Do you have a lot of things that you don’t use anymore? Is it just lying around your house or taking up precious garage space? Or is it that you need some extra cash? Then you can have your very own garage sale and turn your old “junk” into money. A garage sale, yard sale, tag sale, moving sale, rummage sale, barn sale, et al is an avenue by which used goods can be sold off by private individuals, and the sellers are not required to obtain business licenses or collect sales tax.

Usually, the goods that are sold in a garage sale are unwanted items from houses. The conditions of the goods vary, but they are usually usable. The owners usually offer these items up for sale because they do not want them, and need to declutter their houses. Other popular motivations for a garage sale are for “spring cleaning,” or if the owner wants to move to a new area.

The seller’s items are displayed to passers-by or those responding to signs, flyers, classified ads or newspaper ads. In some cases, adverts of the yard sale can be displayed on a local television station. The venue at which the sale is conducted is typically a garage or a driveway, carport, front yard or even inside a house. Some vendors known as “squatters,” will however choose to hold their garage sale in a high-traffic area rather than on their own property for maximum exposure.

Table of Content

Items You Can Sell in a Yard Sale

You can put up the following among others for sale in your garage sale

  • Children’s clothes (usually outgrown before they are worn out)
  • Power and hand tools
  • Sporting and exercising equipment (usually only used once)
  • Bicycles
  • Electrical goods
  • Toys
  • Kitchenware
  • Empty bottles of all kinds
  • Furniture (small items)
  • Books (children’s books, novels, textbooks et al)
  • Gardening equipment
  • Costumes
  • Cheap Jewelry
  • Blankets, quilts, bedding, et Al.

Items You Should Not or Cannot Put up for Sale in a Garage Sale

  1. Quality jewelry, silverware, antiques, collectibles or paintings: If you have these items, what you should do is to have them appraised and approach a reputable dealer or try to sell them on eBay or any other local online auction site. This is because these aforementioned options will give you a better price for them.
  2. High quality clothes: Do you have designer clothes or other high quality clothing that you would want to get rid of? Then a garage sale may not be to best place to do so. Try to sell them at consignment stores first because you are more likely get a better price there.
  3. Big furniture items such as beds, sofas, et al. and anything over $50. You should consider placing an ad in the local paper because you are more likely to get a higher price that way than through a garage sale.
  4. Don’t sell underwear at a yard sale: It’s embarrassing and totally uncalled for.
  5. It goes without saying that you should not sell illegal goods, unsafe or recalled goods. Check that the items you’re selling haven’t been recalled or pose any potential hazards.

On August 14, 2008, the President signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) into law. Under the new law, it is now illegal to sell any recalled product (for adults as well as children). This includes selling items in thrift stores, consignment stores, charities, and individuals holding yard sales and flea markets.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has created a Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers to help sellers of used products understand the new law and existing regulations. Make sure you visit www.cpsc.gov frequently for updated information.

To further buttress this point, there are about 20 deaths a year from the use of older and used crib models made before CPSC and industry safety standards. If you’re thinking of selling an old crib, destroy it. Infant car seats/carriers, when being used as a carrier, can eject infants because the handles break or side locks break.

Also, Old baby walkers can fit through doorways and don’t stop at the top of stairs. Furthermore, do not sell old children’s clothing that have strings around the neck, such as jackets and sweatshirts because they can catch and strangle children. Beanbag chairs that can be unzipped can suffocate or choke children.

How to Find Things to Sell in your Garage Sale

Is it not uncommon for some people to feel a form of guilt and regret after a garage sale. So how do you make sure that you are selling the right things? It’s easy in reality, but it’s going to take a while. Go through your house, room by room, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer and take everything out. Then as you repack each item, hold it in front of you and ask yourself:

  • Does this add value to my life in any way?
  • Do I have an alternative that I can use if I didn’t have this anymore?
  • When was the last time I used/wore it?
  • When am I realistically going to use it again?
  • If it’s broken, why haven’t I fixed it?

By asking yourself these questions you would have determined what you should and should not put up for sale. With all this in mind, here are 50 Best Garage Sale Tips and Tricks for Sellers

50 Best Garage Sale Tips & Tricks for Sellers

a. Make sure that you Locate and sell anything you no longer want or need

Before the yard sale, you should take an inventory of all of your possessions in order to determine what you should sell and what you should keep. Make sure you go through your house from top to bottom — every closet, drawer, nook, and cranny, nothing is too small or too big to sell. Go through every room in your house at least 3 times to make sure that you are not missing anything and make sure you have enough stuff.

b. Use the various seasons of the year to your advantage

Irrespective of it, your aim of conducting a garage sale is to make as much money as possible or if you want to get rid of some items as soon as possible, timing will play a very important role. Timing can also affect the location you will choose, what you sell, how you advertise, and even how often you schedule yard sales. Here are some season and the pros and cons that are attached to them.

Springtime

  • Advantages:

In northern climates, a yard sale in spring is an invitation to spend money after being cooped up all winter. There tends to be an air of optimism that could boost how much you’re able to sell.

  • Disadvantages:

Weather patterns are often unpredictable, and as such turnout could be affected. Pay particular attention to location and logistics. Shelter is critical to protect your merchandise and keep customers happy despite conditions.

Good items to sell:

  • Sports equipment
  • Camping gear
  • Gardening tools
  • High-quality children’s clothing
  • Patio furniture

Summertime

  • Advantages:

The hot, sunny, lazy days of summer make it easier to attract a throng and hopefully increase sales. And since the days are longer, you may only need a single day to sell all your items.

  • Disadvantages:

Heat and humidity are concerns in summer, so it’s important to provide shade and a place for customers to sit.

Good items to sell:

  • Back-to-school clothes
  • Furniture and household goods for dorms/apartments
  • Outdoor toys bikes, camping gear
  • Books (especially children’s books)
  • Electronics

Autumn

  • Advantages:

The weather tends to be pleasant

  • Disadvantages:

Depending on your area, wind and weather patterns can be unstable. That doesn’t usually affect turnout, but it’s another reason to protect your merchandise.

Good items to sell:

  • Winter items
  • Exercise gear
  • Picture frames
  • Holiday decorations
  • Collectibles

Winter

  • Advantages:

In the lower latitudes, winter yard sales may continue just as they do in the fall. But it is not so in the cold climate of the higher latitudes. Still, motivated buyers find motivated sellers in the winter months too. The winter months may be the best time to find bargain-hunters.

  • Disadvantages:

In winter, location and logistics are critical. A community or church hall may offer the best environment for a garage sale if they will work with you. Even a storage facility may permit a yard sale on their grounds if you’re a customer.

  • Good items to sell:
  • Space heaters
  • Firewood
  • Tools
  • Furniture
  • Clean linens and blankets

1. Pick the right date

Some experts say that Sunday sales are the most successful, as most of the population either makes plans for Saturday, or reserve the day for family time or errands. If you are up to the task, you could actually make out really well with collectors and retirees by holding a sale on a Friday, and if you have the endurance, hold a Friday/Saturday sale to get as many customers as possible.

In terms of the summer season, aim to have your sale before it gets blisteringly hot where you live. Once you set a date, keep an eye on the weather and come up with a contingency plan in case of inclement weather.

2. Don’t base what you sell on what you would buy

That an item is broken, looks ugly or does not adhere to your personal taste should not dissuade you from putting it up for sale. You never know if someone likes to fix broken things or is looking for materials for an art project. If it’s something you don’t want and it’s safe, put it in your garage sale.

3. Differentiate your yard sales from others

All garage sales are basically the same right? So it will always be better if you can find a way to set yours apart, whether it’s by theme, price, scale, or amenities. Here are some pointers you could use.

  • Label your sale. Lots of graphic novels, board games, and computer gear? Bill it as a “geek yard sale.”
  • Offer free delivery: If you have several large items to sell, another way to differentiate yourself is to find a couple of volunteers with trucks who wouldn’t mind delivering items — for free — after the sale.
  • Recruit your neighbors: Neighborhood garage sales attract tons more customers, so talk to your neighbors and spread the word ahead of time to arrange multiple sales. Find out what your neighbors are selling and offer to refer your customers to them. Or, better yet, hold your garage sale during an established entire-neighborhood garage sale day.
  • Offer free lemonade, cookies, or even just ice water. Most garage sales are held on hot days so a jug of watery lemonade or refreshing ice water is a nice gift for your customers. Don’t forget that visiting pets get thirsty too.

4. Advertising

If no one knows about your garage sale, how will you sell your stuff? Getting the word out about your sale is critical to your success. In the old days, advertising meant sticking an ad in the newspaper, which would normally cost around $20 to $25. Newspapers may still be useful today, but other cheaper or even free methods exist. Here’s how to advertise to get more customers today.

a. Neighborhood publications

If you’re hosting a yard sale along with others in your neighborhood, check if they publish the yard sales. This may be free or cost a nominal fee.

b. Craigslist

To get the most value from a Craigslist ad…

  • Advertise the date and location of your sale.
  • Add pictures and descriptions of the nicer items.
  • Once it sells, delete that listing immediately as a courtesy.

c. Make use of social media

Make use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media platform you can get your hands on. The entire week before the sale, post on social media about your merchandise. Include pictures. During the day of the sale, update your status or tweet on what you still have available.

5. Borrow tables and shelves to display your merchandise (if you do not have enough)

Having a check-out table can be helpful. It helps people know exactly where to go to ask a question, and placing the table near the exit allows you to welcome people in while watching that they don’t walk off with anything.

6. Do not make use of a cash box

When storing your cash on the day of the garage sale, make use of an Apron or fanny pack for the money instead of a cash box. Carry your money with you at all times. Put big bills in your pants pockets and small bills in the pockets of the apron.

7. Markers, scissors, masking tape, price stickers, and poster board

As you change prices throughout the day, you’ll use these items. Also, you can use these supplies to mark items that are not for sale.

8. Calculator

Having a calculator will expedite your checkout line and make it easier to add up prices if you’re not especially gifted at math!

9. Batteries and extension cords

Keep an assortment of batteries on hand so that a prospective buyer can test any battery operated item they may buy from you. If you are selling electrical items, make sure you have an extension cord handy or you can display these items near a plug so people can test them. Make sure that the extension cord is outside the house. Do not allow buyers inside your house.

If it is a sound or video electrical item, take a retailing idea from the pros and set it up to play. A TV that is playing will sell much better than one that is off. This is also true of sound electronics. Play videos on TV. People will start watching and ask to buy the video.

10. Hangers and a method to hang clothes

Searching through hanging clothes is much easier than pawing through a table covered with clothes. So it is up to the seller to make sure that all the clothes that are up for sale are in a hanger.

11. Make sure you have plenty of change

Get two rolls of quarters, a stack of 50 $1 bills, 10 $5 bills, and 5 $10 bills. Do it two days before the sale so that, if you forget, you can still get the change on the day before. It is better that you have too much change than not enough.

12. Establishing price

Before you start a garage sale, you should have a clear idea on the purpose of your sale. Are you selling things to make money or to get rid of them? This question affects everything you do, from how you price things to how willing you are to negotiate. Surprisingly, you can often make more money (and get rid of more junk) by pricing things low. Moreover, if your aim is to make a lot of money, then you will be better off with Craigslist and eBay.

In addition, you should not price your items based on any form of sentimental attachment. No one cares how much you paid for an item or how many memories are attached to it. They just want a bargain!

In order to establish the price of an item, you have to know the value of your items. You can do this by doing some research on eBay or Craigslist, you might discover that some of your items are worth way more than you thought. However, this does not mean you should actually charge those prices. By attending garage sales yourself, you’ll have a general idea of what an acceptable price is. Also, you’re probably safe by pricing things somewhat below what the area thrift stores charges.

Most yard sellers price their items at 10-20% of what they originally paid for it. Price your items slightly above what you’d accept so that you have room for negotiation. For example, if you originally paid $20 for an item, you should set the price between $2.50 to $5 in the hopes that you would receive from $2-4 for it. Keep in mind the condition of the item for sale, how much life it still has left in, and how rare/common the item is. Used clothing tends to bring in a smaller return on investment.

13. Don’t price your items too low

People like to bargain and bargain no matter the price you attach to an item therefore it is best to allow some wiggle room. Also, you want to make money. You can always have a 50-percent-off sale over the last couple hours. Be willing to bargain, but be less flexible at the start. If you just want to get rid of your stuff, you probably won’t mind haggling over anything. But if you’re interested to make some money for your efforts, don’t haggle over a low-priced item or two. If your customers buy several things, cut them a deal.

14. Offer discounts

Price items like a store. If you have a lot of something, “Buy 3, get 1 free” works really well. But do not cut prices by much the morning of the sale, unless they are buying a ton of stuff. Tell them that you’ll cut prices a couple of hours before the end of the sale, and if they’re willing to take the chance, they can come back later.

Or offer to take their phone number, and say “I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable selling it at that price. Would you like me to call you if it’s still here at the end of the day?” By the end of the sale, it’s best to practically give things away rather than face the prospect of having to deal with them later.

15. Organize your ‘garage’

Display items to their advantage. Too many garage sales are a haphazard collection of stuff piled everywhere you look. Customers want bargains with the feel of a store. Put the highest value items at eye level or clearly marked on a high-value table. Organize things so they’ll catch the shopper’s eye. Hang up clothes, sorted by size, with the sizes clearly labeled.

16. Light up the sales

Lighting is important in big box stores, and it’s just as important at your garage sale. Make sure all light bulbs are working in the garage. Consider setting up table lamps and white Christmas lights to brighten the atmosphere.

17. Think like a customer

As soon as you’ve opened and fielded the initial flood of shoppers, walk through your sale as if you were there to buy something. How does it feel? Are things clearly marked? Is it easy to move around? Visualize any potential bottleneck areas. Are your books on the ground in boxes or are they placed neatly on shelves and tables? As things sell, move items around to fill in the gaps.

18. Have a box of free stuff

Nothing is more fun than finding something for nothing, so place a large, well-marked “FREE” box close to the curb. Mention the free box on the main Craigslist ad and place an individual Craigslist listing in the free category. Have a pile of complimentary items and let buyers pick one item to go with each purchase. It could be any old junk, but people will love getting a freebie.

19. Set up a lemonade stand

If you have kids in your family, it is good to give them job so they are not under your feet. It is also hard for drivers to drive by a cute kid selling lemonade. Instead of giving away free lemonade, your child can sell lemonade — and make some money for herself.

20. Do not allow buyers to enter your home

Unless you personally know them, don’t allow anyone into your house. If they ask for a bathroom, direct them to the closest public restroom.

21. Have a plan for what you’ll do with your leftover items

If you do not intend to continue your garage sales on another day, then you should make some plans on what you will do with your leftover items. Some non-profits will pick up unsold stuff, so research this ahead of time.

If you are going to drop anything off at a thrift store, know their drop-off times/days. Also, check to see if there are any limitations on what they accept. Post on the local freecycle (www.freecycle.org) that, after a certain time, whatever is left is free for the taking — and remember to include your address. If you’re lucky, people will take it away for you!

22. The floor does not count as a table

Keep as many items as possible off of the ground! Customers don’t want to get down on their hands and knees to rummage through piles of clothing or other items. Also, some customers may not be physically able to get down to get a closer look at your items. You will sell a lot more if people can easily access it.

23. Take your items out of the box

People are visual creatures – if they can’t see what you’re selling, they are not going to buy it. Display items so that people can easily see the details. Place books in a bookcase (you can make a temporary “bookcase” with cardboard boxes!), set out shoes so that they can easily be tried on, and package small items in clear plastic zipper bags. An inexpensive garment rack for hanging clothing items is worth it’s weight in gold.

24. Entice male buyers by setting out tools, electronics, and yard equipment near the front half of your property

Husbands will often wait in the car while their wives peruse the sale, but if they see stuff that interests them up front and center, they’re more likely to park, get out and shop, too.

25. Make sure to have at least two people running the sale at all times

That way when one person is handling a sale, the other can keep an eye on everything else and answer any questions that shoppers may have. Unfortunately, not only do yard sales bring out shoppers, but they also bring out shoplifters, so it’s best to have two pairs of eyes on things at all times.

If possible, try to enlist the help of others. Putting on a yard sale is a labor intensive undertaking. If you have friends or family who can help you set up, work the crowd, man the cash “register”, or run other errands, invite them over.

26. Play a little background music

It is advisable to have a little music playing in the background. This helps to eliminate any awkward silence and makes people feel comfortable cruising through your yard. Irrespective of the genre of music you opt to go for, just make sure it’s not offensive or aggressive. You want to set the tone of an upbeat and relaxed atmosphere, so choose a music that works for the situation.

27. Make sure to have extra bags and empty boxes on hand for people to pack their purchased goods

If you have good item up for sale at a fair price, people are going to want to buy a lot of things from you. You can either purchase these beforehand or re-use all of your plastic Grocery Store bags at your garage sales.

28. Protect yourself

Wear sunscreen. Even if it’s overcast outside, you’ll be outside for most of the day, so keep your skin protected with SPF and a hat.

  • Drink lots of water, and keep snacks handy. Just when you think that it’s safe to take a lunch break, a mass of shoppers will pull up! Be prepared with snacks and water, and then take turns with your sale partner for a quick lunch break when there’s a reduction in the traffic.

29. Clean up for more cash

If you are selling a large item such as a couch or dining table, clean it up and make it look ready to use. Get rid of any dust or dirt. People are more impressed with items that look nicer and are willing to pay more for them. In addition, clean items look new and as such they command higher prices.

30. Offer package deals

If you have similarly themed items, sell them together. Someone may not want to buy a set of weights for $50, but they might change their mind if you throw in workout DVDs or a yoga mat. You may even try a “bag fee,” where you give someone a shopping bag for $5 or $10 and they can take whatever they can fit into the bag.

31. Stow the Little Ones with Family or Friends

Older Kids helping out with baked goods is one thing, but trying to keep track of a toddler while managing a yard sale is a totally different ball game. Not only are you likely/hopefully going to be in a high traffic location (i.e. close to the road) but there will be strangers roaming around, and people buying the toys that your child might suddenly decide are not for sale. If you can, save yourself the stress.

32. Signage

Perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself is have excellent signage. Great signs will easily lead people who read your ads to your sale, and attract people driving by. Make sure the letters are neat, legible and big. Put them on each major corner in your area, especially on main streets. You only need three things on your sign:

  • the words Yard Sale or Garage Sale
  • date and time
  • a big arrow in the direction to drive

Address is optional; if it’s not easy to read while you drive by quickly, don’t add it! Just be sure to have signs that lead to your home. Here’s three options for lawn signs if you don’t have a pole to hang one.

  • Tape a sign to the side of a cardboard box, drop a brick or large stone inside, and you have a great sign that won’t blow away. Tape signs to each side and you have an attention getter for sure.
  • It might be annoying to make and hang dozens of signs, but it is vital to your yard sale’s succes
  • Be a good neighbor. Collect your signs that night.

33. Accept Credit Cards

If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can accept credit and debit cards! And you should because it is (a) so much easier than dealing with cash and (b) such a great way to get people to spend more money.

You can make use of Square reader, which Square will send to you for free (they do charge a 2.75% per swipe fee). You can download the app to your phone and then swipe their card—they sign, and done! SO much easier than counting out change.

You should also include the fact that you accept credit and debit cards as a means of payment in your marketing campaigns. If you have history on family items like the year you acquired it (especially if it’s an antique), this information can be valuable to the buyer. Print this on a sign and place on the item. For example: “Aunt Edna’s rocking chair – been in family since 1955”

34. Start early

The early bird gets the customers. Instead of starting your sale on a Saturday morning, start on a Friday. If you have enough items left, hold it again on Saturday. Plan on starting early: You’ll have bargain-seekers there at the crack of dawn.

35. Know the rules and stick to them

Avoid dragging all your stuff onto the lawn only to have a neighbor complain, or someone from code enforcement drop by to stop the sale. Check the rules first. It’s rare for a permit or license to be required, but it’s possible. There are even neighborhoods where yard sales are not allowed at all.

36. Don’t hover

Doesn’t it annoy you when store employees follow you around? Acknowledge shoppers at your sale with a smile or a wave to show you’re available, and then leave them to it. Consider offering free drinks such as water, lemonade, tea or cheap soda as a value added service.

37. Before the day of the garage sales, make sure the yard and surrounding area is neat and clean, hedges trimmed, leaves raked, weeds pulled and grass mowed. Move the garbage bin out of sight. Yes presentation makes a difference.

38. Try to create parking space (if possible)

Move your vehicles over a block, especially if you live on a small street. If people can’t find a place to park, they will most probably keep on driving and they won’t buying anything (do this the morning of the event).

39. Look decent and presentable

Your appearance counts too! Brush out the bed hair, have a shower, wear clean clothes, shave. You don’t need to look like you stepped out of a magazine, but looking clean is really important. Wear comfy clothes and have a sweater at easy reach in case it gets chilly.

40. Reduce from 3 tables to 2 tables when there’s room to do so, keeping your sections organized and your tables full. This helps make it look like there’s still a lot of stuff to buy as people are driving through. If everything’s spread out with lots of holes and empty spaces–it looks like leftovers and people don’t like leftovers.

41. Pick up any litter that may have happened, sometimes stray plastic bags get loose.

42. If you’re setting up in the back yard, have all the windows and doors in the front of the house closed and locked. If it’s in the front of the house, lockup the back. Make sure someone knows their job is to watch the door.

43. Keep your cash safe

Throughout the day, move extra money into the house and keep it hidden (just in case someone does get in). If you don’t have time to run in, discreetly stash a wad of bills deep into your pockets.

44. Don’t broadcast how much money you’ve generated throughout the day

Yes, there is a person or two who will probably ask. Don’t broadcast how you sold unbelievable amounts of stuff and it was the biggest garage sale you ever had. The wrong person just might hear you.

45. The banks are likely closed when your day ends so you can deposit cash through the ATM (if you trust it) or wait till first thing Monday morning when the bank opens.

46. Be a Salesperson

Offer suggestions. If you see someone who wears the same sized clothes as you, let them know that you have a whole bunch of clothes in their size. If someone purchases a home decor item, tell them about other home-related items you have.

Please do not stand or sit together talking or talking on your phone and ignoring your customers. Make yourself available to them.

47. If you have large items you are still using and is too difficult to bring out into your garage, make a large sign stating the items you are selling with price and then “ask to see”. Only do this if you have an extra person available to show them. Do not do this if you are alone. You do not want to leave your garage or yard unattended.

48. Have a receipt book on hand in case someone requests one for a big ticket item such as a piece of furniture, an automobile, or a computer.

49. Keep dogs inside the house or in another secured area

As friendly as dogs can be, accidents happen whether they snarl at a stranger or some child or elderly person trips over your pet. There is also the possibility that your precious dog could get stolen. It has happened before.

50. Don’t blow your profits

A final suggestion: Don’t run right out and spend the money you made on the sale. Instead, use the one-time profit to improve your finances for the long run by paying down debt or beefing up your savings.

Ajaero Tony Martins