Monday, April 2, 2012

Maid for Mondays: 10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

It’s April, can you believe it?! Where has the year gone? I know we’ve been in a whirlwind around here, but it seriously feels like it should still be February! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely ready for Spring, but I think I’m hesitant to welcome April because this is my birthday month. And, I’m turning 35. UGH!! I don’t feel 35most days anyway! Maybe the Littles are keeping me young by making me crazyerrun around in circles!

No seriouslyApril ushers in one of my favorite seasons Gararge/Yard Sale season!!!! I love going to sales on Saturday mornings. It’s nearly a weekly thing with my Mom and I. We load up the kids in the van, put in a movie and off we go!!

I love the thrill of the hunt for bargains, old furniture that can be repurposed, play clothes for my kids, toys at a GREAT price and just going in general. I find it exhilarating, yet relaxing. I know that probably makes me weird, but surely there’s a few more of “me” out there!

Now I’m no expert in this area, but I have been to my fair share of sales and even put a few successful ones together. So, I’d like to share my experiences with you both from the buyer and seller’s perspective.

First I’d like to say a Garage/Yard Sale is NOT an overnight event. They take planning and an effort on our part to make them successful. So, here are my tips to making your sale a success. Stay with me, it gets a little lengthy with the explanations, so here we go!

10 Tips to Make Your Garage/Yard Sale a Success

#1 Plan, Plan, Plan!!!! I cannot stress this enough. If you really want the most out of your sale, you need to plan 3-4 weeks ahead of time. Last year I found this great checklist on Pinterest. (I also use a lot of other printables from the original site here.) They say plan 2-3 weeks out, but unless you’re really organized and your kids are away at summer camp, I’ve found 3-4 weeks is a much better time frame!

#2 When tagging your items for sale, make sure the prices are easily visible. And make sure they stick!! As a shopper, I find it very frustrating when people either don’t label their items with a price or it’s not easily visible. My goal, when out perusing, is to hit as many sales as possible (I usually average 12-15 in a couple hours). If I have to pick up every single item to find a price that’s not worth it to me and some other shoppers.

#3 Display and presentation is KEY!!! As a shopper, I will tell you nothing frustrates me more than to pull up to a sale that just has boxes and boxes and tubs of clothes to go throughespecially if they’re not sorted into sizes or anything. UGH!! Here are my suggestions:
*Tables for small items: knick knacks, sheet sets, rugs, smaller toysanything that wouldn’t be noticed on the ground.
*If you’re selling furniture, use it to display a few items. It will draw more attention to it. For example: if you’re selling some night stands, put a few books on it and maybe a lamp you’re also selling.
*Don’t make things too crowded. Remember, you’re trying to draw in customers and if there is only room for one person between tables-you’re too crowded! Spread out!!
*And lastclothing!!! Adult clothing can be difficult to sell at garage/yard sales (at least around here). So, I usually just donate it. But as for baby/children/kid clothes they are usually BIG sellers! Here are my suggestions to maximize your sales:
a. Sort your items by size and gender
b. Make sure your items are clearly tagged w/ a price. Whether you have a set price for all items or individual prices, just make sure it’s clear to your shoppers. It will make much less work for you if they are clear!
c. Hang your clothes!!!! Try to find a hanging rack on wheels or a stand. You can also use a long pole suspended on a few chairs. DON’T hang them from your garage overhang. It’s too high for most people to reach and really inspect the clothes. It can also deter customers all together. Typically I won’t spend the time going through bins of clothes that aren’t sorted or hung. Unless they’re a really good price, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.

#4 Advertising: If you followed the checklist, you’ve already placed an ad in your local newspaper. (Note: I suggest running the ad the day before the sale & the days of the sale.) I also suggest posting your sale on Craigslist and any other garage sale sites your area might have. To find the most used sites in your area, just search Saturday Garage Sales, your city and it should pull up some sites like and and more.) You also want to make sure your street signs are visible the day of your sale(s). I don’t like those little signs you buy at the store. They can be difficult to spot when driving by. So, I prefer ½ poster board size signs in a bright color to draw your attention! (Be sure to check your city/county ordinances about posting signs in the right of way or they could be pulled up and tossed.)

#5 Increase Sales by offering refreshments. Offer donuts (we make our own to maximize profits) in the early morning hours and then hot dogs with minimal condiment choices (mustard, ketchup, onion, relish) around 10:30. Remember, a lot of these shoppers have been out since about 6:30am or 7am (at least around here). If you have older children allow them to help sell lemonade, pop and water bottles. Find a mission organization or “cause” you could send the profits to. (A great way to teach your kids about missions and having a servant’s heart.) Buy in bulk to also maximize your profits!!

 #6 Increase Traffic will Increase Profits!!!! A great way to draw in more customers is to have a multi-family sale at the same location. If you do this, make sure your items are clearly labeled either with different colors or initials. (We’ve used a sheet like this one in the past to keep track of all the sales.) If your neighborhood has an annual sale, take advantage of it!!! Neighborhood sales draw in large crowds and are usually very profitable. If not, ask some of your neighbors to have sales the same weekend. When searching sales, I look to neighborhoods and multi-families first. And last but certainly not leastadvertise, advertise, advertise!!!! (see my notes above)

#7 Shop first! Do some shopping (or scouting) at other sales prior to your big weekend. If you’re not a regular garage saler, you need to know what prices are typical in your area. Around here, it’s typical to pay anywhere from $.25 to $1.00 for most children’s clothes. I, personally, will not pay more than $1.50 for any one clothing item at a garage sale. Nowif you want more out of your clothes than that, you can always look into consigning with either Just Between Friends ( or Rhea Lana ( There I will pay up to $5-$6 for nice clothes. (It’s also another way to maximize your traffic!!!) I typically buy all the nice clothes for my 4 kids at these sales and then shop for “play clothes” at garage sales. Occasionally I’ve found some really nice dresses at garage sales for $1, but not often. Stillit’s fun to shop! I told you I’m addicted!!!!

#8 Be prompt! If your ad says you’re going to open at 8am, be set-up and ready at 7:50am. There’s nothing more irritating than a sale that says its going to start at 7am SHARP, but they don’t have their items out and ready when I get there at 8am!!! Do you know how many sales they’ve probably lost out on?! Allow yourself enough time to set-up. Depending on how much you have and how much help you have, I would allow 45min-1 hour for set-up.

#9 Be ready to negotiate! People who shop garage sales are typically “wheelers and dealers.” It’s not personal to them, but it is all about the bottom dollar. They want to know your rock-bottom price. So, ahead of time you need to decide what you’ll take on your large items. For example: if you’re selling a 5 year old couch/love-seat combo w/ extras and you put $500 for the set on it, you need to be ready with a bottom price. If you’re set on your price, simply write FIRM underneath it. They may still try to deal with you, but you can say noit’s firm. Don’t be offended when people try to deal. Say I find a sale with clothes for $.50 and I pick up 15 items. That would total $7.50, but I would offer $5. Some take it, some don’t. If that’s too low, counter with $6. Bottom linebe ready to haggle because they will!!!

#10 Good customer service is a must when conducting your own sale. Greet people as they approach. Interact with them when possible. Make them feel a connection and you’ll have better luck with your negotiations. Another nice service to offer is a sack for their items. I know many of us have gone to the recyclable grocery sacks, but often times I forget to use it when picking up only a couple items. Those are stored in my panty just for these sales!!!! I also have some paper sacks for larger/heavier items. Ask your friends and family to save them too!

Those are my tips and observations. All in all, if you plan ahead and are well prepared you should have a successful sale!!!

One other thing I would point outwhen picking the date for your sale, check out the local calendar. Our city hosts quite a few sports tourneys and those could deter a lot of people from your sale. Also, make note of holiday weekends and anything else that might take away from traffic.

Have you had a successful sale? What are your tips and ideas? Feel free to leave a comment and share with everyone!

Happy Selling!!!!


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