How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

Turning the excess stuff laying around your home into cold hard cash is a brilliant way to get rid of your clutter. And you have a number of different options to do so at this point including eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Facebook, and even classifieds in the newspaper. Believe it or not, the best possible option, and one that really works well, is an ordinary garage sale.  If you ask anyone your parent’s age, you’ll hear that a good old fashioned garage sale was somewhat common in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but it’s somewhat of a dying breed as we approach 2020.  If you want to find that extra cash to save for retirement, this is something you should think long and hard about doing.

It’s going to take work and dedication to host a successful garage sale and it can be frustrating and tiring if you’re unfamiliar with the process. In order to streamline the process from start to finish and quell potential headaches, it’s best to follow an existing plan.

A garage sale, when well-planned, means that it will be very successful. In turn, you’ll eventually get rid of your clutter and put some much needed extra cash in your pocket at the same time.

The Garage Sale Planning Stages

  1. Choosing the Date for Your Garage Sale

Before anything else, you’ll need to take time to determine the best days and times to host your sale. For the most part, the wide majority of people have theirs on Saturday morning. Some may have it on Friday and having a garage saleSaturday morning if it’s a two day garage sale. Others might take a long weekend and have their garage sale from Thursday to Sunday morning if a multi-day sale is needed to get rid of all your stuff.

The earlier you start your garage sale, the better chance you’ll have at drawing a large crowd. Most people tend to go to garage sales early in the morning. They are busy with other responsibilities during the day, it’s typically cooler outside, and mornings are just better because people are bored and usually looking for a distraction.

To achieve the best success, we recommend hosting your garage sale on Friday and Saturday morning from 6 AM to noon.

Expert suggestion: host your garage sale during moderate weather. Avoid blistering hot heat in July and August and freezing cold weather during the winter. If you want the most customers and opportunities to make money, your best bet is to have a garage sale in the early fall or late spring.

  1. Gathering Your Items to Sell

Next, it’s time to go through your home and find stuff to sell. Obviously, if you’re like most Americans you have lots of things gathered throughout your home that you no longer need or use. If you haven’t used it in six months, then you probably won’t use it again unless it’s a seasonal item. Look in your basement, garage, attic, closets, dresser drawers, and more to find items that you no longer need.

Expert suggestion: consider putting all of your old USB cables, cell phone chargers, and power strips in a shoebox to sell as one item. These things are old and lying around and collecting dust so get rid of them.

  1. Do You Need a Permit?

Check with your city, town, or village to find out if you need a permit to hold the garage sale. Find the clerk in your town or city and ask if you need a permit. Otherwise you might get shut down and have to pay a fine.

Expert suggestion: it might be possible to apply for a permit online. So visit the City Hall or Town Hall website online and find out if they have a place to apply for permits on the site.

Garage Sale Advertising

  1. Put an Ad in the Local Newspaper

There’s no point having a garage sale if nobody’s going to show up and buy stuff. So instead of hoping and praying that people appear, you should put an ad in the local newspaper.

Before doing so, call the newspaper and ask them how big the ad can be and how much it costs. If you pay per word, you may end up paying a lot of money so keep that in mind. Your best bet is to keep your ad short, sweet, and to the point.

Finally, in your advertisement mention some of the things for sale like kids’ toys and furniture or collectibles if you have them. And remember to add your address so people know where to go along with the dates and times.

Expert suggestion: beside your local paper, it might make sense to advertise in a major daily newspaper in your area. This can lead to many more potential customers as long as it isn’t too expensive.

  1. Online Advertising

Advertising online is also a brilliant idea that can get many more people visiting your garage sale. There are a number of high-traffic websites that I’ll even let you post about your garage sale for free. Some examples include: Facebook Groups, Craigslist, Garage Sale Source, Garage Sale Hunter, Yard Hopper, and Yard Sale Search to name a few great choices.

Advertising online is great because you’ll have more room in the ad as well. The word counts for online advertising are usually much bigger when compared to the local newspaper. So you can describe your best items in greater detail and really tell people what they can expect to get at your garage sale.

Remember to also mention the dates and times and address of the garage sale so people know when and where to come when the appropriate time is at hand.

Also, you shouldn’t post about the garage sale too early. If you plan to have a garage sale on Friday morning, as an example, you should wait till Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon to post a message about your sale.

Expert suggestion: write your advertisement in your favorite word processor like Microsoft Word so you can edit it correctly. Then copy and paste it into the online form of the website you plan to post it to. By writing it in Word or another word processor, you’ll be able to copy and paste the notification on multiple websites without needing to retype it more than once.

  1. Put up Garage/Yard Sale Signs in Your Neighborhood

Before you begin putting up signs, make sure it’s okay to put them up in certain places. In fact, you should check with local law enforcement to see if certain places are banned in your community. So go into the local police station and speak to the clerk at the front desk. They’ll be able to tell you what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed.

As far as the posters go, brightly colored neon posters with black marker are usually a good option. Just mention the garage sale on the sign, and make sure it’s very large so cars can see it from far away. Add your address, the dates and times, and a few of the items for sale at the garage sale.

Expert suggestion: stick your garage sale sign to a wood paint stirrer and put it in the ground. They are sturdy and hold up well. Plus, most home improvement stores give them away for free.

Garage Sale Prepping

  1. Gathering Supplies

It’s best to have everything needed for your garage sale at least one day ahead of time. Things to gather include tables or flat surfaces to put your items on and collect payments, chairs for everyone helping with the sale, and lots of space and room to display your items.

On the other hand, try to avoid spending money. Do not rent tables or even worse, do not buy tables for the sale. Ask your neighbors if you can borrow card tables and patio furniture. Or see if you can borrow some tables from your job. Even a board and two milk crates would work as long as everything is even because it makes a nice flat surface.

Expert suggestion: kids tend to enjoy running and ducking underneath tables, so keep your breakable items off to the side. Even better, keep these tables resting up against the wall of your house or your garage door to prevent them from falling over and breaking.

having a yard sale

  1. Have Plenty of Change on Hand for Your Customers

More than likely, you’ll be selling plenty of your items for small dollar amounts. So have lots of change on hand including lots of quarters, dollar bills, five dollar bills, and have enough change to be able to break larger bills just in case. Go inside of your local bank branch and ask them to make change for you.

Expert suggestion: get a reusable cash envelope from the bank. They should have no problem providing you with this envelope, which you can use to hold your money. Remember to periodically empty it and bring it in the house so you don’t have too much money on hand outside.

  1. Product Sorting

It’s best to sort your items before putting on a price tag. This will help you keep everything organized and in the right place and make it easy for potential buyers to find what they’re looking for. So keep all the books, home goods, clothes, toys, and other categories separated and in their own place.

Expert suggestion: if you’re selling lots of clothes, divide them even further by men’s clothes, women’s clothes, and children’s clothes.

  1. Setting Your Prices

Even though it’s more work, you’re better off putting an individual price tag on each item instead of throwing them on a table or in a box of items that are all the same price. Why? People make mistakes and will accidentally put a five dollar item on a two dollar table and vice versa. It’s better to price each individual item to prevent mix-ups from happening like the one we just mentioned.

Expert suggestion: price all of your items at a fair price. Sure, people like to haggle but you’ll also scare potential customers away if you’re charging too much.

  1. Arranging & Organizing Your Yard Sale

It’s best to organize and arrange everything ahead of time. So, the night before your garage sale, put all of your clothes on hangers if that’s where they belong. Find the ideal location to place every item in your driveway or front yard.

Make sure everything is logical, organized and in the right place and know this before the morning comes. Believe it or not, you’ll have plenty to do the day of the sale so it’s best to arrange and organize ahead of time to take this responsibility off of your plate.

Expert suggestion: remember to keep each category separated by putting them in boxes or laundry baskets or other receptacles. It will make it easy for you to set everything up in the morning when the garage sale starts.

Hosting the Garage Sale

  1. Give Yourself Time to Get Ready

Set an hour or two aside to prepare everything for the garage sale. Remember to put out signs in the neighborhood and in front of your house. Also choose a comfortable and shaded area to place your seat because you’re going to sit there for the next six hours or so.

Expert suggestion: put a yard sale/garage sale sign in front of your house if it’s hard to see it from the street. This will help potential customers find you easier.

  1. Doing Crowd Work

At some point you’re going to have to work the crowd. Remember, customers are going to ask questions about the items. They’re going to ask you if you offer any discounts. And they’re going to generally want to chitchat with their neighbors – meaning you.

So be prepared to spend time talking to your potential buyers. You can keep your prices firm. Nobody said you have to haggle if you plan to maximize your profits. But people will have questions that you need to answer.

Expert suggestion: greet everyone as they walk into your garage/yard sale. It will make your customers feel more comfortable in a somewhat awkward situation.

  1. Handling Leftovers

Nobody ever sells out a garage sale. So you definitely will have leftovers. Instead of dragging them back into your house, put up a sign and let people know that you’re giving them away for free. Or if you prefer, gather your stuff, throw it in the back of your car or truck, and bring it to the local donation center and make a tax-deductible charitable donation.

Expert suggestion: are you stuck with large leftover items? You could always sell a TV, couch, or other big item on Craigslist. People love buying these high ticket items on this website.

Final Thoughts

Remember, hosting a garage sale definitely takes a lot of work. And if you don’t hold them regularly, it’s going to be stressful at times. Remember to stay organized, price your items fairly, put up advertisements and signs, and gather all of your supplies ahead of time. When all is said and done, you’ll definitely put some extra money in your pocket for retirement, or maybe kickstart that initiative to help you retire to Latin America!  Also, you’ll have eliminated a lot of the excess clutter lying around your home so it’s a win-win situation all around.

Rate this post


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA. Most recently he's been advising individuals to diversify into precious metals ahead of a certain recession. He invested with Goldco.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *