Garage sales are great, provided you know how to hold a successful one! Whether you call it a garage sale, rummage sale, or otherwise, they’re such a great way to make extra cash when you’ve got stuff on hand you’d hate to just donate.
Hold a Successful Garage Sale
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:
How to Price at a Garage Sale
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?”
In fact, if you’re selling bigger or like-new items, go so far as to post what the retail cost would be were someone to buy it at the store.
Garage Sale Advertising & Marketing
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.
Drive past your own signs
Take the time to drive past your own signs after you post them. If you can’t read them, no one else can either!
It’s worth a few dollars to get bigger signs that stand out, trust me. The $10 on signage will easily pay for itself. If you’re like me and holding a garage sale almost every year to get rid of kids’ clothes, I highly recommend these affordable signs that stand the test of time:
Garage Sale Prep
Don’t forget to talk to your neighbors when it comes to garage sale prep! You’re far more likely to see consistent traffic if you can advertise as a “neighborhood sale.” See if anyone in your area is interested in holding a garage sale at the same time as yours. “Multi-family sale” or “neighborhood wide” will always bring in many more customers than doing it on your own.
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 be lazy about it, only to end up spending 10 hours just to make $50.
Money Handling at a Garage Sale
Don’t accept checks. Seriously. Don’t do it ever. Better to lose out on a sale than lose your items and deal with the hassle of trying to cash a bad check!
Just don’t do it!
Breakdown 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. Go to the bank at least a couple days ahead of time. Typically I plan to have $100 in change, though I keep half of it inside my house until I need it. What you’ll need will depend on the prices of most of your items.
If you’ll have a mish-mosh of items, with a few bigger pieces, you may want to break down your change like this:
- $10 in quarters
- $30 in ones
- $30 in fives
- $30 in tens
Best Time to Hold a Garage Sale
While holiday weekends 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.
That said, try to aim for the beginning of the month. Typically people have more spending money at the beginning of the month, so if you can swing a sale the first weekend, go for it.
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!
Supplies Needed for Garage Sale Success
Should you rent tables for a garage sale? Yes – if you don’t have enough tables or friends to borrow from, rent them! 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!
Consider fun table clothes
Along the same lines as making sure you have enough table space, you may want to consider some bright, fun table clothes to help catch people’s eyes. Once again, the more appealing you can make your stuff, the more likely you are to have a successful garage sale.
I also really like using what I call “stay put” table clothes. I first learned of these when I worked banquets in college, but these are fantastic. Not only do they serve you well for a successful garage sale, but they’re great for outdoor parties, picnics, etc:
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.
Keep it clean
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.
Organizing a Garage Sale
If you’re selling clothes, especially kids clothing, take the time to organize it. While it may not stay organized for long, it’ll definitely help people find what they’re looking for. This is also a great idea in that you can then bundle up what’s left to sell as groups on your local resale site after the sale is over.
Have music playing
If you’ve got a bit of ambient noise in the background, it’ll help people feel comfortable discussing a purchase without feeling like you’re eavesdropping. Not to mention you might as well enjoy your time, especially during the slower periods. Having music on definitely helps with an overall enjoyable garage sale experience for everyone.
Let the kids help
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!
Offer an End 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.
Garage Sales VS Facebook Marketplace
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. They’re also a great way to save money on kids clothes!
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.
Don’t forget to pin this so you can refer back to it as you get closer to the garage sale time!
Are you a “sailor” or a seller?
What are your thoughts on garage sales versus Facebook resale groups or Craigslist?