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How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale: Tips & Tricks

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Is it getting tough to park your car in your garage due to the mountains of boxes containing junk you no longer use? Most of us like to horde our old stuff out of the way where it can’t interrupt our daily lifestyle.

However, after a few years of collecting dust in the garage, your old stuff is no longer treasured memories of the past – its clutter keeping you from using the space for productive purposes.

Turn your clutter into cash with a garage sale. All the unwanted goods you have stashed around your home may be someone else’s treasure. Sure, you could sell them on eBay or Craigslist, but making a new listing for hundreds of items could take days of hard work. This exercise is about removing the clutter from your life – not adding more effort.

A garage sale offers a platform where you can get rid of anything that you no longer need, in one day. Hosting a successful garage sale requires you to follow a plan, it’s not as simple as throwing all of your stuff on the driveway and letting the neighbors rummage through it at their leisure.

We decided to use our expertise to give you a plan for hosting a garage sale. It’s time to trade that clutter for cash, and who knows – you could be sitting on a goldmine.

The Groundwork for your Garage Sale

Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for your upcoming garage sale.

1. Set a Date

The first step in planning the ultimate garage sale involves selecting the date to host your event. We recommend that you conduct your garage sale over a Saturday, and if the response is unsatisfactory, roll it over to Sunday as well. Some people like to host a garage sale on a Friday, but we find there’s usually an inadequate response because most people are at work. Using the weekend is your best bet, as it gives people more time to work your garage sale into their plans.

Try to avoid hosting the sale on a Sunday morning. Many people go to church in the morning or spend time with their family – and your garage sale is the last thing on their agenda. However, after 12 pm, the families will go about their afternoon activities – and that could mean stopping by your garage sale.

Plan your sale when the weather is moderate. Hosting the event during the winter is a bad idea – as most people are reluctant to leave their homes on a cold winters day. Holding the sale on a summer day when a heatwave is at its peak will also yield poor results.

Try to choose a summer or spring day where the weather is pleasant, and there’s no forecast of rain on the horizon.

2. Organize Your Sale Items

Wander around your home and pull out all of the stuff you haven’t used in months. Clearing out the clutter in your home and garage in a liberating experience – and you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you have lying around that you never use.

Make sure that you clean all of the items properly – no one likes to buy old, dusty items. Check for things like old cellphone, laptop, and appliance chargers – you might not know what these items charge, but someone else might, and they may buy them.

Add all of the items to your sale and make an inventory list of all the goods you have for sale. After collating your list, add prices to the list items and keep the master list on hand for use the following day during your garage sale.

3. Check with the City Clerk

Imagine the scenario – You spend hours cleaning out the clutter from your home and prepping from your garage sale. On the day, as you finish setting up your wares, the police arrive at your home to inform you that you’re breaking bylaws, and you must remove all of your stuff from the street or your yard.

Some states and counties require you to purchase a permit before you can hold a yard sale. Before you go to the effort of cleaning out your clutter and arranging prices, check with the city clerk about any legal requirement you’ll need to follow with your garage sale.

Successful Garage Sale

Marketing Your Garage Sale

No one will come to your garage sale if they don’t know it’s happening. Marketing your garage sale may seem like an unnecessary step – but it’s vital if you want to sell as much of your stuff as possible. Here are a few strategies you can use to promote your sale and bring in droves of visitors.

1. Advertise in Local Newspapers

Your local newspaper is the best way to allocate your marketing budget for this task. Everyone in your neighborhood reads the local newspaper, and if they don’t – the chances are that their neighbor informs them about the content.

Since you’re targeting people in the local community for your sale, the local newspaper makes an excellent platform for your marketing efforts. Type out a short 4-line description, and include the date, time, and address.

Most local newspapers let you advertise in the classifieds section for around $15, that’s a small price to pay considering the exposure to the community. Most local newspapers are free, and you can expect almost everyone in your area to be aware of your sale.

2. Market Online

Marketing online will provide you with the reach you need to get everyone in the area at your yard sale on the weekend. We suggest you post the details one or more of the following garage sale sites;

  • Craigslist
  • Garage Sale Source
  • Yard Hopper
  • Garage Sale Hunter
  • Yard Sale Search

After posting on these platforms, it’s time to log in to Facebook for the final leg of your marketing activities.

Create a post of your yard sale. Take a photo of some top items – like an old PS3 games console or TV, along with a picture of your yard where you’ll be hosting the sale. Write an exciting description of what’s on offer, and when you’re planning on hosting the event.

Post this to your page and tag your neighbors. After that, you’ll notice a button on the bottom right corner of the post that reads, “boost post.” Click this option, and you’ll go through to the Facebook ad manager. This platform allows you to target the post to people near your geographic location.

By spending $5 to $10, you’ll be able to put your garage sale post into the newsfeed of everyone in your area! Expect them to arrive in droves for your sale.

3. Put Up Signs

As your last marketing task, visit the hardware store for a few signboards. Add the text “garage sale” to your board, along with the address of your home, as well as the date and time of the sale. Before you get started, check the local bylaws in your area – some neighborhoods don’t allow signs.

Garage Sale Sign

Prepping for the Garage Sale

After you’ve collected your items, taken inventory, and promoted your garage sale – it’s time for the final step. Preparing for your garage sale is where the hard work comes into play. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you’re ready for the big day when it arrives.

1. Getting Ready

Make sure that you have everything ready to go the day before the sale. You’re going to need tables and clothes racks, as well as chairs to sit on while you keep your eye on the shoppers. Try not to waste money on renting tables and chairs. We’re sure that with a little creativity – you’ll be able to find some surface to use for your items.

Keep your fragile goods on a separate table against a fence or wall. This strategy ensures that no one bumps the table, knocking the valuables onto the floor.

2. Collect a Change Float

With the day fast approaching – your mind starts to fill with dollar signs at the potential profits you could earn from selling off your stuff you no longer need. However, your customers will most likely need change.

Not having a change float could end up costing you the sale. The day before the sale, visit the bank and ask them to make some change for your event from a $20 bill. Make sure you have enough coins on hand for your customers.

Ask the bank for a cash bag. This strategy allows you to seal the earnings in the bag and have a family member run into the house during the sale to drop off the money. This strategy keeps the cash out of your hands, eliminating the risk of someone mugging you for your money.

3. Price to Sell

Make sure you price every item individually using a sticker, instead of lumping them together in a box with a dollar sign on it. As the day progresses, people will move the stuff around, tossing it where it doesn’t belong. Without a sticker system and inventory list, someone may con you for a good deal.

Price your items to sell. You don’t want the stuff anymore, so it’s pointless asking for a hefty price when your goal is to get rid of the clutter in your home. Be careful with bargain hunters, and never entertain any offers that are below 20-percent of the asking price.

Before you close the transaction, look at your inventory list and check that you’re charging the right price for the item. After the sale, cross it off your list to keep track of what you’re selling.

Yard Sale

Tips for Hosting Your Garage Sale

The big day is finally here, and it’s time to make some money! Follow these steps to ensure you make the most out of the day.

1. Start Early

Make sure you start to set up at least an hour before the sale begins. Set up your tables and place your chair in a shaded area to sit. Put up a sign above your chair that says “pay here,” as some people may not realize where they can pay for their items, and may walk away if they have no explicit instruction of what to do.

If it’s hard to spot your sale from the street, make sure you put up a sign to inform your visitors they are at the right location.

2. Help Others – But Don’t Hover

Position your chair where you can see everyone arrive, and make sure you greet them with a friendly smile. In an ideal world, a garage sale would be like shopping at Walmart. The customer chooses their product, pays and leaves. However, people seem to spend more time at garage sales, and you’ll have to deal with some bargaining as well.

Don’t feel like you have to let go of that old dining room chair set for $2 when you want $10. The chances are that someone may come along that offers you the full price. Wait till the end of the day before you start dropping your prices.

3. Late Afternoon Deals

As the afternoon starts to drag, you may want to alter your pricing strategy to clear the rest of the leftovers. Unless you’re planning on rolling over the sale to Sunday, then we suggest you use a tiered discounting system. Three hours before you close, offer 25-percent off all your merchandise. An hour before closing, offer 50-percent off of prices.

4. Encourage Up-Selling and Cross-Selling

If someone walks up to you wanting to buy some pillows, then offer them the matching quilt as well. Should you sell the PS3 console, offer them the games rack to store their titles. Upselling and cross-selling are professional sales strategies that can earn you more dollars from your efforts.

The Final Thought – Donate Your Leftovers

After wrapping up your garage sale, count all of your earnings – did you do as well as you expected? The chances are that you’re going to have plenty of leftover items after the sale.

Instead of throwing it out, why not donate the leftovers to charity? There is bound to be someone out there that can benefit from that neon-yellow sports vest you think is hideous. Donating the leftovers is an excellent way to give back to the community.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased