10 Tips for Making Money at Your Next Garage Sale

Updated on April 16, 2018
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Sadie Holloway writes about enjoying the good life while living on a modest income. She loves finding creative ways to save money.

Holding a garage sale is an environmentally smart alternative to tossing your unwanted household items into a landfill. Garage sales help you promote the notion of reducing by reusing. Garage sales are also a fun way to make a little bit of pocket cash. If you have school-aged children, getting them involved can teach them valuable lessons about money management, good customer service and marketing.

Take time to polish and dust your items so they sparkle in the sun. Would you buy an item covered in dust and dirt at the store? No! So treat your garage sale merchandise as if it were being displayed in a tidy retail environment.
Take time to polish and dust your items so they sparkle in the sun. Would you buy an item covered in dust and dirt at the store? No! So treat your garage sale merchandise as if it were being displayed in a tidy retail environment.

1. Outline your goals for your garage sale. Why do you want to hold a garage sale? To make money? To get rid of stuff as quickly as possible? Price your items accordingly (for a quick sale, or to get the highest buck).

2. Recruit other people to help you. Ask family members, friends or neighbors if they want to host a group garage sale with you. For someone who lives in an apartment, an invitation to join your garage sale can be a great help in clearing out clutter in a small space.

If you decide to hold a single-family garage sale, don't try to do it all by yourself. You will need help. For safety reasons, you should always have one other person with you; three or four extra helpers are even better. For a bit of fun, have your garage sale team wear matching brightly colored shirts.

3. Make sure you are properly insured. When you let strangers onto to your property, you are legally responsible for anything that happens to them. If a bargain-hunter trips and falls at your sale or gets hurt while on your property, your insurance may cover you if they decide to sue. But don't take your coverage for granted. Be sure to check your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you have enough third-party liability coverage to protect yourself. Any profits you make from a garage sale will be wiped out and then some if you get sued. Better safe than sorry!

4. Pick a good time. Avoid holding a yard sale on a long weekend or statutory holiday. On holiday weekends, many folks are out of town, spending time with family or just trying to get more sleep.

5. Display your items strategically to maximize your sales profits. Place popular, in-demand, interesting items that are in good near the front of the garage sale so that people driving by can see the good stuff and stop by. Good quality, utilitarian items such as tools, garden furniture, bikes and sturdy toys often draw curious bargain hunters in.

While some people like to randomly discover unique items at garage sales, others know exactly what they are looking for. Display similar items together in one area to help savvy collectors find the next addition to their cherished collection.
While some people like to randomly discover unique items at garage sales, others know exactly what they are looking for. Display similar items together in one area to help savvy collectors find the next addition to their cherished collection.

6. Watch out for early-bird bargain hunters. Be firm about your opening time by putting a barrier, sign or rope in front of your garage sale. You will be busy setting up before your garage sale opens and it can be difficult to get ready when people are milling around and asking questions.

7. Be safe, not sorry. It is important to keep your home secure when you are having a garage sale and inviting the general public. Never leave any doors unlocked or windows wide open. Believe it or not thieves scope out houses they want to rob by visiting garage sales and open houses. Don’t let strangers into your home to use the bathroom or try on clothes. In a matter of seconds, a thief could cause a distraction while an accomplice slips insider your home and steals valuables.

8. Keep your pets away from the sale. You may think that dog is the friendliest dog ever, but not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Some people are just not dog people or cat people. Always keep your pets safe and secure in the house or another part of the yard, away from yard sale visitors.

9. Keep your money secure. Carry your cash in a fanny pack or over the shoulder satchel. Carry a calculator and cell phone.

10. Be vigilant. Don't assume that just because you are selling things at garage-sale prices that everyone will be honest and fair. Believe it or not, there are people that will try to steal items from your sale.

If you're selling your house to downsize or upsize (for a growing family) a garage sale is a great way to get your home ready for the market by clearing out clutter. A yard sale is also helpful before you start renovating because it will force you to take stock of what you want to keep once your updated home is ready.

Workshop tools and garden equipment in good condition are popular with yard sale patrons and can fetch a good price if displayed properly.
Workshop tools and garden equipment in good condition are popular with yard sale patrons and can fetch a good price if displayed properly.

When you hold a garage sale you are doing something useful for the environment. You are keeping unwanted goods out of the dump. You are providing low-cost goods that help budget-conscious families make ends meet. By including your kids in the event you are also teaching them how to let go of things for a higher purpose--to clear clutter, to make space for new toys, to make some pocket money.

One last thing about making money at your next garage sale:

No matter how much stuff you sell or how much of it you end up donating to a charity at the end of your garage sale, you're still making money. Here's how to calculate your earnings:

Picture all the stuff that you sold at your garage sale in a big pile in the middle of your bedroom. Now estimate estimate the square footage that pile of junk takes up. Then calculate how much you pay for housing each month per square foot. For example, if your mortgage or rent payments are $1,000/month for a 750 sq.ft. home, you're paying $1.33 per sq. ft. Does your 10 ft square pile of junk pay you $13.30 a month to be your roomie? No? By getting rid of that junk taking up space in your home, you are reclaiming the value of the space in your home.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway

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