Tips for Planning a Sucessful Garage Sale

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Planning a garage sale is a lot of work! A few weeks ago we just held our first garage sale and I can tell you that we put a lot of planning into it. I learned a lot of great garage sale tips through the process and I’m happy to share them here with you.

Garage Sale Tips

Garage Sale Tips – Planning:

First you need to decide what you want to sell. I wrote an article on this for Calgary’s Child Magazine – you can read “To Sell or To Save” here. If you can’t decide what to sell, you’ll want to read that article before diving into the garage sale tips.

When will your garage sale be? Garage sales seem to attract the most attention on Thursday and Friday. The first morning of the sale seems to be the busiest as people rush there to find the best deals before they are all gone.

Talk to your neighbors to see if they’d like to host a garage sale as well. You’ll have a large turnout when it is listed as a “community garage sale”.

Start thinking of what you’ll do with all of the items that don’t sell. Is there a place that you can donate them? What are the operating hours of this company? How will you deliver all of the items there? Will you save everything and host another garage sale later in the year?

Garage Sale Tips – Pricing:

Set your prices low but not too low. Understand that many people go to a garage sale to negotiate the lowest price possible so if you’re item is listed at $10, they may try to negotiate a couple of dollars off. Price your items accordingly so that you can offer people special negotiated prices.

Use stickers to mark prices on all of the items. Many people will walk away from an item if they don’t see a clear price on it. For something like books or clothes, you could put a big sign on a box that says “All Books $2” without having to label each piece individually. If you are going to do this, be sure to have a master list up by your cash desk so that you remember the price on these bulk items.

Looking for a free printable for tracking your garage sale inventory & sales? Here’s a freebie for you!

Garage Sale Tips – Advertising:

If you have large or popular items in your sale (furniture, baby items, collectibles, etc.) be sure to list these in your advertisements.

In your advertising, be sure to let people know what days and times you’ll be open.

Your local newspaper is an excellent place to advertise garage sales but there is a fee for doing so. Contact your local newspaper to inquire about advertising fees. You’ll want the listing to start the day before the actual sale starts as people start to make their garage sale “tour” plans in advance.

Facebook is also becoming a popular place to advertise for garage sales. In the Facebook search engine, type your city name with “Garage Sales” after it (for example, Calgary Garage Sales) and you may be surprised to find there is a group set up to advertise sales to people in your area. In Facebook you can also try your city name followed by “Buy and Sell” or even “Parents Buy and Sell”.

I’ve heard that you receive a lot of extra visitors simply by adding directions to your home in your advertising. I know this would be too expensive in newspaper print but it could be added online in other places (Facebook, Kijiji, etc.).

From your local dollar store, pick up a few large & bright Garage Sale signs. Add your address to them in thick black permanent marker (you want to make sure people can read the address from a distance). One of these signs can be taped inside the window of your vehicle and your vehicle could be parked next to a popular park in your area. Another sign could be secured to a wooden stake and placed in the corner of a busy intersection near your home. Add balloons too to attract more attention to your sign or vehicle.

Add balloons in front of your home as well so people can easily see that you are having a garage sale. Without balloons, people may think you’re just organizing your garage! True story for you…my parents actually once went to what they thought was a garage sale and started to look through boxes only to quickly realize the people were just moving into the house. Not a great way to make a first impression on your new neighbor!

Garage Sale Tips – The Day Before:

Find a metal box with a lock that you can use for your cash box and put this up on a shelf behind your “cash register” area.

Go to the bank and get a float for your cash box, make sure you have plenty of change and small bills.

Gather some shopping bags that you can use for people who purchase more items than they can carry.

Make sure that you have a plugin or extension cord available for electronic items. Many people will want to test these to make sure they work before they purchase them.

Set out all of your tables inside the garage and start to organize items by category. For example, have all of the baby items on one table, all of the garage items on another table, all of the home decor items in another area, etc. This makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for.

Make sure you have a calculator by your cash box so that you can quickly add up purchases and calculate change.

Garage Sale Tips – The Day Of:

As people sort through the items you have for sale, your garage will start to get messy. Make sure you cleanup and reorganize throughout the day so people can still find what they are looking for. This is one of the best garage sale tips I can offer because people will lose interest in a messy sale.

Make sure you have at least one other person there to help you so that you can take breaks and don’t get overwhelmed during busy times.

When your cash box starts to accumulate a lot of money, take the larger bills out and put them in a safe place in your home. Don’t leave a lot of money in the cash box and never leave the cash box unattended.

Garage Sale Tips – After the Sale:

Calculate the money made from the sale and take it to the bank to deposit it.

Package up the items you are going to donate and drop them off.

If you will be hosting another sale, place items in boxes, label the boxes, and put them in another area of the garage until the next sale.

Will you be visiting any garage sales this year? Here is a fun & free printable Garage Sale Scavenger Hunt for your kids.

I hope you have a successful garage sale! If you have garage sale tips you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.

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