Hoping to clear out clutter from your house this summer? Here are some fabulous tips for hosting a ROCKIN’ garage or yard sale. Get rid of unneeded items from your home and make some extra cash too! (Be sure to get your Free Printable Checklist below!)
Kudos to my friend Kim (aka Garage Sale Queen) for providing all the wisdom for this post!
1. Prepare for your Garage or Yard Sale
Purge the House and Garage to Gather Sale Items
Several weeks before your sale, do a room by room purge. Check closets, cupboards, under beds, in storage places/tubs/shelves, etc. As you work your way through each room and see each item, ask yourself:
- Are we using this?
- Do we need it?
- Can we do without it?
- Would life be simpler if this was gone?
- Is it more important to have a few dollars or cents in my hand or to still have this thing taking up space in my house?
If you see an item and hear yourself saying, “Why do we still have this?” – put it in the garage sale pile.
Prepare Your Sale Items
- Wipe down everything that is dusty or dirty so they will look more appealing.
- Put jewelry and other small items in ziploc bags to keep them from getting lost and so you can put a price tag on them more easily.
- Group items in flat boxes so people can easily see what is inside.
Price Your Sale Items
If people cannot find a price, they will often choose not to purchase. In addition, most people do not like to “make an offer.” We recommend putting a price tag on everything!
- Price items in 25 cent increments (eliminating the need for dimes, nickels, and pennies).
- Use brightly colored stickers and large print to mark prices on each item.
- Be willing to negotiate your prices if someone offers you a lower price that is still reasonable.
Put an Ad in the Paper or Online
It’s often worth the investment of putting an ad in the newspaper so more people know to come to your sale! What to consider when writing your ad:
- Highlight major items like furniture, bicycles, appliances, unique items, homeschool curriculum, antiques and name brand clothing.
- Think about what might make your garage sale stand out. Mention specific collectibles, children’s play equipment, tools, or outdoor furniture.
- If you are doing a multi-family sale, emphasize that. It makes people more likely to come because there will be more things to see in one location.
- If you are doing a moving sale and “everything must go”, say that because people know that you are more motivated to get rid of things.
- If you are selling off baby equipment, make sure you say that. New moms are always looking for great deals on baby equipment- Grandmas and child care providers, too!
- Include the specific dates and times you will hold your sale. Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday mornings tend to be the best times for most.
- If your address is one that is hard to find, include directions in the ad.
Free Advertising: Post your ad to your local Facebook Selling Page. Consider posting it on your personal page.
A Note About Posting Online: People may ask about the prices of things and ask you to sell them “before” the sale, sometimes at a reduced price. While this can be nice, it can also make for some difficult situations, especially if you have already put that item in your newspaper ad. If someone came to your house specifically for that item at the beginning of your sale only to find that it is already sold, it can make for some not very nice exchanges.
Prepare a Cash Box
A bag, box, or drawer works nicely for your garage sale money. In advance of the sale, be sure to fill it so as to have change on hand for customers.
- It is best to begin with about $20 in ones, $20 in fives, $40 in tens, plus at least one roll of quarters for making change. Keep track of what you began with so you have a more accurate total of your sales at the end.
- Try to keep it organized throughout the sale. Keep ones together in front of fives, in front of tens, etc.
- If your bag is getting full during the sale, take some inside your house (especially the checks and larger bills) and put it in a safe place.
- Decide ahead of time: Are you willing to take checks? If so, do you have requirements? For instance, check has to be local and include a usable telephone number.
- Most people are not set up to take credit or debit cards, but would you accept PayPal? This new way of paying is becoming more popular at garage sales, especially with the commonality of smart phones.
Collect Needed Items:
There are several items that are nice to have on hand before and during a garage or yard sale.
- You might need masking tape to write on, to tape up signs, to mark prices, to hold boxes together, and group items together.
- You might need scratch paper to make signs about prices, to write down additional information, etc.
- Sharpies, both small and large point, come in handy.
- Consider locating a tarps or two to cover sale items overnight.
- Measuring tape is nice to have to lend to customers interested in specific items.
- A calculator can come in handy unless you’re great at doing math in your head.
2. Setting Up Your Garage Sale or Yard Sale
- Borrow and set up many tables to place sale items on. Tables are better than the grass or driveway in most cases because people don’t want to bend over. Make things easier for people to see and reach and you are more likely for them to sell.
- Group things in categories: kitchen, bath, kids toys, clothing, bedding, tools, books, curriculum, crafts, baby equipment, etc. Arrange furniture in nice groupings, if you can. Put the same size clothing and shoes together. Put bedding sizes together and mark them clearly.
- Have a free box. If you don’t know how to price it and you’d price it super cheap, put it in the free box and watch it leave!
- Make LARGE LOT deals: For example, “These books are 50 cents each or 12 for $5.” “This box of toys is $5 for the box.” “Clothing is “$1 each or 12 for $10.” It is amazing what people will take to make a great deal. The more they take, the less you have to deal with at the end.
- Set furniture close to the street so it will attract buyers to your sale.
3. Running Your Garage or Yard Sale
- Stick with your planned start and end times.
- Ask for help. There are often times when you need two or more people to move a table, set up something quickly, get a drink, change the baby, or cover for you while you use the restroom.
- Be less willing to negotiate at the beginning of the sale and much more willing to negotiate toward the end of the sale. If someone wants an amazing deal (like less than half the requested price), tell them you will think about it and call them back later. Get their number and give them yours. If it doesn’t sell later, call them and work on the amazing deal.
- If someone wants to come back later to pay for something, consider that they might not come back and you might miss out on another sale. Get a phone number and give them a timeline. “If you are not back and/or have not paid for the item before XXX time, then I will make it available to someone else.”
4. Other Considerations:
- Larger sales are more likely to draw greater numbers of people. If you can plan a neighborhood sale or a multi-family sale, more people are likely to come.
- If your sale is a multi-family sale, in advance make a sheet that includes the names of all the people who contributed to the sale across the top. Then, add their sold item prices to the list so you can keep a running total of their sales. Or have each family’s price stickers of a different color or mark price stickers with initials.
- If you are not going to keep the money for yourself, but are raising money for a charity or event, let people know. People can be more generous when they know that their money is going to a good cause.
5. What to Do with Garage and Yard Sale Leftovers
Not sure what to do with items that don’t sell? Here are some ideas:
- Put it on the side of the road and offer it for free. It will likely disappear.
- Take it to a local thrift or charity store and get your tax receipt. That is not immediate money in your hand, but it might help with your taxes later on.
- Donate appropriate items to a local rescue mission or women’s shelter.
- List it online using a local buy, sell, trade page or your personal page. Use Craigslist or ebay, if you are savvy.
- Put an ad in your local newspaper. Some newspapers offer one free ad after your garage sale if you advertised with them.
- Put a notice in your church email or communication. You never know when the right person will be listening or know someone who “was looking for that.”
Get a FREE Garage Sale Checklist Printable.
Use this handy checklist to help you have a super effective garage or yard sale!
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