101 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale
We've slaved for months scouring the web and digging into the deeper recesses of our decades of yard sale experience to compile the largest, most useful, and comprehensive resource to make your garage sale a success. Here are the 101 garage sale tips:
Scheduling your sale
1. Join together with some neighbors for your yard sale if possible. The more stuff, the better sale.
2. Make sure that your yard sale doesn't fall on a holiday weekend. Fridays and Saturdays are best.
3. Plan it for a day that gives you plenty of time to get ready.
4. Schedule a yard sale or garage sale around the first of the month because that's when people have the most money.
5. Check the 10-day forecast and make sure it won't be raining.
6. Consider a pre-sale the Friday night before and invite your friends and coworkers. You may get rid of some bigger items that way.
Gathering your inventory
7. Have a large quantity of items to sell, a big variety.
8. If you're selling your kids' things, make sure you ask them a few times first to make sure they want to get rid of it.
9. Capitalize on the season. Feature luggage at going-away to school or vacation time or toys near Christmas. Include fads.
10. Antiques go over big regardless of state of repair or condition.
Before your sale
11. Check into your local and community laws concerning yard sales. Some communities require a yard sale permit.
12. Hold a yard sale twice a year. Sell your winter stuff towards the end of summer, or in the fall. Sell your spring/summer things in spring or summer time.
13. Find tables to use. Borrow them or make them out of doors and sawhorses.
14. Clean the items up. Wash or dust any items that you've been storing for a while.
15. Clean up the yard. If it is more attractive, people will think your items are higher-quality.
16. Place an ad in the newspaper, local bulletin boards, and websites. Include a list of special items you have for sale that people might be drawn to (e.g. name brand toys, kids clothing, furniture).
17. Make your own yard sale signs and make them noticeable and simple. Include arrows directing people.
18. Post signs around heavily traveled intersections close to your sale.
19. Don't put your signs up until the morning of the sale, and only after you have most of your items laid out ready to go.
20. After you post your signs, drive past to make sure you can read them easily. Note how many signs you post so you can remember to take them all down.
Pricing Your Items
21. Be clear on the purpose of your sale. Are you selling things to make money or to get rid of them? Price them accordingly.
22. Put a price on everything. Use removable stickers or masking tape that is easy to remove. Or even post a sign on a box of things, or a table of things that applies to the whole box or table.
23. For items you have a lot of (books, CDs), post a discount for buying several.
24. If you have tons of a certain item (kids clothes or toys), consider a set price for filling a bag.
25. Mark the price tag with initials if there is more than one family involved.
26. The bigger the item, the bigger the tag for the price.
27. Have a "Free" box for items you are anxious to get rid of and that don't seem to have much value. Put it near the road to draw people in.
28. Price lots of items under $1. Price most things under $5.
29. If a price is not negotiable, put "Firm" on the price tag.
For more specific guidance, reference our Garage Sale Pricing Guide.
Setting up the sale
30. Put your "Free" box out front to attract and pull in "lookee loos."
31. Set up tables to display small merchandise attractively. Place tables in a manner that will leave room for shoppers to browse without feeling crowded.
32. Take advantage of the space under the tables if you need more display room.
33. Place similar items together.
34. Separate your clothes according to size.
35. Use a clothesline to display nice clothing.
36. If you have any fragile, rare or expensive items such as crystal, cut glass or jewelry, be sure they are displayed on a sturdy table and up high out of reach of kids.
37. Place a sawhorse or soccer cones across the front of your driveway so that cars can't use it to turn around there.
38. Be sure you have electrical outlets nearby to plug in any electronics to show buyers that they work.
39. Attract men to your sale by putting "man" items (e.g. lawnmower, electronics, computer items) near the front.
40. Put the bigger stuff towards the front so they can be clearly seen as people drive by.
41. Have a garbage can somewhere near your yard so people don't drop trash in your yard.
42. Post a sign that says "All Sales Final."
During the Garage Sale
43. Keep your house locked at all times. Better safe than sorry.
44. Be ready when your sale is set to start.
45. Keep your dog inside or away from the yard sale.
46. Make sure that you have lots of change! Especially quarters, one and five dollar bills.
47. Greet your customers. Make them feel welcome. Don't hover over people, but don't ignore them either. Be approachable.
48. Accept cash only. If someone doesn't have enough cash on them, offer to hold the item for them for a certain period of time.
49. Keep your money safe and on you at all times.
50. Have bags handy for people who purchase multiple items. Use saved grocery bags - paper and plastic (recycle). A few empty boxes would be nice too.
51. Have newspapers handy for wrapping fragile items.
52. Sweeten the deal by throwing in an item for free with a purchase. Combine a hard to sell item with a related desirable item for two-for-the-price-of-one deal.
53. Write down the items that you sold and for how much you sold them.
54. Keep a calculator handy for adding items up.
55. Rearrange items as you sell items.
56. Drop your prices in the afternoon.
57. Hold items for a pre-specified period of time if a person needs to go get more cash or a larger vehicle. If they've already paid for it, hold it indefinitely. ;-)
58. If someone makes an offer on an item that you aren't ready to come down on, offer to take their name and number in case you don't sell it during the yard sale.
60. Consider selling some beverages or snacks, especially on a hot day. It's a great way to teach kids entrepreneurism.
61. Say "thank you" to all your customers, whether they buy something or not.
After the Sale
62. Sell what's left online. We recommend Bookoo.
63. Give away items to those that might need them, but don't have the money to buy them (e.g. college students). Try Freecycle or donate to a charity.
Don't do these things
64. Don't say something works if it doesn't.
65. Don't act as if you're operating a museum. People touch things at garage sales.
66. Don't be greedy. You'll end up with more money, less stuff, and greater inner peace.
67. Don't sell broken things.
68. Don't sell things from the dollar store for a buck.
69. Don't quote eBay or book values. Nobody cares.
70. Don't expect people to ask for prices.
71. Don't let them inside your home to test an item or use the bathroom.
72. Don't try to sell other people's stuff for them.
73. Don't pull something out unless you want to sell it.
74. Don't group too much stuff in boxes.
75. Don't expect to sell collectibles, specialty items, or high-end electronics and furniture at a premium. People want a bargain.
76. Don't sell items that are past their life expectancy (like worn out shoes, pants with holes in the knees, etc.).
77. Don't spend a lot of money on signs.
78. Don't smoke.
79. Don't talk about how much money you are making.
80. Don't sell used cosmetics or lingerie.
81. Don't accept checks from strangers.
82. Don't take people's comments about your stuff personally.
83. Don't let a seller intimidate you to knock the price down if you're not ready to let it go for that price.
Buyer Tips! Hooray!
Before the sale
84. Look in the newspaper and online the night before for classified ads of garage sales. Figure out a route that is most efficient to hit the sales you want to.
85. Arrange for a friend to go with you. It's always more fun!
86. Look for block or neighborhood sales. You can park your car and walk to several at once.
The morning of....
87. Pack snacks and drinks in the car to avoid any unnecessary stops.
88. Wear comfortable shoes.
89. Carry cash in small bills.
90. Keep a list of things you are looking for that you know you need or want.
91. Bring a bag to carry your purchases.
92. If you have an expensive car, use a different one for garage sales. If you drive up in an expensive car, or wearing flashy jewelry and expensive clothes, you may not be able to negotiate very well.
At the sale....
93. Shop early for the best selection. Don't wait until Saturday. If the sale starts Thursday, go on Thursday.
94. Don't show up earlier than the established times of the sale.
95. Supervise your children while shopping.
96. Make fast decisions. If you need to think about it, you probably don't need it. It's ok to NOT buy something at a yard sale.
97. Inspect your treasures and make sure they work and don't have marks or chips or other blemishes.
98. When taking your kids, have them actually pay for their items. They often will get a discounted price and it gives kids practice with handling money.
99. If you buy something too big to take with you, have the seller write a receipt and sign it. Write down the seller's address. Put a sold tag on your purchase, including your phone number in case the seller needs to reach you.
After you get home....
100. Take off the price tags of your treasures shortly after getting home. Most times the longer a sticker stays on an item, the harder it is to remove.
101. Clean and wash everything you bought. Even if it looks clean, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Phew! If you'd made it this far, consider yourself a garage sale expert!
Street Garage Sales - Australia-wide diary and how-to guide and information about STREET Garage Sales.
Newsletter for Yard Sale Addicts and eBay Sellers
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