How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

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After you’ve taken the time to declutter your house, there’s a good chance you’re left with a few boxes filled with stuff that you’d like to sell instead of donate. With so many resale sites available through Facebook, you might be asking yourself – is a garage sale worth the work? Last summer, though, I managed to make over $500 at my garage sale, just by following these tips:

Garage Sale Pricing

When pricing your items for your garage sale, keep in mind that if they don’t sell, you’re going to donate them and get nothing in the end anyway. So you want to keep the price low, but not so low that you’ve wasted your time putting the event together. I’ve found that pricing your items around 10% above your ideal price is a good place to start because most “sailors” come looking to haggle.

It’s also important to think about making change. You don’t want to have to deal with anything less than a quarter. If you have items that are worth less than that, either bundle them or toss them in a tote marked “FREE!” and move on.

Also, make sure you put a price tag on everything. I hate going to a garage sale only to have to search for prices or ask about each item I’m interested in. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve put back simply because I got tired of asking “How much is this?”

Garage Sale Advertising & Marketing

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale and Make Hundreds!

Make sure you’re running ads in the local paper! That’s one of the first places most “sailors” check. You should also post on Craiglist and in those Facebook resale groups. You should also look for Facebook groups that collect garage sale information to then promote each week. The more free advertising you can do, the better!

Hone in on what you have to offer. Antiques, baby items, gaming equipment, and furniture are often hot commodities so make sure you showcase that stuff if you’ve got it!

When you set up your garage sale, make sure you’ve got your best stuff towards the road so that people driving by will want to stop. Make it a good mix of items so that more than one demographic will want to stop to check things out.

Garage Sale Preparation

If you’re not going to take the time to thoroughly prep for your garage sale, you’re better off not holding one. Don’t half-@$$ it, only to end up spending 10 hours just to make $50.

Other things to keep in mind as you prepare to hold your garage sale:

  • Make sure you have plenty of bags and lots of change. You don’t want to lose out on a sale or have to lower the price of an item because you can’t break a $20!


  • Expect early-birds and know how you want to deal with them! When I held my first garage sale, I had just given birth to my son a couple months prior. We were home alone the day before the sale when there was a loud pounding at the door. Thank goodness we have a dog because when I cracked opened the door, there was a rather large, intimidating man wanting to look through things early. He definitely did not want to take no for an answer until my dog’s barking finally drowned out any possible conversation that was left to be had. Now, whenever I advertise, I only put the street name (or intersection) and then I put up signs pointing my direction on the morning of the actual sale. Lesson learned!



  • Don’t hold on a holiday weekend! While it might seem like a good idea at first, a lot of people are out of town or hosting visitors of their own. Enjoy the holiday and plan your sale for a different weekend.


  • Talk to your neighbors and see if anyone is interested in holding a garage sale at the same time as yours. “Multi-family sale” or “neighborhood wide” will bring in many more customers than doing it on your own.


  • Take the time to drive past your own signs after you post them. If you can’t read them, no one else can either!


  • Try to hold your sale towards the beginning of the month, when people are likely to have more spending money.


  • Don’t accept checks. Ever. Better to lose out on a sale than lose your items and deal with the hassle of trying to cash a bad check!


How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale and Make Hundreds!

Just don’t do it!


  • Rent tables if you need to. Don’t throw everything in piles or make people dig through totes to find your goods. The easier you make it to find your items, the easier it’ll be to make a sale. If you do need to put things on the ground or on your lawn, use a tarp. I guarantee you no one will buy something that’s wet from morning dew or covered in dirt!


  • Check into your local ordinances. Some areas require you to purchase a permit prior to holding a sale and you don’t want to lose out on your profits because you’ve now got a fine to pay!


  • Don’t set anything out that’s dusty, dirty, or in a general sorry state. If you make it look like you’ve taken good care of your things, people are more likely to want to buy them. While you’re at it, make sure you set your DVDs, CDs, and books out neatly so people can see titles quickly and clearly.


  • Have music playing quietly during your sale so people feel comfortable discussing a purchase without feeling like you’re eavesdropping.


  • If you have children, let them take part in it! They can bag up cookies to sell, have water bottles on hand, or even draw pictures and do crafts that they then market. Let them have fun with it and encourage their entrepreneurial spirits!

Wrapping Up Your Garage Sale

Offer 50% off of everything during the last hour of the sale. Again you’ve got to keep the mentality that whatever doesn’t sell, goes. You could even do a “pay what you want” towards the end or start marking stuff for free! If everything is gone at the end, you won’t have to worry about making a trip to Goodwill.

Why I Prefer Garage Sales VS Facebook Resale Groups

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale and Make Hundreds!

I don’t dislike the resale groups. In fact, I’ve made quite a bit of money using them and they’re a great resource, especially during the colder months. However, working within them can be tedious and even when I post things like “Must be willing to meet [DESIGNATED SPOT]” people overlook the details and often waste my time. Plus I’ve found that people are much more likely to try and barter when they can hide behind their computers. It’s so much easier to have people come to me and try to get everything sold all at once.

So while garage sales may require a few more hours of prep work than selling online, they can be much more profitable in the long run, provided you make the effort to make them profitable.

Are you a “sailor” or a seller?

What are your thoughts on garage sales versus Facebook resale groups or Craigslist?


This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Great article! I find that personally, I am much more likely to go to a garage sale that’s part of a larger collection of sales rather than just single-family ones. Great advice!

  2. Great ideas – excellent for those trying to raise money for charities – more often than not, the larger they get, people just come and dump stuff and it doesn’t work as well.

  3. Great information. We are thinking of having a yard sale so glad I came across your article! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’ve never had a garage sale, but I do keep loads of stuff so I probably should!

  5. Very good tips! I love the music idea!

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