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Reader Testimonial: Our Most Sucessful Garage Sale Ever

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Amy emailed in the following testimonial which I thought many of you would enjoy reading:

I just wanted to let you know that we just had our most successful garage sale ever after reading your Ten Tips for a Successful Garage Sale post. For starters, our philosophy was different because we realized we had already gotten our use out of each item and so were not holding onto the “but this is what we paid for it new” syndrome.

After the sale, we also realized that a clean and empty garage is definitely worth our efforts to have the sale. (The garage had been full after our move back to Texas two years ago. We began to realize if all that stuff had not been used in that long, we really do not need it.) I think this sale proved a successful teaching tool for all of us in the blessings of minimalism. We all love jumping around freely in the newly-emptied garage!

How We Did It

We started the sale on Friday, so Thursday night we listed the sale on Craigslist. My husband created a public map on Google Maps, with directions to our house from the nearest major cross-roads. In the description of the Destination (our house), he posted sale hours and a long list of items we had for sale. It was the same text that was in the Craigslist post, but including the link in the post made it very easy for folks to find us.

We also posted signs like we had in the past, but most people said they heard about us and found us because of Craigslist and the map we placed in the ad. Very effective, indeed.

The second day of our sale we updated our Craigslist and Google Maps postings and stapled smaller, brightly colored signs to the original signs that said, “50% off Sat. 7:30 a.m.” Wow! That worked!

We sold most the remaining big stuff within minutes of opening the garage door. All the little stuff was sold off in steady streams until about 10:30 a.m., at which time we had our children take turns holding up a sign at our street corner saying, “90% off — many items FREE!”

People came in droves after that! We got rid of just about everything very quickly. It was all said and done by about 12:30 p.m..

Lessons Learned

We included our children the sale and let them set up a table of their own. One of our sons was originally miffed because he sold some of his things for way less than he wanted to, but he quickly learned the art of strategic marketing! So, all was good in the end.

The children also sold donuts and bottled waters. Those were a huge hit — and a big profit-maker, earning a dollar per donut or bottled water. They made a good return for their efforts, and were very happy about it. They learned effective salesmanship and how to talk with a variety of people.

Afterward, we had a long talk about rejoicing and giving thanks for the 90% God lets us keep from our earnings and we were able to give a much larger than usual tithe on Easter Sunday morning which gave us all so much joy! -Amy

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  • Barb S. says:

    Our recent sale was an almost complete bust. Our city does not allow us to post signs except on our own property. We posted on several online garage sale listing sites, but received no more than 10 people walk through in two days. And to top it off, half way through the 2nd day, which was a lot colder than the previous day, it began to rain. We quickly stashed everything in the garage again and are trying to decide whether to give it one more go or just take it all to Salvation Army.

    • Sarah says:

      Awww! My heart goes out to you! I know that after all the work it was a BUMMER! Don’t give up! 🙂

    • Janet says:


      Try giving it one more try and use the laudrmat’s for posting signs you may be extremely happy with your results. I also use to try to spread the word at our local Flea market and that worked as well folks would come buy from me and try to turn around and make a profit at the Flea Market. I didn’t care I just wanted something for the stuff and to get rid of it. I use to have sales every week and I did it for two years I made enough to send my daughter to private school for two years off my sales.

    • Holly says:

      Does your walmart or grocery store have a bulletin board? Hope you have success next time

      • Jessica says:

        Our town does not allow signs either, so we park our cars with big signs attached to them in our biggest intersections. People just drive to the main intersection and follow more parked cars signs from there. It’s not great but it helps.

    • Beth says:

      We had all our signs taken up by the code enforcement officer. “Signs cannot be on public property thanks to the Supreme Court.” I went around to individuals and asked if I could put signs in their yards. All said “yes”.

  • Megan says:

    Thanks for the great post, Amy! I think that 2-day sales are almost always more effectiv ethan 1-day sales and I love that you went down to 90% off at the end. I’ve tried the 50% off approach and that was effective for us as well. Nice work!

  • Suzanne says:

    I had a wonderful sale 2 weekends ago- I made over $500. I price my items to sell and like items are the same (ie all tops are $1, all shorts are $.50, etc). I had a huge inventory so that helped, and I made sure all items were clean and in working order. This required a little more effort on my part (like cleaning jewelry and glassware) but it seemed to really pay off. Finally, I donated what didn’t sell by 11:30. I still had a car full, but it is so wonderful to have cleaned out that much stuff. I have so much in my attic (from MIL’s home since she passed) that I can have this sale about every 6 months and plan to do so!

  • lauri says:

    I haven’t had a yard sale in years, but I will say that aside from the normal advertising on Craigs list…there are some online options…our local paper lets you advertise for free…

    My biggest pull was from posting signs in all the laundromats in the area…I kept within a few mile radius of where I lived..

  • Tressa says:

    Thanks for this post! Soooo timely, and such an encouraging testimony on giving the “first fruits” back to Him, especially since it’s ALL His anyway! He will bless even more, because of your faithfulness in the “small” things, like giving to Him from the selling of your stuff! Thanks for the encouragement!! Now I’m motivated to do this too.

  • Whitney says:

    Great to hear you had a successful sale. I was “garage saling” last week and was disappointed again and again by inadequate signage. A sign at the entrance to the subdivision would state the street address, but then there would be absolutely no signs at the crossroads (which are allowed in our area). And several signs were ballpoint pen on white poster board! I had to stop the car just to read them. I had also checked craigslist for several days before the weekend but found none of the sales advertised online.

    The few sales I found weren’t doing well, and I could see why. Items were priced at half (or more) of what the item would be new, or there were no price tags at all. Just one sale ended up getting all of my money that day. Well signed. Fair prices. And items that were used but still had life in them.

    • I would like to “ditto” your post! I like, no, love shopping secondhand especially at yard and rummage sales, but I’m a fearful driver and rely on good signage. Poor signs, and worse yet, people who leave their signs up well after the sale is over, ruin the experience, along with overpriced items. These days I tend to shop at church rummage sales as there is a larger selection, and I try to go during “bag” hour and pay the fill-a-bag price.

    • This is a common problem where I live. People wanting $5 for baby outfits, etc. Most places don’t put prices on items (say, 1 in 25 houses), and they just throw them out on blankets on the driveway.

      There is a senior community near me that has a twice a year neighborhood garage sale. I found a few amazing things at a couple of places, just like you did.

      The other places were VERY high priced. One woman was selling handmade jewelry for $25 each (she offered it to me for $20 each if I bought 5! ha!) Another woman was selling ribbon–by the yard! I thought she was joking and meant that price for the whole amount of ribbon. She said no, and pointed to her measuring tape that she had taped to the table. One woman was selling shoes for $25 a pair.

      These people all said the same thing: “I know how much I paid for it.”

      While this is true, I think most people expect to pay garage sale prices at garage sales.

      • Christina says:

        yeah true that bothers me too, if I am going to pay $25 I will go to Payless, I do not want to pay that price at a garage sale, if you’re having one, have garage sale prices that’s a BIG thing for me. I will not buy something used for something I can get new at the same or close to the same price.

    • Katie says:

      Same here- I used to shop the nice subdivisions for the “good stuff” but now everyone has their items priced sky high and the stuff isn’t even that great- I stick with the sales I think will get low traffic and that is where I find the best deals because people just want to unload it.

      On a funny note- one of the sales I went to was a “coupon-er” and she was selling the small bottles of gain dish soap for $1 each- Same price you can get it at walmart and we all know she got it for free! 🙂

      • Suzanne says:

        I’ve found that signs work great for clothes (all baby items $.50 each, all jeans $1, etc.) and then I price EACH item. I also borrow tables and have everything on tables unless it is too big. I have bags and boxes for people to put things in as well. You know all those little plastic bags wtih extra buttons in them that come on outfits? I dump the buttons for craft projects and use the little plastic bags to put earrings and other small items of jewelry in and put the price sticker on the plastic bag!

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  • Bobbi says:

    We made an investment years ago on the big plastic garage sale signs at $7 each vs. poster board and marker. I don’t have to worry when it rains and these signs come with the stakes that go into the ground. We bought 6 of them to mark every corner / turn that people have to make as I know how frustrating that is when you drive around a subdivision looking for a sale. After 3 years, these have pretty much paid for themselves and I’m using them again this weekend! Can’t wait. Signage is key. Doing Craigslist for the 1st time too.

  • Jenni says:

    The long-term garage sale signs sound like a great idea. I’m still going back and forth on whether or not to do a garage sale this year. We are moving in 1 month, and could definitely use the money, but I’m not sure how much we would actually generate for the time it would take to sit out there all day, bargain, etc. It would be one thing if it were just my husband and I or if our boys were older, but they all require supervision at ages 3.5 and under, one being a newborn! We almost need every extra hour that weekends allow when my husband is home to pack instead of sell things, so I think we’ll lean toward Salvation Army donations this year.

    • Sarah says:

      We did that too this year. Our neighborhood sale was last weekend, but we had a baby last month, so I knew I wouldn’t be up for it. Rather than keeping everything all year in preparation or scrounging around the house the week before, I’ve just had a continuous pile that gets taken to the Sal every several months. For this season, the sanity of not having extra stuff around and not having to organize a sale is definitely worth it to me. Congrats on your new blessing!

    • Amy S says:

      Think about someone you know who would like to have the garage sale with you. I have two small children and my husband works every Saturday. I wasn’t able to hold a garage sale on my own and take care of my kids so I asked a friend to bring her stuff and join me. Another added benefit to that is people like to stop at sales with a lot of stuff. It draws a bigger crowd when you combine your items. We just marked our items with different colored tags so we knew how much we each made at the end.

    • Catherine says:

      I was in a similar situation last year – except I had just one baby AND my husband had already moved to his new job! I was left alone to pack up the house for the movers!!!

      Instead of a yard sale, I just made big signs that said “FREE STUFF” and put things I wanted to get rid of out in the driveway. None of my time required, easier than dropping stuff off at the Salvation Army (especially the big things), and I could just keep putting more stuff out whenever I came across it. If you give it away you don’t have to pack it 😉

      People love free stuff!! lol

  • Awesome! We also had our biggest yard sale this year too! It feels great getting rid of all the extra stuff and being able to split the money we made between our goals and charity.

    We have done 50% off and a “free” box but LOVE your idea about doing 90% off at the end of the day, awesome! Craigslist has always been a great way to advertise for us. I really like your idea of adding the map to it. Signage is a huge key in getting the crowds to your house.

    Our girls sell goodies and toys at our Yard Sale as well. It is a lot of work but definitely worth putting the time and effort into. Thankful for the opportunity to have these sales as well as stretch our budget by going to them when we can!

  • Stefanie says:

    We had a moving/garage sale a couple weeks ago. NEVER AGAIN! Money wise we did ok. Around $900. But it was the first one we have ever had and it was rather last minute and didn’t exactly know what to expect. For the most part people we nice but there were a few that were coniving. I didn’t know that people wanted everything for nothing! Because is it really too much for a 6 month old in perfect condition $300 coffee maker to ask $10? The good thing is there was a TON of leftovers (highchair,pack & play, household and about $4000 worth of clothes) that I donated to a Christian thrift shop. Next time I think I’ll either plan a month in advance or skip the whole sale and just donate. At least you know it is helping people in need( and you don’t have to get up at 4:00 am!)

    • Amy S says:

      Wow! $900 is awesome! That would definitely be worth my time. You always have those who want something for nothing but you either stand firm on your price or choose to budge a little. I figure if they choose not to buy it at my price, someone else will. Comes with the territory. 🙂

      • Stefanie says:

        We did sell some larger items-dressers,tables,tv,etc. But we priced low so the would sell like solid wood dressers for $25-$50. The problem I had was the people who lied about what my Mom or I said the price would be. Basically trying to scam us against each other. A lot of want everything for nothing. But it was stuff we needed to get rid of vs having to spent another $4500 on another moving truck. I had never had a sale before so I guess I didn’t realize that some people would be so cheap. Even though we did negotiate just to get rid of it. That and the fact that people showed up over a hour before we even started. That was a looong 10 hours. At least it was only 1 day!

        • Rae says:

          I had a lady straight up switch price stickers on some items! Then stick said item (it was a new in wrap Dora dvd not diamonds or anything) in between other items she was buying so I wouldn’t notice. I can handle if people don’t want to buy something or if they bargain. I am a yardsale shopper myself so I know how it goes. But what she did was wrong. In fact can’t you get arrested if you do that in a real store?

    • Rachael says:

      I have found that for higher-end items like an expensive coffee maker you are better off listing that separately on Craigslist or eBay than selling it at a garage sale.

  • I helped out this weekend with my SIL’s moving sale, and we got rid of ALL of their big stuff! Such a blessing!

    This year, I’ve been choosing to donate instead of saving things for a sale (need to get it out of here as quickly as possible), but I must say that I actually love holding a garage sale. And the chump change we made from adding a few things of ours was definitely nice!

  • Teresa L Howes says:

    Love it …love it…love it! And the tithing was terrific, too 🙂

  • Jenny says:

    I just found a great site that would LOVE kids clothes. It’s called ThredUp and basically you trade kids clothes with other families and only pay shipping. Pretty cool

    • Whitney says:

      The cost to “trade” boxes is $15.95. I don’t think that’s just the cost of shipping the flat rate box.

      • Katie says:

        The flat rate shipping for the boxes from Thredup costs $10.95. I was not impressed enough by my box that I got free to continue using the Thredup service.

        • Kristen says:

          Yeah, my box was awful and full of stains (even though the sender said they were in great condition). Plus in order to get a decent box you have to pay extra for a Pro membership, since regular members have to wait longer to pick a box. I’ll stick to retail clearance 🙂

        • Rae says:

          yeah I don’t think they are a good deal at all. Even if you do get a nice box, you are paying that shipping fee PLUS having to (if you read the rules you are supposed to do one of your own) give away a box of your own clothes. I do WAY better at yardsales and have filled bags full of kids and/or baby clothes for about half the shipping cost. Actually this is event the case with adult clothes. Just this last weekend at a garage sale I stuffed a bag for myself for $4 and I got 9 item (2 dresses, 1 tank, 1 sweater shrug, and 5 skirts and/or skorts) and they were all in great to like new condition!

    • sarah says:

      I agree, ThredUp “looked” like a great deal until you see the fine print. You can get much better deals at garage sales or even kid’s consignment shops. IMHO

  • ShannonP says:

    What a timely post! Thank you! We are planning to do a garage sale in June with my in-laws. I am very thankful to get these tips now as we are collecting our items and preparing for the sale.

  • Dina says:

    Free Samples here!

    Follow me!

    Thanks so much everyone <3

  • Brooke says:

    I love this! Thank you so much for the encouragement and ideas!

  • staci says:

    Good signage is definitely key!

    For our sale last year, and my parent’s the year before, we had a preview sale the evening before the actual sale since we were out setting up anyway. We made quite a few sales at the previews and many of the people returned the next day to see what we had added or came back for things they couldn’t decide on.

    Additionally, on the last day of the sale, we had a “fill a bag for a $1” sale starting around noon. We cleared a lot of little stuff out at the end to minimize what we had to haul to the thrift store and made an extra little bit of money at the end!

  • Sam says:

    Another tip for garage sale preparation is to price things as you decide they are a garage sale item. I kept a box in the laundry room this year and I decided we didn’t need an item any longer, I priced it and threw it in the box. When the box got full, I moved it out and brought in an empty one. When it was garage sale day, everything was already priced, I just had to set it out. Saved a lot of time!

    • Martha says:

      I used to do this too. Unfortunately I learned the hard way what a bad idea it was. Leaving stickers on the items and then having them boxed in a hit garage ruined several of the items. I box items all the time, but don’t out price stickers on until a couple weeks before the sale now.

  • Kristen says:

    I’m preparing for a sale now. In our current house, we don’t have a garage or much outdoor storage, so I’ve been donating in small batches instead of piling up for a sale. This time though, I’m really cleaning out. Room by room, closet by closet! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Wow, that’s exciting! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    We had our annual sale this past weekend, and it was pretty dismal: rain all day, so we had everything under our carport. Oh, well – I think a big payoff from garage sales is emotional; I LOVE getting rid of so much stuff!!

  • Becky says:

    We had a great garage sale this year too. I love my clean(er) basement!! I was super happy to find NICE garage sale signs (plastic and sturdy) along with pricing stickers at Dollar Tree!!

  • Becky says:

    I just want to know how much the kids charged for the donuts! 🙂 I’m in K.C., & in our area, donuts are retailing for $1 each. It would be tough to make a profit on that.

  • Jen says:

    Knowing your target market is huge too. Are you selling household items? Furniture? Holiday or craft things? Baby and kids items? Whatever that item is, post that in the TITLE of your Craigslist ad. I do a garage sale every year with my kids’ clothing which is all Gymboree, Gap ect. I make it VERY clear in my ads that I am not selling items for 25 cents but I do have complete Gymboree and Gap Kids sets in like new condition for $5 to $35 per set. Yes, I have people that don’t get it and yell at me for my prices but for 9 people that walks out miffed, one golden mommy shows up and realizes the gold mine. 🙂

    Crystal, have you thought about doing a regional garage sale post every week on MSM?

  • Jen says:

    Forgot one other huge tip. HANG everything you can. Clothing looks 100% better hung up than it does “folded” on a table or stuffed in a Rubbermaid bin. For about $10 my husband built me a hanging system with hooks from the ceiling, clothesline, and metal conduit.

  • Tracy says:

    I discovered a link on called the yard sale treasure map – enter your zip code and it will pull up CL ads and map out a route for you on your chosen day to shop! I haven’t gotten the chance to use it yet, but it looks awesome! Here is the direct link:

  • TNK says:

    Great post!! I am getting ready for our sale. I have always thought of my stuff at garage sales as me getting at least something for it so I price pretty low. I mean, the alternative is either throwing it away or giving it away.

  • Thank you so much for this post. We are having a benefit yard sale for my daughters trip to Uganda this summer. She will be gone for almost 6 weeks.
    I have shared this post with my readers at
    Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • CaronC says:

    I don’t garage “sail” too much anymore as more people seem to be trying to make money, rather then clear stuff out and I have to drive almost 20 miles to the nearest neighborhood. I have had five sales of my own and always did well, except for the last one which ended up being on one of the hottest days of the summer and I think that cut back on people who were out. I advertised on craigslist too, I think that worked better then an ad in the paper. A friend was having a sale on the same road (we are not on a well traveled road) and that helped alot as we pointed out the other sale to shoppers. I always start my sales at 8 am, as most start at 9 so I could get people to stop on their way to the city and the 9 am sales. Remember that the first people at your sale are the veteran garage salers. They know what is valuable and what things are worth. I learned this the hard way. Many are ebay sellers, antique or flea market dealers. Stay firm on your prices during the first few hours. The dealers are planning on their profit, not yours. I always tell them nicely that I just started selling, maybe they could come back later in the day and they always have an excuse why they can’t, but they always pay up when I am firm. Same thing with the guy that shows up the night before, claiming he has a funeral to attend on Saturday. He is a dealer looking for first pick at the lowest price. Your nicest items will always sell in the first hour. Make sure you have lots of change. Go to the bank and get some rolls of quarters and $50 or more in ones. Be prepared for $20 bills as that is what the ATM gives out. I had a free pile going during my sale which I also advertised on craigslist as a curb alert during my sale. People took lawn chairs that needed new webbing, leftover home remodeling supplies, lawn mowers that didn’t work, a bike with rotten tires, books, magazines, broken furniture, old storm windows, lots of misc. Sure saved me the work of taking it to our town’s annual clean up day. I kept the free pile going the next day to get rid of garage sale leftovers and updated the items hourly on craigslist. Do not put your phone number or e-mail on craigslist, too much spam. Just directions and time of sale.

  • Marie says:

    I just had a garage sale this past weekend. It was alot of “work” but worth it. I have 4 year old twins and a 3 month old and my husband is gone Sunday afternoons til Friday.
    Before he left he made some heavy duty signs with plywood/stakes. We printed the info big enough on the computer and then glued it to the board. Then we used contact paper to waterproof it. I made sure to have enough signs to lead them from several different locations.
    Another TIP: The Dollar Tree sells pre-priced garage sale stickers. This was a HUGE time saver.
    Also all my children clothes were seperated by size and gender. I also printed signs with the sizing and taped it onto the tables to make it easy to see sizing. I hung all the children’s costumes and alot of my woman’s clothing. These items SOLD because I think they were well seen. And before my husband left he went to Home Depot and bought a metal bar for a few dollars so little investment.
    As far as weather, in MN., it was rainy and very cold 40’s-50’s. The sale was Thurs, Friday, and Sat. Thursday was the rainest day but the best. I did over $300. Last year the rainest day of my sale was also my biggest money maker day. The two sunniest days were dead! Go figure.
    I made over $430. I had some household items left over so we donated that to Goodwill on Sunday. Leftover kids clothes went back in bins to sell at my multiples sale in the fall. The few toys left will either sell at the multiples sale and/or go to baby.
    I meant to post on Craigslist but didn’t have time.
    Oh, also another tip. If your city has a city wide sale weekend try to do a sale then. Our’s is coming up in June if I wanted to do it again.
    Tis the season for garage sale’n!! Happy hunting!

  • mary says:

    Read everyone of the comments and picked the best tips. We participated in a church flea market, rented a spot/table. I priced things to sell, and noone asked for a lower price. I even included a freebie or two for good customers. There was not too much foot traffice, but my kids made a killing on cookies/pop as they were the only refreshments available. Glad I made a double batch. Thanks for all the tips and timely post.

  • LovinSavin says:

    I had a garage sale this year for the first time in a very long long time. My kids were very excited to clean out their rooms. Then I decided to buy pop and water to try to make a little money because I didn’t have any big items or anything over $5. I also made rice crispies which all sold too. What didn’t sell I gave to a church by my house. They have a sale coming up and take donations. It is a lot of work but great to clean out the items no one is using.

  • Anita says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! We’ve just done a huge cleanout to get ready for our yard sale – now just waiting for the right weekend. I’m wondering if anyone has ever heard that certain weekends of the month are better than others for yard/tag sales? For instance, we have military families in our area that get paid on a certain part of the month, so they tend to shop more weekends near paydays.

    In our past yard sale days, whatever was left went straight to our favorite charities. One offers a pick-up service, and another hands us a slip to use as a tax deductible form. We can claim up to $500 in donations to charities per year without being taxed as income. Just be reasonable about what you price out your items to claim and you should not have any IRS issues.

  • I absolutely love these tips! My fiancé moved my daughter and I from a 1-bedroom NY walk-up to a four bedroom home only seven short months ago and I am baffled by the amount of things we’ve already accumulated! After reading that “magic of tidying up” book, I’m planning a huge purge for two weeks from now- after reading this post, I’m so tempted to try my hand at a yard sale with those goods! Thanks for the motivation and tips 🙂

  • Brandi says:

    Another alternative, if you just want to donate is schoola you log on the website, they send you a bag and you put the clothing in (they prepay shipping costs). When you order the bag online you designate what school you want the profits to go to and 40% of the profits go to that school. They are Lso very reasonable for used clothing if you want to buy and right now they have free shipping!

  • Becca says:

    We have a local facebook yardsale page. It is great for letting people know about your yard sale. Also for listing large or specialty items that you don’t want to store until you have a yardsale.
    I sorted my kids clothes by size and then listed them as a lot for one price. For example “all girls size 14, 70 pieces mostly justice and old navy, $30” I also list how many tops, pants, skirts, etc. That way I get rid of all of it at once. Sure i might make a little more if priced individually, but I would always have left overs. I tend to shop name brand which helps a lot. I did this with kids toys too. I packed up all my sons toy cars (hotwheels and matchbox style) I sold the box of 100 for $10 instead of just selling a few at a time and still having some left.

  • Ann S. says:

    My one bit of advice is to remember it’s a garage sale and people don’t want to pay high prices. I stopped at a garage sale once and they were selling infant clothing from $10-$20 a piece and they weren’t expensive brands nor did they still have tags on them! I can buy brand new on the clearance racks or at the outlet stores for much less. And other items were priced close to what you would pay brand new. After looking for a few minutes and seeing everything was high priced, I left. While walking back to my car, I passed a few other people commenting on the ridiculously high prices. And I didn’t see anyone buying anything in the 10 minutes I was there.

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