3 Tips to Sell More at Garage Sales

posted by Andrea | 04/9/2013

sell more at garage sales

Garage sale season is here!

I’m a big fan of shopping garage sales and have found many fabulous deals over the years… and in my opinion, there are 3 variables that can make or break your garage sales.

None of these things are difficult to do, but they will make a difference in your bottom line — I guarantee it!

1. Have LOTS of items to sell.

Fill your garage and your driveway with items to sell… and put some of the bigger items out by the road to draw people in. If it looks like you only have 1 or 2 tables of things in your garage, I’ll keep driving.

If you can’t come up with enough items to sell, consider joining forces with friends, relatives, or neighbors to offer a larger selection.

2. Set reasonable prices.

Even if your items are in perfect condition — and even if they have the original tags/warranty/receipts/ etc., they are still at a garage sale… and the prices must reflect that.

If you’re not sure what a reasonable price is, I’d suggest looking for similar items on Craigslist and then setting your price lower than that (you can usually get more for an item on Craigslist than at a garage sale).

When in doubt, lower your price. If you truly don’t want the item anymore, it’s better to get a few dollars for it now than to hold onto it for another year. You might also consider offering a 50% discount the last day of the sale — just to clear things out.

3. Get the word out.

Craigslist is my personal preference for free advertising. Post an ad (with photos) the day before your sale and then again during your sale. Post clear directions to the sale, the hours of the sale, and list of general categories of items that will be at the sale.

Put signs out on main streets near your home and then clearly mark your home with balloons on the mailbox or a large sign in the front yard — there is nothing more annoying to me than not being able to find the right home!

If you’re planning a garage sale for this Spring, Summer, or Fall, keep these tips in mind. You might also want to read this post about Gearing up for Garage Sale Season… and this post about Using Craigslist Effectively.

Are you a veteran garage sale seller? What are your best tips?

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15 comments

  1. Stephanie

    04/09/2013

    I have become a garage sale queen! I have at least 2-3 each summer, and make a minimum of $850 each year.

    Your tips are right on. Craigslist really helped boost traffic once I started advertising there.

    Clothes: if you are selling clothes, you might have better success hanging them instead of putting them on tables. Much less maintenance throughout the day as well. For baby clothes, I found it is best to have totes labled with the size so people can grab exactly what they need. No need to keep folding and keeping the table looking nice as the day goes on.

    Also, it is true that you can get more money selling on craigslist. I just sold a group of 5 books (most of them I bought at garage sales for 25-50 cents) for $10. Remember, garage sale prices should be lower than craigslist.

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  2. Lynn

    04/09/2013

    I have been putting together garage sales for over thirty years. The best advise I can give, is advertise, in local publications, on craigslist and make great, eye-catching signage. Make sure to put arrows and the address. I hate trying to find a sale that only has arrows and one of the signs has fallen down..only to never find the sale…Mark every thing, I have tag guns for the clothing and sticker guns for the other miscellaneous items. Organize clothing my size and gender..Keep them folded or hung up and neat, people do not like to sort through a pile of wrinkled clothes to find the size they are looking for. Be willing to negotiate. Everyone likes a bargain. Remember anything you get out of it is better than nothing and then having to pack it all back into the house. Donate all leftovers to a local charity, like the Goodwill Industries..it is great for a tax deduction on your income tax. My average garage sale nets me $1,200 -$1,500 per sale, I usually have one in the Spring and one just before “Back to School”..I always have season clothing and decorations. Save the off season stuff for the next garage sale.

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  3. Jen

    04/09/2013

    Great tips! I’d also like to add, “Plan to say yes!” Wake up with the mindset that you’re getting rid of stuff and having it hauled away for you, and making a little money as a bonus. If your mindset is focused more on the money than on the decluttering you’ll end up with a lot of people walking away. So get comfortable saying “yes” to offers as often as possible. There’s some gray area ($4 for a sectional couch is a great thing to say, “no” to), but most of the time your willingness to accept offers will not only move more stuff, but encourage people to keep browsing and pick up MORE stuff. If they know you’re willing to negotiate, they’ll keep looking!

    That said, after hosting TWO yardsales last year, I refuse to do one this year. But we got rid of a lot of stuff, and made a little money too. :)

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  4. Davina Sanchez

    04/09/2013

    Over the last 5 years, I have donated all of my unused/unwanted items to a local non-profit organization and saved every receipt and claimed it on my taxes. Each year I save between $450-$650 on my taxes by doing this. That’s probably about what I would earn at a garage sale. Not only do I save a lot of time and energy but I also don’t have everything taking up space in my home! I will never do a garage sale again!

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    Beth Reply:

    My thoughts exactly!! I keep a large container in the back of my car and add items as I come across them. When it’s full, I stop by and donate the items. I have a folder specifically for these receipts in my tax file. Easy. Peasy.

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    shelly Reply:

    We used to do this, until we got audited 2 years in a row. NEVER AGAIN!! We hold our sale and then give away our leftovers to a local charity (and don’t write off any of it.) Comes out win/win-we get rid of items, make some good $$$, bless others, and don’t have to worry about the IRS :)

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  5. Chelsea

    04/09/2013

    I think signage is KEY! Big signs with little wording (“YARD SALE” with a huge arrow) at all major intersections that lead to your home with signs facing both directions of traffic. I hate small letters on a sign (you can’t always read fast while you’re driving)

    I’m curious about days though. Obviously Saturday is the most popular, but I’m seeing more sales on Fridays, too. Our complex is doing a community sale on a Sunday this month and I’m a little irked at that since there’s generally a little less traffic/buyers on a Sunday. So, I’m definitely advertising on Craigslist and getting the word out to friends in the area in hopes we have a decent amount of people showing up.

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  6. Georgai Gal

    04/09/2013

    I actually just wrote a article titled How To Sell Everything At Your Garage Sale. I give all of my tips, and how I am able to sell everything at my garage sale, and get free clean up! Please check it out when you get some time.

    http://georgialgal1984.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Sell-Everything-At-Your-Garage-Sale

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  7. Katie

    04/09/2013

    Love this post! My SIL and I are having a garage sale on the 27th and this just inspired me to have even more STUFF to release into the world :) Thanks for the tips!

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  8. Hope

    04/09/2013

    I agree to hang as many clothes as possible, make your items look more attractive by making sure things are clean (not crazy clean, but also not covered in an inch of dust), and time your sale to coincide with paydays. The most successful sales are the ones on the first weekend of the month (best for folks who get paid at the end of the month). Everyone has more cash right after payday.

    Also, don’t nickel and dime things. Set your prices in multiples of at least 25 cents. Even better would be $1. If you have lots of little little things, then group them and sell 4 for $1. This cuts down on the change you need as well as the amount of change you end up with later.

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    shelly Reply:

    I used to think the first weekend of the month was the most successful, but have found over the years (I have at least 2 sales a year) that it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

    One of the best ways to insure you get great business is to hold the sale on Friday in addition to Saturday. Less competition means much more business for you :)

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  9. Kjrsten

    04/09/2013

    Hi Andrea!

    I’m the novice garage sale seller; hubby and I plan on having our first this season. I appreciate all of the tips and tricks from seasoned garage sale-ers, it is most helpful. One idea we did have (because we live on a busy street-for a rural area) was to ‘ask’ our teenage children to stand out in front of the house wearing costumes and advertisement signs to attract potential shoppers. I can’t wait for an empty basement! There is such a thing, right?

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  10. Danita

    04/10/2013

    My BEST tips are: 1. check to see if your community hosts a special community garage sale weekend and then plan yours on that date – traffic is always higher when multiple homes in the area are having garage sales. and 2. JOIN forces – as Andrea already said. Being able advertise MULIT – FAMILY sale not only adds volume of stuff to your sale, but variety. I know that when I go to a mulit- family sale the decor won’t only be one persons taste so I am more likely to find something I like.

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  11. Lauren @ Rustic Honey

    04/11/2013

    When I sell clothing at a garage sale, I like to merchandise items together. In my experience I sell much more by grouping items into a look or style. It is a little extra work… but it works and it is fun too!

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  12. Allbert

    10/15/2013

    I think the proper advertising ad presenting items in an organized manner are the main factors to hit up the sale proportion in a better direction.

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