Garage or Yard Sale Tips

Fisher Swanson and Susan Sanders-Kinzel

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.

About The Author: Fisher Swanson and Susan Sanders-Kinzel are contributing writers and editors of ThriftyFun News. This article was first published in 1999.


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May 7, 20030 found this helpful

A word of caution to garage salers in Florida: If you hold a sale in Florida DO NOT put your items out the night before or too early in the morning no matter what the weather is like. While my husband was in college, we had weekly garage sales and, no matter what the weather or time of year, dew always accumulated on items that were placed out too early - even items that were covered. We had never-used cast iron pans covered in rust within 2 hours, paper items get soggy, plastic items dripping water. And these were all items that were covered with plastic or cloth sheets in the hot summertime! Good luck all!

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June 15, 20100 found this helpful

This is a sad situation, I have had items stolen at my garage sales. A watch was taken from a table right under my nose. Another item an expensive dress, which I had paid over $100. It was priced for $7 that was also taken. I do not really have an answer how to stop that. If you can keep your eye on all your expensive items. I now take clothing to a consignment shop. It is a lot easier. Anne

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June 5, 20110 found this helpful

I have been a garage sale shopper for years.. and have had quite a few of my own as well. Here's my tips:

No money box. I go with a pouch you wear on you with diffrerent sections for change and smaller bills. I always wear pants/shorts with lots of pockets too for the larger bills that people give you.

I price everything either 25, 50 or 75 cents and up. I don't want to deal with dimes/nickels. Anything that I would sell for less than 25 cents goes into a FREE box. People love the free box!

Always do a sale with someone. You will need food, drinks and bathroom breaks and it's much easier when someone is outside watching. People steal! I had a 25 cent ruler stolen at my last sale -- can you imagine stealing that??

Also if you do a garage sale with someone - you can post it as a multi-family sale. You may also think about coordinating the sale with some neighbors so you can have a block long garage sale.. that may get a lot more traffic. However, you run the risk of buying your neighbors stuff!

Always clean glassware and dust any other items. It looks more visually appealing to someone. If you have any electrical items like dust busters, lamps, etc, try to have a way to plug them in for people to see if they work. I usually run a long extension cord from a working electrical outlet. You do no want to have strangers in your house.

Lock your doors. There are people who look for situations like this to sneak into your house when you are distracted outside.

It is true - almost every single person will want to chew down your price! It is crazy. From 50 cents to 25 cents!!! One lady who drove up in a brand new Mercedes was haggling with me over a $3 purchase! Can you imagine that? I wouldn't budge and she didn't take it. Unbelievable... so price things a little higher than you want.

Have plenty of newspapesr to wrap breakables as well as plastic supermarket bags.

Use the already printed price stickers, found at many 99 cent stores. It is so much easier! You can also hang larger signs like "all clothes $2 each", etc.

Any larger items, you may want to look up prices on a site like Amazon and print out the information. I did that with a humidifier... price on Amazon was $25 and I was selling it for like $5. It may help the person thinking about buying it to see what it would cost them elsewhere.

Happy Salin' !

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August 5, 20120 found this helpful

Here's feedback from us phobic people - please keep your dogs leashed or inside when you have a garage sale. You may "know" that your dog is friendly, but those of us who have been attacked before may prefer to keep driving rather than risk it.

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