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HOW TO HAVE A
SUCCESSFUL GARAGE SALE
Set a date and time when you can devote your full time for gathering various articles as well as being able
to attend the sale. The best days for a garage sale are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Plan what you are going to put in this sale and whether you are going to do it alone or with another
person(s). I do not recommend doing it alone as it is hard to keep up with the merchandise sales and
money. Have plenty of coins and paper money for change on hand.
Garage sales are hard work but the results can be very satisfying. Clean out your closets and get rid
of anything that you don't use or want anymore. Don't throw anything away as garage sale buyers will
buy almost anything.
Start accumulating items for the sale months ahead of time. Put all your household clutter in the sale.
Better to have some cash than a lot of useless items around your house.
It is best to have a large quantity of items to sell to give shoppers a wide choice. Hang a clothes
line to display clothing items for sale. Children's clothing sells best - especially pre-school in
late summer or early fall.
Set up card tables or folding tables to display small merchandise. Place tables in a manner that will
leave room for shoppers to browse without feeling crowded. Display your items in an attractive manner
and make sure they are clean and priced to sell - not overpriced.
Take advantage of the space under the table if you need more display room. You will be amazed how many
buyers can spot the smallest items almost hidden. Colorful table covers can draw attention to your
Garage sale shoppers are looking for bargains - so don't disappoint them. Remember - whatever you
sell is something you don't want anyway, so anything you make on the sale is gravy for you.
Put a price on everything. I know it is a lot of work, but it saves you lots of time not having
to answer questions. Use a heavy black felt pen to mark the items. If you have other people of
families helping you with the sale and contributing items, code the items - such as G-$1 or
D-$3 - using some initial of the person's name who is selling it. Keep all the tags and at
the end of the sale, divide the tags according to code and total the sales.
There may be some small differences and this could be due to making incorrect change or an extra
discount. A little give and take among sellers is usually done at this point. As a general rule,
price items about 1/4th of new cost. Clothes may be priced cheaper than this as buyers have some
hesitancy about buying clothing they cannot try on. If it is cheap enough, this hesitancy disappears.
Run an ad in your local newspaper - usually Craig's List or a local free paper is enough. Run
the ad 2 days before the sale if possible. Put the place, date and hours the sale will be held.
If there is a lot of clothing, state some of the sizes. With a multi-family sale, any advertising
cost can be shared.
Put ads on bulletin boards in your town and spread the news by social media, email and word of
mouth. Put up signs in the neighborhood at least 1 day before the sale directing traffic to the
house. Pointing arrows on the signs help. Use sturdy cardboard and write LARGE LETTERS with a
black pen. It is best to have all signs looking alike.
Drive past your signs to see if you can read them from the car. Keep words to a minimum. Take
signs down after the sale.
Be ready for the sale ahead of time - there will always be early birds.
Stack items carefully for display so winds will not blow them over. Keep any animals out of
sight. Go through the pockets of all clothes before you sell them. If clothes are hung on a
clothes rack, use cheap metal hangers - as some of the buyers will ask for them. Fill all
empty spots on the table as items sell to keep it looking attractive.
Arrange books and DVD's, CD's in a box so titles can be read easily. Always make your
displays attractive as possible and items are clean. If an item needs batteries to
work, put them in ahead of time. Kids can be helpful by having their own table and
selling old toys.
Display the most interesting items closest to street to lure shoppers into the sale. Set
up a table with "man things", tools, auto parts, etc.
For hot days, consider selling sodas or letting kids run a lemonade stand. A pitcher of
ice water with paper cups and a trash can available for free is a nice touch. If it is
cold, sell hot cocoa or coffee. The longer people stay at the sale the more likely they
will buy something. And a crowd always attracts more crowds. Make sure the yard grass is
cut and the driveway clean. If you do not have enough parking, suggest to a neighbor
that they have a sale with you or ask them about using their curbside to make room for
your shopper's cars.
When selling a high dollar item that is popular, find it in a catalog and tape the ad to
the item with the price.
GUARD YOUR MONEY. Do not leave money lying around in a box. Set up a checkout table with
someone designated to look after it or you can wear a fanny pack so money stays with you.
Use zippered compartments to keep some of the larger bills or store them in your home.
Start with about $100 in change in various bills, quarters, nickels and dimes. If someone
gives you a large bill, leave it out in view until you have given them their change.
Have plastic grocery bags available to put sold items in. If selling breakables, have
newspaper available for wrapping. A small calculator can be helpful also in totaling
sales. For all items over $1, price items in dollars only - no cents.
When selling electrical appliances, have an electrical outlet handy with a long extension
cord to check them out. Do not allow strangers in your house. If they need to use the
restroom, give them directions to the nearest restaurant, gas station or fast food place.
If you have lots of kids clothes or small toys, consider having a "fill a bag" for a set
price sale. You can also sort the small toys and put them in a clear sealed bag. Staple
it shut and set a price for the entire bag. Put small items on tables so they can be
Some buyers will want to bargain. If the sale has not been going on for a long time,
advise them that the item is worth the price but you may consider lowering it later
in the day if it has not sold.
Shop lifters and shady people also go to garage sales. Some people will swap price
tags. Keep a close eye on your merchandise. Put fragile or expensive items on a sturdy
table close to the checkout person so they can keep an eye on them.
At the end of the sale, you will have met some wonderful, friendly people and will
have put some extra cash in your pocket. Happy selling and good luck!