Tips for a Successful Garage Sale


Every summer I see the same thing: Countless signs taped, tacked and pasted to the utility poles advertising the latest and greatest garage sale that’s happening in the community. It’s not hard to leave your house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and stumble upon at least one sale taking place (especially as we head into the second half of summer).

Garage sales (or tag sales depending on how you refer to them) can be a great way to make some extra cash. If done correctly, you could ensure that those unused, unwanted items cluttering up your house turn into a nice pile of cash. Who knows, perhaps the sale will give you a great start on your summer vacation fund!

If you’re planning a garage sale or know someone who is, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your efforts:

Use the Buddy System

If you’re planning a garage sale, consider joining forces with neighbors, friends, and family. Not only will you have a more robust spread that will naturally draw more curious shoppers, but you’ll be able to enjoy the day as a group. Bonus points for having more eyes to keep watch over things and for more bodies to help with the logistics.

One good trick for multi-family sales is to buy those colored dot stickers at an office supply store and assign each group their own color. That way, when things get busy, you’ll have no problem knowing that lamp is Aunt Sally’s because it has the neon green sticker on it.

Be Prepared

Once you’ve set the date for your sale, you should already be working to identify which items will be sold as well as at what prices. Do as much of the grunt work upfront as possible–you don’t want to be rushing around the day of the sale to organize things! If you’ll be utilizing your garage, you can set that area up the day before so you’ll have less to do when it’s go time.

Another part of your preparation is to develop your systems–and to make sure everyone who is participating in the sale is on board. How will you handle negotiations? Can people name prices on your behalf? How will cash be handled? What about batteries and power outlets so people are able to test those electronics?

One final consideration is to make sure you have plenty of small bills and change on hand. You wouldn’t want to lose a sale because you didn’t have the $2 to give someone as change!

Make it a Party

Nobody wants to go to a sale where the items are strewn about haphazardly, it’s silent, and people don’t seem to be enjoying themselves–no matter how cheap that set of golf clubs might be. Take the extra steps to make shoppers feel comfortable by putting on some music and greeting everyone with a smile. Take it a step further and put out some coffee and juice and/or set up a “kid zone” filled with coloring books and crayons where little ones can be occupied as mom and dad do their browsing. You’d be amazed at how much these small steps add up to a much larger impact!

What are your tips for having a great garage sale?

6 Responses to Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

  1. Great post, Jen! Yes, joining forces has always been crucial for us to a successful garage sale. That, and pricing things right. People will walk away if your prices are too high, so don’t price based on sentimental value or to necessarily even make money. Our goal was to get rid of stuff first, and to make a little cash in the process.

  2. Mark Ross says:

    We once had a garage sale before and sadly, it didn’t go well. We didn’t asked for our neighbors help and some of the buyers haggle pretty well. Now, that I have read this, I will surely take of note of those the next time we have it again. Thanks Jen!

  3. I wrote a similar post with all the tips that we use as well. I think that preparing where you want to go starts with planning the day before. There’s lots more I would do but it starts with a plan that way you don’t waste time and gas running around town.

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