Garage Sale Tips – How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

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Warmer weather is here to stay for a while and you know what that means, right? Yard sale season! I adore yard sale shopping almost as much as I love thrift store shopping! In fact, Steve and I often make yard sale shopping into entire days for a frugal date! The chance to get a deal is fantastic when you’re shopping at garage sales, but for me, it doesn’t stop at getting the deals. I also love having my own garage sale! Learning how to have a successful garage sale is something that took me years (and years) of practice, but because of that practice, I’ve gotten quite good at it. In fact, my last yard sale netted me over $1200 over a 4-day period and I have consistently made over $1,000 with each yard sale that I’ve had for the last five years. Crazy, right? It’s amazing what a few garage sale tips can do for your profit margin.

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale - Have you had a yard sale before but didn't make any money? These 25 garage sale tips will teach you how to profit every. single. time! I've made over $1,000 with each yard sale for the last 5 years and now? I'm going to show you how to share my garage sale tips so you can do it too!

Yard sales are one of my favorite ways to earn extra money, but I also love that I get to clean out “stuff” that has accumulated and pass it onto someone else who will probably love it more than I do. Sure, I want to make money selling the things I no longer want, but at the same time, I also want that stuff out of my house so it isn’t cluttering things up.

Garage Sale Tips –  How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

When it comes to learning how to have a successful garage sale, you’ll have to do some work. I can sit here all day and give you all the garage sale tips that I know, but unless you’re willing to actually put my garage sale tips into practice, you’re not going to get anywhere. These are the tips that most garage sale pro’s use to have a successful garage sale so by putting them into play when you have your next garage sale, you will quickly become a pro as well.

Proper Planning is Key – 

Garage sales are easy to profit from, but they do require proper planning to be successful. You can’t throw a garage sale together in two or three days and expect to actually earn money. Give yourself at least a month to go through the items you’ll be putting out for sale, to price those items and to finish with the other planning tasks that need to be done. If you’re not the super organized type, it can be helpful to pick up a project planning notebook to help you keep track of everything. If not, you could be significantly cutting into your yard sale profits by not being fully prepared.

More is…well more –

One of the easiest garage sale tips that I can give you is to combine forces with your friends and/or family. Single family yard sales can do well, but multi-family yard sales typically do much better. Ask a friend or family member if they would like to de-clutter their home by sharing your yard sale with you. You’ll have more items and if there’s one thing that garage sale shoppers love, it’s more items.

Location is everything

Another of the best garage sale tips I can give you is that your location makes much more of a difference than most people realize. If you live in a back corner that doesn’t get any traffic and doesn’t intersect a well traveled street, you will need to find a new location to hold your garage sale. You don’t need to be right off of the main street, but you do need to be close enough to draw attention. If your home doesn’t meet that criteria, ask a friend or family member if you can use their yard or garage.

Know your neighbors – 

This one goes along with location a bit, but knowing your neighbors can also help you have a successful garage sale. I don’t mean that you should buddy up to them in order to sell your stuff, but you should know the general things. Did you have a pregnant neighbor? If so, you stand a good chance of selling that high chair and stroller in your attic. Does one enjoy sports? Dig out your old sports gear. Do you live in a neighborhood full of children? Learn how to make extra cash selling your old kids clothes at your yard sale. Knowing what is happening around you can help you make sure that you include items that your neighbors might be interested in.

Tidy Up Your Area – 

Anyone giving you garage sale tips should tell you pretty quickly that you should make sure the area that you’re holding your sale in is clean and tidy. It doesn’t need to be spotless but any trash or debris needs to be picked up from the yard, the garage should have any items not being sold removed and the floor swept and so on. You wouldn’t shop at a store if it was filthy so why would others shop at your garage sale if it is?

Another great yard sale tip is to grab a large trash can and a 30-gallon trash bag to have sitting out during your garage or yard sale. This will give people who have trash a place to toss it instead of them simply throwing it in your yard. Yes; it will happen if you don’t prepare for it.

Point the way…literally – 

One of the biggest ways to have a successful yard sale is to make sure you’re advertising very well with signs. Don’t put them up ahead of time since that will chance them being pulled down by other people who want to advertise their site or them getting wet if it rains before your sale. What I personally do is pick up a complete yard sale kit such as THIS one that includes both price tags, signs and stakes for the signs. I then print out arrows facing each way and put two of the signs back to back on one wooden steak with the arrows pointing the correct way. This way, no matter which way a car is driving, they’ll be pointed in the right direction. You’ll want to place signs at the corners of your street, the main traffic intersection and any other well traveled areas near your garage sale spot that you can find.

Another idea that I love to do is pick up a cardboard garage sale tent sign. I place this at the end of my driveway pointing toward my home. This catches the attention of any passing motorists who may have missed the other signs. If your tent sign will be sitting back from the road a bit, tie some colorful balloons to the top of it so it catches passing drivers attention a bit without being an eyesore. Just be sure to weight it down so it doesn’t chance floating away.

Advertise Everywhere You Can Think Of – 

My next garage sale tip for you is that you’ll want to do is advertise everywhere you can without being spammy. The morning of your garage sale, after everything is set up, post on any local Facebook groups that you’re able to as well as Craigslist. Download a few garage sale apps to your phone and list your sale. Place flyers in laundromats or grocery stores (be sure to ask first). Let your Mom group know. The more ads you take the time to place, the better your sale will do.

Know which items sell (and which don’t) –

Each area is different, but if you research ahead of time which items actually do well at yard sales and which don’t, which items you can make more money on by selling online and which items people usually snag quickly, you’ll make considerably more money and have less left over. Some items just don’t do well at garage sales but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money on them. Spend a weekend or two before your garage sale visiting others and researching online to make certain that you only put out your best items.

Get rid of junk – 

One of my biggest pet peeves as a yard sale shopper is pulling up to a sale that is nothing but junk. If it doesn’t work, if it’s stained, if it’s broken, ripped, torn or otherwise trash; put it where it belongs – in the garbage bin-  instead of trying to make a few bucks by taking advantage of a yard sale shopper. If you only sell quality items, you’ll soon have a reputation has having the best garage sales around, but if you sell junk, that is exactly what your yard sale rep will be.

Clean your sale items up –

Before the sale, make sure that all clothing is freshly laundered and that other items have been wiped down and are free of any dirty or dust. To keep things cheaper for you, use a homemade laundry detergent recipe to wash the clothing and microfiber cloths or unpaper towels to wipe things down.  Yes, you can still sell things if they’re not cleaned, but you will sell more of them at higher prices if they are clean.

There is one exception to this garage sale tip;  if you are trying to sell anything that is vintage or antique and it has a natural patina, don’t clean it. Cleaning those items actually drops their value rather than helping raise it.

Have a well thought out layout – 

Another of my favorite garage sale tips is to really think about your layout. Just like stores have a planned layout, your yard sale needs to as well. Make sure that you set up your folding tables or racks in a way that your shoppers can easily make their way through without having to trip over anything or squeeze past something. If they have to squeeze past things, it lessens your chances of selling more but it also increases your chance of having broken items.

Just say no to the ground…or boxes…or bags – 

Yard sale shoppers don’t like to bend down for items. This means you should do your best to keep things off of the ground if at all possible. Packing things in garbage bags or boxes is a no-no as well unless you’re bundling those items together. In that case, fill your box, then place a price on the box with a printed note (or use a sharpie and write it legibly) making it perfectly clear that the price is for the entire box.

Place your larger items up front –

Items like furniture and other pieces of eye candy that you may be selling should be placed up front where people passing by can see them. You’ll catch more “flies” with this particular piece of honey than you will if you bury them in the back.

Place toys at kid level –

As a mom I hate this one most of all of the garage sale tips I’m giving you, but as someone who is learning how to have a successful garage sale, you’ll love it. Place any toys or kids books that you’re selling at kid eye level. They’ll see them and want to play with them and as a result, you’ll sell more of them.

Group like items with like items – 

Just like the bigger stores do, grouping like items with like items can help you have a successful garage sale. This will help showcase your items a bit so that they are easily visible. Plus, someone who visits your sale for books, can easily find the books section without having to hop around your entire sale. For clothing, a portable clothing rack can help you keep items together if you don’t have anywhere to string a clothes line.

Price stickers make a difference –

If I could give you only one of my garage sale tips, this one is it. One single thing that you can do to increase your sales and have a successful yard sale is to make absolutely certain that you have brightly colored price stickers that are clearly marked on every single item (that isn’t grouped) you are selling. A lot of yard sale bargain hunters will not ask what an item is priced at so if yours aren’t, you could miss out on quite a few sales. Masking tape will work for prices, but it tends to blend in with a lot of different items. I prefer to use brightly colored, round yard sale price stickers for most items and hang tag price tags for larger things.

Have a “free” box –

I’m positive you’ll have plenty of items that you don’t want to keep but feel strange about trying to sell. Small kids toys, kids books that may not be in the greatest condition but are still readable, single inexpensive tools and more. Place these items in a box near the front of your garage sale and add a big “FREE!” sign on the front. You’ll draw in buyers just on the promise of getting something free.

Have plenty of change on hand for sale day –

People will come to your sale with everything from loose change to one-hundred dollar bills. Make sure you have plenty of change to break those large bills. Ideally, try to break $100 or so over several bills and coins. I try to do (2) $20, (4) $10, (4) $5 as well as a roll each of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Also, be sure you have a locking cash box to keep your cash safe in.

Be willing to negotiate – 

You love to find a good deal, don’t you and most likely you took the time to learn how to haggle for a good deal too. Yard sale shoppers are the same and as such are true bargain hunters. Simply put, the majority will not accept your price as you’ve stated it. Don’t be afraid to negotiate but make sure that you don’t refuse to haggle. You won’t sell much if you do.

Be present at your sale –

 I find it amazing that I have to include this with the rest of these garage sale tips, but I’ve seen it happen too many times to ignore it. Make sure that once your sale starts that you stay with it. Your buyers will not hunt you down to buy an item. They will simply leave. You also risk having things stolen from you if you leave your sale. This also means that you should be walking around your garage sale, offering help or conversation with anyone who needs it. Don’t be pushy but don’t be invisible either.

Smile and greet your buyers –

Every single time someone walks up your driveway or into your yard, make absolutely certain that you smile and tell them hello. There is nothing more awkward feeling than going through someone’s things while they’re frowning at you from across the yard or worse, are ignoring you.

Tidy up as the day goes on – 

If you went to a yard sale that had items thrown all over the place, would you buy much? Probably not. You’ll set your yard sale up really nice and neat, but unfortunately there are plenty of people who will not respect that. Before too long, clothes will be tossed everywhere, books messed up, games taken apart and more. Make sure you tidy up as needed to keep your items looking their best. I generally do this as I’m walking around my sales greeting people and seeing if they need help with anything.

Offer cool drinks –

Most yard sales are held during hot summer months. Add an insulated cooler of ice and cold water, juice or soda and sell it for $0.50 each can. You won’t make money on it, but it will give people a reason to hang around your sale longer. The longer they are there, the higher the chance that they will buy something.

Have a helper – 

This garage sale tip  is one where your older kids or spouse can help with. Make sure that you don’t try to do a large yard sale without help. They can relieve you when you need a break, help you set up and tear down, deal with multiple buyers wanting to pay at the same time and more.

Bag day on last day of sale – 

The last thing anyone who is having a yard sale wants to do is pack up items and take them inside or to the thrift store. After all, the point of having a garage sale is to earn a little bit of money from your items. On the last day of your garage sale, hold a bag day. Use paper grocery bags and let people fill them up with whatever they can fit in them for a flat rate. I have done as low $2.00 per bag or as high as $5.00 per bag depending on what is left. It’s an easy way to add some extra oomph to your garage sale earnings and to keep the clutter from worming its way back into your homyard


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Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence, and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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  1. That was vary helpful we are getting ready to have a yard sale so thank you

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