Making Money

Why I’ll Never Have a Garage Sale Again

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Why I'll Never Have a Garage Sale Again!

Four years ago I had my last garage sale.  I’ll probably never have a garage sale again.  Why?  Because I’ve found a way to do 20% of the work and make 80% more money on stuff from around my house all year round.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

A Waste of Time

Yard & garage sales take a ton of time to prep for.  In my case the outcome is never worth the time.  The last garage sale I put on I had a ton of stuff to sell, spent hours pricing and made….get this….$20.  I sat outside on a Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm in the Georgia heat for $20.  I have to add that I don’t live in a rural place.  I had steady traffic all day as I live off a main road.  If the weather had been bad, all my work would have been for nothing!  I also spent hours organizing and pricing everything.

A Waste of Money

I had to buy signs, get a sign permit and buy stickers for all my items.  Those are things I had to take out of my profits when the day was done.

A Better Way- Consignment

About 2 years ago I decided that instead of trying to do a garage sale, I would just take my home decor and clothing down to a popular consignment shop in my area.  To my delight they took almost all my items in a 20 minute appointment.

If you have a consignment store in your area with great traffic, check into their policies.  Stop by and see what kinds of stuff they are selling and get a list while you’re there of what they want.  Then you too can go home, cleanse your home and make some money!

Consignment Is Easy- They assigned me a consignor number and I created an online account.  I can literally check my sales daily.  I can see what has sold and how much money I have made all online.

Consignment Is Profitable- I usually take home at least $2 or more per item than I could have gotten for it at garage sale and all I did was gather my items and take them by.  No pricing.  No haggling.  No putting out signs.  I just showed up and they did all the work.

Once my account gets over $20 I can stop in and they cut me a check.  I would say that on average I get about $35 a month just in selling junk from around my house and clothing I’m not fond of.  I sell name brand clothing that I bought in great shape from thrift stores mind you.  That means that I’m actually making money on some of the clothes I own because the consignment shop sells them for more than I paid for them.

It’s Year Round- The best part is that I can make money ALL YEAR.  I check the consignment store website for what kind of seasonal items they are looking for and if I have stuff I take it in.  Easy-peasy.  Good weather or bad weather.  Cold or Hot.  It sells and I don’t do anything to sell it.

Children’s Toys, Clothing & Accessories

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Work I’m Willing To Do- On the other hand, I’m willing to do some work for a children’s consignment sale.  Where I live they make it easy.  All I need is a seller account online and I can enter my items into my online inventory, all year-long.  When the sale is close I move my inventory from a hold account to an active account.  I print price tags with bar codes and attach them to my items.

Why am I willing to do all this work?  Unlike a garage sale, I can charge 30-50% of retail price and frugal parents are chomping at the bits to pay it.  I get at 70-80% cut of the price it sells for.  Annually I make at least $300 in one weekend just selling my kids clothes, toys and other electronic toys I pick up in good condition from the thrift store.  I do this in the spring and in the fall.  I genuinely look forward to the sales as they are professional, organized and actually put big bucks in my pocket.

Unlike a garage sale, I simply drop off my items and go home for the weekend.  I don’t have to sit at the sale for 3 days.  So even though I do spend time pricing, I usually sell 90% of my stuff and the rest I donate to the chosen sale charity.  That means I don’t even have to go clean up what’s left if I don’t want to.  No packing up the items again and dumping it at the local thrift store donation box.  I just wait for my money to come in.

These are the top reasons why I’ll never have a garage sale again.  Don’t get me wrong, there are people who really rack up when they host a garage sale.  However, it’s not my thing apparently and I have great, high traffic consignment stores and sales in my area.  If you have good consignment stores, take a few test items in to see how they sell.

If garage sales work for you, keep doing them. As for me, I’ll just cleaning out my house each season and get some extra money in my pocket from consignment sales.

Do you do well at garage sales?  If so please share your tips or tricks in the comments section below.

Kim Anderson

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59 Comments

  1. I agree with your post! Garage sales are usually a waste of time. It’s a lot of work for not much profits. I haven’t had much luck with local consignment shops, but I have had luck listing things online without any hassle. I have sold old textbooks on Amazon, clothes on Poshmark (which is a online used clothing website), retro video games and electronics on Ebay and Craigslist for everything in between. I have made a lot more money selling online than I have at any of my yard sales.

    1. Stephanie, Thanks for taking the time to comment! I also love that you mentioned Poshmark. A good friend of mine just told me about it but I haven’t tried it yet. Do you have a post on Prudent Penny Pincher on how to sell successfully? Love for you to share it!

  2. Your lucky that you have such a good consignment shop in your area! Where I live there is only one, it’s only open from 8-5 M-f, and they hardly take anything I have ever taken in. I wish I had a way to make money like that! We usually just end up donating items that I wanted to sell because it’s really just been a waste of time. Glad you found success though!

    1. Katie, I know that is a real dilemma in some areas. Online consignment has become more popular with sites like thredup where they send you a bag, you fill it up and mail it back and they send you cash for what they want to keep. You don’t pay for shipping. At least that works for clothes. There are more things that I donate than try to sell because sometimes, my junk is junk and it might be someone else’s treasure but it’s more likely to be someone else’s treasure at a thrift store than a consignment shop! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Hi all, I have experienced both sides of the coin in this one. I used to own a very large and busy consignment shop annd it was great fun to have people bring things in. I am also a garage sale junkie too so it depends on the person and the area as well for either or to work out. All you can do is try it out and go from there.

  4. $20?? You must have had a bunch on yunk lady, typical plastic and baby stuff and made in China crap and you feel that because you paid quite a bit for it people at a yard sale should do that too. Yes people want cheap stuff only if the items are cheap or really worn, I have done several yard sales in NC never getting less that 200-300 bucks. Consignment stores are good if you have the right type of things, in the right condition, wait several weeks or months, pay comission, go drive and check you Lil stand, fix and arrange…. by the time you are done might as well sell it at a cheaper price, right in your backyard, in cash, no waiting and no hussle.

    1. That wasn’t the case for me. If I’m selling it in a yard sale I don’t expect to sell it for what I paid for it. I sell my stuff for what I think people will buy it for without the need to wheel and deal. I’m not sure what kind of consignment stores you have sold in. Most consignment stores simply go through your items, they display them, they sell them and you just show up and pick up the check. Mine is all tracked online so I can see on a daily basis what items sold and for how much. When the sales are done I go get my check and cash it. It’s about a total of 20 minutes of my time between letting them go through my items and me picking up my check. I’ve never heard of a little stand you have to arrange in consigning unless it’s antiques. That’s interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Where in GA are you? I live in Savannah. I’m not sure where a consignment shop like that is. I have made some good money at my garage sales, but I could be making so much more off stuff. People are SO RUDE. Wanting 10 cents for things and if they don’t get it they walk away with an irritated look on their face. I often give in because I think it’s better to get something than nothing and I can’t expect people to pay more than that because they expect to pay that kind of price. I have never gone to a garage sale and asked for prices like that because I would think it was rude. People can’t go to a dime store anymore and they paid WAY more than 10 cent for items. Also, people will show up at my house before the sun is up, before I even have things out if I have signs around town. And the people who show up the earliest are usually the most rude and want the lowest prices… Obviously professional at it. I guess that’s just garage sale etiquette these days.

    1. I live near Atlanta. I would suggest that you just Google them in your area, visit a few on a Saturday and get a feel for how much traffic they are getting. If there are lots of customers browsing it’s a good sign. If it’s dead zone while you walk around it might not be a happening store. That’s the best advice I can offer. Yard Sales are stressful and if negotiation (crazy people asking for crazy low prices) is frustrating it’s best to find a different avenue to sell in unless you end up selling enough for it to be worth your time. Thanks for your input! Like to hear about other people’s experiences.

  6. I love consignment and have been doing it about 6 years now. One issue I had with a community yardsalenis that kids items are tough to sell! The buyers are looking for furniture, antiques, tools… Pretty much anything that’s not clothes and shoes.

    1. Thera, I find that that is true in my area as well, people want stuff, not clothes. I really make a lot of money doing kids consignment like $350. At garage sales people only want to spend about $0.50 to $1 on kids clothes.

  7. I made $900 on my yard sale last month. I think you just don’t know how to do it!

    1. I think having enough inventory makes a big difference in how much you can make. I also didn’t have a lot of big stuff to sell.

    2. Wow Zoe! There are better ways to comment! Think before you speak and say things how you would say them in person not behind the curtain of the Internet.

  8. Great idea!!! I, also have given up having yard sales and taking my stuff to consignment. . Wish I would’ve thought of it sooner. Although, I still love going to yard sales:) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tassie, I still totally love going to garage sales too! I have to be careful though because my HGTV side comes out and I bring home all these “projects” to flip that sit the basement. lol

  9. THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THE ADVICE. I WAS THINKING ABOUT HAVING AN ESTATE SALE BUT IT SEEMED LIKE ALOT OF WORK.

    1. Karen, if you’ve got lots of stuff it might be worth it for you to have one and then take the left over items and consign them. Just a thought. Good luck!

    2. I would do the opposite, take the better itemsto the consignment shop, you ll get more money than at a garage sale. The items that the consignment store doesnt take should be your yard sale items

  10. I don’t garage sales anymore either. However, I don’t do consignment sales because I’ve heard too many bad experiences from friends. I’ve actually found I do best just donating the items and itemizing them on our taxes. We give and donate so much throughout the year that we end up with good return. I like being able to move the items out immediately and minimal work. The taxes take some work, but it’s only once a year.

    1. Donating is another great option Donna! Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with getting rid of un-needed items around your house!

    2. I also donate and take off my taxes,too much work to yard sale and last time i did consignment never received any money and they lost my items.

      1. OH MAN! That’s crazy! I’m so sorry about that. I’m the same way when I’m low on time and energy. I just donate it and it helps the community. Thanks for sharing you experience! That’s just too bad!

      2. Agreed! The blessings you will receive from giving to others along with a break from Uncle Sam…totally with you on that. If I have big items of value I post on Craigslist and donate anything little I can put in my car and take to a donation center.

  11. A good post, but I have to disagree. I too use facebook groups, Craigslist, and consignment stores to sell my extra goods. However, in May 2014 I had a garage sale after we moved into a new house and it was MUCH success! Yes, I spent several evenings a week working on setting-up, making signs, and pricing. My town does not require permits and I only advertised online ( no fees) and we borrowed tables from family ( no rental fees) and guess what? In 8 hours, yes 8, I made just over $1000 with nothing ( including furniture) over $20. Did I mention in live in a small town, off a non-main road in a subdivision ? It is possible to have a successful garage sale no matter where you are living. Was it work? Yes. But so is selling on FB groups and Craigslist . I cannot tell you how many times I packed everything up, drove to my meet spot and there was a no-show or last minute cancel. Or how long I have spent taking pictures and posting info. Multiple times in multiple groups. In the end, research. One, or both, may bring you lost of green stuff!

    1. Krissy, I totally think it’s possible to make money with garage sales. My sister brings in $1,000 every time she has one. I however get considerably more money on a regular basis without the work using consignment stores. Kids consignment sales are a ton of work but I also get a really high return on them. I’ve never done a Facebook or Craigslist sale myself. This article’s main point was to help people who don’t have success at garage sales to try another avenue of income. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your success story.

  12. Bookoo is highly popular and successful in our area. It’s a large yardsale website.
    ( http://www.bookoo.com/ ) Post item for sale or browse through listings for something you may want, contact seller, meet up, and exchange item for money. Some people even barter. You may have one in your area.

  13. I love facebook groups. As people are distancing themselves from c list memberships have skyrocketed. I am trying to build a resource to discover groups, stream resale, private market, and video blog. Opens 1-1-2015

  14. Hello! I was wondering if I could copy and paste your two paragraphs about children’s consignment sales to my business’ FB page? I’m starting my own semi-annual kids consignment sale and I’m trying to educate people here on how they work. It would be great for my “fans” to hear why someone would consign over the other options. I’d be happy to link the post back to your blog! Let me know! Thank you!

  15. I have had a total of 1 successful garage sale, and the success came mainly from the Coffee, hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Rolls, and Cookies I made and sold. After expenses, I made about $400 on the food and $200 on the sale items themselves(mostly barely used baby clothes and equipment). Every other sale we’ve had we might make around $20-$70 on sale items and it is just not worth standing out in 90 degree+ heat and humidity for two days in addition to all the prep work it involves. It is so much easier and more rewarding to just pass those things on to someone who needs them. We are not even close to well off (my husband is a teacher and we have five kiddos), but God always provides what we need. We sometimes sell some larger items on Craigslist; but for the most part, we just give things away.

  16. Oddly enough, I live in a very rural area and have always done well with garage sales. The nearest consignment store is probably an hour and a half away (VERY rural), so that’s not really an option for us here, especially by the time you make that drive and have to wait around, hoping you’ll get a good return. We had a garage sale this summer that literally got us through the summer. I think a lot of it depends on if going to garage sales is “a thing” where you live- it’s a big deal here because most people can’t afford to buy things new. The hagglers and straight up rude people, though, definitely make me wish I didn’t have to do garage sales! I do have a few different methods that help promote my success, I think. Resale pages on Facebook here are also a big deal, so as I’m setting up the garage sale, I take pictures of everything on my phone and keep a price book. Then I can go in and post these items for sale on a resale page as well, and that way I have two ways of trying to get rid of things. The garage sale isn’t so inconvenient for me as it is for other people, since we have it at my mom’s and she can leave it set up as long as we want, since she has the space. I would say that if you can’t consign, like me, then the resale pages are another viable option. I tend to do fairly well on there, but it still can be a pain dealing with the people!

    1. Ashley, these tips are really good! When you live in a place that doesn’t have a consignment sale and a place where everyone loves garage sales you can make some good money. I live in the suburbs and it seems like people here would rather just go to a thrift store than waste gas driving around. I used have a lot of success when I was a teen selling a flea markets but those are so different now. They seem less “garage sale” in one spot like and more like a “we got a bunch of whole sale made in China stuff to sell” flea markets. It all depends on where you live, but I love your tips about Facebook groups.

  17. Be very careful to check the consignment stores in your area. Where I live, there are several stores who end up owning your items if they don’t sell in a ridiculously small amount of time (one particular store has a 1 week limit for furniture, of all things), and some don’t give you the option of canceling your consignment if you change your mind before the end of the consignment period. If it’s stuff you’re not overly fond of anyway, that’s not necessarily a big deal, but if you’re looking to actually see a profit on your items, do some very thorough research on the shops you’re interested in working with – anyone worth their fees will give you a copy of their contract to peruse in advance.

    1. Mandi, That is really good advice. Read the consignment store policies well and make sure that if you are fond of yourself that you stay on top of checking to be sure it sold. See that the store allows you to pick up unsold merchandise. My local store donates any unused items but like I said, most of the stuff I sell is just stuff from around my house. If you really want to make a profit on stuff you feel is valuable research it on sites like Ebay and see how much it is going for.

    2. I remember a news item years ago. The owner of a very upscale consignment store declared bankruptcy and his creditors seized all the merchandise as assets. The law concerning consigned items must be somewhat fuzzy because the owners had a tussle getting their belongings back.

      The exception to the issues with garage sales is usually when you can participate in a community wide event. Our annual neighborhood sale in Denver was so popular that the HOA arranged for off duty police to handle traffic and security. It was a nuisance for those of us who didn’t participate but a goldmine for everyone else.

      1. Mandy THAT IS CRAZY!!!!!!! I’ve never heard of that before! I love neighborhood garage sales. I actually prefer those but I’ve never lived in a neighborhood with an HOA or any kind of community organization so I’ve always been on my own.

  18. This is great information! Garage sales don’t work for me either because of our rural location. Sadly, we don’t have any good consignment stores in our area, but we’re moving soon, so I’m hopeful of finding one in our new town. Until then, I’ve had great success selling clothes and knick-knacks on eBay.

    1. Elise, thanks for the input about selling stuff online. That is a great point for people who don’t have access to good consignment stores or sales. I HATE going to the post office so I just rarely do that. I sold some cloth diapers last year and that’s about all I’m willing to do online. lol Thanks for sharing.

  19. We’ve had both good and bad garage sales. They are a LOT of work. We’ve also done consignment. Garage sale is quicker way to get the money. Consignment in our area gets 50%. What you make at a garage sale is yours.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Garage sales are a great method for making money, just not for me. My husbands grandparents sell antiques at their sales and they make thousands. My husband often reminds me to consider what my time is worth and garage sales take too much time. I find I make more on my stuff with consignment because they can charge more in the store than I could in my yard and I get 40% without any effort so for me it works out. I only wish garage sales were better for me cause I’d rather have the cash in my pocket instantly!

  20. I guess it all depends on what you have to sell. We had 2 garage sales last year before a cross-country move and made over $1000 at each of them. We didn’t have time to wait on money from consignment because we needed it to pay for the move.

    1. Melissa, my sister is the same way. She really does great when she has a garage sale so maybe my junk is just junk lol. I think it’s amazing when people do so well.

  21. I love the kids consignment sales too! I made over $500 last year alone! My ‘grown-agers’ (apparently one is too old to be called a teenager) shop thrift stores on a weekly basis so their seasonal purge means money in my pocket because they won’t take the time to launder, tag & deliver. 🙂

  22. I am a huge believer in the consigment sale…takes a little prep, but you can get some $$ for your stuff and what doesn’t sell is out of the house! Its a win win. I don’t want to every do a garage sale. #NotAHaggler

    1. I’m a haggler but I only when it comes to stuff I want to buy and not what I’m trying to sell. lol Thanks for the comment. Good luck with any sales you are doing this year.

  23. Couldn’t have said it better myself! I had my first and last yard sale about two years ago and it was a major flop and waste of my time. I thought maybe I advertised in the wrong places but it sounds like in general, garage sales just aren’t the way to go. I enjoy GOING to garage sales, but will definitely NOT be having my own again. You’re inspiring me to throw those boxes in the garage in the back of the car and head off to the local consignment shop! Great Post!

    1. Angela, I totally agree. I will go to garage sales because they are one of the thriftiest ways to shop (especially at the end of the sale day when people are almost paying you to take stuff off their hands lol). You should totally take your stuff. You’ll clean out some clutter and have some extra money to spend on stuff you want and or need.

  24. I gave up garage sales a long time ago. Too much work for too little cash. I’ve always said you might make a little money but it’s never enough to cover the cost of therapy – which is what I will need after I go crazy from having another garage sale! It’s just STUFF. I’d rather just give it away to someone who needs it.

    1. Becky, that is a great point. If it’s just stuff and you don’t want to mess with it there are plenty of people out there who could use what you have. Just donating is always option and if you wanna tax deduction you can grab a receipt!

      1. I’ve found that timing of a garage sale is also important. Doing a sale on on ‘off day’ like Wednesday and Thursday and staying open later for those who work until after 5 can yield a higher profit. (They will actually thank you for being open later) Another is the time of year. Do one earlier in the season like March, April, May. June, July and especially August there is just too much competition and people know they can find the same thing cheaper at another sale. A friend and I would make about $2000 over the course of 5 days and (months of gathering our stuff). However now I am going to look into consigning again, just because it takes less time to do. (Some of our stores are very picky – we would bring in a box of our best clothes and they would only take one or two items)

        1. Amybear, that’s a great tip. Thanks for taking the time to share your sale day ideas with us! These just might make or break a sale for someone.

        2. I love the idea of having a yard sale in the spring (March, April, May)! Amybear is right, where there is more completion in the summer. My only issue with it so early in the year, is that it’s still sooo dark early in the morning, which makes it very difficult to set up! Where we live, the Farmer’s Market starts at the end of April through Oct., and a lot of potential customers hang out there, instead of going to yard sales. So with that in mind, I’m going to help an elderly lady sell her stuff at my yard sale….I enjoy talking to people too at them!

          1. Lesile, thanks for taking the time to comment! Farmers Markets are new to me. I wasn’t sure you could sell anything but produce and handmade kind of products. Do people set up and sell yard sale type items at your local Farmers Market? Flea Markets in particular are interesting. It seems to me like it’s less and less people who just randomly show up to sell when they have stuff and junkers who set up each weekend to sell stuff they’ve gone out and found or fixed up. Then they also seem to be a lot of wholesale junky kind of stuff being sold at flea markets. I haven’t been to one in a few years but that’s just my perspective of the flea market scene where I live.

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