Friday, August 7, 2015

How to have a successful Garage Sale!

One of the comments that I kept getting at both of the garage sales I had this summer was "everything is so organized".

I guess I hadn't really thought about it, but I do like things organized. When I go to a sale, I don't want baby stuff in among kitchen wear....or tools among books.

So, having those comments made, it got me to thinking....what don't I like about some garage sales and how can people have a better sale?  So, I have thought about this and decided to share my thoughts with you.

I absolutely HATE going to a sale where things are all scattered on the tables with no thought, (or worse yet....on the ground) and above all else....not even priced.  I usually just walk away.  I know some hard core garage salers LOVE to bargain but I don't.

I know that doing a garage sale is a ton of work and most of the time you don't make enough to pay you for all the hours you spent setting one up, but the fact probably weren't doing anything productive, anyway, those few days and you DID get rid of a lot of extra things and you did make some money.   And, even got some exercise!  That's the way I look at it when people say, "oh it's too much work for what you get back".  Really?  I mean, most of the time if you have a lot of stuff, you load it into your car and drop it off at the nearest recycling center.  So, why not price it, have a garage sale, sell what you can and THEN donate to the recycle center?  

I know, I know, most people hate having to go through all the work of setting one up.  And, it is a lot of work but not if you allow yourself plenty of time, do it in spurts and organize it well.  The key word is ORGANIZE!!

I will offer a few tips...but it's by no means can Google Garage Sale ideas/tips and come up with tons more.  And, I know I'll forget some things, too....but for the most part here is what I have found to work.

1.  First off, decide the day/time you are going to have it.  (make sure you take advantage of all free ads to advertise your sale, when the time comes and even take out a little paid ad in your local paper, if you have big ticket items at your will pay off). Next, starting weeks and even months before, gather everything together that you plan on selling.

2.  Secondly, price EVERYTHING!!!  I say this because, I absolutely HATE to ask "how much is this?" when I am at a sale and having asked a lot of people, I have found that most people won't ask.  And, most people like to have a bargaining point.  If you mark something for $5 and they don't think it's worth $5, they can always ask if you will take less.  But, if it isn't marked, most likely it won't even come to that point.   Most people don't want to insult you by offering a lower price.  And, I recommend actually pricing things and not putting color coded stickers IE  All orange stickers .50 cents, all blue stickers $1 because that gets confusing.

3.  Organize things by like items.  Kitchen ware with kitchen ware, tools with tools, books with books, Crafts with Crafts, Movies with Movies, Music with Music, toys with get the idea.   People have different interests so if they are looking for a specific item, you can send them to one area of your sale.

4.  Have plenty of tables (or saw horses and plywood).  You can't believe how creative you can be in finding ways to display things.  But, don't make people go through stuff on the ground.  Unless, the item is too large to fit on a table....then it should BE on a table.

5.  Depending on your circumstances, allow plenty of room between and around your tables.  If you have expensive items, make sure that they are near your money table, so you can keep an eye on them.  Some people do NOT watch their kids at garage sales and don't offer to pay for items that are broken. :-(  And, believe it or not, there are scammers that love going to garage sales.  It helps if you have several people helping you at your sale.

6.  Wear a fanny pack for your paper bills.  There is always someone that needs you to answer a question and you have to leave your money have a place, on you, that you have your paper bills.   And, speaking of money...make sure you start with enough change.  Do NOT accept anything over a $20 bill first thing in the morning.  I know it's so hard to do, but there are people that WILL give you a $50 bill right off the start and you are left without a way to make change as you cannot leave to go to the bank or store to make change.  Make sure you have enough change for the items you are selling.  I like to start with at least $100 and then a roll of Quarters, Dimes and Nickels.  Don't price things don't want to have to think that hard.  And, don't use pennies.

7.  Signage:  Lots of signs with the basic info:  like "Sale:  123 A St   9-4pm" with arrows if necessary (follow your cities' guidelines for garage sales) and place strategic signs AT your sale like "NO Bills larger than $20"  "No checks" (unless you know the person).  Another one that may work is:  "You break, you Buy!!!"   Sometimes that helps people to watch their kids.  

8.  Place your larger items out towards the front of your sale, if you have a them out front.  A lot of people will do a drive by to see what you have and if all they see is clothes or toys.....they'll keep on going!  They won't take the time to actually get out of the car to go inside your garage.  If you have things out front AND in your garage....have a sign that says MORE INSIDE GARAGE.

9.  Offer water for sale.  I know it sounds weird...but on hot days, you will sell a LOT of water and you can buy cases of water for pretty inexpensive.  Charge .50 cents a bottle.  I have been to sales where it was so hot and I welcomed the opportunity to purchase a bottle of water at even $1!!!

10.  I know your kids and animals are cute....but unless the kids are well behaved and have specific jobs to do...have someone keep them busy for the day.  And, some people are either allergic to dogs or are afraid of it's best to keep fido in the house, too!

11.  DON"T yak the customers to death!!!  Say Hi or something when they first arrive and then let them browse.  Unless they ask specific questions, don't HOVER!!!  Don't talk about each item they look at or pick up.  You will know if they want to chat or not and if not, leave them alone to just browse.

12.  Make sure you have electrical outlets available if you are selling things that need to be plugged in.  People like to know that what they are buying actually works!!

13.  To keep men from hurrying their wives up, have a table for THEM towards the front of your sale so that they have something to keep them busy while their wife looks around.

14.  Do NOT pile things in boxes expecting your customers to dig through the items.  And, DO NOT put out dirty, broken items.   Things that are not totally usable, you CAN place in a FREE box or post a little sign that says, 'FOR PARTS".

15.  On the day of your sale, make sure you have enough money to make change, bags for customers to take their items home in, newspaper (to wrap fragile items with), Calculator, cell phone (just in case of an emergency) and plenty of help, if possible.

16.  And, last but certainly not least.  I know we want to expect the best out of everyone but there are scammers out there.  DO NOT, under any circumstance, allow strangers into your home.  Direct them to a local fast food place if they ask to use the restroom.  Do NOT accept large bills or checks unless you KNOW the person personally.  Do not leave your sale to go get something from your house....unless you have plenty of help.  And, just stay alert!  Do not allow THEM to add up their own purchases.....because even though most people are trying to help out, there are people that are out to advantage of you.  :-(

I know that this list is not exhaustive but these are the ideas I have used over the years that have helped me over the years.

Enjoy your day!!!



  1. Wow! Thanks for the ideas. Although I don't plan on a garage sale anytime soon it was great to see what you did with yours.

  2. I am in no way an expert on garage sales but I know what I do and don't like when I got to garage sales so try to fashion mine according to that. Of course, some hard core garage salers don't mind digging through stuff, but from what I have gleaned from people, over the years, if they have to dig or look through too much stuff on a table, they just leave.

  3. Right on Irish! I don't do yard sales... but I enjoy going to some every so often. I'm a 'drive by-er'. If it looks messy I won't even stop. And I hate, hate, hate no price tags.

  4. I just 'drove by' a couple of yard sales this past Friday. I hadn't planned on going to any but there were a couple along my 'errand' route, so thought I would stop but ended up driving on by. I know it takes a lot of time to set one up so it looks inviting but it goes a long ways in helping a potential customer decide if they want to take the time to stop.


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