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Garage Sale Tips and Tricks

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A woman putting a balloon on a garage sale sign.

Knowing a few tips and tricks can help make your garage sale successful. This is a guide about garage sale tips and tricks.

Solutions: Garage Sale Tips and Tricks

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Tip: Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

Here are some tips to have a great garage sale:

  • Pick the right date, the first and fifteenth are when people receive their social security checks and/or pay checks.

  • Choose a weekend nothing else is going on, such as community events or holidays.

  • Give yourself several weeks, even months to get ready. Afterall you've got to gather and clean items.

  • I set aside items all year.

  • Arrange items according to use and or size and age appropriateness: clothing, toys, electronics, kitchen items, furniture, etc.

  • Price or don't, it's up to you. Personally I've made more having things unpriced. People love to barter. Whatever you decide make sure your customers know. For instance if you choose not to price put a large sign out front telling people to make an offer, and mention it as they come up.

  • If you choose to price recycle what you have, masking tape or leftover price tags. Don't go spend money, there is something around your house!

  • Use large neon colored signs with bold black lettering for your signs. Make sure if you live in a neighborhood to have matching signs with arrows pointing the way. Better homes and Gardens suggest using balloons on your mail box, I think this is a terrific idea!

  • Advertise where you can, the local paper, or convenient store, Craigslist is a great option too.

  • Have the stuff you need ready. Cash and change, bags for buyers, extra batteries, a calculator, an electric supply close at hand.

  • Place your big stuff closer to the road to help grab attention. Use bright colors to help attract attention to your displays.

  • Come up with catchy ways to hang or display your accessories, purses, diaper bags, jewelery, belts and shoes. Better homes and Gardens also suggests staging your sale like a department store.

  • Use space to your advantage, go up not down. Use hanging bars and shoe racks, (even if not for sale ) to help you display things.

By Mistie

Tip: Bring Lightly Colored Sunglasses to Garage Sales

When going to yardsales, bring some slightly colored sunglasses (amber) it will show all the stains on clothes, bedspreads, table clothes, etc. that you can not see with the naked eye.

Important if you choose to color an item or if you want to deal a little.

By Dee

Tip: Yard Sale Tip

I know with all the yard sales this time of year, many people are buying second hand and giving new life to their finds. When pricing items, many types of pricing elements are hard to remove and leave sticky residue. The best thing I have found for marking your price is painter's tape. It is designed to be easily removed without leaving any tell-tale sign it was placed there. And it's easy to write your price on and easy to tear. So that makes it time efficient not having to use scissors to cut. While preparing for a yard sale is time consuming, this will help make thing go a little bit quicker. I have bought things in the past at sales and some things were damaged just trying to remove all the sticky stuff.

By Tricia from VA

Tip: Ask for What You Are Looking for at Garage Sales

When you are looking for something in particular at yard sales and don't see it, just ask. I have found that sellers are "motivated to sell" once they have started and will sometimes go into the house and bring out the item you are looking for. My mother even asked if a plant was for sale and the owner chose to sell it.

By DebraDee from Marion, NC

Tip: Tips Gathered from My Recent Yard Sale

I just had a yard sale this past weekend and tried several new things that I thought may be helpful to others looking for yard sale ideas.

I recently saw a package of dye-cut type stars in florescent colors for $4-5. Instead of paying that price, I used florescent paper and used a star shaped stencil in various sizes and cut out my own. These worked great for pricing large items and I even stapled them onto hanging clothes so the price was easy to locate. I also wrote the size on the star to slow down people taking the clothes off of the hangers.

My husband made me some a-frame sign stands that stood about a foot high. They were perfect to set up with signs on both sides and did not impair the traffic. The only thing I would recommend is the one you place at the end of your driveway, make sure you place it several feet from the edge and/or make it taller than one foot high because ours got ran over quite a few times.

I had several electrical items for sale that I put up on a top shelf of a shelving unit I was not selling. I posted signs that they ask for assistance with items on top shelf and I kept an extension cord nearby to plug in the items to show customers that they still worked.

I could not afford to buy batteries for every toy and item that had dead batteries, so I bought batteries and kept a screwdriver on hand for safety screws on toys, etc. and I could put the batteries in long enough to show them they worked, but I was not giving away the batteries. ha ha

I also bought those tags with strings attached and used those on delicate items that I did not want to place a sticker on or used them for items that a sticker would not stick well on.


Tip: Tips to a Successful Yard Sale

I have been to and I have had many yard sales and I have noticed a few things that would affect how well a yard sale pans out.

First and most important are your signs. The bigger the better, keep them simple and lead your customer. Driving around you will see many signs along the road that are not "official" signs: biggest loser, real estate, car wash, and lawn care to name a few.

Make your sign "big" to stand out. Make your arrow noticeable so a driver doesn't have to strain to see which way to go. Post the sign "before" the street corner (and if you have the signs, at the corner also) so the driver has time to slow down and turn (or even cross to another lane before turning).

Make sure the sign has support. Wind and heat makes cardboard fold in on itself and if a driver can't read it they can't visit you. So put a clothes hanger across the top to keep the sign open. Or, if you're nailing up your signs, a piece of wood across the top. It doesn't need to be big enough for the whole sign, just big enough to go from corner to corner at the top.

Along busy roads, don't bother putting your address on the sign, a driver doesn't have time to really read it. But further down the road, on the way to your yard sale, put your address. You may also mention roughly how far down the road you are if it will be a distance.

In the past, people have used bright color paper for yard sales. This is good especially if you use the same color paper for all your signs. This way people will know if they are following signs for the same yard sale.

If there is another yard sale on the route to yours, put another sign up just past the other yard sale. Somewhere it can be seen by anyone pulling up to your competition, in route to your sale.

If your place is really far off the beaten path, try to find another place for your yard sale closer to traffic. A friend's house or the parking lot of a business not open on the day of your sale. Make sure you ask permission. In some places, there are already areas that have been made sort of "unofficial" yard sale lots along busy roads. Booths and tables are available for use, in limited supply, but they are "first come first serve" so you have to get there early.

Try to make sure that where ever you have your yard sale, there is room for cars to be parked. If the parking area is unclear, you may need to put up signs that say "Park Here".

With regard to the yard sale itself, make sure prices are clear either marked on items or on signs.

And remember, people like a bargain. If you have "lots" of clothes, get a bunch of plastic grocery bags and ask $5 a bag. Fit in what clothes you can and if the bag closes, they are all yours for $5.

If you have lots of CDs or DVDs, you may ask $3 each, 2 for $5, and 5 for $10.

The important thing to remember about your yard sale is whatever doesn't sell, you have to put away. Ask what you think something is worth, but after lunch, start accepting less. After lunch, most serious yard sale shoppers stop going to yard sales. The exception being those people looking for bargains or something in particular. Or someone who happens to be driving by and sees something they are interested in.

Source: experience


Tip: Garage Sale: Label Boxes by Price

When organizing I always find things to sell in my annual garage sale. I put these items in boxes labeled by price ($1, $5, etc.) This saves a lot of time later when I actually price the items just before the sale.

By Erin from Jackson, MS

Tip: Prepare For Garage/Yard Sales Early

Get boxes NOW and start the year off right, by decluttering your home, closets and garage. You can also price items at the same time. You will be ready in the spring for a great Garage/Yard Sale. You can do a little at a time.

By Syd

Tip: Sell Refreshments At Your Garage Sale

To make more money at your next yard sale, sell refreshments, too! Watch the sales for a few weeks before your event, and stock up on canned sodas at bargain prices. The day of the sale, put them in a cooler with ice and put up a big sign "cold drinks, .50" or whatever price lets you make a little profit, but keeps the price appealing.

For early mornings, you could put coffee in a thermos or carafe and sell cups of coffee -- but then you would have to deal with cream & sugar, trash, etc. One year I went to the bread thrift store and bought two dozen donuts at $1 a dozen, then sold the donuts at my yard sale for .25 each!

By Becki in Indiana

Tip: Bag Bargain Garage Sale

This is a little late for the garage sale issue, but if getting rid of clutter is your main reason for having a sale, Bag Bargains is the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this and make a little money, too.

We have had great success with all the little items that accumulate in junk drawers, etc. Things like can openers and silverware, books, hair accessories, knick knacks, etc. Just put everything out in need to sort. a BIG sign that announces your price...We do 50 cents an item or $1.00 a bag, and have collected as high as $75.00 during a sale.

By Harlean from Arkansas

Tip: Bargain Season - Garage Sale Tips

"The signs of the season are here: "Yard Sale, Garage Sale, Moving Sale, Estate Sale." It's time to clear out the old and the unwanted and, for some of us, a time to find new treasures. Television programs that show people picking up pots or paintings for a few dollars and selling them for hundreds or thousands can bring out the spirit of adventure in a lot of us. Especially for these folks, the weekend treasure hunt season is on!"

Tip: Garage or Yard Sale Tips

Spring is the time when we all start thinking about Garage or Yard Sales again. It is a good way to make some extra money and get rid of extra items. Garage Sales can be fun but are time consuming and can be hard work. Good planning can help you have a successful sale.

If you are really organized this can be a throughout the year effort. Keep some price tags around you can price things as you find them for the sale.

If this is your first garage sale, these tips may help.

First, go through every cupboard and drawer in your house and look for things that you haven't used or worn in the last year. Be brutal. You probably won't miss any of it. Sort the items into categories. Like new items you might want to save in a box for birthday and holiday gifts.

For the items you want to get rid of, sort them into categories i.e. kitchen, linens, clothing, auto, tools, craft. Put odds and ends in plastic bags. There are always people looking for bits and pieces. What may be worthless to you can be a treasure to another.

As you collect things, have price tags ready and put the items in boxes so they are all ready to put out for your sale. Keep in mind that sometimes labels and price tags can leave marks on perfectly good items. (Especially after they have been sitting in the sun for a while.) Small slips of paper work well stapled to clothing. A grease pen can price glassware and dishes. Easy peel labels are good for other things. Be creative with your price tags but make sure they don't damage a good item.

Try to have your sale in good weather if possible. If you are giving an outdoor sale this is obviously very important. Also it is not good to give a sale when it is too hot. People tend to be at the beach rather than "garage saling." This, of course, varies from area to area. In any case, try to have your items protected from sun or showers.

Have healthy snacks made ahead of time because sometimes it is difficult to leave the sale to cook or eat. When you get tired and hungry, garage sales can be a drag. If you can go together with a friend or neighbor it will help share the work load and give each of you time for a break.

Have plenty of change ready. Invariably when you don't have enough change, the first 3 shoppers will give you large bills. Try to have lots of smaller bills, ($1, $5, $10) quarters and dimes. Put the amount your change on a slip of paper in your cash box so you know what you started with. If you are having a sale with others have a sheet of paper so you can keep track of everyone's sales.

Make sure you have a safe place for your cash. Don't leave it out while you run into the house. Most people are honest but you'd hate to have all your hard earned money and change taken.

There are many early garage sale shoppers, have your sale start at 8 or 9 AM. If possible, try to have everything set out the night before and covered so your morning preparation is minimal.

Have everything priced if possible. Some people will not ask a price and will pass up an item you would have sold for next to nothing. Remember that people are looking for all kinds of things at a garage sale. Old windows, building materials, old magazines, records, clothing, craft materials, blankets and bedding, collectibles, dishes, kitchen appliances, stereos, TV's, car parts, tires, tools, baby stuff, toys and antiques, notions, hardware of all sorts.

Just about anything you have might be just what someone is looking for. Although you want to keep everything inexpensive, many veteran garage sale shoppers will try to talk you down on every price so keep that in mind while pricing.

A good rule of thumb for like new merchandise is half the lowest price you have seen for the item. Clothing unless in perfect condition and very fashionable will usually not bring big prices. The lower your prices, the more items that will sell.

Display of your items is very important. Try to arrange items on tables, shelves, or blankets. You have created a temporary store and if everything is thrown together like junk, your buyers will think it is junk. Group items together with like items. Make sure the items are clean and dusted. If you are holding the sale over a few days, make sure to cover everything left outside overnight so it won't get damaged.

If you really want to get rid of everything, tell shoppers that you will sell everything for 1/2 price at noon on the last day of the sale. Arrange to donate what is left after the sale so you don't have to haul it back inside.

Put up signs at major intersections near your home. If there are other sale signs pointing in your direction let their signs lead the customers to your sale, too. Take down old dilapidated signs from past sales and put them in the trash.

If you are having a large sale or have special things such as items from an estate, antiques or specialty items, advertise in the newspaper. Make sure your signs are sturdy and readable.

PLEASE even though you are tired when the sale is over, don't forget to take down your signs.

By Fisher Swanson and Susan Sanders-Kinzel

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Here are questions related to Garage Sale Tips and Tricks.

Question: Garage Sale Survival Tips

Here are garage sale tips shared by the ThriftyFun community.

By Deborah Shelton

Most Recent Answer

By Allison07/23/2009

Also try grouping like priced things on one table and putting a sign that says "All books $1" instead of marking each one, will help reduce your energy.

Question: Planning a Yard Sale

I have tons of kids stuff that I would love to clear out. I have no idea how to have a yard sale. I have never really been to a yard sale, but would love to get something for all our old and unneeded items. Can anyone help a first timer get started?

By Trisha S.

Most Recent Answer

By Flyingbug03/31/2013

Hi, Trisha! Our family had a couple of yard sales last weekend.

Some suggestions:
1) Advertise. Check the local papers about rates to advertise your yard sale. Put signs up the day before, if you're allowed (and remember to take them down after). Tell your friends.

2) Organize. Put price stickers on beforehand. Clothes should be on hangers or on a table. Knickknacks and other items should be on tables (even a board on two sawhorses will work nicely).

3) Most yard sales are on Saturdays.

4) Check the local regulations for yard sales. Some require permits, some limit how many yard sales per year.

5) IF you are in a condo complex, check with the HOA. They might only allow a yard sale once per year (a complex-wide sale). If so, you might have to have your yard sale someplace else if their date is too far away.

6) Drinks, munchies, and sunblock--remember all three. Drinks to prevent dehydration, munchies for hunger, and sunblock + a hat to keep from sunburn and headache.

7) Set up early the day of the yard sale--many people bargain-hunting early.

8) Bags and change--very important. Bags to carry things away in, and change because people don't always have exact change.

Hope that helps!

Question: Garage Sale Humor

Once I was online and discovered some funny amusing stories that actually occurred at garage sales. Is there anyway we can make a spot here on Thriftyfun for each member to post their funny stories. I would really enjoy reading these and perhaps posting some. Thanks.

By Carol from Waynesboro, GA

Editors Note: Please post your garage sale anecdotes below.

Most Recent Answer

By linda roberts01/16/2011

Once when my son was about 5, we were at a garage sale both looking around different areas. Suddenly I heard "hey mom, hey mom come look at this, here is something for 100 dollars at a garage sale!" Cute

Question: Preventing Customers from Changing Prices at a Garage Sale

Any suggestions on how to price items that customers can't physically change by swapping stickers or move to another area with a lower designated price? I want to do this without marring the object.

By SuSu from Birmingham, AL

Most Recent Answer

By GRAMMY 00707/05/2010

Hi. I've had close to 60 yard sales over the last 20 years including some big charity fundraisers. I mark everything with 3/4 inch wide masking tape (cheapest one at Home Depot). You can just write what the item is, GF Grl $5 (George Foreman Grill), or GE PHN $2 (GE Phone). For items tape would obviously damage (ie. decorative paper storage boxes or a finely painted plaque), just pull off an extra long piece of tape and fold one third of it back on itself sticky sides together, that part is your label.

Attach remaining sticky part where it cant damage (on the inside edge of paper lid with label end hanging down to be seen). On a figurine attach to the bottom of the figure with price seen without picking up the item. I mark clothes for size and price but do not attach tape to the outside of the garment. Blouses, shirts, coats, jackets, vests and PJs are priced inside just below the collar. Slacks, shorts and skirts are taped on the rear inside of waistband. Use brand or color initials to ID item Fashion Bug (FB), LC (Liz C), RD PNT (Red Pant).

Keep your writing larger for size and dollar amount. The ID abbreviations are just an "aside" for you to know the price tag is on the correct garment. If you've been using pre-made tags this may seem like a lot of work, but for the average yard sale it's easy. I write mostly directly on the tape roll using a permanent non smear marker. I definitely would never recommend not pricing items as I know for a fact pricing items increases sales. For a 2006 AML Leukemia benefit I insisted on and personally marked every item that jam packed sixty (8' x 3') tables. This remains the most successful benefit with which I have been involved.

Good Luck with your sale.

Question: Mapping My Garage Sale Route

How do I create a map that shows my garage sale route. I have 15 addresses and I wanted them mapped out so I don't have to backtrack.

Thank you,


Most Recent Answer

By Shawn (Guest Post)01/08/2009

This is a website I found that will do what you are looking for. It maps your local craigslist yardsale listings, but it will also let you add other stops (with addresses or else double clicking the map) and arrange the correct order. Then it lets you send the route to google maps for printing. The handy part is that it shows you an updated route as you rearrange the order of your stops.

Question: My First Garage Sale

HI, I am getting ready to have my first garage sale in the middle of next month. Anyone have any tips to make it a success? I have a bunch of reasonably good stuff that I would like to turn into some cash to help fund some camping trips we want to go on this summer.

Thanks in advance, Anne.

Most Recent Answer

By Tawnda (Guest Post)05/07/2004

WE have been doing yard sales every year since I was a kid. Several times a year we would all pitch together for one sale (aunts, uncles, cousins) and mark our own items with our initials. That can be a hassle at times, but it is still fun.

Find out if you are required to have a license for a sale in your city. Some come with an ad in the newspaper, signs, etc. Also check with your local newspaper if the city does not offer those free items. If you buy an ad they give you free signs. Our newspaper gives you several signs and a few sheets of price stickers with your ad.

Make signs large enough to read, but not so large it impairs traffic from seeing around them. Make your print large enough that it can be seen or followed from a car following your signs. ALWAYS be sure to take your signs down. In our town they fine you for not taking them down.

Price your items to sell. You will rarely get out of them what you paid. I have watched that new show, "Clean Sweep" and have learned a lot. Antique, vintage, expensive items, etc. can usually be priced by looking up similar items on ebay and go off of that. Maybe even print it off to tape on or near your item so that buyers can see that this item is going for that price on ebay. You can always say, "Hey if I dont sell it here I can put it on ebay".

If you have your sale posted as starting at 8 a.m., you are guaranteed to have "professional yard salers" waiting at 7 to watch you set up. Some will ask to shop. It is up to you, but be prepared.

Have lot's of change, but don't keep it all in your change box. Keep a lot of it inside your door in an inconspicuous place that you can get to easily without having to take your eyes off of your sale.

If you have small toys like the McDonalds toys or toy sets that go together, invest in gallon or sandwich ziplocks. You can get the store brands very cheap. I place items in the bag and seal the bag with clear tape. This prevents them from being opened and lost. Put a price on each bag.

Clothing is the worst to have to price, but if you have prices from 10 cents to $5 they could get mixed up. I have gone to sales where they used color dots to mark the items and then you had to track down their price scale as to which dot went to what price. Some use boxes and mark each box, but it is so hard to go through and find things without dumping it all out and more expensive items can get mixed in with less expensive ones. And this myth that you can stack them on a table and they stay there neatly is a true myth. ha ha You are going to have people like the tazmanian devil come in there and unfold every item and set it aside to look at the next and not put it back. If you are able to use a clothing rack, a closet rod from your closet in your house hung by wire or string, etc. Or if you have a yard with a chain link fence you can hang them there. If you hang the clothes I would reccomend getting wire hangers. People will fight you for yours at your sale. One or two isn't a bid deal, but it adds up if you keep letting them go. You can buy metal hangers at most secondhand stores. They rarely use them any more and will bundle them and sell the bundles for 25 cents or so.

For clothing you can use a quilters gun and cut your own pricetags from posterboard. This prevents stickers from falling off or being switched. You can also use a stapler and staple the tags into the tag on the back of the item if it is a material that could be ruined by stapling it.

If you don't have enough tables, use boxes turned upside down or lay down a plastic tarp, tablecloth or sheet to lay items on. For some it is hard to bend down and look, but for others it is nice they don't have to worry about knocking things over.

If you have items that you no longer want that don't sell at the sale, you can call Salvation Army, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc. and they can come pick those up from you. Sometimes you can call them ahead of time and set up a pick-up time for the evening after your sale or the following morning. They do this for free as you are donating to their organization.

If you have sets of items, you may want to find large clear trash bags or tape them together so that they do not get separated or pieces lost. The downside to tape is that the sun melts the sticky stuff onto it.

If you have larger items that others can't see, like furniture, tires, etc. Make a big poster or two and post them near where you sit with your money box or in an area where it is seen well. I have seen sales have an easel or childs chalkboard stand at the end of their driveway right in the center so that you saw it right off the bat. This kept cars from trying to block the driveway as well. Be sure that if you are using furniture like tables or coffee tables or your easel for the sign, to place tape on it saying "NOT FOR SALE".