How to have successful garage sale

Planning to have a garage sale? Here’s how to have a successful sale.


Summer is coming up quickly and you know what that means? Garage sale time! It’s time to work on reducing all that clutter in your life by getting rid of those unwanted and unused items that are collecting space (and dust!) in your home. If you have kids like me, you’re likely to have clothes that don’t fit and toys that no one plays with; so why not sell them and make a little money for summer fun!

The summer is the best time to hold a garage sale because the weather is warm, kids are out of school and people are looking for a great deal. After holding your garage sale use the money to treat the family to a trip to a fun activity that everyone will enjoy. Even if you don’t have the time to hold an actual garage sale; or have a yard or garage here are some great tips on reducing clutter and prepare items for sale. You can use these tips in both the offline and online setting.

Pre-preparation tips: 

  • Go through each room, one at a time – Going through each room a little at a time helps reduce garage sale stress. It’s best to start small and work your way up but sometimes it’s easier to go through the largest room first. I usually tend to go through the biggest room first because if I can do that the rest is a cakewalk. Don’t leave anything upturned; open every drawer, cabinet, shelf, etc think if you really use the item and if you need it. Chances are if you haven’t used it chances are you don’t need it. Don’t forget to take breaks, rehydrate and reassess what you’re selling and keeping. Take your time and go slowly, the winter is a great time to start when you’re stuck at home and have nothing better to do.
  • Sort items into groups – In early preparation, it’s best to organize your items beforehand; this eliminates doing this later and will reduce the stress when you start to price for sale. However; realistically this isn’t always a solid method because we start at different times and just tend to throw items here and there to prevent adding more clutter. Ask grocery stores and restaurants for extra boxes is a good way to start your sorting even if you’re not organizing. Label your boxes and let everyone know what’s being sold; especially if you have little kids so when they see a toy they like on sale day they don’t have a meltdown.

Mid Preparation:

  • Set a date and time – The best time to have a garage sale is at the beginning of the month on a weekend, if you can have it on a holiday weekend that’s even better. Having a sale on a weekend gives people a better opportunity to shop because they usually have gotten paid and some don’t work weekends. Set an early open time some deal seekers are out as early as 7 am looking for deals, the earlier you start gives you a better opportunity to stay consistent with sales
  • Pay any fees (if necessary) – Many local cities have rules and regulations on holding garage or yard sales, you may be required to get a permit or pay a fee in order to have your sale. Some cities do not require any additional permits or fees to be paid so you can set up a sale as many times you want whenever you want. Update as of 2018: With the evolution of technology, selling has never been easier there are countless apps, websites, and even groups on Facebook including the Facebook Marketplace that allows you to sell your items on your own time. Don’t forget when you’re selling online like eBay you are responsible for any listing or selling fees, but don’t worry these are billed to you at a later time and usually aren’t expensive unless you’re selling higher end
  • Set reasonable prices – If you’ve never held a garage sale before it’s best to research average garage sale prices if you’re unsure on how to price items. Don’t forget to research for high-value items like electronics and collectibles. Sadly, with high-end products like electronics, their price greatly decreases after you purchase it so you’re highly unlikely to even get half of what you paid for it. After all, you’re having a garage sale; customers expect reasonably priced items. When pricing large ticket items price them higher than what you expect, that way when you negotiate customers they think they’re getting a deal and you’re selling it for the price you want. For the last day of your sale consider a fill your basket/bag sale this is extremely helpful to eliminate extra items.
  • Organize – Organizing is extremely helpful in having a profitable sale. Have you ever been to a store and can’t find what you want? It’s horrible, and you don’t want your customers to feel discouraged because they can’t find what they want. The secret is to group like items together; such as clothing, shoes, toys, etc. When labeling clothes put all the same size together, boxes are a great option if you don’t have extra tables to prevent things from getting mixed up if you can add a divider that’s a great way to maximize your space and prevent things from mixing together.

A few days before:

  • Advertise – Advertising in the key to being successful no matter what. Businesses rely on it to generate customers and sales; so having a garage sale is no different. There are lots of places you can list your sale online for free, don’t forget to make signs, and put an ad in the paper.
  • Take pictures – Taking photos is a great way to gain pre-sales and for advertising your sale online. It gives customers an idea of what you’re selling and if there’s anything they might be interested in. If you’re solely selling items online through Facebook groups, Craigslist or eBay having a picture gives you a better guarantee on generating a sale. Customers like knowing what they’re buying in advance and it helps for those who fail to read product descriptions.

Day of preparation:

  • Have change and bags for the goods – This is one of the most forgotten things when it comes to having a garage sale. Make sure you have lots of bags and change for your customers beforehand to prevent headaches later on.
  • Have extra help – Ask your friends or family if they can help you conduct your sale; the more salespeople you have the faster you can sell, answer questions and negotiate prices if need be. Don’t forget about a babysitter if you have little ones!
  • Check the weather – Check the weather the day before and decide if you want to conduct your sale that day. People are less likely to shop on cooler or rainy days. It is a good idea to set a rain date in case you get rained out or you are having your sale outside.
  • Set up early – This is one of the most important steps to do before you have your sale and if you can step up the day before that’s even better. Setting up early gives you more time to get last-minute preparations done like getting change, bags etc. Create labels telling customers where they can find certain items at and their prices. If you can’t set up in advanced I highly suggest getting up a few hours before your sale so you can set up if you’ve followed the step of organizing before your sale this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

After the sale:

Ask family and friends if they are interested in your leftovers, if not list them on a site like freecycle and give them away. If all else fails to donate your items to charities that can use them; whatever you do, do NOT bring them back into the house! Purge as quickly as you can, chances are you’ll find someone or someplace that will take them.

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