The Must-Do’s for Having a Successful Garage Sale

Posted in: I'm Moving, Money Saving

Camping, family vacations, gardening, baseball – summer is chock full of activities that pair well with that laid-back nature of relaxing. Another summer staple? Garage sales!

Now with summer upon us, it’s officially garage sale season. This simple tradition is a win-win for both buyers and sellers because it allows the sellers to get rid of the “stuff” that has been cluttering their garage for far too long, all while making some extra cash. It’s also great for the buyers because they can score items that aren’t always on the market or stuff they could buy elsewhere for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re thinking about hosting your own garage sale this season, we’ve compiled a list of tricks that will help you increase business by bringing in more customers. That’s more profit and less stuff to haul back inside after it’s all over.

You Might Need to Get a Permit

Some cities or villages require a permit in order for you to hold a garage sale, while others do not. It’s important to check with your specific town to see what the protocol is before you start planning your garage sale. (Just do a simple Google search.) We would hate to see your’s actually get shut down after you put in all that prep time, just because you forgot to snag a permit. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Get Your Stuff Organized to Go

Once you have your permit and a specific date set, it’s time to start combing through every nook and cranny of your house (don’t forget the attic!) in order to get rid of any items you don’t use or love anymore. From large furniture to small accessories, there should be almost nothing that is “off-limits” for a garage sale. You also want to take this time to start clearing out your garage. The piles of stuff you hope to sell don’t necessarily have to be organized during this stage, but it is important that everything is located in one spot so you have a sense of how much stuff you hope to sell.

Borrow Some Large Tables

If you don’t have large fold-up tables, you may want to ask your friends and family if you could borrow some. Even small card tables will help you display the merchandise effectively, which really helps business! If your family and friends don’t have any tables, you can always ask local businesses or organizations like the VFW or Goodwill. They may be more than happy to lend you a table for a few days, especially if you’re a loyal customer or are willing to share some of the profits of the sale with their organization.

Put Your Stuff Out by Category

Once you have identified what you want to sell and have your tables, start organizing your stuff by category. If you have furniture, put all of that in one spot. If you have a lot of holiday decor, put all of that together on a table. You can even use Tupperware bins from the attic/garage to pair like-things together, such as children’s toys or stuffed animals. Grouping these items together will help the customers identify what you have to offer a lot more clearly.

Invest Time in Some Amazing Signage

Get the printable file for these “Awesome Garage Sale” signs HERE

The key to a busy and successful garage sale is getting the word out! Some choose to advertise their garage sales in the newspaper or on the internet, but you should also invest time in creating eye-catching signage to place at busy intersections nearby. Choose bright colors and make your signs big enough for people driving past to stop and take notice. It’s also important to make signs that lead your customers directly to your driveway. Some people won’t look at the address and put it into their GPS, especially while they’re driving. It’s huge to plop signs along the route with simple arrows and bright colors, so drivers can follow the signs right to your house without getting confused or frustrated.

Price to Sell

Even though many of the items you are selling hold a special place in your heart, it’s important that the garage sale price of this item doesn’t reflect this history. It’s important to price your items to sell! After you price everything, don’t be afraid to categorize items by price because this will make marking the items a lot easier. You can put a large $1.00 sign on a table and tell customers that everything on this entire table is a dollar. This will save you some serious prep-time and keep your life a lot easier on the day of the sale.

Get a “Bank” Ready

Make sure you visit a local bank and cash in some large bills for singles, fives and coins ahead of time. Many of your customers may not have exact change and if they pay their $1.50 balance with a $20, you need to make sure you have enough change for them. Also, be sure to have this cash in a secure spot that is being supervised at all times. If you want to keep it on your body at all times, try using a cross body purse or fanny pack. If you feel more comfortable putting it in a cash box, make sure someone is sitting and supervising the bank at all times.

Enlist Some Friends

Speaking of supervising the cash, it’s best if you have at least two (maybe more) people working the garage sale. At times, it can become hectic with customers asking questions, paying for the merchandise and just coming and going. Having two people with specific jobs will help you avoid the chaos, help customers and stay attentive to the cash at all times.

Be Willing to Negotiate

You never want to take less money, but customers will definitely try to haggle the prices at garage sales. It’s okay to stand firm, but you also have to be realistic. Be open-minded to accept less for some of your items, especially when the garage sale is almost over. It’s better to make some money, instead of nothing at all!

Have a Plan for the “Leftovers”

After the garage sale is over, you may have a few items left behind that were not sold. It’s important to have a plan for this so that this stuff is not taking up valuable space in your garage, attic and closets anymore. Whether you plan to donate the items or try to sell some of the larger ones on Craigslist, make a plan of action before the sale is over so you know exactly what to do after the last customer leaves.


Although garage sales can be a lot of work and stressful at times, make a point to enjoy the experience! Invite over some friends to help so you can catch-up during slow times, turn on the music and soak in the sunshine. The more fun you have, the better your experience will be.

If you follow these tricks, we’re confident that your garage sale will be a big hit! And after it’s all said and done, hopefully, all you’ll have to worry about is where you are going to spend all your hard-earned cash.

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