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12 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

By Jen at PIWTPITT |

It’s garage sale season around here and I really enjoy it.  I love cleaning out things that we don’t need/want/use anymore and making a little money as well.  What better way than to get rid of all the kids’ clothes and toys they’ve outgrown and pay for the things they want and need?  I’ve had many successful garage sales and I wanted to share my proven tips and tricks with you.

1.  Clean out the garage. No one wants to see your cluttered, dirty garage.  Get everything out and sweep the floor.  Anything that is not for sale needs to be stacked neatly out of the way.

2.  Clearly label items that are NOT for sale. Bikes, ladders, wagons, tool boxes and garbage cans (go figure) seem to attract a lot of attention from my shoppers.  So instead of answering the same question all day long:  ”Is the bike/ladder/wagon/tool box/garbage can for sale?”  You can just tape a sign to these objects and let people know.

3.  Hang clothes as much as possible. If you want top dollar for clothes, they need to be on hangers.  The clothes should always be clean (you’d be surprised how many crusty shirts I find at garage sales) and hanging with similar clothes and organized by size.  So, womens shirts should be together and boy’s jeans should be together and so on.  Think, What would Macy’s do? Button the shirts, tie the ribbons on dresses, zip up jeans.  The better your presentation, the better your profit.

4.  Have a dressing room area. Over the years I’ve learned to have a dressing area where people can try on clothes.  Even though I only want 3 bucks for my $65 jeans, it will be hard to convince someone to buy them until they try them on.  I don’t like letting people into my house, so I made a little nook in a corner of my garage.  I used an old free-standing room divider screen (that I was actually trying to sell one year) and a remnant piece of carpet for them to stand on.

5.  Display shoes on the driveway. Shoes are decent sellers, but only if the buyers can see them.  Buyers won’t take the time to dig through buckets of shoes, so you need to display them in neat rows – again by size and gender.  I’ve started tying my shoes together with zip ties, because it keeps the pairs together and makes it look neater.

6.  Group items together on clean tables with smaller, loose items in boxes or baskets. Housewares at one end, toys at the other, belts in a box, winter hats/gloves/scarves in another box.

7.  Attach pieces of toys together so they won’t be lost. So many toys have tiny pieces that you hunt for days to find just so you can put them in your garage sale and lose them in the garage!  As I find the pieces, I put them in a big Ziploc bag and once I have all the pieces, I label the bag and seal it with packing tape.

8.  Only sell seasonal items. If it’s a spring garage sale only sell spring and summer items – no Christmas decorations.  If it’s a fall garage sale, no pool toys.  Off-season items take up space and don’t sell as well.

9.  Put big ticket items on Craigslist. Many people don’t have the time or desire to drive around looking for must-have items.  They use Craigslist.  You’re already going to be sitting at your garage sale with your big items, so you might as well advertise on Craigslist and bring those buyers to your sale.  List items like furniture, golf clubs, bikes, ride on toys, scooters, strollers, carseats, Legos.

10.  Give the kids a job. I always have a cooler full of soft drinks, water and juice pouches for my kids to sell.  They sit at their own little table and have a great time wheeling and dealing.

11.  Don’t price anything for less than a quarter. It’s annoying to make change for a ten cent item.  If your item isn’t worth a quarter, put it together with some similar items until it’s worth a quarter.  Or donate it.

12.  Don’t be afraid to haggle. Garage sale shoppers are haggling pros.  If something is a buck, they’re going to ask if you’ll take a quarter.  If your goal is to get rid of the item at any cost, then take the quarter.  If you think a buck is a heck of a deal and you’re not in the mood to give it away for a quarter, then say so.  Counter them at 50 cents or hold firm on your buck.  You can always blame it on your imaginary friend “Mary.”  You can say, “That’s Mary’s item and she’s not here right now, so I’d better hold firm for her sake.”  Nine times out of 10 if you hold firm, the buyer will cave.  They know a good deal when they see one, they were just hoping for a steal.

What about you?  Any tips you can share?

Be sure to read my daily rants at People I Want to Punch in the Throat where you’re sure to laugh and/or might be offended (it’s where you can find my R-rated rants).

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Read more of Jen at PIWTPITT – Why Can’t Boys Be Boys? and Open Letter to Silly Celebrity Moms and Are You Raising Free Range Kids? and Mommy Guilt:  Yesterday I Figured Out What All the Hoopla Was About.

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About Jen at PIWTPITT



Jen is a blogger and author who recently published the book Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She started her humorous blog, People I Want To Punch In The Throat, in April 2011. She has written for Babble, and has also been published in The Huffington Post. She resides in Kansas with her family.

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4 thoughts on “12 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

  1. dadcamp says:

    Bake cookies.

    We’ve moved away from the garage sale model, and sell on Kijiji or Craigslist. Garage sales take too long, people want something for nothing and dont really bring a big return.

    We’ve also taken to selling our kids stuff at Mom 2 Mom sales, we’re even throwing our own

  2. CeCe Carroll says:

    Love your post. Tip 4 (dressing room) is awesome, I haven’t thought of that before. I will soon incorporate that into my yard sales. With tip 12 (Haggle) I agree with yard sale goers are haggling pros but I think 9 out of 10 the seller will crave.

    Social Services for low income people http:/

  3. Kristine says:

    When it comes to pricing, I think it’s important to make sure you get your moneys worth (even if you just want to get rid of stuff). If you need help pricing your items accurately, but don’t want to spend time doing research yourself, I would recommend signing up for this new startup called Statricks. I just became a beta user myself, and you get price reports and fair market values for almost all used goods, so you know you don’t overpay or undersell your stuff. (I mostly use eBay and Craislist, and it is great for that too!).

  4. miky says:

    nice tips, I think, very practical and considerate. Expecting your tips.
    Also, welcome you to my blog for hanging room divider.

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