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Tips for Hosting the Best Garage Sale Ever

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

A garage sale can be fun for the whole family, but getting it right involves detailed planning and follow-through. As a potential purveyor of household goods, you need to know how to advertise, organize, merchandise, price and negotiate. Following these tips will help ensure you have the best garage sale ever!

You'll be surprised at all of things you have to sell.

You'll be surprised at all of things you have to sell.

Supplies for Starting a Garage Sale

  • Rigid poster board, wooden stakes or boxes and wide-tip permanent markers for signs-Heavy-duty tape and stapler to affix signs to stakes or boxes
  • Balloons to draw attention to your sale
  • Folding or stationary tables for item display
  • Cheap hangers for clothing, inexpensive clothing racks or cording to hang clothes
  • Self-adhesive stickers, hanging tags and marker to create price tags
  • At least $75 in small bills and change
  • A locked cash box in a secure location and a fanny pack for small change-Calculator, pens, spiral notebook
  • Tape measure-Electrical outlet to test lamps, small appliances and electronics
  • Boxes for merchandise display
  • Newspaper or ink-free wrapping paper for breakables
  • Grocery bags for small purchases
  • Drinks and snacks for your hard-working helpers

Pick the Best Days: Weekends

Hold your garage sale on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The hours are up to your discretion. Garage sales scheduled between 9am and 3pm are prime shopping hours. Expect to open a little earlier to accommodate early birds looking for the best merchandise selection. Choosing the right time of the month can also bring in more customers. Plan your garage sale at the beginning or the middle of month to coincide with paycheck time.

Choose the Perfect Season

The best times of the year for hosting a garage sale are spring and fall. Temperate weather brings out bargain hunters en masse. June garage sales can be as successful as spring and fall sales in regions with mild summer weather. Don't completely rule out summer months—just make sure you provide plenty of shade and bottled water for customers.

Early spring garage sales draw the buyers out of winter hibernation. Late fall garage sales bring out holiday shoppers. Before selecting a weekend, check the extended forecast to ensure you have good weather for a successful turnout.

Inspect Your Items

Go over your items with a fine tooth comb before your start pricing. Who knows, you might find hidden treasures. While you may not score a first edition Hemingway or antique emerald brooch, certain pieces may be more valuable than you think. Anything from old toys to costume jewelry can fetch handsome prices from the right collector. Put these items aside and do your research before tossing them in with your garage sale castaways.

Even a piece of well-made costume jewelry may be worth more than you think!

Even a piece of well-made costume jewelry may be worth more than you think!

Develop a Pricing Strategy

Now that you have culled through everything you must decide on fair market garage sale pricing. If your starting prices are too high, you might discourage buyers. Check out pricing at garage sales in your area. Go to local thrift stores and see what they charge for similar items.

City-specific websites such as Craigslist will give you good insight into what people are charging for household items. These pricing strategies will work on everything from appliances and furniture to baby clothes and kitchen utensils. Always price items at least 20 to 30 percent higher to get the price you ultimately want.

Post your prices prominently. Tag each item individually, so there is no question as to the asking price. In the case of damaged goods, mention the defect on the tag. You may want to sell some things in lot--like books, CDs or dinnerware. In this case, place the items in a box with a sign indicating the price for the entire group.

These are great tags for clothing and other soft goods.

These are great tags for clothing and other soft goods.

Spread the Word

Several weeks in advance by creating a buzz among your friends and family about the upcoming sale. Word of mouth is an effective and cheap form of advertising. Send emails and promote your sale via social networks like Facebook Marketplace. Place a classified or display ad on Craigslist with a teaser photo of some of the items you'll be selling.

Post your garage sale flyer at local businesses.

Post your garage sale flyer at local businesses.

Go low-tech by taking out a classified ad in the penny shopper, or post your sale on community bulletin boards at local grocery stores and businesses. If you have permission, tuck garage sale announcements under the wipers of cars in parking lots.

Consider Signage and Access

The day before your garage sale, make and distribute your signs. Bright background colors and bold lettering make them easy to read from a distance. Include dates, hours, address, directional arrows and a couple balloons for added impact. Attach your signs to stakes or weighted boxes and place them at intersections to guide shoppers in from every direction. Include a sign in front of your house letting buyers know it is strictly cash and carry.

Be a considerate neighbor. Do not staple signs to utility poles—most cities and towns have laws that forbid nailing, taping, tacking or stapling anything into power poles. The same applies for municipal sign poles. Notify homeowners in your immediate vicinity a week before the garage sale. Give them a flyer with the dates and hours of your sale. On the morning of the sale, post signs along the street telling shoppers not to block driveways or walkways.

Don't forget to put dates, hours and an address on your signs.

Don't forget to put dates, hours and an address on your signs.

If you live in a covenant-controlled community check with your homeowners’ association regarding rules for garage sales. Gated communities often require special access on the days and hours of your sale. Use signage to direct cars to guest parking areas, if applicable.

Use Creative Merchandising Techniques

Pretend you're a store owner. Create attractive and easily accessible displays. Arrange similar items together in groups, i.e., lawn and garden, children’s toys, clothing, sporting goods, housewares, jewelry, etc. Avoid overcrowding clothing racks. Put large items like furniture on the driveway or front lawn to draw interest. During down time, straighten and reorganize merchandise. Maintain a neat and orderly shopping experience for your customers.

Create inviting vignettes to draw buyers to specific items.

Create inviting vignettes to draw buyers to specific items.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

Garage sale shoppers want super bargains. That's why negotiation plays big part in the success of your sale. Dropping the price between 20 and 30 percent is better than not selling an item. Professional garage sale shoppers may even wait until the last hour to get the lowest prices, so be prepared to do some deep discounting at the end of the day. If someone appears to be a serious buyer, offer to bundle several items to lower their overall price. Consider throwing in a freebie if the buyer agrees to the asking price of an item.

Donate Unsold Items

Avoid hauling items back into your house after the sale. It's better to simply donate unsold items to a local charitable organization. This relieves you of having to organize another garage sale and it helps those in need. Schedule a pick up the day after your sale or load up your vehicle and take them to a donation drop site.

Contribute to those in need by donating unsold items to a charitable organization.

Contribute to those in need by donating unsold items to a charitable organization.

Have What It Takes to be a Garage Sale Guru? Take the quiz and find out!

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. Do you have plenty of time to plan, organize and host the sale?
    • I can devote enough time a month in advance to get everything together.
    • Not sure, I may need some help with this.
    • I'm too busy with family and other commitments.
  2. Have you thought about what you'll sell?
    • I've got most everything organized in boxes.
    • I have a pretty good idea.
    • Wow, I really hate to part with my stuff.
  3. Are you able to deal with slow times and busy times?
    • The down time will give me a chance to straighten and organize.
    • I may need some help when it gets busy.
    • I don't have the patience for any of this.
  4. How do you feel about strangers rifling through your belongings?
    • I'm thrilled that someone will get benefit out of things I no longer want.
    • It bothers me a little, but it is worth it in the end.
    • It really creeps me out.
  5. How do you plan to promote your garage sale?
    • I will tell my co-workers, post a notice on Facebook and will probably run an ad in the local paper.
    • My friends will help me spread the word.
    • I have to promote this thing?
  6. What will happen to the items you don't sell?
    • I plan on giving them away to customers and donating the remainder to charity.
    • I'll have another sale next year.
    • I'll just stick them back in the basement. We may need them.
  7. How do you plan on pricing your merchandise?
    • I'll try to come up with fair pricing that will attract buyers.
    • I'll do some research and get back to you.
    • The higher the better--I'm in it for the money!
  8. Are you prepared to negotiate with shoppers?
    • Yes, and I'm pretty good at it!
    • It makes me kind of uncomfortable, but I'll get the hang of it.
    • No negotiating--my prices are firm.
  9. When are you going to have your garage sale?
    • When the weather is not too hot or cold and I'll check the forecast before setting the date.
    • When I finally get things organized.
    • Whenever I darn well please!
  10. Have you checked to see if garage sales are permitted in your neighborhood?
    • Yep, that's the first thing I did.
    • Someone else on my block had a sale recently, so I think it's OK.
    • No, why should I worry about that?

Scoring

Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. Do you have plenty of time to plan, organize and host the sale?
    • I can devote enough time a month in advance to get everything together.: +5 points
    • Not sure, I may need some help with this.: +3 points
    • I'm too busy with family and other commitments.: +0 points
  2. Have you thought about what you'll sell?
    • I've got most everything organized in boxes.: +5 points
    • I have a pretty good idea.: +3 points
    • Wow, I really hate to part with my stuff.: +0 points
  3. Are you able to deal with slow times and busy times?
    • The down time will give me a chance to straighten and organize.: +5 points
    • I may need some help when it gets busy.: +3 points
    • I don't have the patience for any of this.: +0 points
  4. How do you feel about strangers rifling through your belongings?
    • I'm thrilled that someone will get benefit out of things I no longer want.: +5 points
    • It bothers me a little, but it is worth it in the end.: +3 points
    • It really creeps me out.: +0 points
  5. How do you plan to promote your garage sale?
    • I will tell my co-workers, post a notice on Facebook and will probably run an ad in the local paper.: +5 points
    • My friends will help me spread the word.: +3 points
    • I have to promote this thing?: +0 points
  6. What will happen to the items you don't sell?
    • I plan on giving them away to customers and donating the remainder to charity.: +5 points
    • I'll have another sale next year.: +3 points
    • I'll just stick them back in the basement. We may need them.: +0 points
  7. How do you plan on pricing your merchandise?
    • I'll try to come up with fair pricing that will attract buyers.: +5 points
    • I'll do some research and get back to you.: +3 points
    • The higher the better--I'm in it for the money!: +0 points
  8. Are you prepared to negotiate with shoppers?
    • Yes, and I'm pretty good at it!: +5 points
    • It makes me kind of uncomfortable, but I'll get the hang of it.: +3 points
    • No negotiating--my prices are firm.: +0 points
  9. When are you going to have your garage sale?
    • When the weather is not too hot or cold and I'll check the forecast before setting the date.: +5 points
    • When I finally get things organized.: +3 points
    • Whenever I darn well please!: +0 points
  10. Have you checked to see if garage sales are permitted in your neighborhood?
    • Yep, that's the first thing I did.: +5 points
    • Someone else on my block had a sale recently, so I think it's OK.: +3 points
    • No, why should I worry about that?: +0 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between 0 and 15 means: So sorry, you are a garage sale failure. Don't even think about having one!

A score between 16 and 30 means: You are a garage sale apprentice. A little more work and you'll be ready!

A score between 31 and 40 means: You are a garage sale apprentice. A little more work and you'll be ready!

A score between 41 and 45 means: You are a garage sale guru! You are ready for the best garage sale ever!

A score between 46 and 50 means: You are a garage sale guru! You are ready for the best garage sale ever!

© 2014 Linda Chechar

Comments

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 26, 2015:

Thanks georgiagal1984. Glad you enjoyed this Hub! Looks like my garage sale days will soon be over. I'll be moving into a gated community that does not allow them. Sigh. At least I have my memories! ;)

Penny Pincher from United States on August 25, 2015:

I have at least two yard sales a year and have always enjoyed having and going to them. Fridays work the best for me having a yard sale, since there is less competition on those days in my area. Great tips and well written article! :)

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 26, 2015:

You're welcome Linda!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 26, 2015:

Thanks, Kristen!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on June 26, 2015:

Great tips on how to have the best garage sale ever in any season. Each tip is helpful and useful to get the most of your money to sell your stuff. Voted up!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 03, 2014:

Tamara14, I lived in South America for several years and they did not have garage sales either. Must be more of a U.S./Canadian thing. They are fun and a great way to get rid of unwanted household items and make a few dollars. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

Tamara14 on October 03, 2014:

Here in Croatia there is no such thing as a garage sale but it would be so great. We only know about it from american movies :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2014:

So happy to help. Good luck if you plan on having a garage sale. They can be fun and profitable if done right. Thank you for reading and commenting on my Hub!

Joe from north miami FL on June 05, 2014:

Great tips here. Garage sales usually go with very little sold so this is extremely helpful.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on April 26, 2014:

vespawoolf, there weren't garage sales in Uruguay either. People used Mercado Libre for selling household items. The quiz was fun to put together--once I figured out how to do it correctly! I do think putting garage sale items in neat and attractive displays helps get things sold faster. It may be just cast-off stuff, but proper presentation does increase the perceived value. Thanks for checking out this Hub! :)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 26, 2014:

This is very useful information and I enjoyed the quiz at the end. Although we don't do garage sales in Peru, every time we return to the States it seems we get roped into helping a family member or friend get one organized. One of my friends is super organized and did the store-front style displays. She sold her things quickly, to say the least! I think anyone who follows your points would have a successful garage sale.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 19, 2014:

You are right, teaches. Negotiation is key. It's also what makes garage sales so much fun! Holding a neighborhood garage sale is a great way to generate buzz in the community. We have them twice a year. Good luck with your sale. Hope these tips help!

Dianna Mendez on March 18, 2014:

Our neighborhood is having a garage sale next month and I can use these tips to make my items disappear quickly. Your tip on negotation is key, some people fail to realize the importance of being flexible on price.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 16, 2014:

Too each his own, poetryman6969. Thanks for stopping by!

poetryman6969 on March 16, 2014:

Some of the shawls look nice but I will still avoid moving trash from your garage to mine! Or at last paying for the privilege.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 15, 2014:

Meisjunk, that is so funny! You are right--we can accumulate so much "stuff" in a short amount of time! My husband and I have found that moving every few years is a great way to keep the clutter down--each time we move, we just sell off the things we really don't need. It makes packing much easier. Glad you enjoyed these tips! :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 15, 2014:

CyberShelley, glad you enjoyed this Hub. Garage sales do involve a lot of planning and work, but are a great way to simplify your life and make some extra money! Thanks for stopping by for a visit. Your comment and votes are greatly appreciated! :)

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 15, 2014:

Faith, I've had several garage sale myself over the years and a little bit of advertising goes a long way. Yes, I can attest to the early birds that show up before you can even get things properly set up. My mom was an avid garage sale shopper--guess it is in my genes! I've picked up some great treasures. Thanks for your votes and share! Enjoy your weekend! :)

Jennifer Kessner from Pennsylvania on March 14, 2014:

Thanks for the info! My mother always insists on yard sales (but she needs them. The number of items she accumulates in just a year is mind-boggling!) These tips will definitely help me to prepare. Knowing I'm organized will go a LONG way in having patience for it!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 14, 2014:

Jackie, yes they are a lot of work and I also prefer to go to them rather than having one. Although it is a real pain, pricing each item is a must--if not, you will have utter chaos! Our neighborhood has a twice yearly community event. The spring event is coming up soon--I'd better get busy getting everything organized and priced if I want to participate! Thanks for reading and commenting. So nice to hear from you! :)

Shelley Watson on March 14, 2014:

Great article for helping to get rid of clutter quickly, efficiently and enjoyably. Up, interesting and useful.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 13, 2014:

Great tips on having a yard sale here. I have had a couple and I know when one does properly advertise, all do show up, but at the crack of dawn before you even have time to get everything outside. Pricing each item is necessary. I love going to them and finding great deals though, but they sure are a lot of work to have one.

Up and more and sharing

Have a great evening,

Faith Reaper

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 13, 2014:

Oh I so hate having Yard Sales, so I could probably use all of your tips but I sure love going to them. Glad you advise pricing items too because when I see no prices and several people shopping I am not going to stop and ask the price of everything I am interested in and if I did and everyone else did wouldn't that be a crazy place to be? I just leave when I see no tags. I want to get to the next one! ^^+

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