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The Ultimate Guide to a Profitable Garage Sale

The Ultimate Guide to hosting a profitable garage sale

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I remember waking up ridiculously early on those Saturday mornings and sticking a POP TART in the toaster.  As I stood in the kitchen waiting for my pastry to pop, I could see a small light occasionally dance across the blinds.   I peeked outside to see the faint outline of a man with a flashlight carefully lifting the sheets off our sale tables, peeking beneath to get a lay of our yard sale goods.  It was weird, it was way too early but this was normal when we had a garage sale and put everything out the night before.  The true deal hunters are out stalking their Saturday prey.

My mom and sister host garage sales where they have made an easy 1K in one weekend so I’m going to give you the insider tips and tricks as well as provide you with a free printable garage sale checklist to help you get ready!  I present you with the ultimate guide to a profitable garage sale.

1. Gather Your Sale Supplies-

  • There are various things that you will need to host a successful garage sale before you ever start digging through your stuff.
  • Things like signs, pricing stickers, sign stakes and maybe balloons.
  • You can collect all the pieces you need from places like Walmart, The Dollar Tree or even Home Improvement Stores.
  • On the other hand, I found this Garage Sale Sign Kit with Pricing Stickers and Wood Sign Stakes (A802G)
    on Amazon that comes with just about everything you need without running all over town.  The reviews are good too so I’m assuming the product will work just fine for your upcoming sale.  There are several different kits so if you don’t need that many signs there is probably one with the right number of signs for you.

2. Label EVERYTHING With a Price Sticker

  • The absolute worst and most annoying garage sales in the world are ones where the owner just walks all their stuff outside and sets it up hoping to “haggle” on everything.
  • No one wants to have to ask you what something costs.   Imagine how annoying it would be to go to Target and there be no prices on any shelf and the only way you found out the price was to ask the store manager.  It’s doesn’t make sense there and it doesn’t make sense at a garage sale.  If you want your stuff gone from your driveway, you have to mark it.  That way people can take it, leave it or haggle with you for it.
  • You can buy pre-printed price stickers like this one ( Pack of 2100 Preprinted Garage Sale Pricing Labels, Bright Neon Multicolored: Yellow, Pink, Green, Orange, 0.75 Inches )
    which really speed up the process in my experience.  They are also included in the kit mentioned above.
  • How you price your items will depend on your goal from the sale.  If you are looking to de-clutter your house and make a little money on your used stuff, price items to move.  If you have pretty good items price them at what you would be willing to pay for them.Price Tag Stickers

3. Clean Stuff Up

  • If upholstery has stain or mark of some kind invest in a $3 can of upholstery, carpet cleaner and try to get the stain out.
  • Spray that baby with some Fabreeze and get it outside!  One reader suggested that instead of using a product like Fabreeze, that people should use baking soda and vinegar together to lift stains, save money and avoid causing people with respiratory issues suffer potential risks.  
  • If clothing is stained, hit it with some stain remover.
  • If items have scuffs, go over them with a Magic Eraser.
  • Be ethical- If it’s broken or not working, just go ahead and throw it away or get rid of it.Clean Your Items Up

4. Advertise The Sale

  • There are lots of FREE places to advertise your garage sale online.
  • I found a really helpful guide by Lynette Walczak on The Top 6 Places To Post a Yard Sale Online.  It also includes what information you should include in your advertisements and when you should start advertising.

5. Get Cash For Change

  • One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your garage sale is get cash from your bank for change.
  • I would say get about $150 in change.
    • 1 Roll of Quarters = $10
    • 1 Roll of Dimes = $5
    • 1 Roll of Nickles = $2
    • 25, One Dollar Bills = $25
    • 10, Five Dollar Bills = $50
    • 5, Ten Dollar Bills = $50
    • Some people do carry around $50’s and $100’s so you’ll want to be sure you have enough change on hand.
    • If you plan on taking rather big bills during your sale it might be worth it to buy a pack of Sharpie 1778830 Counterfeit Detector Marker, 3-Pack
      that let you know if money is real or counterfeit bills.  These are especially helpful for people who sell on Craigslist regularly.

6. Use Good Merchandising Tactics

  • Make stuff as visible as you can- Sometimes you’re going to have people who are drive-by shoppers. They will peek up your driveway and if they get a glimpse of good stuff, they will park and walk up.  Try to mix up the really visible stuff to appeal to more shoppers.  Tools, baby items, sporting goods and furniture make a nice mix if you have them.
  • Try to set you items out on tables so people don’t have to bend down too much to see or examine your stuff. (If the table isn’t for sale put a little sign on it that says, “Table not for sale”.)
  • If you don’t have tables, you can put down sheets, blankets or tarps to display your merchandise.
  • Put items your selling together in categories.  Examples: Kitchen stuff with kitchen stuff, books with books, kids toys with kids toys, tools with tools.
  • If you have lots of tiny or small toys instead of dumping them in a box put groups of them together in a gallon size zip lock bags, seal them up with packing tape and put a price on the bag.
  • Don’t put clothes in boxes, hang them up so people can see them.
  • If clothes have to go in bins or boxes, sort the boxes by size and label the boxes accordingly.  Example (2T, 3T, Boys Size 4).
  • The key is to be able to stand in the middle of your garage sale be able to see almost all your items as you look around.
  • It is time consuming but it will help you sell more stuff at the end of the day.

Bag Up Your Small Toys

7. Create a Garage Sale Survival kit

  • Keeping track of all these to-do’s can get a little overwhelming so I created a FREE printable Garage sale checklist that you can use to prepare and avoid forgetting anything.
  • I always have an Garage Sale Survival kit that I put together when preparing so that I never have to run back in my house for supplies as the day goes on.  It typically contains:
    • Construction Paper to make signs for sold items or price changes.
    • Permanent Markers
    • Scissors
    • Extra Price Tag Stickers in case you need to change a price.
    • A stash of plastic grocery bags for people who buy lots of little items.
    • Old newspaper to wrap anything fragile that someone buys.
    • I would also throw in some snacks and maybe a water bottle so you don’t have to walk inside very often.

Yard Sale check list8. Make good signs.

  • If you plan on making your own signs be sure to keep them big with minimal text and use contrasting colors on the sign.  Such as a neon green poster board with black print.
  • Include one of the following YARD SALE, GARAGE SALE or ESTATE SALE and the date plus directional arrows.
  • If you are hosting the garage sale with several families, it never hurts to put MULTI-FAMILY on the sign because it lets people know your sale will be bigger than average with more variety.
  • It’s smarter to draw your arrows with permanent marker as you put the signs out because if you do it before, you could get confused and have a bunch of messed up signs.
  • Make sure to guide people turn by turn all the way to your house including putting one in your yard or on your mail box. (You don’t want people stopping 3 houses down because your house isn’t marked and your neighbor just so happens to be cleaning out their garage that day.)
  • If you notice a lag in traffic, consider sending someone out to check on signs to make sure they are all still up.  (I literally went to a garage sale one day that I ran across by accident and the people said that after a few hours of no traffic they realized something was wrong and discovered that someone had literally stolen their signs the night before and were using them for their own sale).  This might be reason enough to at least write your street address on your signs.
  • And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS DECENT – Take down your signs BEFORE you start packing up your garage sale.  It’s annoying for people to drive all the way to your house to find that you have packed everything up already.

9. Be Prepared to Haggle & Mark Stuff Down

  • Don’t take haggling personally.  Your stuff isn’t new or amazing.  You aren’t a department store.
  • Some people like to bundle and will ask you how much for the pile!
  • Be prepared to wheel and deal (or if you hate that sort of thing, let people have stuff for they want for it and get rid of your junk!)
  • People are willing to pay the price marked earlier in the day.
  • By noon you should be running around lowering prices to get it moving.
  • By the end of the day I typically get out plastic shopping bags and tell people they can fill a bag for $1 (or whatever price is fitting based on what you have left over.)
  • However, if you have items you know you can get what you want out of simply by consigning or putting them on Craigslist, don’t mark them down.

10. What To Do With What’s Left Over

  • When you are done you have several options.
    • Donate stuff that you know you can’t sell or aren’t worth your time to try and sell.
    • Consign the items left over or list them on Craigslist.

I really hope that you have found The Ultimate Guide to a Profitable Garage Sale helpful!

On the other hand if this seems like the worst most complicated idea in the world to you, read my post on “Why I’ll Never Have a Garage Sale Again.” 

 

Do you have any tips for hosting a successful sale?

The Ultimate Guide To a Profitable Garage Sale

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13 Comments

  1. We are having our first garage sale this weekend and I am soooo glad I found your blog. Thank you for sharing this great tips.

  2. This is a great garage sale list. It just about covers everything!

    Adding to what you mentioned about making items visible…I always try to put higher-end items (e.g. TV’s, printers, furniture, antiques, etc.) near the street where everyone drives by. It creates the appearance that you have some good stuff, so it will get folks to stop and look around.

    Also, you included this in your printable checklist, so I figured I would bring it up again. Make sure you get any necessary permits! Where I live, the permit is only $5. You could potentially be fined a substantially higher amount if a city official catches you having a garage sale without a permit. It happened at one of my first garage sales. I was given a warning by the city official who was driving around checking on garage sale permits. I learned my lesson!

    1. Robert, thanks for sharing your tips! I’m really happy that someone could talk from experience about the importance of permits! Most people act like it’s not big deal until they come around for you. Hopefully this will save someone from getting fined.

      1. No problem. Thanks for sharing your list! After reading your second point, I plan to label as many of the items as I can with price stickers next time.

        1. It really makes a big difference. Even for me as a shopper and I’m an extrovert. So you can guess how introverted people feel. They would just walk away before asking a stranger a price in most cases.

  3. I was trying to skip having a garage sale this year, but I just said to my husband this afternoon that I’ll probably end up having one within a few weeks. I’m glad I found this post first !!!

  4. We are thinking about having a garage sale this summer. I like the tip about hanging up clothes and making everything visible. I also totally agree that there should be prices on all of the items. I hate having to ask what the price is at garage sales.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Emily! Good luck! Hope you sell all your stuff and have fun in the process! Thanks for commenting!

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