You know that very first warm, sunny day of spring that gives you the fuzzy wuzzies all over because it’s that very first sign that we can finally bust out the swim suits and sunblock soon? I mean… I get the fuzzy wuzzies about it too, but maybe for a different reason. Because it means it’s GARAGE SALE SEASON! Eeeeek! (If you’re freaking out about it too, this is why we’re friends.)
This year, we got a jump start on the garage sale / yard sale scene since we had to purge a ton of clutter we had collected over the past 3 years of living in our house, so we hosted a massive one a few weeks ago. And it was a raging success thanks to lots of preparation.
So I thought now was the perfect time to share my top 10 tips to host a successful garage sale, if you plan to have one too.
- Pick a weather-permitting date.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast for a good day to hold the sale, and plan to start early in the day, especially in the summer to beat the heat. Look to see if there are any local community sales you could join to get more customer traffic.
2. Advertise it.
Create an ad on Craigslist and in your local buy/sell/trade Facebook groups and include well-lit photos of the items! Share it on your personal Facebook profile or Instagram feed. Provide a long list of items you will be selling to create interest. Post about it on Garage Sale Hunter and Yard Sale Search too. Don’t post your exact street address for security reasons, but mention your neighborhood instead to give people direction.
Make signs to put by intersections near your house. Be sure signs are big and easy to read from the road and include exact dates and times. If you just write “Saturday”, people may not know if the sign is old or new.
3. Gather up supplies well ahead of time.
Set aside a couple of chairs for you to sit on, a couple of tables for displaying items (ask around for friends who would be willing to lend them out), a calculator, an apron or zip-up pouch for holding money, hangers, extra shopping bags for “check out”, extension cords and batteries so people can test electronics, and price tags and pens.
When gathering items to sell, sell as much as possible! The more merchandise you have, the better. If people drive by and see a half empty garage, they’ll be less likely to stop in and browse.
3. Get plenty of change from the bank.
5 $10 bills, 10 $5 bills, 50 $1 bills, and two rolls of quarters should do it.
4. Decide your purpose for the sale before you start pricing.
Are you hosting the sale to get rid of a lot of clutter? Or are you hosting the sale because you need to make some money? If you mainly want to get rid of stuff, price a little on the low side. If you want to make money, price items high enough so that customers can haggle. (Not so high that you scare them off though.)
Check out Craigslist and eBay to gauge what you should be charging. Just be sure you DO price everything. If people have to ask, they might just decide it’s not worth the effort.
5. Sort like-items into sections.
Have a clothing section, home decor section, furniture section, hardware section, toys section, kitchen housewares section, etc. Think of your garage like a store and arrange it in departments so customers can find what they want more easily.
Spread out your items on tables or blankets so they’re easy to see and not piled on top of each other. Hang clothes on hangers and hang them from your garage door track if you don’t have a clothing rack.
6. Have a free box.
For little knick-knacks and cheap toys, mark them for free. They’re great for keeping little kids entertained while parents shop, and you’ll get rid of them quickly.
7. Give yourself at least 30 minutes before the start of the sale to prep.
Put a sale sign in your yard and spread items out into your driveway if you need to so people have enough space to walk around easily. Create a few displays and put highly desirable items near the front.
Be willing to tell early birds that you’re not starting yet so that you’re not frantically trying to get ready and fumbling for money. (I made that mistake in our last garage sale because I didn’t want to be a “meanie”, so I let early birds go ahead and shop before we were ready. I ended up scrambling and stressing out.)
8. Be welcoming.
Greet people as they arrive but also give them space to browse. Have music playing and set up a pitcher of lemonade, or if you have kids, let them run a lemonade stand.
9. Prepare for bargaining.
At the beginning of the sale, don’t haggle too much. Plan to keep your prices fairly firm the first couple of hours. But be more flexible to haggle towards the end or even mark down items to 50% off the last hour. At the end of the sale, you can make it a free-for-all so that people can just take items and you’re not stuck with a huge pile of leftovers.
10. Donate leftovers.
Don’t even take the last items after the sale back into your house. Just load it all up to haul away to a nearby donation center. After you donate, be sure to get a receipt for a tax write-off. Even donations will pay you back later.
Have you already started some massive purging as the spring cleaning mood strikes? Do you have any garage / yard sale tips of your own? Are you keeping an eye out for certain items this season? Some great furniture pieces to makeover this year will definitely be on my lookout list.
If you want some shopping tips for thrift stores and Craigslist too, you can check out both of them here: