Best Tips for A Money-Making Garage Sale

Tis the season for garage sales.  It’s a great way to make some extra cash and declutter your house at the same time.  That my friends is what I call a win-win!

Now, decluttering and setting up a garage sale takes some work so you want to make sure your investment pays off.  That’s why I have rounded up my best garage sale tips from all the garage sales I have hosted over the years to help you be just as successful.

Just to give you some motivation, we have had a garage sale almost every year and consistently make over $1000.  Just last year we hosted a garage sale for our adoption and made over $2000!  It was such a blessing.

Best Garage Sale Tips

Collect Items All Year Long

Grab a big bin and label it “garage sale” and place it in a spot that you can access (mine’s in my back room in the basement).  Then get in the habit as you decorate, clean out and declutter to place the items in the bin you no longer need or want.

Then, once you decide to host a garage sale, make a list of all the rooms and go through each one ruthlessly purging items you no longer need or have duplicates for.  Don’t bother taking up space with broken or stained items, they don’t tend to sell!

Spend Time Planning

One of my favorite quotes is, “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”  A little upfront work will pay off!  Do a little research.  Ask your neighbors if they would like to do one the same weekend or find out if your city or community has a set time for garage sales.  More garage sales in a tight vicinity attract a bigger crowd.

Ask around about when to have your garage sale.  The earlier in the season the better (our season starts at the beginning of May and runs through July).  Find out what days of the week attract more people, I was surprised to find that Thursday afternoons and early evenings are the best days for garage sales in our area.  $800 of our total $1200 was on Thursday between the hours of 3-7pm.  I would never have guessed that if I didn’t ask around.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

In order to get people to your sale, you need to let them know you are having one.  Think about all the ways you can notify people from local FB swap sites, specialized garage sale sites, Craigslist, and local radio stations (they often have postings on their websites).

Many of these places you can advertise and re-advertise, meaning you can put out an ad a week prior and then place another ad 48 hours later.  Make sure you list hot-ticket items that might pique people’s interest as well as lots of photographs of hot-ticket items and the scope of the sale.

Prepare signs starting at the largest main thoroughfare.

Make your signs bright.  Neon-colored signs with the words garage sale, your address and a BIG arrow directing customers to your sale are all that is needed.  Make sure the words and sign are large enough to read from the road.  

If the weather looks iffy, you might choose to wrap your sign in saran-wrap or packing tape to protect it from the elements.

Also, check your city’s ordinances, they may have specific areas you can post signs.  You would hate for the city to take down your signs (it has happened to us).


Set-Up for The Sale

Make simple signs to direct shoppers to the gender and sizes of your clothing.  Then, neatly fold clothes in that size under the sign. Your customers will want to know where to find sizes.  The faster they can find it, the more time they can spend shopping!

It is key to display as much as you can on tables or hanging up, people do not like to dig through bins!

Gather as many tables from friends and family as you can (these work great and so do these).  Saw horses with plywood sheets work great too. Place tables all along the perimeter of the garage and then one row of tables down the middle if needed but make sure there is plenty of space to walk so shoppers can move about easily with a stroller if need be!

Organize your items and group like items together.  Place all the games together, all the toys together.  Remember, the easier you make it to find what the shopper is looking for the more likely you will make a sale.

Make sure your piles don’t get too high or they will just become a mess.  Place shoes under tables in pairs by size.

Keep pricing simple and in increments of dollars and quarters.   We have had great success with larger sales saying everything is a dollar unless otherwise marked. 

For clothes you want to price a specific amount, hang on a marked rack or on a pole suspended between two ladders.  Adult clothes sell better when they are hanging up.  Remember to keep prices reasonable, you want items to sell.

Keep small, more expensive items by you like purses or jewelry.  Don’t sell knives or weapons.  Bag toy items or any items with pieces, so they don’t get lost.  Place books in tubs with the spine facing up.

For pricing, think about what you would pay for a used item.  If you overprice, you will sell less.  If the point is to make money and get rid of unused items, price items to sell.

Place a free items box at the end of the driveway for items that you want to get rid of but aren’t worth a lot of money.  Things like fast food toys, stuffed animals, cords, and other odds and ends you don’t want to just trash.


The Day of the Sale

Make sure you have help for set-up.  The serious garage sale folks will be waiting when you open the garage door.  Quickly set-up and make sure you have someone to start checking people out.

Place big things on the driveway to attract customers.

Get lots of change.  In the past, we have gotten $100 in change.  1-2 rolls of quarters, $30 dollars in ones and $50 in fives should work.

Make sure not to accept bills larger than $20, don’t accept checks from people you don’t personally know, and occasionally take overflow money into the house for safe keeping.   Keep the money on you at all times.

If you are doing a multi-family sale or a group sale, get a spiral notebook and mark a few pages for each person in the sale.  Then, place an initialed price tag stickers on their corresponding page.

Don’t forget to have a screwdriver and batteries available to check toys as well as a plug available to check appliances and electronics work.

On the last day of the sale, you might choose to make it half price to get rid of more items or you could make it a flat price to fill a grocery bag full of leftover items.   Make sure you let people know that’s what you are doing, some people who come to your sale earlier will come back to shop!

Cleaning Up Your Sale

Right after the garage sale, clean-up.  You will be tired but you will rest easier knowing its all cleaned up so just get it out of the way!  As you clean up, grab some bins or garbage bags and sort items — donate, consign or toss.  Once items leave your home to go to the garage sale, don’t take it back inside, as tempting as it might be!

Get Ready for Success

With a little careful planning and purposeful execution, you will be so excited about clearing your house of clutter and all the money you will make.  The key is to be organized.  The more organized you are, the more your buyers will be able to find what they are looking for and buy.
What tips have helped you? Have you ever had a garage sale before?  Please share in the comments!




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