Inside: A yard sale is a perfect way to clear out the clutter and make some extra cash. But you don’t want to toss some items onto a table and call it a day. Check out these garage sale tips to help you make the most money possible.
It seems that every time I look around my house and decide to declutter, I need to get rid of more and more things! Sure, you can donate those items, but you could easily turn around and make some money!! After all, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Don’t just toss everything onto a table and call it a sale. To have a successful garage sale, you need to do some prep work. I have had numerous sales and have netted more than $1,000 on a couple of occasions. Follow my yard sale tips to get the most profit you can from your sale.
1. PLAN YOUR GARAGE SALE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Picking the right day and time is the first step in getting ready for a garage sale that will make money. However, it all depends on where you live.
In my area, Friday nights and Saturday mornings are the best times for sales. In other regions, it may be Wednesdays. To find out when you should have your sale, watch for signs in your neighborhood and city. You can also check your local newspaper for garage sale listings.
Take the time to find out when there are local garage sales because if you plan your sale on the same day as others, you’ll get more traffic. Patrons want to hit as many sales as they can on a single day, so work with the best days instead of against them.
As far as the time and number of days to run your yard sale, it’s personal preference. But if you’re going to have it on a weekday, try to run it into the evening, so you can catch those people who must work as well.
2. PLAN A NEIGHBORHOOD SALE INSTEAD
Many times, when you can post a neighborhood or subdivision sale, you’ll have a larger draw because people know they can drive to one area and hit several sales. If you’re participating in a multi-family sale, I recommend a Seller’s List.
This is where each household participating provides their address and the types of items they have for sale. It would be available at the entrance of your neighborhood – by the signs – for people to grab to see where they may want to go shopping.
123 Main: Kids’ items, furniture, housewares, misc.
125 Main: Tools, sporting goods, linens, misc.
3. ORGANIZE YOUR GARAGE SALE
If potential buyers walk up to a sale and everything is thrown onto a table and they can’t even see what’s for sale, more than likely they’ll turn and walk away. Taking the extra time to have several tables and items split out can yield more money.
Here are some staging tips to follow when it comes to organizing a yard sale. You’ll need to have several tables and will want to place similar items together. For example, you may have a table for toys and stuffed animals, one for kitchen gadgets and another for baby clothes. By keeping similar items together, people can find the type of things they want without having to scan tables of stuff, where an item can be missed. Here’s a list some shoppers use to determine what to buy at a yard sale, and what not to buy.
When potential buyers see the pride in how you put items on display, it tells them that you took care of them. Things tossed onto a pile or haphazardly onto tables have less appeal and will turn those buyers away.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR ITEMS LOOK GOOD ON DISPLAY
When you are pulling your things out to set on your tables, be sure they are clean. Nothing is worse than picking up a plate with food on it or a picture covered in dust.
Spend some time wiping down or even washing items before you put them on display. This simple trick can be the difference between making and losing a sale.
5. WASH AND HANG YOUR CLOTHES
If you are selling clothing, be sure to take the time to launder everything before you sell it. Would you really want to purchase a coat that had chocolate ice cream drips down the front? Probably not. However, if it was clean, you might have more interest.
Take the time to wash and fold everything. Fold them neatly on tables and sort them by size and gender. Doing so makes it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, and when it’s clean and folded neatly, they’re more willing to buy.
If you have outfits, take time to press and hang them on display. Ironing is not fun, but a wrinkled shirt may not sell, while a nicely pressed one will (and often for more money).
I also HIGHLY recommend hanging clothes on a clothing rack. Doing so helps you in more than one way:
ONE: It helps garage sale shoppers look through all your items without rummaging through a table, resulting in a mound of wrinkled clothes.
TWO: It can increase the value of the outfit. By hanging an outfit on a hanger, or folding it together, it makes it worth more to the buyer. It also helps you because all items are already together at the time of the sale, and you don’t have to look over three tables trying to find the matching hat or socks.
THREE: People feel like they’re shopping in a store rather than at a garage sale.
When hanging clothes, use paper plates as size markers. Cut a hole in the center, then slide the plate onto your bar. The more organized your sale is, the more successful you will be.
6. USE PRICE TAGS TO MARK ALL ITEMS FOR SALE
While you may be willing to negotiate your price, having your entire sale marked “Make Me an Offer” can turn many people away. Most need to know what you’re asking. Place stickers on all items so shoppers know the price.
If you’re willing to negotiate, hang “We Negotiate” signs around the space. People will then know you are willing to haggle a bit. Yard sales can even be a way to teach kids about buying used and haggling.
When it comes to garage sale pricing, check out eBay or Craigslist, so you can be sure you’re asking a fair price for your items. Just be sure you don’t underprice your stuff!
7. USE YARD SIGNS TO ADVERTISE
Be sure to set up signs with directional arrows to guide people to your sale. Place your largest garage sale sign at the busiest intersection closest to your house, then put signs every so often down the path to your home to guide people to your sale.
If you don’t advertise, people can’t find you. I even will put a sign in my yard so it helps to really draw people in.
8. MAKE SURE YOU CAN MAKE CHANGE (AND ONLY ACCEPT CASH)
One of the best tips I have for a successful garage sale is to make sure you have the proper change. Ensure you have enough small bills, such as ones and fives, as well as quarters, etc., so you can make change for your customers’ purchases.
How much change do you need for a garage sale? I recommend getting $75 to $100 in change. But don’t keep all of it with you. Put the extra money in the house, and run in to get it when needed (you don’t want to tempt people by flashing too much cash).
I also recommend keeping your money in a cash box or even a carpenter’s apron. Never let it sit in the open because it is just too tempting for the wrong person to grab it and run.
Another recommendation: When you start to get a large sum in your box, take some of it into your house, so you don’t have as much available for others to see. Even the person who seems harmless could try to grab and go, leaving you hanging.
Make sure you accept cash only. You don’t want to deal with potential returned check charges. You should also be wary of large bills because you don’t want to end up being paid with counterfeit bills!
If someone is making a very large purchase, ask them to make a deposit on the big ticket item. Then they can go and get the cash, then come back and complete the transaction. That way, if they say they want it (and I don’t sell it) and they never return – I don’t completely miss out on a potential sale.
9. START YOUR SALE ON TIME
When you advertise that your sale will begin at 8 a.m., be ready to open your doors BY that time. Many times, people arrive early so they can find the best deals. If you don’t open on time, you could lose someone who was willing to buy many of your “treasures.”
10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE YOUR PRICE
My final tip for a successful garage sale is to be willing to negotiate prices. Always know how much you MUST make from the sale of each item. Start high and be willing to negotiate with the buyer. Simply by pricing it higher, you have wiggle room and come across as someone who is easy to talk to.
The last few hours of your sale are a GREAT time to get rid of those last piles of junk that you really don’t want to have to box up to cart away. I will offer a 50% off all marked prices deal during the last one to one-and-a-half hours of my sale. It’s amazing what you can unload when you say that it’s marked down. Even something that someone can pay 25 cents for versus 50 cents is a deal to many people. And after all, 25 cents in your pocket is more than you’ll get if you have to get rid of the unsold item later.
Hopefully, you’re all set and ready to make your sale a success. Oh, and don’t forget about the most important detail: What are you going to DO with all your newfound money!??!
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Published March 2018. Updated May 2021.