Two weekends ago we hosted a garage sale, and it turned out to be a huge success. We earned more than $1000 and got rid of almost everything we had for sale! It was a lot of work to prepare for, host and clean up the garage sale. But I’m sharing the tips that made our sale successful to help make your garage sale a success too! Because if you’re going to put in the time and effort to host a garage sale, you want to make sure you earn enough and get rid of as much as you can to make it worth it.
Why We Decided to Have a Garage Sale
Over the past year I have been ruthlessly decluttering and minimizing our home. I had gathered quite a bit of stuff we no longer use or love. I was planning to donate it, simply to get it out of the house as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
However, my husband thought we should try hosting a garage sale first because we had so much stuff. I reluctantly agreed to do a garage sale, even though I was concerned about all the time and effort required.
How to Plan and Host a Successful Garage Sale
We ended up having a very successful garage sale. Despite poor weather and basically getting rained out the second day. In two days, we made a little over $1000 and got rid of just about everything we had for sale.
There were several things we did that led to the success of our garage sale. I’m sharing them today so you can make your garage sale a success as well!
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Before Your Garage Sale
1. Thoroughly declutter your house before your garage sale, gathering anything you want to sell or get rid of
- The more stuff you have, the more potential for success you’ll have at a garage sale. Make sure to declutter your whole house, including the garage, storage areas and outside areas. Looking for anything you no longer use or love.
- Designate a spot in your home to collect garage sale items and add things as you find them. I kept our garage sale items in our storage room. It was out of the way, but altogether so nothing was forgotten.
- The week before our garage sale, we did another sweep of the whole house. Looking for anything we could add to our garage sale
- We tried to be as ruthless as possible. We didn’t want to have the garage sale and then find more to get rid of two weeks later.
2. Make sure everything you’re adding to your garage sale collection is clean, looks good and is in working condition.
- Wipe down or wash anything dusty or dirty.
- Mark anything broken or not working. I used a piece of tape to note what was wrong with it and priced it accordingly.
- We didn’t replace batteries in toys. But you could keep some fresh batteries handy during your sale to show things do work. Or replace batteries if you think it will help items sell better.
3. Plan the time and date of your garage sale strategically, but watch the weather as the date approaches
- We’ve found garage sales seem to be the busiest during the spring and early summer. People seem excited to go to garage sales earlier in the season. Especially before school is out and/or people are away on holidays.
- As the date to your garage sale approaches, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Nicer weather brings more people out to garage sales. Unfortunately, the weekend we had our sale was cold and rainy. Definitely not ideal garage sale weather. We could have waited for a nicer weekend. But we already had it set up in our garage and wanted to get it over with. Our sale was still very successful, but I’m confident it could have been ever better had the weather been nicer.
- Check for any local events happening the weekend you’re planning a garage sale that could draw people away from going to garage sales.
- If your neighbourhood or community has an annual garage sale weekend, you may get more traffic if you plan your garage sale that weekend.
- In our town, Friday seems to be the busiest day for garage sales. Saturday mornings are the next busiest and Sundays are not busy at all. Figure out what the most popular garage sale day in your community is. Then be sure to be open that day.
- Plan to open your garage sale as early as you can. We planned to open our garage sale Friday at 5pm, to give us time to set up after work and school pick up. We literally had people knocking on our door before 4, so we ended up starting around 4. It seems the earlier you open, the better!
4. Helping kids be ok with selling their things
- We had been decluttering and boxing up stuff for the garage sale for months. We had included our kids in the process. But of course as we set up the garage sale, many of the toys were like brand new toys again. They did great at letting go and selling their toys. But we agreed they could each choose one thing to keep. This made them feel more willing to let go. And whenever they said “I don’t want to sell that!”, we were able to say “ok, but you can only keep one thing”. It was up to them to decide, so they felt in control and not like they were losing their stuff.
- We also agreed they could each have some money from selling their stuff. Which got them excited to sell as well.
Preparing Your Garage Sale
5. Be prepared with any supplies you’ll need during the sale
- Be sure to have plenty of change to start with.
- Have a bunch of plastic shopping bags and/or boxes available to offer people who need them during your sale.
6. Arranging your garage sale
- Clearly define your garage sale area and cover or remove all items that aren’t for sale. We made a U shape around the perimeter of our garage with rows in the middle.
- Arrange your tables and rows with enough space that people can look at them from both sides if possible. This helps avoid congestion when your garage sale is busy.
- Use as many tables as you can find to keep things easy to see and organized.
- Put popular, large and sought-after items in highly visible locations. For example, along or at the end of the drive way. They’ll catch people’s attention as soon as they walk or drive by.
7. Display your items like a store merchandiser
- We tried to arrange our garage sale like a store to make shopping easy and fun. Try to display and merchandise your items as neatly and nicely as possible.
- Group like items together (i.e. toys, baby items, home décor, crafts, kitchen items, electronics, books, etc.). Then within those categories, put like items together again. For example, within your toy section put all trucks, baby dolls, dress-up clothes, puzzles, etc. together.
- Bundle smaller, lower value and similar items into bags or boxes and mark with a price for the whole lot. For example, beads, ribbon or yarn, dress-up clothes, play food, Barbies, small decorative items, etc. These bundles were popular and sold quickly at our garage sale.
- Only sell clothing if you have a nice way to display it. Hang higher value items like a leather jacket, prominently. Use a clothing rack or bar to hang clothes if possible. Or display them neatly folded on a table or tarp on the ground. Divide clothes by gender and size to make shopping easy. Piles of jumbled clothes or bags of clothes don’t sell as well.
- Display books and DVDs standing up in boxes. It makes them easy to flip through and take out to look at or buy.
Pricing Items for Your Garage Sale
8. Make sure everything is clearly marked with a price
- Pricing each item takes a lot of time and effort. But it makes things so much easier the day of your garage sale. Buyers prefer seeing clearly labeled prices, rather than having to ask for prices. Plus, if your garage sale is very busy (and hopefully it will be!) you may not have time to answer pricing questions from multiple people. Additionally, you may not remember what price you had decided for each item once you are busy with your garage sale.
- We used painters tape and a black marker to mark prices on everything. The price was easy to see, and we didn’t have to purchase expensive pricing stickers. Plus the tape didn’t damage the items.
- We did leave one box of $0.25 items and one box of $0.50 items without individual prices. But they didn’t sell as well as the items we priced individually.
- If one entire category of items is all the same price, group them all together and mark the price with a clear and highly visible sign rather than pricing individually (i.e. all books are $0.50 each).
9. Price things to sell
- Remember, you want to sell as much of your unwanted stuff as you can. And people go to garage sales looking for deals. Remind yourself that the money you spent on an item is already gone. Don’t think about trying to recoup your cost. The point is to clear clutter from your space. Making a few dollars by selling it is a bonus.
- You can leave a small margin in your prices to account for people negotiating. But if you want to sell things quickly and sell the majority of your stuff, price it accordingly.
- Remember anything that doesn’t sell will probably be donated for free anyways. You might as well lower the price, sell it, and make some cash. Instead of having it sit unsold.
- During the last few hours of your garage sale, reduce prices to ½ price or less. This will help get rid of as much as you can before your garage sale ends.
- If you are unfamiliar with garage sale prices in your area, ask around or visit a few garage sales to get an idea of prices.
10. Make a “Free” area for anything with too little value to bother trying to sell
- People love getting something for nothing. And it’s a good way to get rid of anything not worth enough to sell without adding to the landfill. We included Happy Meal toys and cheap dollar store toys. As well as items in rough shape, but still usable if cleaned up, such as gardening shoes. Our Free stuff was very popular and most of it was gone within the first hour of the sale.
Advertising Your Garage Sale
11. Make highly visible, easy to read signs in a bright color to stand out
- I prefer using neon poster boards to make signs. Then writing with a black marker in thick, bold lettering. Using neon poster board rather than buying garage sale signs saves money. And because of the color, they are actually more visible.
- Use the same color for all your signs. This lets people know they are headed to the same garage sale.
- Make sure the writing is bold. It should stand out and be readable from a distance as people drive by your signs.
- Make sure to include the address, days and times of your garage sale clearly on your signs.
- I attached our signs to wooded stakes. The stakes held them upright at a height visible as people drove by.
12. Put signs up in popular garage sale sign spots in your community and at busy intersections near your home.
- Make sure to check any local laws or regulations about where signs are allowed. If your sign gets taken down, no one will know about your sale.
- Put arrows on your signs to help people find your garage sale easily. Try to put up enough signs to lead people to your garage sale without getting lost.
- Put a sign on your lawn in a visible place so people know where they are heading.
- Use balloons in your yard and on your signs to draw attention.
- Be sure to check your signs a few times throughout your garage sale. Make sure they are still there and haven’t blown down/away.
13. Advertise your garage sale anywhere else that is popular in your area
- In our community, signs and advertising in FaceBook buy & sell groups are the most popular ways to advertise a garage sale. There may be other popular advertising options in your community. Find out what they are and advertise in as many places as you can.
- When posting your garage sale online, list an overview of what you have for sale. Be sure to highlight popular and sought-after items. As well as anything you have a lot of at your garage sale.
- Include a picture of your sale and pictures of individual popular and sought-after items. Make sure the pictures are clear and show your items in the best way you can.
- Post your garage sale online early in the day of your sale, so more people will see to your post.
14. Post large or higher priced items in buy & sell online groups during your sale
- We still had a few higher priced items left on the second day of our sale. Due to the rain, traffic was slow. We posted the higher priced items in our local FaceBook buy & sell groups and they all sold and were picked up right away.
Tips to Keep Things Going Smoothly During Your Garage Sale
15. Create a nice atmosphere for your garage sale
- We had a radio playing quietly in the background to make our garage sale inviting.
- Ensure your garage sale is well lit and easy for buyers to see.
- Be friendly and welcoming when people come to help put them at ease. When people feel welcome and comfortable, they are more likely to browse and hopefully buy.
- Have bags and boxes ready and available for people to use while shopping and to carry anything they bought home.
16. Reorganize and rearrange often during any lulls in your garage sale
- Keep things looking neat, organized and nice throughout your sale. Reorganize and rearrange whenever things are slow for a few minutes. Fill in any gaps as things sell and keep things grouped together to make shopping easier.
17. Involving and managing your kids during your garage sale
- If your kids are old enough, they can set up a lemonade/coffee/hot chocolate/cookie/popcorn/water/etc. stand during the garage sale. It will keep them busy and give them the chance to earn some money too.
- If your kids are too young to run a stand, set up a spot for them off to the side. They can sit, eat, make a craft, color, hang out, etc. Then you aren’t worried about them and they aren’t getting in buyer’s way. We set up a small kids’ picnic table in the back corner of the garage for our kids. It was great to have a spot for them to go during the sale, especially when we were busy.
18. Security during your garage sale
- If your sale is busy, there will be a lot of people in your yard and garage. As a precaution, make sure to lock any doors or entrances to keep your house secure.
- Use a small cash box with a lid. Designate one person to stay with the cash box at all times.
- Put any small, valuable items close to you and the cash box to keep an eye on both throughout your sale.
What to do After Your Garage Sale
19. Have a plan for what to do with anything that didn’t sell after your garage sale
- We agreed that anything that didn’t sell during our garage sale would NOT come back in the house. We boxed it up and dropped it off at the donation center as soon as possible. This is important to avoid undoing all of your hard work decluttering.
20. Assess what worked and what didn’t for any future garage sales you host
- After your garage sale is over, it’s a good idea to assess what went well and anything that could be better at future garage sales. For example, we noted what items sold well. For us home décor items, toys, electronics, bedding and pillows, baby and kid items and furniture were popular. As well as what didn’t sell well (for us, books, DVDs, golf clubs, stuffed toys, kitchen small appliances and sippy cups). If we ever host another garage sale, we’ll use this to decide how much space to devote to these items. Or maybe just donate items that don’t sell as well rather than trying to sell them at all.
To Wrap Up
We are so happy with how our garage sale went. We sold just about all of our (very large) collection of stuff we had accumulated from decluttering our house. And we made a great profit to make it worth all the time and effort involved. We’ve decided to use some of our profits for something fun this summer. We’re thinking an overnight trip to our favourite water park. It will be a fun way to celebrate our garage sale success!
I hope these tips will help you have a successful and profitable garage sale as well. It takes a lot of work and time to plan, prepare and host your garage sale. But in the end, you’ll earn some money and get rid of some clutter while you’re at it. It’s a win-win!
Have you ever hosted a garage sale? How did it go? Do you have any tips to add to this list? Leave a comment below and let us know what worked for you!