Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

We had a HUGE garage sale this past Saturday. It was a lot of hard work, but we made close to $1,200. It was one of the hottest days of the year, but I can’t complain because the forecast called for severe thunderstorms. I learned a lot during this garage sale. First being, don’t EVER schedule a garage sale when your husband is on call. He had to go to work 10 minutes before the start of the sale. At one point, I had over 12 people with armloads of stuff waiting to pay. A few were getting irrate, and I was getting frazzled. Overall, the sale wasn’t that bad, and I met sooooo many nice people.

Here’s a few tips I’d like to share for a successful garage sale:

  • At least a month ahead of time, start gathering your items. That sounds like a long time, but if you have children, you know that going through their clothes and toys can be a daunting task.
  • Find a place to store gathered items.
  • Make sure the clothes you sell are clean and have no holes or stains. Don’t even bother with trying to get a stain out.  Is it worth 2 hours of scrubbing and washing to make 50 cents?
  • Another thing….make sure your clothes don’t have an odor. Everyone’s house has unique “smell”. Just make sure your stuff smells clean. The week before the sale, I took everything out of the boxes and sprayed with Downey Wrinkle Release and fluffed. I had several people say, “Most stuff from garage sales stink, and yours smells good.” However, you don’t want to make the clothes so “perfumey” that it turns people away.
  • Gather lots and lots of hangers. Clothing that is hung up sells much better than clothes in a box or wadded up on a table. I ran out of hangers and folded some clothes and put on a table. Guess what? Only about 50% of those clothes sold. I found some extra hangers 1/2 way through the sale, and hung the folded clothes up. Everyone of them sold!
  • If you have a lot of clothes, check into renting clothes racks from a party rental facility. I rented 3 clothing rack for $8 each. I also rented 2 six foot tables for $8 each. It really does make a difference if you have your stuff off the ground and displayed properly.
  • Get a fanny pack. Yes, I said fanny pack. Might as well look like a garage sale goober, right? Sadly, there are people that seize the opportunity to take money at garage sales. They see the money box unattended, and bingo your money is gone. With a fanny pack, you can walk around and have your hands free and your hard earned cash ON you.
  • Make sure you have at least (1 or 2) twenty dollar bills, (5) ten dollar bills, (5) five dollar bills, and (20) one dollar bills. You’ll need lots of quarters too. I had 2 $10 rolls of quarters. You’ll more likely to lose a sale if you can’t make change.
  • It goes without saying, dress comfortably. This is not the time to look fashionable. Shorts, tank top, and sneakers is the way to go. Oh, and the fanny pack.
  • Check to see if your city or neighborhood has garage sale regulations. Oftentimes, you’ll need a permit if you live in the city limits.
  • Also make sure you can put up signage. In our area of town, you can put up signs, but just a few blocks away, the signs are regulated.
  • ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE. Use social media to your advantage. Place a detailed ad in the local newspaper. If you have big ticket items, list them in your ad. I also placed a listing on Craigslist, Facebook, and let my local Twitter friends know about it. I also started a Blogspot listing. Yes, I made a blog dedicated to the garage sale. It’s free!! I included a few “teaser” pics, and a very detailed listing. You don’t have to include prices.  I also mentioned the sale to anyone that breathed--the manicurist, people that work with my husband, etc.
  • For you moms that will be selling your children’s clothing, furniture, etc.—consider having a “preview sale” the night before. This was REALLY my breadwinner.  I put everything out in my living room and dining room and let people I know come early. It was nice because I didn’t get the haggling that I did with strangers, and I didn’t have to haul all that stuff out early the next morning for the sale.  Another benefit—those ladies went and told their friends about the sale.
  • Have a much as possible done the night before. Have your clothes laid out that your are going to wear.  Have an idea what you’re going to do for breakfast. Make sure everything is priced. Categorize your stuff (i.e. kids’ clothes separate from your clothes, kitchen stuff together, books together….) If you box similar items together, it’s a lot easier to get things out.
  • Have lots of plastic grocery bags. I used well over 50 bags. Also have newsprint or bubble wrap to wrap breakables.
  • I strongly encourage you to price all your items. It’s a lot of work, but I practically gave away the items I didn’t price. I don’t do well coming up with a price off the top of my head.  Plus, when you have 3 or 4 people needing to know the prices on a stack of clothes….you’ll quickly wish you had priced everything.
  • Realize people are there to get a bargain. Ask yourself if you were looking a particular item, would your asking price seem fair? You can’t hang on to the fact that you paid $80 for that Lilly sweater 12 years ago. Nobody cares. They want it for a few bucks.
  • Don’t get your feelings hurt. I had a lady that came and insulted Seriously, she made comments about how she’d never buy designer clothing, how ugly a skirt was, and why didn’t I have any size 9 women’s shoes. I had to walk away from her. I’m glad I did, because she ended up buying a lot.
  • If you have large items, such as furniture, don’t put a puny little sticker on it. Make a larger one to grab attention.
  • When setting up your sale, think of how retail stores do their displays. Put like items together. Arrange items so you can see them.  With kids’ clothing, take the time to arrange by size. If a mom comes, she usually has a specific size in mind. Half way through the sale, move things around so people can see them and straighten clothing.
  • Get your kids involved. I let the girls set up a table of their own to sell their toys. They also had a cooler with bottled water and Gatorade to sell. I was so proud of how hard they worked and all the suggestive selling they did. Here’s one area where I wouldn’t let the kids get involved……making the signs for the street. People usually can’t read them and quite honestly, they look bad. I’d let them make a sign for their table.
  • Speaking of signs, my one suggestion….get neon poster board and stick with one color for your signs. I used neon pink (of course) and had the same look for each sign. This is the time to pull out your black, big-tipped Sharpie. Use big letters, and only put the basics on there-date, time, address and an arrow. People can’t see miniscule letters when they’re at a stop sign.
  • Put the big items such as furniture at the end of your driveway. It’ll make the “drive-bys” stop. Another way to get people to stop…..put some hunting equipment, lawn tools, electronics, or other “man stuff” close to the street.  I had as many men stop as women.
  • Be friendly, and greet every person that walks up, but don’t hover.
  • Don’t hang on to the leftover stuff. You’re purpose of the sale is to make money and get rid of stuff. You made the money, so find the leftover stuff a home. Don’t fool yourself into having another sale. Just get rid of it!
  • Lastly, have a good time!

Do you have any garage sale tips?


  1. Wow! $1200! You must have had a lot of great stuff! We had one this past weekend and got like $200, and one a couple weeks beforehand and made a similar amount. It was a lot of work, but at least we made a little pocket money! Great tips!!!

  2. these are GREAT tips!!! i am wanting to have a garage sale sometime this fall and think these are wonderful--and look at you--$1,200 is AWESOME

  3. Great tips!! Sounds like you had an excellent sale!! I need to have a garage sale sooo bad!! :)

  4. From packing to yard offer the best tips! Glad yours was a success : )

  5. Super helpful! Our neighborhood has an annual garage sale and I've been thinking about participating next year. Also, I have about 50 million tons of bubble wrap from wedding packages, so maybe I'll just hold on to that.