuff collected.

2. Have a Plan

A successful garage sale does not happen without organization. At least a week before the sale I go through my home from top to bottom and clear out clutter. At least 2-3 days before the sale, I take an afternoon to price everything and organize it. And then the day before the sale, I devote a few hours to final organization, posting an ad on Craigslist, getting the cash and signs together and so forth.

Do not wait until the last minute to pull off a garage sale. Either it will flop or you’ll run yourself ragged–or both. If you’re in a new location or you’re new to hosting a garage sale, I’d suggest that you start getting organized at least 3-4 weeks in advance.

Getting Organized for a Garage Sale

::How are you going to display items? Do you need to borrow or make a clothes-rack?

::Do you have enough table space? If not, check and see if you can borrow tables from friends or put together some makeshift tables out of plywood and boxes.

::What signs will you be using and how many do you need? Where will you be displaying the signs to best direct traffic to your home? Drive the routes people will be coming and decide on these locations so you’re not scrambling the morning of the sale.

::Who is going to put the signs out the morning of the sale? Designate someone for this ahead of time and let them know specifically where to place the signs.

::How much cash should you have on hand and how will you keep it in a safe location?

::Do you need to purchase a license for running a garage sale in your area?

::Do you have enough help?

3. Team Up

One of my best “secrets” for success when it comes to garage sales is that I never do them on my own. I always find friends or family to team up with. Not only does this arrangement mean you have more stuff to sell and more variety in sizes and types of things offered, it also means you have more help. Divvying up the responsibilities between 3 or 4 people makes a garage sale much more manageable. Plus, it just makes it more fun when you’re doing it with friends and family!

4. Location, Location, Location!

If you want to have a garage sale that flops, pick a location which is off-the-beaten-path and hard to get to. That’s a surefire way to lose a lot of business.

Don’t live near a busy intersection? Well, look for alternative locations like a friend or relative’s home.

This is probably the key to our garage sale success. We live right between two very heavily-trafficked streets. We put up some good signage and the crowds descend!

5. Timing is Everything (well, just about!)

I don’t advise planning a sale in the freezing cold Winter or the blazing hot Summer. Choose a time of the year when the weather will be very pleasant and try to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure rain is not expected when you’re planning your sale.

In addition, find out what days of the week are best for yard sales to run in your area. When we lived in Kansas City, I found people usually only held sales on Friday and Saturday. However, where we live now, Thursdays are a big yard sale day and seem to garner the most traffic.

6. Clearly Mark Your Prices

It’s easy to want to just stick a big sign on a table saying that everything on that table is a quarter, but, in the long-run, it is much more efficient to go ahead and put price stickers on everything. Instead of having to make up prices on the spot, people will know exactly how much something is. In addition, some people are too shy to ask the price of an item, so you’ll lose a sale if an item isn’t marked.

I’ve found it’s easiest to invest the few dollars it costs to buy pre-priced stickers for most of my items as this makes pricing a snap. I try to have variety in pricing with plenty of $0.25 or less items. I’ve found that when people pick up one thing to buy, they are more likely to pick up other things as well, so have lots of $0.25 items and it might help you sell some of your larger-ticketed items, too!

Since we pretty much always have multiple families involved when we run a garage sale, we just mark initials on all our price tags and then keep a tally sheet in a notebook as things sell. It adds a bit more time when customers are checking out, so it’s good to have at least two people working the money table–one to keep track of the tally sheet and one handle the money and making change.

7. Price Things to Sell

When I go to a garage sale, I expect to pay yard sale prices. Unless something is brand-new with the tags on, I am not going to pay more than a few quarters for it, if that. When I am pricing my own items to sell, I always try to price things at what I feel would be a good bargain if I were buying the item at someone else’s garage sale.

I’d rather price something on the low end and have someone actually buy my item, than to have 25 people pick up the item and put it back down on the table because it is too expensive.

8. Advertise well

The marketing of your sale is usually the number-one factor in how well your sale does. You can have great items, great prices and a great location, but if you don’t tell people how to get there, they won’t find it on their own. So put some time and effort into making a number of quality, clearly-readable signs which you put in conspicuous places to easily lead to your home. The brighter, bolder and bigger the sign, the better.

I have also found Craigslist to be the most-effective marketing tool for advertising a garage sale. And did I mention it’s free to advertise on Craigslist? I usually advertise the day before the sale and then re-post a revised ad each day of the sale. The more details you can put in your ad, the better. Tell specific items, brands and sizes.

When people search for items on Craigslist, if they are looking for what you’re selling–even if they aren’t looking at garage sales–your item will pull up in searches for them. So the more descriptive you can be in the listing and title, the better. Of course, don’t write a book; just focus on your hottest sellers. And please use proper grammar and spelling, too. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference!

9. Mark Things Down on the Last Day

Things are usually pretty picked over by the last day of the sale. That’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and hand out rock-bottom bargains! We found that running “Fill a Bag for a Buck” is extremely effective. Last week, we got rid of around 25 bags full of stuff in a few hours by doing this.

We’ve also done it where everything was half-price the last day. Or, if we have quite a bit of stuff left and we’re feeling ready to close up shop, we’ll just say that everything is free the last hour.

10. Don’t forget the cookies and lemonade!

What better way to teach your children entrepreneurial skills and let them earn a little money in the process than to have them set up their own little cookie and lemonade stands at the sale? Or, if it’s cold outside, try selling hot chocolate, coffee, and fresh cinnamon rolls. One yard sale, we even set up a pancake griddle and sold pancakes hot
off the griddle on Saturday morning.

Baked goods–like homemade cookies and bars–sell extremely well at our garage sales. In fact, my younger siblings made around $100 from selling cookies at our garage sale last week!

We also let Kathrynne (5) run her own little toy table last week. Everything was a penny and she had a great time interacting with customers and taking money. Best of all, it was a great learning experience for her about the value of money and how to conduct yourself in a professional manner with adults and others whom you don’t know.

Those are just a few things which I’ve found to be a great help in hosting a successful yard sale. What are your best tips for having a great yard sale? I’d love to hear!

photo credits: Louisa_catlover; Chiot’s Run


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116 Comments

  • jan says:

    Wow i’ve been doing most of these tips except I don’t have a good location and I’ve never made more than $80 or so. Another good tip is to have a whole neighborhood sale- people are more likely to park a shop a whole street.

  • Lydia says:

    Another thing I have found helpful is to organize your merchandise…put all dishes together, books in the same spot (and in a way that they are easy to flip through), separate kid’s clothing by size etc. I really don’t enjoy yard sales where items are in bins and you have to dig or they are just haphazardly lying on a table. I have found taking a little bit of time to organize and prepare a pleasant display really helps things sell!

  • I love the idea of letting the kids run their own toy table. I’ve decided to join in with a few friends next weekend for a yard sale. These tips are handy!

  • Ibett Remedios says:

    What a great breakdown on garage sales. I’m so motivated! Thanks.

  • Katie says:

    Wow ~ wonderful and thorough post!!

    One thing I try to do is talk to our neighbors and try to coordinate when they are having a garage sale..if we get a few neighbors on our same block to have the sale days coincide, we seem to get a better turn-out! 🙂

    Congrats on your garage sale success!!
    Blessings,
    Katie

  • Susan says:

    I am having a sale on May 1st to coincide with our YMCA’s sale. They are just around the corner. I am selling all my girls big toys this year and don’t know how to price them. They are all Little Tikes items or Step 2. ex: Fridge and stove, dishwasher, washer & dryer, art desk, basket ball goal, etc. These items are all in good shape and have not been outside. I realize I need garage sale prices but don’t want to just give them away. Hmmm

    • Kim says:

      I would try Craigslist.org to sell anything that is in good condition that you would try to sell for $10 or more. Then, whatever you haven’t sold on Craigslist you can reduce the price a bit and put it in your garage sale. I would suggest making several posts on Craigslist with similar types of items grouped together on each post. For example, you could say $50 for the fridge and stove, dishwasher, washer & dryer. Then, also offer a price that you would sell them individually. Most likely they would be more appealing as a group and you’d have fewer transactions to do with buyers.

  • Crystal says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah B. says:

    We have a yard sale every May to benefit a mission trip that our family takes in the summer. Our neighbor has one at the same time to benefit his daughter’s college tuition. When we tell people what their money is going toward, they tend to buy more!

    My neighbor also offers a basic car wash for $10. . . most people need to get all the pollen off their cars anyway!

    My son, who goes on the mission trip with us, buys canned drinks, juice boxes, bottled water, granola bars, and small snacks to resell. My mom & I also donate baked goods for him to sell. He always makes at least $100. . . last year I think he made $200 in profit!

    We tell EVERYONE we know about our sale and ask them to tell everyone they know. We post it on Facebook, too.

    We also get even more items to sell, including some pretty high-ticket items, by letting people know what we’re doing. We receive quite a few donated items. . . some people would rather just give us their unused items than give it to Goodwill. One year, someone even gave my neighbor a car to sell.

    I would submit a word of caution, though. Even though we live in a very quiet, very safe neighborhood, we do have one registered sex offender who lives about 1 mile from us. He showed up at our yard sale last year, and I knew I recognized his face from somewhere. Later, I realized that I had seen him on the sex offender’s website. Just remember that you are inviting strangers to your property, and be aware of where your children are.

    • Cassie says:

      @Sarah B., Really good point, Sarah. When people have yard sales they tend to be caught up in tending to customers and that can be distracting. I recommend keeping the doors to your home locked while the sale is in progress. It makes it a little more difficult to just run inside, but is worth it for safety.

    • Angela says:

      @Sarah B.,
      I remember as a child my mom having a yard sale to benefit a missionary family (my uncle and aunt). I made a big sign letting people know where the money was going. One man bought a few quarter priced items, handed my mom a $20 bill, and said, “Keep the change!”

      • Sarah B. says:

        @Angela, We’ve had many people who didn’t buy a thing give us money for our trip! We go to a Native American reservation with our church every summer, and for some reason, what we do resonates with a lot of people who would never otherwise consider investing in mission work.

    • Kristine says:

      @Sarah B., My hubby is very anti-yard sale because of the whole “inviting strangers” thing. His house was robbed when he was a young boy, so I understand where the fear comes from.

      I would love to sell some of our stuff, but most of it isn’t worth posting on craigslist, ebay as individual items (i.e. I am not going to post each toy, etc.). I usually just donate everything to get the clutter out.

      • Liz says:

        @Kristine, My husband feels the same way. I actually move my garage sale to the front of the neighborhood. I get better traffic that way and my husband is satisfied! I only sell my kids clothes and a few minor stuff…so it is not that difficult to carry everything to a new location.

      • Andrea Q says:

        @Kristine, Some organizations, like La Leche League chapters and Moms Clubs, have annual group sales. You have to take your stuff there and typically donate a portion of your proceeds, but maybe that would work for you?

  • Kathy says:

    We often cluster things… example I have 2 car seat bases both go for $10 they retail for $40 each..

    Or take a whole box of dishes for $3

  • Candy says:

    Great ideas!! Thank you

  • Emily says:

    Great tips! We do a yard sale every year with my mom, mother-in-law & grandmother-in-law. Last year my family brought in $700, mostly in quarters and dimes, by using the same tips. We tried the notebook tally the first few years, but last year was really easy when we used a program that my husband wrote. I took my laptop out and entered sales by seller, so that at the end of the day we were able to run the report and divide the money. It was right on, and made the end of day process so much easier!

    • megscole64 says:

      @Emily, Okay, Emily…spill it. =) I’d LOVE to have some sort of program to run for our garage sale this year. It’s my mom, my aunt, and me and I always am trying frantically to write down all the sales for each person.

      • Emily says:

        @megscole64, My husband wrote a program that allows us to input sellers and track sales, so that at the end of the day we are able to run a report. As long as the total sales is accurate (as in, if I did my job right!), we can then divide the cash at the end of the sale and be done. If you are interested you can go to his site, http://codeoutfitter.net/ and use the Contact form to get more information.

  • Betsy Durand says:

    Wonderful tips, Crystal! Thank you! Absolutely love the idea of your children running the toy table. What insightful advice! Our family has also tried to use our yard sales as opportunities to invest spiritually in others by inviting them to our church. You have such a wonderful chance to interact with people and help them not only purchase inexpensive goodies, but share with them the invaluable gift that is free!

  • amber says:

    Signs.Signs.Signs! I can’t stress this one enough. They should be the exact same and not the $1 ones that are tiny from the $1 store. People need to see the arrow 🙂 People if there are a lot of sales people will piggy back off yours and if you yours are consistant in color they will know they need to keep going 🙂

  • Kate says:

    Another good tip is to take pictures of items like children’s clothing, higher-end toys that are in good condition, and furniture to use along with your posting. They will draw people in.

    We do our yard sale with offering everything half price after 12 pm. We end the sale firmly at 2:00 p.m. and cart the remainder (if any) off to charity immediately–then make sure to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.

    This year we offered a “free gift with purchase while supplies last” from where my husband stayed at a higher end hotel for several months during a trip last year and came home with tons of sample sized bottles of Bliss Shampoo, Conditioner, & Body Wash. You would not BELIEVE how this brought in crowds of people. We sold almost everything we had by 11 am and had barely enough left after 2 to justify the trip to the Salvation Army.

  • Belinda says:

    I have found that to get people to your yard sale is to have great signs. My road is off a Hwy so I have to have people see my signs that are going 65 miles an hour. I Use a full sheet of fluorescent posterboard and use stencils to make my signs with black marker. Use large enough letters that can be seen by people driving. I use cardboard from an old box cut to the size of my posterboard and staple that to my tall wooden stake and attached the posterboard to the cardboard and staple it all the way around to keep it from coming off. I put alot of effort in my signs but I reuse my signs at each yard sale I have. I live 2 miles from the nearest intersection. I put one there, then at the halfway point with one reading, Yard sale almost there with an arrow. I attach a seperate strip of posterboard at the top of the sign with the date that I can attach to the stake that can be removed for the next yard sale so I don’t have to remake the entire sign. I never put that it is a Friday and Saturday sale if I have it two days since alot of people won’t stop the 2nd day thinking you have sold all the good stuff. I have two strips of poster board on that says Friday and one for Sat. that I change out Sat morning. It has really made a difference in traffic. Personally, I have had better luck on Thursdays and Fridays. Always have then in the spring and fall. April and November are good months here in Mississippi. Also about strangers, never let anyone in your home to try on clothes or use the bathroom. NEVER have a yard sale alone, there has been situations where people will try to get your attention and steal your money box. There are also shoplifters at yard sales! I have also had personal experience with a flea market lady that will try and confuse the person taking the money by walking up when you are busy and try and quickly check out telling you the prices on items and not letting you see them. I have multi family sales and sometimes we don’t know the prices others have put on their stuff so she has walked up and said this item is $5.oo and hand you money real fast and walk away before you can see the actual prices on the items she is walking away with. This lady tries it at every yard sale I have. I had a like new baby highchair and she tried to get it for way less than it was marked by paying my friend for it. I caught her and told her no ‘Mam that item is not $5.00. So be aware and have plenty of help and change!

  • Lenore says:

    And don’t forget to take down your signs when the sale is over. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a sign, driving through a neighborhood to find nothing because the garage sale was the week before.

  • Charlotte says:

    Okay, here’s my question: What kind of things do you end up selling? I fancy myself to be kind of like you- a minimalist, low on decor & toys, bare bones wardrobe… and I just never feel like I have enough to get rid of to hold a whole garage sale.

    I guess my problem is probably that I don’t let it pile up for a year… after a few months I assume I don’t have enough stuff to make it worth my time, and I’m tired of the box taking up valuable space, so I just donate my box of stuff to a thrift store or charity. Big items usually get sold on Craigslist the minute they’re no longer needed. Still, I’m curious: what kinds of things did you sell this year?

    • Crystal says:

      I mostly sold a few odds and ends of household items, lots of extra children’s clothes, a few extra baby items, books and a box of stuff from my stockpile. I think I had about 10-12 boxes of stuff altogether. I don’t ever have enough in a year to have a sale by myself, but when I combine forces with my parents and siblings, we have plenty to pull off a sale.

  • Becka says:

    I recommend pricing things AS you put them in the box!! it’s MUCH easier in the long run and you don’t have to set aside a time to price things closer to the yard sale. Then you can just unpack things and start the sale. Also agree with Lydia too. Things sell better when they are grouped together. Our last yard sale we made over $1200 in 1 1/2 days. It is a lot of work but pricing things as they go into the yard sale box helps a lot.

    • Marnie says:

      @Becka,

      I do this too! I always have a box full of stuff already priced in my basement! I do the same with my kids clothes. Whenever they outgrow something, I stick the size and the price on it, and down it goes to the basement in a bag until the next sale! Sometimes, a year or so later, when the size tags are either gone or faded, it is hard to remember what size the child was at the time.

  • Carrie P. says:

    Love the baked goods idea! We did that as kids but I thoughht it would be kind of silly to do now until you mentioned that it actually DOES work! We’ve lived here 6 years now and have yet to have a yard sale…we are on a very high traffic highway, so I guess I should take advantage of people hauling stuff away and leaving us some cash…just never could muster up the patience and donated instead. Now that the charities can no longer accept toys and baby clothing, I guess I need to sell it!

    • @Carrie P.,
      What charities by you no longer accept toys or baby clothes? The proposed ban due to lead in items did not end up applying to those items in secondhand venues. Otherwise if it had, you wouldn’t be able to sell them at a yard sale either.

      We have Salvation Army, Goodwill, Village Discount and Ohio Thrift in our area and all still take toys and baby clothes. Likewise we have several consignment chains including Once Upon A Child, which is still live and running with tons and tons of toys and clothes!

  • Megan says:

    Great tips, Crystal! I’d also like to second the “display like items together” comment. I only buy clothes at a yard sale if they have been neatly folded and organized nicely. I also prefer to buy things that are clean (!). Finally, one thing that has helped me is to have a color theme for the signs. All of your signs should be large and the same color. They should display a prominent arrow pointing the right direction at every major intersection before your house. This makes it so much easier for people to find you. And then on your Craigslist ad you can tell people to “look for the yellow signs” or “look for the signs with a paw print” or whatever ‘logo’ you want to use 🙂

    • Emily says:

      @Megan, At my last sale, I put up signs on the main roads outside our subdivision, and then inside the subdivision I mostly just put up arrows in a matching color. There were some areas where I did this to reassure the customer that they were still going the right way. I had people compliment me on my signs!

    • Emily says:

      @Megan, For my last sale (and I’ll do this for every sale from now on), I had signs up on the main roads, and then mostly just arrows within my subdivision. The arrow signs matched the color of my other signs. This way people knew they were going the right way to get to my sale. I had people compliment me on my signs that year!

    • DeAnn says:

      I second the comment- the clothes need to be clean!!! After they have been in a box in a basement, clothes tend to smell musty and unappealing. I always wash them again right before the sale, and even iron a lot of them to improve their looks. It pays off! Another alternative is to store clothes in a plastic tub with a sheet of fabric softener to keep them smelling fresh.

  • This is a great post. I have a serious question however. The last couple of times we’ve had garage sales people came before we even finished setting up and we got bum rushed by greedy people seriously. Additionally we’ve had things stolen if you can believe that because there were too many customers. Do you have any ideas/suggestions on how to handle greedy crowds even if you have extra help?! TIA!

    • Kate says:

      @Workin’ The Deals,

      This may not work if you live in a highly visible area, but on our ad we put the street name, but NOT the house number. We tell people to “look for the signs” and then we’ll start putting out the signs at 7:30 am farthest from the house and continue putting up signs as we drive towards home.

      • Jessie says:

        @Kate,
        Personally, I would have your most imposing garage sale helper hang out near the front of your yard/end of your driveway, forcefully telling people that you are NOT open yet, and that they can come back later. Another reason it’s good to have extra help.

        Don’t be bullied, and don’t be afraid of losing a sale.

        I would probably have your “bouncer” offer to let them in for 20 bucks upfront, but that’s just me. 🙂

  • These are all great tips. I’ve found that starting your sale on Thursday puts you ahead of the other sales and brings in a lot of traffic before the weekend.

  • Ann B says:

    Thanks for all the tips. I am having my g-sale tomorrow.
    Just finished baking the cookies for the kids to sell.

    I just hope the weather cooperates for us.

    We are having our sale along with our neighborhood garage sale. That really helps with traffic. They have had a big sign at the subdivision entrance all week. I plan on putting up my own signs and posting on craigslist today.

    Thanks

  • Dee says:

    What a great post! I thing I would like to add, I know how much work a garage sale is. After it is over, you want to be done but P L E A S E remember to go take down all your signs that you put up. Be a good neighbor.

  • Tara says:

    Great Yard Sale tips… I have had several yard sales being the mother of 4, I found that location is everything. I had a yard sale with my neighbor when we lived in a ok neighborhood but it was a trailer park and had very little success. One year later after we had moved (we stayed in the trailer to save money for our home down payment) to what I would say is one of the nicest neighborhoods in our little town, we had another sale and wow what a difference. This time was on my own with out help other than my kids we made a little over $400, the largest ticket item was a baby bed for $40. I marked the kids clothes at 25 cents, and shoes at $3 (over 20 pairs) and they all sold. I even had some customers leave and come back for more the next day. I know from experience people don’t like to look at items that are placed on the ground even if its on a tarp or blanket. Some people just can’t bend over and dig through a pile of clothes and they will walk right past it. I even separate the clothes on different tables according to gender and size. If you are going to charge a bigger price for a clothing item say its name brand and new or almost new and you don’t want to sell it for 25 cents, make sure it is clean, ironed and on a hanger it will sell much better.

  • Maureen says:

    We getting ready to have a sale too. We always have a “FREE” box at our sale, some things are just not really worth pricing but could be useful to someone else–like recycling.

    The problem we always have are with early birds–people who show up 30 minutes before the sale starts and want to pick through your stuff (and mess it up) before you can get it on the tables.

    How do others deal with this? I had one friend say she won’t sell anything before her start time and another say she will sell to them but the price is double before the start time.

    • Kim says:

      @Maureen,

      Lol! I like the double the price before it starts idea. Once when we lived in Memphis we had advertised a garage sale beginning at 8:00am Friday morning. We had people knocking on our door at 6:00am asking where the stuff was! Crazy.

    • Marnie says:

      @Maureen,
      I see some people put “no early birds” in their sale ads. Maybe that would help?

  • Donna says:

    We run a huge annual neighborhood yard sale. Last year over 15 homes participated. Believe me ….it draws in the crowd.

    Another tip…we had a lot of relatives bring stuff to sell….a little hard to track…my husband sat at a table on our porch with his computer and ran a spreadsheet. He worked the money and the spread sheet the whole time. The spreadsheet made things super easy and talleyed everything up for us. We set a free table next to him with lots of little toys. When kids came up with the parents…he told the kids to pick out a free toy and take it with him. The kids loved this….and so did my husband. He was tickled watching the kids get so excited.

  • Zena says:

    It’s so funny how different parts of the country can dictate a yard sale day. Where I live, it’s Saturdays ONLY. You try and have one on any other day, and you’re doomed. When I went to visit my inlaws, Tuesdays and Sundays were the huge days. I was dumbfounded.

    • Chelsea says:

      @Zena,

      Same here! I would be shocked to find someone having a garage sale on any day except Saturday! Even Sunday afternoon isn’t all that common. So funny to think its different depending on where you live.

  • Kim says:

    One thing that has been successful for us also is that we make Grab Bags and sell them for .25 or .50 each. We put in several McDonald’s type toys, small games, army men, etc. into each bag and staple it shut. My kids sometimes decorate the bags with stickers or draw on them. Every time we’ve done it, we have sold all of them…mostly to grandparents. 🙂 It’s a good way to get rid of lots of little stuff that probably wouldn’t sell individually. Last time we made $3 just from the grab bags.

    • Emily says:

      @Kim, Are your grab bags opaque (like a brown lunch bag) or clear?

      • Kim says:

        @Emily,

        We used brown lunch sacks so they couldn’t see what they were getting. We even had one person come and buy one and after she opened it, she came back and bought a dozen more as prize bags for her daughter’s birthday party!

  • Rhonda says:

    When people come to my yardsales they think I am a neat freak. lol I am far from it. When selling baby or children’s clothes I put them on hangers as outfits. I try and save any plastic hangers that you purchase kids clothes on so they can take the hanger with them. I put the price and size on the hanger. I lay the clothes across the table in piles of the same size. This works better than a rack because people can pick most of the pile up at once to go through them while having space to look at the items. Most people will put the items they don’t want back in the same neat manner you had them displayed saving you some time of having to reorganize. Socks are laid flat and put in a ziploc bag in groups of 3. I have done the same thing with onesies bibs and burprags. These are items that can be hard to sell otherwise. But sell fast organized this way. I also let the customer know they can open the bags and look at things. I put clothing that shows some sort of wear in a box and mark as 25 cents each. I get so many comments about how nice my items are set up. It helps the shoppers shop fast so they can hurry off to the next yardsale.

    • Laura says:

      Do you iron clothes before you sell them? I have several shirts that are near-new, but I need to get rid of because I just don’t find the time to iron them. They really need it!

      • Liz says:

        @Laura, I iron clothes for garage sales. By doing so (1) they look great and (2) I might find any stains / marks that would make it necessary to reduce the price.

      • Rhonda says:

        @Laura, I don’t iron clothes but they are freshly washed and dried. I have however cheated at ironing by using a straight iron if something needs a touch up. lol

    • Patti says:

      @Rhonda, I also “stage” jewelry by putting earrings on card stock like they are in the store. Makes people buy them!

  • Chiot's Run says:

    A lot of great tips. I agree with those that said organizing merchandise by genre – works great.

    I also collect stuff throughout the year and have a few laundry baskets in the basement to put all garage sale items in. I find that pricing as I add them saves tons of time when getting ready for the sale. Everything is already priced and ready to go.

    We do a family garage sale with friends in town, I think people prefer several family sales.

  • sarah says:

    Crystal – How much of the $1,000 was yours? I’m guessing a third – $300? Have you done the math on whether donating and taking a tax deduction might be easier with a similar profit? I donate rather than selling – except for big ticket items that I sometimes sell on craigslist.

    • Shannon says:

      @sarah, It’s not always easier, depending on which tax bracket you fall into. Also, to maximize your deduction, you do have to keep track of which items you donate and what their value is. You have to weigh what will work best for you.

    • Chelsea says:

      @sarah,

      We never do garage sales, but I do itemize my donations for tax deductions. This takes time like anything else, but its sooo much easier for me! And at least I know I will get something for it. It adds up fast too!

      • Amy says:

        It really is amazing how much value you can put on clothing and shoes that you donate. It is way more than I would get from a garage sale. We pay a lot of taxes so this is a great way for us to do it. We use Turbo Tax and itemize with It’s deductible.

        • Cyrisse says:

          @Amy,

          I don’t want to hijack this article with my question but could you point me in the right direction as far as tax deductible donations are concerned? Mostly, do I price my items and give Salvation Army a bag with a total and they give me the receipt? Any info is welcome.

        • Amy says:

          Cyrisse,
          I use a notebook to write down everything I am donating (condition, quantity, etc. ). Then I drop the stuff off at the Salvation Army and ask for a receipt for my donations. They just sign and date a blank receipt and let me fill it in. I usually just staple that receipt to the notebook page. We use Turbo Tax and It’s deductible to itemize. The program tells you what amount an item is worth based on the quality (high, med, low). Something that is low quality doesn’t qualify for a deduction. Let’s say a pair of shoes is worth $9 (their standards, not mine). If you are in the 28% tax bracket then you will get nearly $3 as a tax deduction! I wouldn’t get that much at a rummage sale so it is better for me and it also benefits the Salvation Army and the customer who is looking for a good deal! Hope that helps!

        • Cyrisse says:

          @Amy,

          Thank you! Yes, that was very helpful. I went to their website and their Valuation Guide for Salvation Army Donations got me all confused. I appreciate you taking the time!

          P.S. Crystal, I hope you don’t mind me using your article for a different purpose than a garage sale.

  • Emily says:

    We like to put our signs up before 5pm the day before our sale. That way people coming home from work see the signs and know there’s a sale in that area the next day (we usually just do Saturday, although many people around here do Friday & Saturday).

    I’d also suggest finding out when other big sales are–there’s a town near us that has a city-wide yard sale on a particular day each May, and one year I inadvertantly had my yard sale the same day. I had a very low turnout because everyone was in the next town where you could basically shop yard sales all day (one of my customers told me about it).

  • Karen says:

    Can you suggest prices that I should put on items especially children’s clothes?

    • Liz says:

      @Karen, Here are my guidelines (and I only sell kids clothes): $1 – shirts; $2-3 pants / shoes; $5 nice dresses / special occasion. I also have a free table where I give away clothes with stains / worn out knees. Hope that helps

      • Andrea Q says:

        @Liz, I won’t pay more than $1 for a department store item. I’ll pay more ($3-$4) for nicer clothes (Hanna/Boden/Lands End, etc), new items or winter jackets. Since I can often get brand new items on clearance for $2-$3, I’m not going to buy used for the same price (unless it is in pristine condition).

    • @Karen,
      As an avid rummage sale shopper and yard saler, I refuse to pay more than 50 cents per children’s clothing item (so far this has worked; my daughter currently wears size 5/5t). I often wait out rummage sales until the bag sale day. Last weekend I went to a church rummage sale and bought three bags full for $4 per bag. Two were full of clothes for my soon-to-be-born son, and one had things for me and my daughter and one shirt for my husband. I got 100+ items for $12 total.

    • Amy says:

      I go to a lot of rummage sales and the prices vary a lot! I will pay $1-2 for nice jeans, but I don’t normally like to spend more than .50 for a shirt. I shop store clearance racks too and I often find deals in the $1-2 range that are brand new from JCP, Walmart, Kmart, or Target. I will occasionally pay a little more for name brands that are super cute.

    • Karen says:

      @Karen, Thanks for all the input. This helps.

  • Robin says:

    How do you make a clothes-rack?

  • Deb H. in Wisconsin says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I have practiced all of them except using Craigs List! I’ll have to try that. A couple of ideas to note: baby/toddler clothing sells VERY well but school age clothes don’t sell as well. Timing is important when considering how many other garage sales are going on~ it can work in your favor or against you. Ask others in your town that do well at garage sales~ I’ve even asked questions at a sale that I was shopping at and was impressed. I AGREE whole-heartedly with the tip on pricing all clothing~I’ve tried both ways and it works best to price every item and price to SELL! 🙂

  • Claire says:

    “Since we pretty much always have multiple families involved when we run a garage sale, we just mark initials on all our price tags and then keep a tally sheet in a notebook as things sell.” Why not just take the price sticker off each item as it is purchased & affix the stickers to blank sheets? Then you can tally up the purchases later (and you have a record of whose items sold). If a sticker isn’t cooperative, then you can quickly jot that price & whose it was down. What about trying to use different colors of stickers depending on whose item it was (pink for me, green for hubby, etc)?

    We have been selling oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, 2 per ziploc snack bag, at 50 cents each the past couple of years…it’s very popular! And it is SO cute when teeny-tiny little kids come up & hand us 2 quarters to get a bag. 🙂

  • Kasey says:

    At the end of our yard sale last year we took a photo of everything that was left and posted it on Craigslist with “$25 takes all”. Within a couple of hours we had a school bus (not joking) full of people show up and take it all away! Much easier than trying to donate it all ourselves and we made $25 in the process!

    For our signs I got a tip from another site and I used brown grocery bags which I spray painted white on both sides and then used a big fat black Sharpie to write “YARD SALE” with an arrow. I filled old gallon milk jugs with water and put them inside to weight them down and then stapled the top. Then I just drove around placing them at various corners near our house. Easy!

    Also, to make a little extra cash we had a cooler full of drinks and popsicles which we sold for $0.25 apiece. People enjoyed some cool refreshments and we enjoyed the extra money!

  • Andrea Q says:

    Don’t forget to go around and take down your signs after your sale. Some communities will fine you if you don’t.

    • Megan says:

      @Andrea Q, Not to mention the irate would-be customers who show up at your house the following Saturday, wondering where the sale is! Left-over signs are definitely one of my pet peeves 🙂

  • Kristl says:

    It’s nice to see a step by step guide to having a garage sale! Planning = success!

  • Jennifer says:

    We collect stuff in bins all year and then donate them to our local Right To Life rummage sale every June. That way, we get to deduct the donation, plus it’s a cause that we are very passionate about. I am usually able to get most of my children’s clothes for very cheap there, too! Good things all around. 🙂

  • MaryEllen says:

    I love the “fill a bag for a buck” idea. We did really well at our yard sale last year (about $1000 between everybody), but that is one thing we didn’t do. At the end of the day people were just picking at stuff and leaving without buying anything. This will be a great way to get rid of the leftovers and still make a few extra dollars in the process.

  • Sakura says:

    We price our items with removable stickers. We put the price and initials on them, but when someone checks out we take the sticker off and place it on a sheet of paper. Afterwards we just add up the stickers and divide the money. The stickers stay really well on the items. We do use a notebook and if something doesn’t have a sticker then we can just write it down with the initials.

  • Susan J says:

    We just had a sale last Saturday and did pretty well, but had TONS of stuff left over. It’s awaiting the Salvation Army pickup, but I would have loved to have had another day to sell. Any ideas on how to do that easily with no garage? Also, I was wondering if you, Crystal, or anyone else, had done the $1/bag deal with several families involved. What do you do with that money, since it’s impossible to keep track of what’s selling? I was thinking maybe deciding ahead of time to donate it to charity or some such thing…?

  • Cricket says:

    For pricing we buy the colored circle stickers that are found in the stationary department at Walmart. Two packages have lasted us through at least 5 sales. Even though I always write the price on each label, I keep it color coded. Blue= .25, Red= .50 Green =1.00 and yellow stickers are all the other prices. It really helps me think about whether or not something is worth more than 1.00 when I see that I’m using too many yellows. “checking out” is streamlined by being able to only glance at most of the tags.

  • Another thing to consider…check you local ordinance/rules/laws. I got socked with a fine at my first garage sale in this area when I hadn’t realized that my city does NOT allow signs of ANY sort on tree lawns. I’ve since learned that not only can I not have signs at the end of my driveway nor end of my street, but my city also requires that I have a (free) permit and register that I’m having a sale. I (as well as my neighbors and friends) have learned to get around the sign ordinance by placing our cars at the end of our street with the signs affixed to them! LOL

  • Mandy Haynes says:

    We have consecutively in the past three years with garage sales made from $700 – $1000 profit. We follow pretty much all the steps and I add one more. I collect boxes (sometimes even liquor boxes since they are so sturdy!) and separate all clothing sizes in them since we have such a wide range of sizes. I put in all 0 – 6 months in one box with a label, 6 – 12 months on the next, 2T on the next, and so on. All children’s clothes are 50 cents a piece so if it is a two piece outfit, it is $1.00. All adult clothes are $1.00 each unless it is a VERY nice piece and then it might be $2 or $3. Any children’s clothes that are boutique I save to sell at our semi-annual consignment sale in our city to make 70% profit. I learned to mark things down low because people are far more willing to buy several things that equal $20 than just a few. It seems the cheaper things are, the more they buy! lol! And like everyone else said, everything is organized with like items….all children’s items together, decor items, electronics…..and EVERYTHING priced! It really does make a difference. Thanks for the great tips about children’s tables….we have done a little of that but am looking forward to the one cent table! lol!

  • Samantha D. says:

    I usually make a good $250 a year by holding a garage sale. If you have old political signs from around elections i’ve turned a few around and stapled poster board to the back. They are big and have great metal stands. I also found craigslist works great for advertising. Our town holds an annual community wide garage sale to attract more buyers and they advertise your address for free in the local paper. I buy generic water, juice boxes and soda (several different flavs. ) make a colorful sign and put it on a big cooler w/ ice. Charge like 50 cents a can and usually they all go very well especially on a hot day.

    I have light plastic shelves that disassemble very easily and I use them to display items. Its better when people don’t have to bend down to look at things. I bring out febreeze to spray things down, clean everything up. Anything we didn’t sell, I give clothes/shoes/ other unsellable’s to Amvet’s. Then I wrap up the good stuff for stock in next years sale.

    I also group little similar toys in old baby wipe boxes and/or ziplocs and then price accordingly. This works especially well with barbies…. like I dress a barbie in a pink dress find some other pink outfits shoes etc, then its like a whole set in the store. I also put on music like oldies in the background so it sets an approachable mood. Put things nearer the seat to attract buyers to stop.

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