Is a Garage Sale in your near future and you don’t know where to start? You’re in luck! We have held successful Garage Sales over the last 20 years and are here to share all of the Garage Sale Tips we know!
Garage Sale Supplies
Most garage sale supplies you will probably already own. If not, this is great reason joining forces with friends will work to your benefit!
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Tables – Hopefully you have a few to use but, if not, ask to borrow from family and friends.
Clothes Rack and Hangers – We invested in this clothes rack many years ago and it has come in handy for our sales!
Price Tags – I use return address labels because I have a bunch and need to use them up. I can print three tags per label and cut them! Use what you have!
Extension Cord – Because customers like to make sure stuff works!
Calculator or Cash Register
Fanny Pack or Cash Register – We happen to have a cash register from a previous business but, if you’re working alone, I would suggest a fanny pack to keep on you at all times.
Change – 1’s, 5’s, and loose change will help you out a lot!
Recycled Bags – Save the bags you get from the grocery store to use at your garage sale.
Planning A Garage Sale
Garage sales are a ton of fun and come with fantastic bonuses! You get to free yourself of clutter and earn a little money at the same time. It’s a win no matter what way you look at it!
The trick is in the preparation.
Location, Location, Location
You’ve heard it before and it still holds true. The most successful garage sales are held near a major road. If your signs can boast ‘3 blocks’ you are likely to catch customers who had no intention to stop at a garage sale but can easily spare three blocks. Find a friend or relative who has the ideal spot and join forces.
Join Forces With Friends
Garage sales are always better with friends! Not only do you have someone to work with, you also can run to the restroom, if needed. Plus, customers are less likely to do drive-bys if there is a lot of merchandise. More friends equals more merchandise. The more the merrier!
Not only is it time to determine the dates for your garage sale, it’s also time to determine what days you will be open. For many years, we were open the normal garage sale days of Friday and Saturday. Friday morning was always the busiest and Friday sales blew Saturday’s out of the water. One year we decided to be all crazy and open on Thursday. Guess what? It was super duper busy! Friday, although still busy, lost its luster.
It has been our experience that Thursday and Friday are the busiest days with Saturday lagging behind. Sunday … forget about it!
|Sunday||Not Worth It|
Make Awesome Signs
The hot pink sign boasted Upscale Sale. We just HAD to see what an upscale sale looked like, so we turned right. At the next intersection, there was a piece of cardboard with an arrow. We followed. The next spot had a small pink arrow, we held our breath and took our chances. There was no sale to be found. The Upscale Sale did not have upscale signage.
Signage is what brings buyers to your garage sale so skimping isn’t an option. Make your garage sale signs uniform but different from all of the other signs out there.
A-board signs are awesome for the main intersections. Make the smaller signs you staple to sign poles look the same as your a-board signs so customers are certain they are heading to the right sale.
Check the codes in your area. One year we couldn’t figure out why our signs kept disappearing. Apparently, the police were ripping them down because putting staples in telephone poles endangered the pole climbers’ lives. I had no idea utility workers still climbed poles so I paid attention and, sure enough, I actually saw someone climbing a pole not too long after. Who knew?
Save your signs from year to year and freshen up as needed. Quite by accident, we came up with a unique sign design. We changed the day by placing a bright yellow poster board strip on our hot pink signs. It is very identifiable and we have even advertised on Craigslist ‘follow the hot pink and yellow signs’.
Supplies Needed For Signs
The last thing you want to do is spend the big bucks on Garage Sale Signs. After all, who wants to eat up the profit before it’s even there?
The trick is to create garage sale signs you can use year after year. This makes a small initial investment really pay off!
Pick two attention grabbing colors. We used poster board that was neon pink on one side and neon yellow on the other. You can easily find poster board at Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, or even The Dollar Tree.
I’ve used the Sharpie Chisel Tip Permanent Markers but would love to try out the Sharpie Magnum Permanent Marker the next time we need to refresh our signs. The Sharpie ink has weathered quite well, considering we live in the Seattle area.
Heavy Duty Staple Gun
You may already have one. If not, you’ll find a staple gun is useful for so many things Use it to staple your beautiful signs onto a-boards and street signs. Just remember not to staple or nail anything on telephone poles. Those pole climbers will thank you for it!
A-boards can be a big investment but they are super duper effective! It’s best to have an a-board at each turn from the main road. We were lucky enough to have a-boards from a business of my dad’s but have since built our own a-board garage sale signs! I stash them in the garage and use them every year!
Keep It Simple!
The less wordy your garage sale signs are, the better! Potential customers need the basics and they need them fast, as they drive by.
Before we built and painted garage sale signs, we used a full sheet of poster board on each side of our a-boards and half sheets for the street signs. A-boards are used at each turn and poster board on street signs are to encourage customers along the way and to assure them they are headed in the right direction.
To prevent mischievous behavior, it’s a good idea to put the a-board signs out right before the sale and pick them up after. You don’t want to have them disappear because you left them out all night.
A small investment in garage sale signs will keep the customers coming not only this year, but for many more sales to come!
Decide What To Use For Price Tags
Price your garage sale items! Price tags can be found at The Dollar Tree or just about anywhere.
We happened to have an excess of return address labels and have used those for quite a few years now. It’s super simple to print initials on them and cut into thirds for price tags. This makes it easy to know who to give credit to at check out. You can even pre-print prices for ultra easy pricing.
I’ve also heard of people buying multiple packages of the colored dot stickers and assigning a color to each person.
Whatever the system, be sure it’s somehow apparent who to give credit to.
Go To The Bank For Change
We have an old cash register from my dad’s old business which works fabulous for garage sales! It isn’t necessary though. Make sure you have a school box, fanny pack, or something to keep money in. Have 1’s, 5’s, and coins on hand to make check out simple. Keep an eye on that money, too, as it has been known to disappear.
Everything sells better if it is within easy reach. Borrow the tables you need! It also works to turn over big boxes to use as tabletops. Have saw horses? Use an old door or piece of wood on top for extra table space.
Use A Clothing Rack And Hangers
Clothes sell best when hanging. We purchased a clothing rack solely for this purpose. It has definitely been well used and helped us earn more for our clothing. We also have used a make shift clothing rack out of two ladders, a rod, and bungee cords.
In the past, I have taken all of the clothes, in my closet, off hangers so clothes could be displayed properly at a garage sale. Thankfully, I’ve now gathered enough hangers to have on hand, without destroying my closet.
Save Your Grocery Bags
Recycled bags from the grocery store are great to have on hand for your garage sale. Your customers will appreciate it and it’s a great way to recycle those plastic bags!
Get The Kids Involved!
If you have kids … why not let them make some money too? Customers are happy to pay for a cold drink on a hot day! Pepsi and water are what we usually have on hand … throw them in a cooler with some ice and have the kids make a sign! Cookies and brownies seem to be a hit as well!
Now that my kids are older, they’ve moved on from snacks to busking and selling woodworking projects!
Whew! Doesn’t it feel great to be prepared?
The Day Before Your Garage Sale
You have found a great location, joined forces with friends, signage is ready to go, price tags are waiting, you are prepared to make change, and have tables, a clothing rack, hangers, and bags. What now? It’s the day before your garage sale and it’s time to set up shop!
Merchandise Your Items
Organize your items by what they are and what you have.
Table categories commonly used are:
- Guy Stuff
- Shoes Sports
It is helpful to place category signs on tables so you know where to put merchandise, as you unpack it. Customers appreciate the organization, too!
Tip: Candles and crayons are usually better in the shade to avoid melting. Ask me how I know! We have also learned that rubber stamps and records are best kept out of the scorching sun.
Not enough table space? Turn boxes over and use them under tables or as stand-alone tables. As merchandise sells, move items up!
Price Your Merchandise
Shoppers prefer that items are priced in order to avoid an awkward check out. It also saves a lot of time with questions and you’re going to need your time for checking out all those customers!
With multiple sellers, be sure to have your initials on the price sticker or use another coding system such as color stickers.
Unfortunately, price stickers often travel on purpose or on accident. Keep a watchful eye and don’t be bamboozled!
Create A Sales Record
Use a spiral notebook and make columns for each of the sellers or print off the Garage Sale Sales Record!
During busy times, it works well to have one friend adding merchandise while telling the other which column on the Sales Record to give credit to.
Designate A Table For Check Out
Set up a table for check out with plenty of recycled bags underneath. This table will hold your register or cash box and have enough room for adding customers’ merchandise.
Since grocery carts are a rarity at garage sales, it is also beneficial to have a staging area, for customers, by the register. A staging area will ensure merchandise doesn’t get sold to the wrong person. We have used both chairs and shelving as staging areas. Customers are always happy to free up their hands for more shopping!
Once all merchandise is displayed properly, pull your tables into the garage or cover with tarps for an easy set up the next morning.
You’re now prepared and ready to rock a successful garage sale!
Garage Sale Morning
You’ve done your homework and now it’s GO TIME!
There are just a few things left to do before the hoards of people invade your driveway.
Advertise Your Garage Sale
There are many free ways to advertise your garage sale. We have successfully used Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to advertise our garage sales.
O-dark-thirty is an excellent time to list your garage sale on Craigslist, in order to give those customers time to make their list, before heading out. You may choose to list your garage sale the evening before, however, we have found that the sale tends to get lost in the sea of sales by the next morning.
If you are working from two households, with two different Craigslist accounts, it’s smart to utililize both accounts. List off the types of items you have, tell them which signs to follow, give a time, and address.
Sample Garage Sale Ad:
Multi-Family Garage Sale
Follow the yellow and pink signs from 120th Street in Anytown!
You will find:
- Books for ages tween to adult
- Clothes kids to adult
- Designer jeans
- Toys and games
- Great selection of frames
- Office accessories
- Halloween and Christmas decor including wreaths
- Build-A-Bears, clothes, and accessories
- Baskets in all shapes and sizes
- Household items
- PS2 and Wii games
- Home decor
- Shoes in like new condition
- Skis and ski boots
- Motorcycle helmet
Come take a look today from 9:00 – 4:00
Many communities have Facebook groups you can advertise on.
Pull Tables Out
All that organization will really pay off today! Pull those tables out. If it’s a mild day, take as much outside as possible. If it looks like rain or a heatwave is on the way, keep as much inside as possible.
The more you can see from the road, the more customers you will have. People want to see the merchandise! Furniture, guy stuff, and other big items should be strategically placed where those driving by can’t help but stop to see what treasures they may find.
Put Out Those Awesome Signs
Lead the droves in from the main road and be sure to encourage them, along the way, with arrows in your appointed colors and large signs at each turn.
It’s debatable whether you put signs out first or pull your tables out and it really depends on how much help you have. If you’re all by yourself, put signs out first so you don’t leave your merchandise hanging out, without someone watching over it. Of course, you will have people showing up before you can get your tables out. For this reason, we get set up and then two of us put the signs out, in strategic locations, while someone else runs the sale.
Get Your Change Ready
You’re already prepared with the change, you just need to put it in your checkout spot. For goodness sake, don’t leave the change box alone!
Put A Smile On Your Face!
You will, indeed, meet many different people. Some you know and many you don’t. A smile goes a long way! It doesn’t mean you’re a pushover, it means you’re a genuinely happy and confident person.
Just for giggles, practice nodding, smiling, and saying no at the same time. Can you do it?
Today is going to be a great garage sale day!
During The Sale
You’re off to a good start and the sale is humming along. This isn’t time to kick your feet up. It’s time to keep things tidy and work the crowd.
You’ll have plenty of time to kick your feet up and have a little lunch once the morning crowd dies down.
Move Merchandise Up
Because you’ve taken the steps to make your garage sale a success, merchandise will be flying off the tables! Get out there and move merchandise up that had nowhere to go but under tables or the ground. Most of us are lazy and don’t want to bend over for a deal so make it easy on us!
Keep It Organized
Indecisive customers will pick something up and change their mind a few tables later, setting the item down where it doesn’t belong. These are called ‘go backs’. Just like a retail store, pick those items up and put them back where they belong. Keeping merchandise organized not only helps customers, it also may appear you are a customer. We all know, the busier a garage sale looks, the more people will stop. People don’t want to miss out on the happening garage sale!
Stay With The Money!
With all that organizing, it’s important to keep an eye on the money. Ideally, one person will stay at the register or check out table, the entire time, while the other is working the crowd and assisting the check out table, when necessary.
Whatever you do, don’t let the money out of your sight. Even if it means wearing a fanny pack. You have one, don’t you?
Smile, Nod, Say No!
When I purchased my Tahoe, quite a few years ago, I tried my best to get the best possible deal. On my last ditch effort, the salesman smiled, nodded, and said ‘NO’. For some reason I had to smile, too, and it lightened the mood.
If you have customers asking for ridiculous prices (not that I did that), try this trick! Can you do it? It’s actually kind of hard. Try it! I challenge you!
Garage Sale Etiquette
We have held successful annual garage sales for many years. It is always fun and extrememly interesting! Oh, the people you will meet! It is good to connect with people that attend but there are always those few, you know the ones, we don’t let them ruin our day though! Instead, we choose to have a little fun!
Everyone talks about how to get the best deal at a garage sale but let’s look at another perspective. The perspective of those actually holding the garage sale!
Today We Are Just Trying To Make A Buck!
We totally admire that you are purchasing items to send to the Philippines or give to foster children. We love to give to charity. We are very generous. Today, we are just trying to make a buck!
When you ask for a special deal on an item and then lump it together with a bunch of merchandise and ask for an even better deal, well, that’s double dipping. We already gave you a deal. Now the price is going up!
The One-Sided Argument
When the price is $2, the fact you say ‘no, $1’ does not make it so. You will have a one sided argument and we will just laugh and laugh!
It isn’t cute when you coax your child to bargain for a 10¢ item. You know we can’t say no to that face and you use it against us. It’s 10¢ for crying out loud!
For that matter, I’m embarrassed for you when you want a 10¢ sheet for 5¢. What are you thinking?
It’s okay to tell us you’d like the garage sale leftovers free for your charity. Please just know that 12 other people have asked for the same thing!
Mad, Mad, Mad
We will not chase you down and beg for forgiveness when you stomp off because you didn’t get the price you wanted. That strategy just doesn’t work here. If you really want the item, pay the extra quarter!
Prices Are There For A Reason
We take a lot of time and consideration in pricing our items. The prices are there for a reason. We very seldom negotiate. It’s our sale and we’ll do what we want to.
Believe it or not, we have built quite the reputation and people love to come to our garage sale! I’m sounding pretty confident there, right? They know we have great stuff at reasonable prices and we just don’t mess around. Show us your garage sale etiquette people!
Garage Sales just wouldn’t be as exciting if we didn’t have the pleasure to encounter such interesting people.
After The Garage Sale
The garage sale has been fun and full of promise until now, the end. The thought of packing everything up that didn’t sell fills you with dread. It’s been a busy week, you’re tired, and what will you do with all this stuff anyway?
You have choices!
Box It Up And Haul To A Thrift Store
As you box up your treasures, you will utter disbelief that no one bought that awesome rubber stamp set for the low price of $2 and, what? No one wanted the practically new Levi’s for $5? Boxing up the leftovers produces many feelings. You may want to run and hide merchandise in the house before it makes it in a thrift store box. Maybe you should! Perhaps a few of your items will sell on eBay!
If you have a larger item to drop off, make a call to see if it’s something the thrift store will accept. Goodwill once refused a fine green leather swivel chair we had in our truck. I don’t know why! Once it was in the truck, it wasn’t going back home so we ended up paying $18 to dump the thing. Ugh!
Arrange A Pick Up Time With A Local Charity
Perhaps you’ll get lucky and the charity will have a truck in your area after the sale. Otherwise, be prepared to have a pile of boxes in your garage for a few days, until the charity truck arrives.
Pack It Up For Next Year’s Sale
If space is abundant, store the best for another sale. After all, the more you have at a sale, the better!
Make It Free!
Get customers to do the work for you!
If your sale ends at 4:00, staple a small sign over your original garage sale hours that says, ‘FREE 4:00 – 6:00’!
But WAIT! Before you put the free signs out, be sure to walk your sale and pick up anything you’re not willing to give away. You know, those items you can sell on eBay or you just can’t bare to part with for no monetary gain.
Set your bags out and let people fill them up. You are blessing neighbors and avoiding the dreaded boxing.
Tip: Keep a watchful eye! People will take your tables, chairs, ladders, clothing rack, and anything else in sight. HIDE your keys, your water bottle, and your kids!
I was actually quite surprised when we put out free signs. We weren’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, I feared people would be rude and obnoxious but, with the exception of one, most customers were actually quite sweet! ‘Are you sure this is free?’ was heard often. We did have a young lad eyeing the ladder in the NOT free corner and a lady that lingered a little too long. Let’s just call her Suzy Q. Suzie Q wanted us to follow her around with bags to assist her as her personal shopper. She even asked if we would deliver a free recliner to her home thirty minutes away. When we declined, she asked every other person visiting the free sale to deliver the chair for her. It was really quite comical, to say the least.
Making everything free may not be a good idea if you plan to hold a garage sale every year. Customers may remember your generosity and wait for the end of the sale to get what they want for nothing. They may even come early and hide the desires of their heart, only to find it when everything is free. Oh, you know it could happen! However, if you don’t garage sale often or are moving, this is a perfect way to avoid boxing the leftovers!
Even after making everything free, we still had one truckload for the thrift store and one truckload for the dump. Not too bad considering this was a moving sale from a home my parents had lived in 20 years!
Now all you need to do is return the tables you borrowed, spiff up the garage, and COUNT THE CASH!
You’ve learned what it takes to have a successful garage sale but you want to make sure you don’t forget a thing! The Garage Sale Checklist will put your mind at ease, knowing the steps are laid out for you, on one document!