garage sale

9 Secrets of a Successful Garage Sale

Whether your goal is to purge your home of stuff you no longer need or you want to raise some cash—or both—you have options.

You can sell your items on an auction website like, list them in classifieds in a local newspaper, on, or give the stuff away. Or, you can create a killer garage sale that turns your cast-offs into cold, hard cash.


garage sale

Plan ahead

Give yourself more than a few weeks to get ready. Make sure the date you select is not conflicting with a holiday or community event. Check local laws regarding signage, restrictions, and a requirement, if any, to get a permit.

Clean up

Assume that nobody wants to buy dirty, dusty, or broken items. That means everything you are selling needs to be cleaned prior to the sale. Don’t go overboard, just make sure everything in your sale is as attractive as possible.

Get organized

It pays to put your stuff in order. Designate your sale area. If there are items in close proximity that are not for sale, cover or clearly mark them “Not for Sale.” Take the time to repair and clean your sale items and your sale area, too. Dirt, grime, chaos, and clutter will repel shoppers. A nicely ordered space will draw people who are ready, willing, and able to buy.


The majority of people who pass through your sale are merely looking for something they can use, without having to pay full price for it. Your goal is to get rid of your stuff while at the same time recouping some of the money you spent to buy it in the first place. Research the price of similar items on eBay or CraigsList. For high-ticket items priced over $100, make sure you include manuals, warranties, or other information that would be beneficial to the buyer.


At the very least, put a sign at the end of your street. If you really want to attract motivated buyers, get serious about the advertising. Consider an ad in a local newspaper. Join a private social networking service for neighborhoods, where you can interact with neighbors and get the word out about your sale. Post on local bulletin boards and circulate flyers. Put some time and effort into this because you want your ad to stand out.

Setting up

Make your layout deliberate. Group things in sections. For example, put all kitchen items together in one area, toys and games in another. Make sure all of your clothes are hung. Rig up makeshift hanging clothes racks with two ladders or hooks from the ceiling. Do not pile clothes on a table or in boxes.

Point of purchase

This is the checkout area, where you will collect money. This is a great place to sell cookies, coffee, sticky buns, and bottles of water. If you have lots of small random items like small toys, jewelry, and other items that don’t go with anything else, divvy them up into small lunch bags, tape them closed, and mark as “Grab Bags!” Add a reasonable price and place them right at the checkout. Sit back and watch them fly off the table.

Prepare for the worst

Bad weather is always possible, so make sure you have a few tarps available. If even a slight chance of rain is forecast, locate electronics, books, paper items just inside the garage or under a cover.

Get help

If you want to knock your sale out of the park, get some expert help. If you want to learn from the best—and send your profits through the roof—read The Garage Sale How-To Guide: Everything You Need To Know To Hold A Successful Garage Sale by Cindy Sabulis. This guide is absolutely worth its weight in gold!


Question: What are your best garage sale tips, tricks, and hacks? We’d love it if you would share them in the comments area below.


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7 replies
  1. Alice says:

    If it doesn’t sell, don’t put it back in your house. Take it to your local thrift store for donation. Telling a difficult shopper that this is the final destination of unsold items can encourage them to offer a reasonable price.

  2. Melanie Smith says:

    Sell things only worth .25 or more. Less goes in free box. Price in .25 increments/dollars so it is easy peasy change to make. Put your cash and quarters in fanny pack on your person then you are free to assist people without leaving cash unattended. It works so easily this way!

  3. Linda D Radosevich says:

    When someone seems interested in an object, and they ask “How much?” reply with, “What will you give me?” Very often they offer more than I would have asked!

  4. Jennie Druger says:


    Keep your eye on large groups/families as to not be distracted…once, someone swiped the cordless house phone thinking it was a cell…SMH

  5. kenju says:

    Accept cash only. Make sure you have enough change; $50 worth of small bills should do it. Don’t over price items due to sentimental value. Be willing to dicker, but have a bottom price in mind. Be sure to have remotes, if applicable. If you have set your time limit for the sale, consider dropping prices for the last two hours of the sale. Always have people helping you, to watch for shop-lifters. Carry your money in an apron with a pocket, so it can’t be stolen.

  6. Ann says:

    There also is Consigning unwanted items at
    a Non Profit Thrift shop that raises money for people in need.Its usually 50/50 for monies made from sales.


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