How To Run a Garage Sale



If you want to get rid of unused items in the house, a garage sale could be the answer. It’s a great way to declutter your life, as well as make some cash in the process.

Here are some tips on how to go about it.


What To Sell

First decide on which items you really want to sell. Think carefully about this because you don’t want to sell something only to find you want or need it later. You also don’t want to try and sell stuff that’s just junk.


Garage Sale


How Much To Charge

Having decided on what you want to sell, the next step is to clean or fix up the items so they are in the most saleable condition possible. Presentation is everything.

You then have to determine how much you want to charge for each item. The price you charge will depend largely upon how new the item is and how much it cost in the first place. Also, how current the item is. Is it modern or dated?

When you have decided on the prices, up each price by ten percent so that if somebody wants to knock you down on an item, you will have that extra room to go down a little. You’ll probably end up getting the price you were after in the first place. By the same token, the buyer will go away feeling like they’ve picked up a bargain.



Tidy up your garage or yard where the sale is to be held. Now you will have to find tables, etc., on which to display your goods. If you can’t find enough tables, get two chairs and place a piece of board, or something similar, over the two. This type of arrangement will suffice for the lighter items.



Once everything is clean and tidy and you have price tags on your items (sheets of sticky labels will do for this), place an ad in the local paper, stating the day, time and place of your garage sale. It’s up to you if you want to include your phone number or not. Just be aware that you may get phone calls very early in the morning.

Before you place your ad, you must decide which day would be best. Generally, weekends are the best time; especially Saturdays. Public holidays can be good days for a sale as well.


How To Run a Garage Sale


What Time To Open Up Shop?

The earlier the better really. In my experience the bulk of the sales have occurred well before midday. I’d recommend having everything set up and ready to go by no later than 7am.

Beware the dreaded dealer. Secondhand dealers are very early risers and their weekend hunting ground is the garage sale. Although some people may be happy to sell to a dealer, most will offer to take virtually all your items off your hands for a very meager sum. Resist this. With patience you will make a lot more through sales to individual buyers.

On the flipside, if you're having a sale because you're moving house, then selling to a dealer might be an option.



Make sure you have at least 4 signs to direct traffic to your street, and one to place in front of your house. All you need is a piece of stiff cardboard, or similar, and paint the words GARAGE SALE in big block letters. Also paint on an arrow to point the way.

If you live in a street that is not very busy, make up a couple of extra signs and place them along the nearest busy street, with arrows directing traffic and people to your street.



The day before your garage sale, make sure you have plenty of coins and a variety of notes on hand. If you haven’t got the exact change to give a customer, you could lose money on the item, or even lose the sale.




Setting Up

Be sure to set up your tables in easily accessible positions. If you are selling clothes, hang them on a line between two poles or trees.

Decide which items you most want to sell or will bring the greatest rewards, and place them in the most noticeable positions (i.e. just inside the front gate or the front of your garage).

When placing your items for sale on the tables, be certain that no item is covered by another. People like to view everything clearly. Also make sure that all price tags are visible.


Where To Position Yourself

Take a seat in an out-of-the-way corner of your garage or front yard, but in a position where you can see everything clearly.

Through experience, I’ve found that people are hesitant to come in and look around if they can see you sitting there out in the open, staring at them, willing them to come in and buy something.


Keep A Record

Make a point of keeping a record of the sales you’ve made. Write down the type of item sold, the time the sale was made, and how much it sold for. This information will be helpful when you plan another garage sale.


Marking Down Prices

Price DropAs the day wears on and if you find you aren’t making many sales, mark down the prices a little on some of your goods. You’ve already put an extra ten percent on your original prices, so you won’t really be losing much.

Be sure not to stick on a new price tag. Just cross out the old price and write in the new one next to it. Seeing the price marked down will help influence people to buy.


When To Close Shop

This depends on how much time you have available and how business is doing.

If you are still making sales consistently by mid-afternoon, then you might do best to stay open an hour or so longer than you originally intended. Generally though, these garage sales tend to die off after lunch, as most action seems to happen in the morning.


What Sells The Best

In my experience, things like sporting goods and household electrical items sell the best. As do pot plants and furniture items. Clothing and shoes don’t tend to sell particularly well. This varies from area to area though.

What you are able to sell depends on many factors:

  • How many people come to the sale
  • What they can afford
  • The variety of items for sale
  • The condition of the items and the price of the items
  • And more…

Also, some shoppers go to sales looking for a particular item. But, even if you don’t have what they’re originally looking for, they may see something else that appeals to them.

Good luck and have fun with it!