Garage Sales–THE WORKS!!!

Why Have a Garage Sale? Here is why…. Along with everything you need to know about having a garage sale from start to finish!  Have fun!



#1 To earn extra money
#2 To make room for new stuff
#3 To prepare for a move
#4 Because it’s fun
#5 To teach your kids about work
#6 To turn the “junk room” into a ___ room
#7 Because your teen doesn’t play with Strawberry Shortcake anymore
#8 To do some Spring cleaning
#9 It’s Step 5 in the “Packrats Anonymous 12-Step Program”
#10 To achieve family goals

 Getting Ready For A Yard Sale

I generally take about 2 months to leisurely put together everything I want to sell in my next yard sale.

During this time, I’m also doing a bit of spring cleaning while purging all items we no longer wear or use.

I group items together by “theme” in a spare bedroom (and/or the garage), and in the weeks leading up to my yard sale, I actually start pricing the items and printing out all my signs.

Planning and preparation is the key to a successful yard sale — in my opinion.

Here’s how to do it…

 Gather Up All Your Yard Sale Items

Start by going room by room through your house looking for items that you no longer want or use.

 The familiar adage is, if you haven’t used it for a year, get rid of it… If you are renting a storage locker to keep your overflow possessions, why? Do you really need all that stuff? Why pay to store it when you could make some spare cash instead? — J.E. Davidson

 As you collect items that you want to sell, place them in large garbage bags or boxes and store them in a seldom-used room in your house, or inside the garage.

If you are able to group items by “category” or “theme”, it will be much easier to price the items and set them out for display at your yard sale.

 If You’ve Had A Yard Sale Before…

Think back to what went wrong and what went right at your previous yard sales. Make mental notes of things you want to do at this year’s yard sale, based on what you’ve learned from previous ones.

 And if you want to do it even better the next time, then take the time to jot down some notes, and make a point to save any items that you can reuse at future yard sales.

For example, I’ve probably hosted a dozen or so yard sales in my lifetime, and I have one large Rubbermaid container that contains all my “necessities”. So, whenever it’s time to have another yard sale, I just drag out that one bin and everything I need is right there.

What’s inside:

black sharpie markers flags, pennants, balloons
blue painter’s tape staple gun
coin box waist aprons with pockets
leftover posterboard any old, leftover signs
clear see-thru page protectors notepad of all my notes & a pen
mr. clean magic erasers  


 Prepare Your Individual Items For Sale

This year, I found a lifesaver… it’s called the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Those little white cubes worked “magic” for cleaning things up a bit. For the yardsale, they worked best on hardbound books, removing soot from candle jars & candle holders, and cleaning out all the tiny nooks & crannies on plastic things like coolers, chairs, handles, lids, etc.

Also helpful were Lysol Cleaning Wipes. I used those to wipe-down practically everything I was selling.

As a result, many of the items I was selling looked much newer than they actually were!

Decide What You’re Going To Do With The Dog/Pets

Although you may have the friendliest dog in the world, it’s best to keep them away from your yard sale. Some people are afraid of dogs or are allergic. The day of your yard sale may be the day that your friendly dog, unaccustomed to the excitement of all the people, may decide to take a chunk out of the toddler that pulls on his tail. It’s also for the dog’s safety as well, since cars will be coming and going from your driveway.

 Best Month For A Yard Sale

In warm weather climates, garage sales are popular year-round.

But this isn’t the case in states that experience colder temperatures during the winter months.

The best months for sales are: April, May, June and September.” — Geralin Thomas

In general, springtime yard sales are probably the most popular, especially early spring when shoppers have cabin fever and are itching to hit the streets in search of yard sale bargains!

After early spring garage sales, summertime yard sales are always a hit. End-of-the-summer garage sales do just about as well as early spring sales.

One thing’s for sure… Regardless of when you actually have your yard sale, you need to start preparing early!

Oh, and yard sales held at the beginning of the month may be a bit better than those held at the end of the month.

Try to schedule your sale near the 1st or the 15th of the month because those are paydays for a lot of shoppers.” — Geralin Thomas

 Best Day For A Yard Sale

Saturdays are without a doubt, the best.

Sundays are rarely as profitable as Saturdays. However, Sundays usually attract the diehard yardsalers — the ones who are on a mission and typically looking for very specific items (…the ones who “do this every Sunday”).

But, unless you promote some very specific & hard-to-find items in your yard sale ad, chances are a Sunday yard sale will hardly be worth the time you spend sitting there waiting for people to arrive.

A few people will make a trip back to your yard sale on a Sunday to try to buy something that they thought was overpriced when they were there earlier.

Tip: Sundays are a tad more successful at the very start of the yard sale season (March/April… depends on where you live), because people who like to go to yard sales are so eager to start visiting yard sales again!

Best Time For A Yard Sale

The hours between 7AM and 11AM are the busiest, and the best judge of how successful your garage sale will be, overall.

Many people start their yard sale at 8AM, only to find a swarm of cars waiting eagerly for you to “open” around 7:15 AM! Unless you prepare for this ahead of time, you will always be a step behind. And, as a result, you’ll probably have a bunch of hastily prepared displays and a disorganized yard sale space overall. Most likely, you will end up spending half your morning working around people, while trying organize your space. Talk about frustrating!

 Do You Need Yard Sale Signs? 

Neighborhood and directional signs will show people how to find your yard sale — whether they first saw your ad or not.

Post your signs leading up to your house the night before the sale. Then, the morning of the sale, check to make sure the signs are still there and add some balloons or streamers at this time. (Make sure you’ve got the necessities on hand, in case you need to post another sign: staple gun, paper/posterboard, markers, printed sign info, tape, etc.)

Be sure to make a mental note of all the places you’ve posted signs so you can take them all down after the sale. Leaving garage sale signs up after the sale is tacky and junks up the neighborhood. Plus, the signs tend to shrivel up and fall to the ground anyway. And you don’t want to litter!

Some placed have restrictions regarding the placement of signs, so be sure to check with local officials in your area.

That said, some of the places you’ll want to hang your signs include:

local grocery stores at your church
community centers gyms & workout rooms
nearby parks at your child’s school
on other “local news” boards  

 Be sure to look for other areas within your own neighborhood to get the word out about your yard sale. For example, at our community swimming pool, there’s an “info board” for people to post notices.

The most important information you need to include on your sign:

  • The word “SALE”
  • Street address
  • Days & times (optional)

Additionally, you may want to add an arrow pointing toward the direction of your home. Ideally, you would make the arrows separately so they can be applied to the bottom of your informational signs, as they are being put up.

Use paper grocery bags to draw your signs on then fill the bottom with heavy rocks, stuff with newspaper and staple shut. Ta da! – easy, portable signs that you can just place on the ground. If you use crayon to make your signs, the lettering won’t run if it gets wet. I use a permanent marker and make the lettering extra extra wide. The yardsale signs that look like they were written with a ballpoint pen drive me nuts! — The Yard Sale Queen

Remember, you want your sign to be readable from a long distance away, so use very thick lettering. Also, the larger your sign is, the better. Posterboard size is best. On most roadways, people are traveling too fast to be able to read whatever is printed on a standard 8-1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper.

Tip: No matter the size of your paper or board, try to leave some white space, and only include the “bare necessities” — those few lines of text listed above. Too much information becomes difficult to read.

You could also take a cardboard box and tape colorful posterboard-sized paper to each side with the details of your sale. This sort of 3-D sign attracts a lot of attention!

Another sign suggestion: buy the cheap wire landscaping fencing (I often see it for sale at yardsales!), cut sections apart, draw your sign on a paper bag. Put the paper bag over the fence and staple the bag closed at bottom. — The Yard Sale Queen

  • The best colors for yard sale signs are: neon orange and neon green. Why? Because these are bright enough to be seen from a distance away. Brightly colored backdrops like that attract a lot of attention and are highly recommended.

If you want to be smiling at the end of your yard sale and feel good that you’ve sold most of your items, then price everything very low! I’m not kidding.

Otherwise, you’ll just end the day frustrated and sad that you went to all this trouble to set up and run a day-long (or 2-day long) yard sale… yet you’ve got nothing to show for it!

My advice is to just sell everything and be done with it, rather than try to make some outlandish profit in the end. It’s far more frustrating to be left with most of what you started with in the end than it is to sell it for too low of a price.

Now, what’s the best way to go through and price all those items?…

Price Tags vs Haggling

Unless someone is a seasoned yard sale shopper, most people aren’t all that comfortable “haggling” to get the best deal on a yard sale item.

I’ve found that most shoppers would rather know what you’re asking for an item (thus, price tags or yard sale stickers are a necessity). And only about one-third of those will try to talk you down on the price.

If you don’t have price tags (or table signs) on all of your items, then chances are the very shy people (or someone who is just mildly interested in an item) won’t ever speak up and ask you the price.

People who might have bought, if they only saw a pricetag on the item, will just quietly leave your sale instead.

 Price Tags vs Signs

I generally price every single item, one-by-one.

Tip: I always keep my pricing materials (blue painter’s tape & Sharpies) in close reach throughout the sale, in case I forgot to price something. Or, I decide at the last minute to sell 2 items separately rather than as one item. Or, I choose to lower the price at the last minute. Plus, I’m always adding items to the yard sale up until the very last minute when I close down.

I’ve also experimented by using signs instead of labels which state:
“Items on this table 25 cents each”
“Posters $1 each”
“All magazines 50 cents each”

…But people still ask, “How much is this poster?”

Just the same, when I hand-label each item with a price tag, I still get people asking, “How much are your DVD movies?”… “How much is this?”

HIGH DOLLAR ITEMS….Here’s a tip if you are trying to sell something that is fairly high dollar and it’s a popular item that appears in catalogs or sale ads. Cut out the ad with the item in it (with the price showing of course) and tape it to your item. I’ve seen this done mostly with gently used children’s toys and such. It shows the buyer that spending $10 for an item that normally sells for $40 new is a good deal. Be selective if you use this this tactic, people will get turned off if you do it for every item you’re trying to sell. — The Yard Sale Queen

How To Find The Value Of Any Item

When you’re pricing all of your garage sale items, here are some helpful resources to help you decide on the prices you’ll be asking for your yard sale items:

Sites like these can be used as a guide for what to price things. Your best bet is to find the highest and lowest prices for a particular item, then pick a middle-ranged price — if you really want to sell it, that is.

If a particular item is something that’s near and dear to your heart, then pick the higher price — just know that you’re likely to end up keeping it.

As a rule, I price everything 50 cents higher than I’m actually willing to sell it for. That way, I’ve got some “bargaining room”. I’ve found that most people try to talk you down 50 to 75 cents, on average.

Keep in mind, yardsalers are thrifty shoppers looking for bargains. They want rock-bottom prices that are far below what they could buy the item for in a store… brand new. You don’t want to intimidate people with high prices. You want to get rid of your stuff!

Standard prices in our area for popular items are as follows:
    * Books (Hardback) – $.50 to $1.00
    * Books (Paperback) – $.25 to $.50
    * Magazines – $.10 to $.25
    * Cassette Tapes – $.25
    * CDs – $.50 to $1.00
    * DVDs – $1.00 to $2.00
    * Clothing – $.25 to $3.00 (dependent on quality and shape of items – some clothing can even get more!)
    * Children’s Toys – range greatly in price, usually from .$25 to several dollars depending on the brand and quality of toy.
    * Electronic Equipment and Furniture – can go for a lot of money, but only if in good working order and cleaned and maintained properly.
Source: Frugal Families

 What Do You Do If Nothing Is Selling?

Half-way through your sale (if not sooner), you need to take a step back and assess the situation. If items are selling, then you probably don’t need to do anything differently.

But if you’ve hardly sold anything — or you just want to blow-out the rest of the items that haven’t sold yet — then consider having a “1/2 Off Sale!”

This makes your sale fun and unique too.

How? Simply post some signs — on COLORFUL cardboard or paper. Some phrases to consider are “Everything must go!”… “1/2 PriceSaleTil 4PM”… “All Prices 1/2 Off!”

I’d recommend you print up some signs for this purpose ahead of time — just in case.

Or, if it’s late in the day, and you see someone looking at a particular item for a few minutes longer than most, yet they don’t buy it. Before they leave, offer that item to them at 1/2-price. Most of the people I’ve done this with will actually buy it at the lower price!

The early bird gets the worm but the late bird gets the closeouts!

#1 Move anything you don’t intend to sell.
First and foremost, anything you do not want to sell should be moved as far away from the yard sale area as possible. Or, cover those items with blankets and tarps.

I can’t tell you how many times people have wanted to buy items that were simply being stored in our garage.

  • “I see a garden hose over there in the corner, are you selling that?”
  • “Is that bike for sale?”
  • “The footstool that you’re using for to display items… is that for sale, too?”
  • “What about the magazine racks that are holding all those magazines… are you selling those?”

 #2 Find unique “props” for displaying your items.
Take a walk through your home and your garage — even glance through your attic and basement storage spaces — looking for items that have flat surfaces or unique hanging areas that would provide unique display spaces for your yard sale items.

Ladders work wonders as a clothing display rack (if you’re selling any clothing items). Use the ladder steps themselves as tiered racks to put your hangers.

What I did: I set an old shower curtain rod across the top portion of the ladder (braced between the planks of a standard A-frame wooden ladder). While the pole would remain fairly secure on its own, I used blue painter’s tape to secure it in place. Plus, by evenly distributing clothes on both sides of the pole — on either side of the ladder itself — your set-up will be even more balanced and secure.

If your vehicle will be parked in the garage throughout your yard sale, use it to your advantage… Post signs on it, dangle items from it (like a garden hose),

Card tables, TV trays, even upside down cardboard boxes (sturdy ones) and crates work wonders as a means for displaying your items for sale at a garage sale.

Similarly, blankets (of various sizes), rugs, sleeping bags, sheets, old bedspreads, even beach towels can be used to display items out on the lawn. My favorites are camping tarps and old shower curtains. These items allow you to place items of a similar “theme” together, and they give a nice backdrop for your yard sale items. (Items strewn out on the lawn don’t capture one’s attention very easily.)

Use your porch and nearby steps to place items at various levels. This makes it easier for people to see these when they’re just glancing around.

You can even place items down the center of the driveway itself (on blankets, towels or tarps, if desired), leaving either side of the driveway as walkways around the items. We used the large cloth & plastic tarps that served as drop clothes when we painted the rooms in our house.

Tip: You want to get things up off the ground as much as possible. Card tables & upside down boxes are generally better than blankets, and ground-level displays.

#3 Morning dew & afternoon sun can wreak havoc.
Since the grass is usually wet from dew in the morning, I recommend using double layers of blankets etc. on the grass, rather than a single layer.

You’d be surprised how quickly the water seeps through a blanket — even when the grass doesn’t appear to be that wet!

Wet spots not only make your displays look tacky to your early morning visitors, but they could also damage certain items that should never come in contact with moisture (books, papers, magazines, cardboard, and some electronics).

On the flip-side… in the afternoon the sun’s heat could make some of your items on display become very hot to the touch. And if people can’t pick up an item to examine it, then they’re not going to buy it.

Just the same, some items (candles, blow-up plastic items like air beds & pool floats) could even melt! Yep, it happened to me.

So, in the afternoon, be sure to examine any items that have been setting out in the sun. You may need to move some of them into shadier areas, underneath tables, or maybe into the garage to permanently cool down.

  #4 Group items by “theme” to increase sales.
I’ve found one thing that seems to work really well is to include items of the same “theme” on each table or blanket space.

By displaying similar items together, if someone’s looking at a cell phone on your “high-tech gadgets” table, then chances are they might also be attracted to the other computer stuff you’ve got on that table, as well. You could get a double-sale out of this one… all because an old cell phone first caught their attention.

For example, here are some of the main areas:

Automobile stuff Scrapbooking stuff
Rubber stamp stuff Crosstitch & embroidery stuff
Collectibles Baby & kids stuff
New mom stuff Books & magazines
Religious stuff Household stuff
Clothing items Sports & athletic stuff
Computer stuff Pet-related stuff
Health & beauty stuff  

 #5 Have a “yard sale,” not a “garage sale”.

In some areas people call them ‘tag’ sales, but here in Californiawe mostly call them garage sales. Weird, though, most are held in driveways and not in an actual garage. In addition to typical garage sales we also have ‘rummage’ sales which are generally put on by a local church or some other non-profit group. — Donna Hentsch

 Whether you call it a garage sale or a yard sale doesn’t really matter. What is important is that you treat it like a yard sale and put as much stuff outside of your garage as possible. This will not only help to attract attention, but people are usually hesitant to enter the “personal space” of someone they don’t know — even when invited.

Unless you’re a seasoned yard sale shopper, it can be intimidating to march right into someone’s enclosed garage — especially if there’s no one else doing it.

This is primarily why “garage sales” are sometimes less successful than “yard sales”.

It’s a numbers game… the more people who a) see your sale, then b) choose to slow down when driving by your sale, and c) actually get out of the car to have a look around your sale… the higher your profits will be.

Tip:Try to spread all of your items out so that people don’t feel crowded as they browse.
#6 Out of sight, out of mind.
Regardless of how you choose to display your items for sale, make sure that everything is easily within reach and easily within view. If a person can’t see it on first glance, chances are, it won’t ever be sold.

So if there’s anything that’s hidden from view, move it! If that means creating a whole new space for displaying this and/or other items, then by all means, do it. Yard sale items don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. You get one shot — so make it count.

Tip: With books & magazines, try fanning them out neatly across the front of a table, rather than stacking them one on top of the other..

Just remember, people aren’t likely to dig through or step over stuff to get to an item that looks interesting. Nor will they look up high or down low. That’s why the majority of your yard sale items should be at one consistent level, or at least be within eyesight as someone scans all of your items from the center point of your driveway.

Tip: If you are placing items on the lawn, make sure that you create an “aisle” or a pathway between your items. It’s best if people can walk around and behind each item, because you never know at which angle an item will catch someone’s eye. Besides, items on the lawn are harder to reach, unless you create pathways so people can get closer to items from all sides.

The more items (and the larger the items, the better) that you place up closer to the street, the more likely you will entice more people to stop at your sale. When people have to get out of their car to see the type of items you’re selling, about half of them will just skip it and drive on. So instead, make it easy for them by placing all your best stuff up close to the road if possible.

Some sellers prefer to be stationed at the end of their merchandise, closest to the street. It prevents people from “forgetting” to pay for an item and they can also easily answer someone who drives by and asks “do you have any LP’s? — The Yard Sale Queen

 For FREE At Your Yard Sale

One of the best things you can do at your yard sale is to give away some items for free. And don’t be shy about making a big deal of it!

Honestly, people are usually so shocked to see something for free, that they simply don’t believe it. And it’s only those who are TRULY interested in the item who will actually ask about it. So, it’s a win-win… you only get the serious inquiries, and you both feel good about giving & receiving something for nothing!

Other Things You Can Give Away For FREE

  • Do you have a lot of old t-shirts that aren’t exactly yard sale quality since they have stains, tears, holes? If so, take a few minutes to cut them up into smaller rags. Then giveaway Zip-loc type baggies filled with clean rags. (Guys love these!)
  • What about all of those “free samples” you receive in the mail? (Believe it or not, serious yardsalers will intentionally sign up for free samples just to have freebies to hand out at their yard sales!
  • Bake some cookies, make some candy, or bake cupcakes or muffins and hand out one per person until they’re gone. (Or, you could sell them for 25 cents apiece and make a few dollars for your efforts!)
  • You don’t have time to bake?… Then buy a bunch of fresh-baked cookies at the store. When you buy in bulk, they’re typically pretty reasonable. Then, offer one per person at your yard sale. (Some people only offer a cookie to shoppers when they check out.)

What if, at the end of the day, you’re left with most of the items that you started with?…

It just means you either:
a) had a lot of stuff!
b) asked more for it than a typical yardsaler is willing to give
c) you just didn’t have the right shoppers come by your yard sale on this particular day

At the end of the day, what do you do with all of those items that you worked so hard to price… and lug down the stairs… and set up on your driveway… for all the world to see?

You have plenty of options!

1. Try again. Save everything you don’t sell and try again a few weeks (or months) later. But this time, mark all of the prices down… way down. You might also consider getting together with a couple of neighbors to host one big yard sale.

2. eBay. Not only are you practically guaranteed that each and every one of your items will be sold on a site like eBay, but you can also use the valuable lessons that you’ve learned from your own yard sale. Specifically: whichever items most people were attracted to at your yard sale…. those are the ones most likely to sell (and at higher profit margins) on eBay!

I agree, selling items online is a bit more time-consuming than having a yard sale (since you should photograph each item, and list each item individually), but it’s usually more profitable, too.

3. Freecycle. Make the day of someone in your own neighborhood. You never know what people want or need… Chances are, if you list all items you’re willing to let go for FREE on Freecycle, someone in your area will step up and be glad to take it off your hands — within hours! Or, try Craigslist.

4. Pass it on. Think places like doctor’s offices, hospitals, and nursing homes for books & magazines. Think friends and relatives for some of your favorite things that you just don’t have room for anymore. And think neighbors for those “unique items” that you know someone down the street collects, or a toy that a neighbor kid would love.

5. Local charities. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army typically have donation centers in most towns. In addition, there are a number of other local charities to choose from. Some will even come to your house to pick up the items for FREE! (In our neighborhood, ARC does this, as does the Salvation Army, among others.)

Just remember, at the end of your yard sale (no matter how much you actually sold)…

  • You win because you’ve managed to purge your home (and your life) of so much stuff that you no longer want or need.
  • Others win because you’ve given (or donated) some items to others who can use them.
  • And all who bought items at your yard sale win because they’ve picked up on some great bargains.

…A yard sale is definitely a win-win for everyone involved!

 How To Get Rid Of Stuff Fast!

To make the process of cleaning up after your yard sale faster & easier, and to get everything out of your house in a hurry, immediately after your sale ends (not later that night, not the next morning), divide all of your remaining items into five piles:

 1. Items to donate. Bag or box these items up and prepare to take them to a local charity, or make arrangements for a charity truck to pick them up.

2. Items to sell on online. The majority of what you don’t sell can be sold online …and usually for a higher price than you would’ve gotten from a yard sale anyway!

3. Free stuff for whoever wants it. I use Freecycle. But other people prefer to leave these items in box marked “FREE” placed at the end of the driveway. Leave it there until garbage pick-up day, and anything that doesn’t get picked up can be thrown away or recycled.

4. Items to save for the next garage sale. IF you think you’ll have another yard sale in the future, AND you have enough space to store the items until then, then it makes sense to store some things away.

5. Items to keep. These are typically items that you only wanted to sell if you got the right price for it. We all have some of these. Usually they’re items that only you see the real value in.

Note: In my case, one “pile” was in the guest bedroom (donate), another “pile” was in my office (sell online), one “pile” was in the far corner of our garage (freebies), another “pile” was a large Rubbermaid bin in the attic (sell at next yard sale), and remaining things that I just couldn’t part with went to their respective places inside my house or attic storage. Yard Sale Advice: What To Do With Leftover Garage Sale Items

What if, at the end of the day, you’re left with most of the items that you started with?…

Reasons To Give Away Items For FREE At Your Yard Sale

One of the best things you can do at your yard sale is to give away some items for free. And don’t be shy about making a big deal of it!\n\nI always offer free stuff at each of my garage sales. \n\nThis year, the biggest hit was: \n

I actually like to have an entire section of free stuff. Because, when it comes right down to it, you know that everything you have is not going to sell. So why not try to guess which of your items are LEAST likely to sell & just offer those for free right from the beginning. \n\nHonestly, people are usually so shocked to see something for free, that they simply don’t believe it. And it’s only those who are TRULY interested in the item who will actually ask about it. So, it’s a win-win… you only get the serious inquiries, and you both feel good about giving & receiving something for nothing!

Tips For Pricing Yard Sale Items

If you want to be smiling at the end of your yard sale and feel good that you’ve sold most of your items, then price everything very low! I’m not kidding.

Otherwise, you’ll just end the day frustrated and sad that you went to all this trouble to set up and run a day-long (or 2-day long) yard sale… yet you’ve got nothing to show for it!

My advice is to just sell everything and be done with it, rather than try to make some outlandish profit in the end. It’s far more frustrating to be left with most of what you started with in the end than it is to sell it for too low of a price.

 Good Luck…..Let me know when your dates are…so that I can check out your treasures!  =)