One of our favorite things to do in the summer is go to garage sales. Garage sales are great places to find treasures, but they are also great for selling your old stuff. Having a garage sale is not hard, but there are a few things that will help you get customers that will actually buy your stuff. We have been going to garage sales and having our own sales for 20+ years. We can teach you how to have a successful garage sale from our experiences!
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Related: The Ultimate Garage Sale Guide
What You Should Sell at Your Garage Sale
When we decide to have a garage sale, we usually try to go through every room in our house to find items that we no longer want or need. Some of the things that we usually sell at our garage sale are: clothes, books, toys, collectibles.
When people visit garage sales, they expect to find items that are cheaper than thrift store finds. If you are wanting to get a lot of money from one of your items, you might want to consider selling it on ebay. Furniture does sell at garage sales, but it cannot be priced too high. Anything that you might donate to a resale shop is something that you can sell at your garage sale.
If you have clothes that have holes in them or have stains on them, you should throw them away. No one wants to buy that type of clothes at a garage sale. The same is true with jigsaw puzzles. If they are missing pieces, throw them away or place them in a free box. People don’t want your garbage.
If you do not have enough items to sell at a garage sale, consider donating them. No one wants to stop at a garage sale with only a few items at it.
If you have young children, they might want to sell lemonade and baked items. As a kid I always sold lemonade, muffins, brownies, and cookies for a small amount of money. Do not expect to make much money at a lemonade stand. It is just a fun way to allow your kids to get involved with your sale.
When You Should Have Your Sale
In general, most people have their sales on Fridays and Saturdays. Some people have sales on Thursdays and Sundays, but not has many people will come on those days. People usually start their sales between 8 or 9 in the morning. You can decide on how late you want to stay open, but 4 or 5 in the afternoon is a good time to stop because your business will be slow. The earlier in the summer you have your sale the better. May and June are usually the best months for selling your items. It might be different in other areas of the country, but in the Midwest, those are the best months.
You should also decide how many days you want your sale to be open. We usually have ours on a Friday, and sometimes also on a Saturday. You can have your sale open multiple days, but just know that the first day will be the busiest. Sometimes people have their sale on a Friday with regular hours and then on Saturday with shortened hours (like 9-2).
What You Should Do to Prepare for Your Garage Sale
During the year, our family saves up grocery bags to use at our garage sale. People expect to get a bag if they are buying several items. In places where grocery bags are banned, you could also use small boxes so that people have something to carry their items in.
You should also create easy to read garage sale signs before you have your sale. Although you can buy garage sale signs at the store, they are usually too small and hard to read. The best garage sale signs are made out of bright colored poster board. We typically use neon colors because they stand out when you’re driving. You can reuse your signs every time you have a sale until they wear out. You should have the following items on your signs:
- the words “garage sale,” “yard sale,” or just “sale”
- your address
- an arrow pointing in the direction of your house
- (optional) days of the week/dates that you are having your sale
- (optional) times that your sale is open
We typically use a large tipped Sharpie to write with. You need to make it big enough for people to read as they are driving by it. Think about how large stop signs are. A sign the size of a regular piece of paper is not a good size for a garage sale sign. Also, we make ours doubled sided that way more people can read them.
You also need to have lots of signs to put up for people to see. There should be one at your house, signs at nearby intersections, and signs by the closest main roads. You want people to find your sale, so make sure you put them in places that people will see. Do not staple your signs to utility poles. Use metal or wooden stakes to place them in the ground. You should put your signs up the morning of your sale and then take them down right after your sale has ended. This helps people know when your sale is open.
Besides your garage sale signs, you should advertise online. This helps bring people to your sale that do not drive by your signs. The two places that have worked well for us is on Craigslst and on Facebook.
Are you confused how to post your sale on Craigslist? Download our tutorial on how to advertise your sale on Craigslist.
Facebook is a little more complicated. You have to find garage sale groups for your local area. Then you have to join those groups. You have to wait to be accepted in order to post your sale. Facebook groups tend to have rules when posting, so make sure you read and follow those rules.
One of the nice things about being able to advertise online is that it is FREE. Also, you can include pictures of your items so that people can see what you are selling. You need to make sure you include your address, days that you are open, and the times that you are open. It is a good idea to write the main things that you are selling. If you are selling any large items like furniture, make sure you include pictures of those as well as mentioning them in your description.
You also have the option to advertise your sale in your local newspaper. This is how we advertised before we started using Facebook and Craigslist. The only problem with this advertisement is that it costs money.
Pricing is very important to the success of your sale. Please do not tell people to make you an offer. People like having prices already or they feel like you are sizing them up to determine the price. You are more likely to sell items if they have prices on them because many people will just walk off even if they are interested in an item because they don’t want to ask what the price is.
There are a few different ways that you can price your items. You can create signs with prices for multiple items, and you can also price items individually. It depends on the condition of your items. If there are items you think are worth more money, you might want to price individually. Or, you could create a sign like “Books are 50 cents unless otherwise marked.” Masking tape works well for pricing clothes because it sticks well. Try to use stickers that won’t ruin the items when they are removed.
Prices should not be too high or too cheap. If they are too high, you won’t sell much. If they’re too cheap, people will think that there is something wrong with the items. Your items should be priced lower than those at your local thrift shop.
If there is more than one family’s stuff present at your sale, you will need to label your price tags so that you know which items belong to whom. You can just write initials on the price tags.
Setting Up Your Sale
- The way you set up your sale depends on the type of garage and driveway you have. If you do not have a garage, your yard is fine. Just know that you will need tarps to cover your items in case it rains.
- It is a good idea to group like things together. Try not to put a lot of things on the ground since it is hard to bend over for some folks. A small kids pool or large flat box is good for stuffed animals or small toys.
- Clothing should be hanging or folded on a table not in a tub or box to look through. A lot of people won’t bother looking through bins or boxes. Put clothing at the back of the sale since a lot a people don’t go to sales for clothing.
- If you have a lot of books, stand them upright in a box so people can flip through them easily.
- Plastic milk crates turned on their sides allow more items to be stacked neatly on a table.
- If your tables have seen better days, cover them with old sheets or table cloths so they look nicer.
- Group clothes together by size and sex. If you can make an outfit out of a couple pieces of clothes, people will buy that quicker than single items.
- Put breakable items at the back of a table to keep them away from small children or someone accidentally bumping them and knocking them off.
- Before the sale starts, cover anything of value that isn’t for sale so that on one tries to buy it.
- You should have a designated table for you to sit at. It can be in the garage or in the driveway.
It is a good idea to get money from the bank the day before your sale. Do not expect your customers to have lots of change. Many people will get $20 bills from the bank, so keep that in mind when you get money from the bank. You should ask for $10s, $5s, and $1s as well as some change. If you have items that are priced less than $0.25 you will needs to have some nickels and dimes.
You can keep your money in a money box, container, or fanny pack. You should never leave your money unattended. We usually keep our money in a square Tupperware container. To keep the change separated, we place the coins in small paper cups.
If you have more than one family’s stuff at your sale, you will need to have a notebook to keep track of stuff that is sold.
Things to Do on the Day of Your Sale
The first thing you need to do is put out your garage sale signs. Then, when it is close to time to open, you should put some things in the driveway. Even if you have enough room in the garage for everything, you should still put items in the driveway to entice people that are driving by. Sometimes it is hard to see in a dark garage when you are driving by. It also makes it look like you have more stuff for sale.
When there are bare spots from items being sold, move other items around to make tables look full again.
When business is slow, refold clothing and straighten your stuff up.
If it starts to rain, cover items with tarps and pull items from the driveway into your garage.
When people walk up to your sale, you should greet them to make them feel more welcome.
Have you ever had a garage sale? What are some things that made your sale successful? What are some things that didn’t work well? We would love to hear from you!
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