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7 handy tips for a successful garage sale this summer

Behind any tradition is a story and the garage sale isn’t any different. Yard sales took off in the 50s and 60s as a social event. When garages became a thing in the 70s, yard sales took on a new look, moving into the garage. The idea of selling items homeowners didn’t need any longer actually originated at the shipyards. “Rommage sales” were held by shipyards in the 1800s to get rid of unclaimed cargo at cheap prices. Eventually, these sales relocated to churches or neighborhood community centers. Today, tag sales at churches and community centers are typically for charity, but for homeowners, when there’s a clearing out or a move on the horizon there’s usually a garage sale. Lots of people prefer hosting a garage sale and potentially making money as opposed to simply donating unwanted items or clothing. Of course, not every garage sale is a hit. So how do you have a successful garage sale?

garage sale sign with items for sale behind it

When to hold a garage sale

As with most things in life, timing is everything. While you may think Saturday and Sunday are earmarked for garage sales, the truth is Fridays and Saturdays are the best days to hold one. Garage sale enthusiasts know Friday is the prime day to check out garage sales. Early birders also love to get to a sale before everyone else. So, be prepared for early-bird shoppers.

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Location, location, location

Of course, you can’t move your house to hold a garage sale, but you will attract more customers and make more money if your home is easily accessible. So, if you live in an isolated area, you’re probably not going to get a lot of shoppers. If your home is more rural than suburban, consider moving the sale to a friend or relative’s house. Open parking encourages passerby to stop in. Move the cars at your house to other spots on your street to open up the parking.

Have a multi-family garage sale

Many communities have a town-wide garage sale complete with maps. Before picking a day for your garage sale, look into whether or not your town hosts a community-wide garage sale. If the answer is yes, join in. For towns that don’t hold an annual yard sale, consider asking your neighbors to get on board with a block garage sale. Everyone has stuff to purge and a town-wide or neighborhood garage sale definitely attracts more shoppers than an individual sale.

clothing for sale neatly set up on tables at garage sale

Stage an inviting sale

In order to encourage people to buy used items, you need to take the time to dress them up. People are less likely to stop at your garage sale and purchase items if things are just tossed on a table. Take the time to make sure your stuff attracts customers. Clean bicycles with air in the tires and bells that ring get attention as do working toys with batteries. Try these additional tips when setting up your garage sale.

  • Make sure all clothing, linens, bedding, and curtains have been washed.
  • Hang clothing on racks or fold neatly and place in baskets or on a table.
  • Dust and wipe all knickknacks and household hold items before displaying them on a table.
  • Ensure all sale items are usable and work.
  • Organize the items for sale, grouping like items together. For example, all home decor items on one table and all clothing for sale in one area.
  • Arrange books with titles showing.

Put price tags on items

Instead of thinking up prices on the spot, put price tags on all the items before the sale. Not putting prices on items is a common garage sale mistake. Clearly label each item with a readable price.

Pricing guidelines

Avoid the temptation to price items according to what you paid. Remember, garage sale items are used, and people are looking for bargains. It’s important to price the items to sell. If you price your garage sale items too high, people will simply leave. Most people don’t enjoy haggling. You also don’t want to price the items too cheaply, especially if you’re putting a lot of effort into setting up the sale. Keep these garage sale prices in mind when pricing the items for your sale.

  • Adult clothes $3 to $5
  • Kids clothes $2 to $3
  • Baby clothes $1 to $3
  • Coats $5 to $15
  • Jewelry $0.50 to $2
  • Shoes $3 to $7
  • Kitchen items $1 to $5
  • Paperbacks $0.25 to $0.50
  • Hardcover books $1
  • CDs $1 to $3
  • DVDs $3
  • Records $2
  • Toys $1 to $5
  • Bicycles $5 to $10
  • Sports equipment $3 to $10
  • Home decor $2 to $10
  • Furniture $5 to $35

If you’re unsure of how to price certain items, take a look on Facebook Marketplace to get an idea about the going resale rate.

young girl selling her old toys at a garage sale

Advertise

People can’t come to your garage sale if they don’t know you’re having one. Advertise online on popular social media sites like Facebook, but don’t just post on your page. Head to community pages in your area to post the information. Craigslist, Garage Sale Tracker, and Yard Sale Search are free websites to get the word out too. In addition to online advertising, it never hurts to post signs around the neighborhood or at the local supermarket.

A garage sale is a great way to give items you don’t want a new life. With these tips in hand, you’re ready to host a successful garage sale and avoid common yard sale mistakes. Whatever you don’t sell, donate to a local thrift shop. On the day of the sale, make sure people can find you by hanging signs and even balloons.

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