How to Hold a Successful Garage or Yard Sale

Spring cleaning is in full swing and for many of us that means it’s garage sale season. Hosting a garage or yard sale is the perfect time to edit items from your home that are no longer used or fit your lifestyle. In addition to de-cluttering your home, a garage sale is a great way to make a little extra money.
Holding a garage sale however takes organization and pre-planning. Here are some tips for hosting a successful garage sale:
successful garage yard sales{images by Thayer Allyson Gowdy via Real Simple}
Select the Right Day & Time.
1. Typically the best months for garage sales are in the spring and summer. Steer clear of holidays and summer vacation months {i.e. July & August}.
2. Saturday is the most popular day for garage sales, but a Friday or Sunday might also work for you. Go with the flow and see what day is trending in your neighborhood.
3. Serious garage sale shoppers get up earlier, so set a start time no later than 8am.
Consider a Multi-family Sale.
1. Inform family and friends about the garage sale and encourage them to participate. Ask them to help out on the day of the sale and assign them a task {cashier, helping customers, keeping merchandise neat}.
2. Let neighbors know about your sale. If they too want to have a garage sale the same day, share marketing efforts {signage, Criagslist posting, etc.}. Multi-family garage sales always pull in more traffic.
stylish yard sale displays
Determine, Organize & Price Items to Sell.
1. Schedule a day {or two} to go room by room in your home to de-clutter and make a list of items you would like to sell.
2. Don’t sell items that are damaged beyond repair or have been recalled. In fact it is illegal to resell items that have been recalled – go here for a list of recalled items}.
3. Make a note as to what price you would like to sell the item. If you have no idea how to price an item, you can always look up a similar item on eBay or Criagslist.
4. Set up a holding area for the items you will be selling. Typically this is in the garage, because it eliminates moving the sale items multiple times. You’ll be able to move the items easily out the day of the sale.
5. In the holding area, group sale items into plastic bins {clear ones are best because you can see the contents inside} and boxes. Be sure to label the bin or box  {i.e. toys, DVDs, 0-3 month girls’ clothing, etc.} and price the items in the grouping the same.
6. Save time by minimizing labeling each item. Instead label the tables, bins or racks {i.e. $5-$10, $1 or Less, $25 or Best Offer}.
Supplies Needed On-site for the Sale.
1. Shopping bags and small boxes to make it easier for customers to take away the goods.
2. Tables, clothing racks and shelves for displaying items.
3. A calculator for adding up sales.
4. Spare light bulbs, batteries and extension cords plugged in to show that items work properly.
5. Tape measure, pens and scissors.
6. Trash can.
7. Paper towels, tissues and hand-sanitizer.
8. Pre-made sticker labels or color coded stickers for pricing items.
9. Newspaper to wrap fragile items.
10. Cash-box, hip-pack or apron with pockets to hold cash and change.
cute yard sale signage {image via Yard Sale Bloodbath}
Advertise the Sale.
1. Create a listing one week prior to the sale on Craigslist or a similar on-line site. It’s free!
2. Inquire about placing ads with various local newspapers. Ask how many words, how much it will cost and when you need to submit the information by.
3. When listing your ad, include your big items and/or categories {i.e. 1940s oak dining table, baby gear & clothing}
3. Create signage to be placed at large intersections near your home.
4. Signage should include the date of the sale, your address {cross streets can be helpful too} and the sale hours. Use foam board and make the signs large enough for them to be read easily by drivers.
5. Consider making smaller directional signage if you think people may have difficulties finding your home.
successful garage sale tips
{image by Thayer Allyson Gowdy via Real Simple}

Display items with Style.
1. Remove or cover items in the garage you don’t want to sell.
2. Organize your items and display them in an interesting and easy-to-view format.
3. Use clothing racks {consider renting or borrowing some} to hang items such as dresses, jackets and suits. Group clothing according to size.
4. Place like items together and make signs so customers can easily find what they are looking for {i.e books, housewares, boys clothing – sizes 2T – 3T}

apron for garage sale
{image via CountryHome}
Managing the Money.
1. Go to the bank ahead of the sale and have between $75 and $100 in small bills {$1s, $5s and a few $10s} and a couple rolls of quarters.
2. Designate a person to handle the cash-box at all times. If this isn’t possible, have one person where an apron or hip-pack to mange the transactions.
3. Have a “Cash Only” rule. It’s no fun to get a bounced check!
free stuffed animals to kids
Fun for the Kids.
1. Encourage older kids to earn extra cash by selling donuts, bagels or cookies.
2. Set out a box of gently used stuffed animals labeled “FREE – Kids Take One” for customers with  young children. Used stuffed animals are rarely accepted by charities, so this is a great way to pass them along! You will have some very happy, little customers too 🙂
After the Sale.
1. Do not bring any unsold items back into your home or garage.
2. Immediately after the sale, pack unsold items into your vehicle and drive them to the nearest charity or donation center {be sure to get a receipt for a tax credit}.
3. Place unsold items curbside with a “FREE” sign.
4. Schedule a date and time for one of the local thrift stores to pick up items that are too big for you to hall away {have them leave a receipt for a tax credit}.
5. Remove all posted signs from the neighborhood.
If you don’t have a yard or garage for a traditional sale of this kind, try TagSellIt. It’s a traditional garage sale in a virtual format.
igaragesale yard sale app for iphone
I don’t tend to host garage sales {too much work, my hubby says}, but I love going to them. Just downloaded the iGarageSale app for my iPhone too. The reviews are glowing.
Tips for Holding a Successful Yard or Garage Sale - Simplified Bee
Planning a yard sale this year?
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12 Responses to How to Hold a Successful Garage or Yard Sale

  1. Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma July 12, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Saw you over at CG. What a well-thought out post. You really covered all the bases of throwing a perfect sale…

  2. CDS May 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    My sister-in-law is having one tomorrow! 🙂

  3. Allison May 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Thanks for sharing all of these great tips, Cristin. We are gearing up to have a big garage sale in a few weeks. We're in the de-cluttering, simplifying mode! Your post will be very helpful. Have a happy holiday weekend.

  4. Norine May 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    I am a big donation to charity fan. Love the tax deduction (turbo tax has the coolest free program that helps you value them properly). As I was reading I was thinking why go to all this trouble when you can take it to a charity and probably get the same amount of money back on your taxes when all is said and done? However, you remind me that there are things charities won't take and there is also the problem of getting large pieces transported. So I guess if everyone thought like me all the fun would go out of looking for incredible bargains at garage sales.

  5. The Sister Sophisticate May 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    I need to get back heavy in to going! My weekends are always so tied up with sports though! I love these tips. Going in my NTK (need to know) files right now!

  6. The enchanted home May 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Excellent, comprehensive well thought out post. I am forwarding this to my sister in law who is about to start planning one herself. She will love this!

  7. Carol Ann May 26, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Just downloaded the iGarageSale app. Thanks for the tip! My daughter and I had one last year and one thing I was NOT prepared for: Theft. Yes, we were robbed! Several men arrived in one car and worked together to rip us off. Be careful out there! We live in an upper-middle class neighborhood and I was not prepared for that.

  8. Laura@JourneyChic May 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Although we followed most of your steps, I wish you'd written this post two weeks ago! 🙂 We had a sale with our neighbor and did very well. The best thing we did was set the tables up in the garage the night before. In the morning we were able to sleep in a bit longer because we only needed to pull the tables outside.

  9. Melissa at HOUSEography May 26, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    I love having yard sales – I may be an addict. We have held one every year for 8 years. Sad but true. We always seem to have clothes, toys, etc. I think pricing everything except clothes, books, and DVDs is the best way to sell the most stuff. I have very few things less than $1 until the last 2 hours when everything is half price!

  10. laxsupermom May 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Great tips! We really need to hold a garage sale. Our garage is full to bursting with stuff we don't use anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Leenie May 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    This is so bomb. Thanks for sharing this. I don't think we have enough stuff to throw a yard sale, but loving the tips for if we ever come around to this moment!

  12. modern jane May 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! I'm boomarking this for when I have mine!