Garage Sale Success – Second life for your old stuff, added money for you

Spring is just around the corner.  A yearly ritual for every American family is about to begin: sorting through your old stuff and figuring out which ones to get rid off, which ones to keep.

It’s not an easy task.  We become attached to our things.  Each member of the family feels differently about the same item.  Mom might hate those old vinyl records your dad continues to keep in the basement, despite the fact that he no longer has a record player to play them on.  Or she might feel nostalgic about all her daughter’s old dolls, when she’s no longer interested in any of them.

But after all the sorting and the heated discussions that come with it, the next big decision is what to do with all the rejects?  

For many people, there are a lot of organizations that are willing to take all your old stuff away.  Just about every town has old clothes collection bins that collect old clothes and shoes to either be sold off or given to charity in order to benefit the poor.  There are also organizations that collect old but
still functional toys for disadvantaged children.  All these are great options for getting rid of your old stuff.

Still, many just opt to throw their rejects away.  But there is a third way.  Open a garage sale!

Local Garage Sale Online

All garage sales are local.  And such, your target are your neighbors and people within your community and the communities close to you.  Your first goal then is to find out what’s happening in the garage sale scene locally.  There are, suprisingly, online garage sale websites that hosts discussions about garage sale schedules within your area. Some even have previews of what’s going to be on sale.

They also have garage sales tips on how to prepare for your sale, preparing a sales list, ideas on how to properly stage your event, how to properly price your items and even prepare your yard sale posters. They even have tips on the kind of music to play during your yard sale!

Early Comers

Garage sale afficionados know what they’re looking for.  They don’t want those items gone so they go to the site early, before you even open.  We advertised our yard sale to open at 8:00 am and these hard core yard sale hunters are there at 7:00 am – just when we were setting up!  It’s good, in a way, that business started early but they are distractions to your set up.

Garage Sale Tags

Use cheap neon colored price tags that you can get from Wal-Mart or dollar stores.   Make sure ALL items are price tagged.  Some may not bother to ask you for prices and may just leave without knowing how much your items cost. When purchased, take those tags off the items and stick them in a notebook. This will help you tally the cash and the items sold at the close of the sale.

There are a lot of garage sale pricing guide online.  But it really all depends on how much you’re willing to let go of each item.  For instance, my wife can let go of a signature bag for $10.  Her mom would insist on charging more than that!

Yard Sale Sign Ideas

Like any event, you have to advertise.  This will mean success or failure for your little enterprise.  And it’s still true that the best way to advertise your garage sale is through signs around your community.

For our very first yard sale, we advertised on online sites and made DIY yard sale signs.  We posted in intersections, near townhouses, and all roads leading to our town.   When we polled our customers, roughly 80% said the signs brought them in.

Decent ready made signs are costly.  So we made creative yard sale signs using orange, neon poster boards that stood out like a sore thumb!  Every sign had directional arrows so that motorists will know exactly where to turn to get to our place.  We made 28 signs which were held up by wooden yard sale signs stakes.

The Items For Sale

All your efforts will mean nothing if the items are useless to others. They have to be usable, in good shape, and undamaged.  Clothing items should be hole-free.  All zippers must be in working order, all the buttons intact.  And please, no underwears!  Toys, household and kitchen items must be clean.  Wall art and frames must be dust-free.

Don’t get offended if customers ask to try things out, especially electronic items. They want to make sure they work. Have batteries, power outlets or extension cords available.

How To Deal With Hagglers

No matter how dirt cheap your prices are, people will still haggle.  You just need to deal with it.  Ultimately, you want to get rid of those items, and get a few bucks out of the whole deal.  

But there are a few rules to follow.  Always be respectful.  In the first few hours of your sale, you may not want to lower your prices.  But let people know that maybe in the later half of the day, if those items have not been sold yet, you may give it at half the price.  What this does is it allows you the opprotunity to sell those items at the price you want.  After all, if your event is well-attended, there will be others there who may agree to your price.  Remember, you’re not selling junk.  Know beforehand what items you consider premium and which you are willing to let go for any price.

Drawing Them In and Staging

We drew the crowds in by having a FREE ITEMS BIN at the center of our driveway. Just like magic, people checked and took items from that free bin, and proceeded to check out other items.

But drawing them in is just half the effort.  Once they’re there, you have to keep them there.  And if they are turned off by the staging of your items for sale, they will not stay very long.

Use balloons to make it look festive.  You can get cheap balloons from dollar stores. Cover tables with pretty table covers.  Items on the ground should be in clean crates. Keep similar items together – toys in their own little corner, household items and electronics in different sections.  We used our daughter’s padded message boards to display jewelries; glass soda bottles were used to hold bracelets.  

Garage sale music? That surely helps!  It’s always soothing and relaxing to have appropriate tunes playing in the background, while your customers rummage through your sale.

Oh, and our son operated a lemonade stand on the side.  With cookies, too!  That kept the kids who came with their parents busy, and earned our son a few dollars to boot!



A lot goes into making your garage sale a success.  After all, you’re already putting in the effort to stage this event, you might as well do it right, in order to make the most of your time.  

Make it fun!  It was an activity that our entire family participated in.  We made the signs, my wife researched the online sites, I placed all the signs throughout our community, and picked them up the night after the event.  And we were all there helping out on the day itself!  Our garage sale leftovers went straight in boxes and were scheduled for pick up by charitable organizations.

For our trouble, we netted $745 in the day and a half that we did our yard sale! Not bad for a first try.  Our next year’s attempt netted just over $400 for a day’s work.  But that’s because most of the nicer stuff sold out the year before.  And frankly, we were running out of stuff to sell.

We have no plans on doing this yearly.  But at least now we know how to do this thing right if and when we do decide to do it again.  For now, we hope you can learn a thing or two from our experiences!

By the way, if you’ve done garage sales in the past, or if you’re thinking of doing one in the Spring, and you have some ideas you’d like to share, please do so in the Comments box below.  We’d love to hear from you!

Good luck on your garage sales!





2 thoughts on “Garage Sale Success – Second life for your old stuff, added money for you

  1. Wow, great and useful article. I have never been to any garage sale but your article has provided me with all the information and I really have a virtual visit. Thank you.

    1. You should try it! Especially if you have a lot of usable things to dispose of.

      Let us know how it goes if you do decide to hold one this coming Spring.



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